Run-through of the Golf Rules

Without rules there would be chaos. Rules in any sports are important to bring order and fairness towards a goal. In golf, we have the Rules of Golf Book. It is written and published by the R&A and the USGA. These standard set of regulations should be followed at all times.

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Etiquette

Courtesy on the Course

  1. If someone else is plating from the tee, do no tee your ball until he has played.
  2. Always stand still when another player is playing. Do not talk.
  3. Be ready to play when it is your turn.
  4. When you are playing slowly or looking for a lost ball, ask the group behind you to play through, so you do not slow everyone down.
  5. Write down scores on the way to the next hole, not on the green you are leaving.
  6. Never take more than one practice swing, if any.

Safety First

Both in practice and play, always make sure that:

  • No one is near you when you swing the club.
  • No one is ahead of you where your shot might hit them.

Taking Care of the Course

  1. Always wear golf shoes. Do not slide or drag your feet or run on the green.
  2. Always rake a bunker after you have played from it.
  3. Repair your own divots and ball marks.
  4. Never place your golf bag on the green.
  5. Put the flagstick carefully back into the hole after putting.

Rule 1: The Game

  1. Golf is playing a ball from the teeing ground into the hole by stroke or strokes.
  2. You must always play by the Rules. You are not allowed to change them.

Rule 2: Match Play

  1. In a match play, each hole is a separate contest. If you win the first hole, you are “one up”, if you lose it, your opponent is “one up”, if you tie it, you are “all square”.
  2. You have won the match when, for example, you are three up and there are only two holes left to play.
  3. Anyone you are playing against is your opponent.

Rule 3: Stroke Play

  1. In a stroke, the competitor with the lowest to total score for the stipulated rounds is the winner.
  2. You must play the ball into the hole before starting the next hole. No gimmies!
  3. Anyone you are playing with is a fellow-competitor.

Rule 4: Clubs

You may carry no more than 14 clubs.

Rule 5: Balls

Normally, you may not change balls during the play of a hole. However, if you damage or cut your ball, you may do so after first telling your opponent or a fellow competitor.

Rule 6: Things a Player Should Do

You should:

  1. Read the notices given to you by the tournament officials.
  2. Always use your proper handicap.
  3. Know your tee time or starting time.
  4. Make sure you play your own ball (put a mark on the ball with a pencil in case someone else is using an identical ball).
  5. In stroke play, make sure your score for each hole is correct before you turn in your card.
  6. Keep playing unless there is lightning, you are ill or an official tells you to stop.

Rule 7: Practice

You may not hit a practice shot during play of a hole, or from any hazard.

Rule 8: Advice on How to Play

  1. During a round, you may not ask anyone except your caddie or partner for advice on how to play. However, you may ask about Rules or the position of hazards or the flagstick.
  2. You may not give advice to your opponent or a fellow-competitor or anyone else in the competition.

Rule 9: Advising Opponent on Strokes Taken

In match play, you must tell your opponent the number of strokes you have taken if you are asked.

Rule 10: When to Play a Shot

  1. The player who has the lowest score on a hole has the right to play first on the next hole. This is called the “honor”.
  2. During play of a hole, the player whose balls is farthest from the hole plays first.
  1. If you play out of turn in match play your opponent may make you replay, but this is not so in stroke play.

Rule 11: Teeing Ground

  1. Tee your ball between the tee-markers or a little behind them. You may go behind them as much as two club-lengths.
  2. If your ball accidentally falls off the tee before you make a stroke, you may replace it without penalty.

Rule 12: Finding Ball in Identifying Ball

  1. You may lift your ball to identify it anywhere except in a hazard. You must tell your opponent or fellow-competitor before you lift your ball to identify it.
  2. A hazard is any bunker or water hazard.
  3. In a bunker or water hazard, if your ball is covered by sand or leaves, you may remove enough of the sand or leaves to be able to see a part of the ball.

