is a game in which a ball is struck with a club from a prepared area,
known as the "teeing ground", across fairway and rough to a second
prepared area, which has a hole in it, known as the "putting green". The
object of the game is to complete what is known as a hole by playing a
ball from the teeing ground into the hole on the putting green in the
fewest possible number of strokes. A "round of golf' consists of playing
18 such holes.
There are basically two forms of play, one which is decided by holes won
and lost (match play) and the other which is decided by the total number
of strokes taken to complete the round (stroke play).
There are three important principles to remember when playing golf:
Play the course as you find it. Play the Ball as it lies.
And if you can't do either, do what's fair."
To do what's fair you need to know the Rules. The following is a summary
of the Rules of Golf, simplified where possible.
Etiquette covers both Courtesy and Priority on the Course as well as Care
of the Course. Whilst the following points are not Rules as such they
are an important part of the game.
1 Don't move, talk or stand close to a
player making a stroke.
2 Don't play until the group in front is out of the way.
3 Always play without delay. Leave the putting green as soon as all
players in your group have holed out.
4 Invite faster groups to play through.
5 Replace divots. Smooth footprints in bunkers.
6 Don't step on the line of another player's putt.
7 Don't drop clubs on the putting green.
8 Replace the flagstick carefully.
Teeing Ground - the starting place for the hole, defined by two
tee-markers. Through the Green - the whole area of the golf course except the
teeing ground and putting green of the hole being played and all
Hazards - any bunker or water hazard. Putting Green - an area specially prepared for putting and
containing a 41/2 inch diameter hole. Out of Bounds - ground on which play is prohibited i.e. not part of
the course. A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies out of bounds. Loose Impediments - natural objects such as stones, leaves and
twigs provided they are not fixed or growing, are not solidly embedded
and are not sticking to the ball. Obstructions - any man-made object, except:
(1) objects defining out of bounds
(2) any part of an immovable man-made object
which is out of bounds; and
(3) any construction declared by the Committee in the Local Rules to be an
integral part of the course. Casual Water - any temporary accumulation of water on the course
which is visible before or after the player takes his stance (dew and
frost are not casual water). Ground Under Repair - any portion of the course so marked by the
Committee. Also includes material piled for removal and a hole made by a
greenkeeper, even if not so marked.
THE RULES OF PLAY
Before commencing your round:
(1) Read the Local Rules on the score card.
(2) Put an identification mark on your ball. Many golfers play the same
brand of ball and if you can't identify your ball, it's lost.
(3) Count your clubs. You are allowed a maximum of 14 clubs.
During the round, don't ask for "advice" from anyone except your partner
or caddie. Don't give advice to anyone except your partner.
During a hole you may not play a practice stroke.
Tee off between and not in front of the tee-markers. You may tee off up to
two club-lengths behind the front line of the tee-markers.
Teeing off outside this area - in match play there is no penalty but your
opponent may ask you to replay your stroke; in stroke play you incur a
two-stroke penalty and must then play from within the proper area.
Play the ball as it lies. Don't improve your lie, the area of your
intended swing or your line of play by moving, bending or breaking
anything fixed or growing except in fairly taking your stance or making
your swing. Don't press anything down or build a stance.
If your ball lies in a bunker or a water hazard don't touch the ground in
the bunker, or the ground or water in the water hazard, before your
The ball must be fairly struck, not pushed or spooned.
Playing a wrong ball (except in a hazard) - in match play you lose
the hole; in stroke play you incur a two-stroke penalty and you must
then play the correct ball.
ON THE PUTTING GREEN
You may repair ball marks and old hole plugs on the line of your putt but
not any other damage, including spike marks.
You may mark, lift and clean your ball on the putting gre·en. Always
replace it on the exact spot.
Don't test the putting surface by scraping it or rolling a ball over it.
Ball played from putting green strikes
flagstick - in match play you lose the hole; in stroke play you
incur a two-stroke penalty.
BALL AT REST MOVED
If your ball is at rest and it is moved by you, your partner or your
caddie, except as permitted by the Rules, or if it moves after you have
addressed it, add a penalty stroke and replace your ball.
If your ball is at rest and is moved by someone else or another ball,
replace it without penalty to you.
BALL IN MOTION DEFLECTED OR STOPPED
Ball struck by you is deflected or stopped by you, your partner or your
caddie - in match play you lose the hole; in stroke play you incur a
two-stroke penalty and the ball is played as it lies.
Ball struck by you is deflected or stopped by someone else - play
your ball as it lies wihout penalty, except (a) in match play, if an
opponent or his caddie deflects the ball you have an option to replay
the stroke or (b) in stroke play, if the ball is deflected after a
stroke from on the putting green, you must replay it.
Ball struck by you is deflected or stopped by another ball at rest-
in matchplay, no penalty and the ball is played as it lies except. In
stroke play you incur a two-stroke penalty if your ball and the other
ball were on the putting green before you played.
AND PLACING THE BALL
If a lifted ball is to be replaced, its position must be marked. If a ball
is to be dropped or placed in any other position (e.g. taking relief
from GUR, etc.) it is recommended that the ball's original position be
When dropping, stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm's
length and drop it. If a dropped ball strikes you or your partner,
caddie or equipment it must be re-dropped without penalty.
There are eight instances where a dropped ball rolls to such a position
that it must be re-dropped - see Rules of Golf Rule 20 - 2c
BALL INTERFERING WITH OR ASSISTING PLAY
You may lift your ball if it might assist any other player.
You may have any ball lifted if it might interfere with your play or
assist any other player.
You may move a loose impediment unless it and your ball are in a hazard.
However, if you have touched a loose impediment within one club-length
of your ball and your ball moves, the ball must be replaced and (unless
your ball was on the putting green) you incur a penalty stroke.
Check the Local Rules on the score card for guidance on immovable
obstructions (e.g. surfaced roads and paths etc.) .
Movable obstructions (e.g. rakes, tin cans etc.) anywhere on the course
may be moved. If the ball moves it must be replaced without penalty.
If an immovable obstruction (e.g. a water fountain) interferes with your
stance or swing, you may drop the ball within one club-length of the
nearest point of relief not nearer the hole. There is no relief for
intervention on your line of play unless your ball and the obstruction
are on the putting green.
CASUAL WATER, GROUND UNDER REPAIR etc.
If your ball is in casual water, ground under repair or a hole or cast
made by a burrowing animal e.g. a rabbit, you may drop without penalty
within one club-length of the nearest point of relief not nearer the
Check the Local Rules on the score card to establish whether the sea,lake,
river etc. is a `water hazard' or a `lateral water hazard'.
Ball in watery hazard - play the ball as it lies or, under penalty of one
stroke, (a) drop any distance behind the water hazard keeping a straight
line between the hole, the point where the ball crossed the margin of
the water hazard and spot on which the ball is dropped, or (b) play
again from where you hit the ball into the hazard.
Ball in lateral water