Rule 13: Playing the Ball as it Lies and the Course as You Find It

  1. You must play the ball as it lies. You may not move it to a better spot.
  2. You may not improve your lie by pressing down behind the ball. The club may be grounded only lightly behind the ball.
  3. You may not improve the area of your intended swing or line of play by bending or breaking anything growing, such as tree limbs or weeds.
  4. In a hazard, you may not touch the sand, ground or water with the club before or during your backswing.
  5. In a hazard, you may not remove loose impediments (natural things such as leaves or twigs) but you may remove obstructions (artificial objects such as bottles or rakes).

Rule 14: Striking the Ball

  1. You must fairly strike the ball with the head of the club. You may not push, scrape or rake the ball.
  2. You must not hit your ball while it is moving.

Rule 15: Playing a Wrong Ball

  1. In a match play, if you play a ball that is not yours, you lose the hole unless the wrong ball is played in a hazard; if you play a wrong ball in a hazard, you must then play the right ball.
  2. In stroke play, if you play a ball that is not yours, you must take a two-stroke penalty unless the wrong ball was played in a hazard. You must then play out the hole with your own ball. If you do so, you are disqualified.

Rule 16: The Putting Green

  1. If any part of your ball is touching the green, it is on the green.
  2. When your ball is on the green, you may brush away leaves, other loose impediments ans movable obstructions on your line of putt.
  3. You should repair ball marks or old hole plugs but you may not repair marks made by spikes or shoes, if they are on your line of putt.
  4. You may not test the surface of the green by rolling a ball pr scraping the surface.
  5. Always mark your ball by putting a small coin or other marker behind it when you want to pick it up to clean or get it out of another player’s way.

Rule 17: The Flagstick

  1. If your ball is off the green, there is no penalty if you play and your ball strikes the flagstick, provided no one is holding the flagstick.
  2. If your ball is on the green, do not putt with the flagstick in the hole. Either take the flagstick out or ask another player to hold it and take it out when you play your ball.
  3. If you putt and your ball hits the flagstick when it is in the hole, in match play you lose the hole. In stroke play, you must add two penalty strokes to your score for the hole.

Rule 18: Ball at Rest Moved

  1. If you or your partner or either of your caddies move either of your balls on purpose, accidently, or cause it to move add a penalty stroke to your score, replace and play it.
  2. If your ball is moved by someone or something other you, your partner or either of your caddies, there is no penalty, but you must replace it. If the ball is moved by the wind or water, you must play it as it lies.
  3. Once you address the ball, if the ball moves, add a penalty stroke and replace the ball.

Rule 19: Ball in Motion, Deflected or Stopped

  1. If your ball hits an outside agency, it is called a “rub of the green”. There is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies.
  2. If your ball hits you, your partner, your caddie, or your equipment, in match play you lose the hole. In stroke play, you are penalized two stroke and you must play your ball as it lies.
  3. If your ball hits your opponent, his caddie or his equipment, there is no penalty; you may play the ball as it lies or replay the shot.
  4. If your ball hits a fellow-competitor, caddie or equipment in stroke play, there is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies. These are the same as outside agencies in stroke play.
  5. If your ball hits another ball and moves it, you must play your ball as it lies. The owner of the ball must replace it. If your ball is on the green when you play and the ball which your ball hits is also on the green, you are penalized two stokes in stroke play. Otherwise, there is no penalty.

Rule 20: Lifting and Dropping the Ball

  1. If you are going to lift your ball under a Rule and the Rule requires that the ball be replaced, you must put a ball marker behind the ball before you lift it.
  2. When you drop a ball, stand erect, hold your arm out straight at shoulder height and drop it.
  3. Of a dropped ball hits the ground and rolls into a hazard, out of hazard, more than two club lengths, nearer the hole than the rules permit or, if you are dropping away from an immovable obstruction or ground under repair, back into the obstruction or ground under repair, you must re-drop. If the same thing happens when you re-drop, you must place the ball where it struck the ground when it was re-dropped.

Rule 21: Cleaning the Ball

You may usually clean your ball when you are allowed to lift it. Except on the green, you may not clean the ball when you lift it for identification, because it interferes with another player, or to determine if it is unfit.

Rule 22: Balls Interfering with or Assisting Play

  1. If another ball interferes with your play or is in your line of putt, you may ask the owner of the ball to lift it.
  2. If your ball is in a position where it might assist another player, you may lift your ball.

Rule 23: Loose Impediments

Loose impediments are natural objects that are not growing or fixed – such as leaves, twigs, branches, worms and insects. You may remove a loose impediment except when your ball and the loose impediment lie in the same bunker or water hazard.

Rule 24: Obstructions

  1. Obstructions are artificial or man-made objects. Bottles, tin cans, rakes, and the likes are movable obstructions. Sprinkler heads, shelter houses, cart paths are immovable obstructions.
  2. Movable obstructions anywhere on the course may be removed. If the ball moves, it must be replaced without penalty.
  3. You may drop your ball away from an immovable obstruction if it interferes with your swing or stance. Find the nearest point not nearer the hole where you can play without interfere with your swing or stance. Drop the ball within one club length of that point.

Rule 25: Casual Water, Ground Under Repair, Burrowing Animal Holes

  1. Casual water is any temporary puddle of water caused by rain or overwatering. Ground under repair is any damaged area which the committee has marked as such.
  2. If your ball or your stance is in casual water, ground under repair or a burrowing animal hole, you may either play the ball as it lies or find the nearest place not nearer the hole which gives you relief and drop the ball within one club length of that place.
  3. If your ball is in casual water and you cannot find it, determine where the ball entered the ball entered the area and drop a ball within one club length of that place without penalty.
  4. If your ball is on the wrong green, find the nearest place off the green which is not nearer the hole and drop the ball within one club length of that place.

Rule 26: Water Hazards

  1. Water hazard margins are identified by yellow stakes or lines. Lateral water hazard margins are identified by red stakes or lines.
  2. If your ball is in water hazard or a lateral water hazard, you may play it as it lies. If you cannot find it or do not wish to play it, add a penalty stroke and drop and play another ball from where you last played or drop a ball behind the water hazard as far back as you wish. If you decide to drop behind the hazard, drop the ball so thatthere is a straight line between the hole, where your ball last crossed the hazard margin and where your ball last crossed the hazard margin and where you drop the ball. If your ball is in lateral water hazard, you may also drop a ball within two club lengths of where the ball last crossed the hazard margin or equidistant on the opposite margin no nearer to the hole.

Rule 27: Ball Lost or Out of Bounds

  1. A ball is lost if it is not found within five minutes after you first begin to search, or if another ball has been put into play, or if a stroke has been played with a provisional ball at or beyond the spot which the original ball likely to be.
  2. A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies beyond the inside line of objects such as white stakes, or a fence or wall that marks the playing area.
  3. If your ball is lost or out of bounds, you must add a penalty stroke to your score and play another ball from where you placed your last shot.
  4. If you think your ball may be lost or out of bounds, you may play another ball (provisional ball) from the place where your first ball was played. You must tell your opponent or fellow-competitor that you are playing a provisional ball. If you cannot find your first ball or if it is out of bounds, you must count the strokes with the first and provisional ball, add a penalty stroke and play out of the hole with the provisional ball. If you find your first ball in bounds, continue to play with it and pick up the provisional ball.

Rule 28: Ball Unplayable

  1. If your ball is under a tree or in some other bad situation and you decide you cannot play it, add a penalty stroke and do one of the following:
  1. Go back to where you played the last shot and play a ball from there; or
  2. Measure two club lengths from the unplayable lie, drop a ball and play from there; or
  3. Keep the unplayable lie between where you drop the ball and the hole, go back as far as you wish on a straight line and drop and play the ball.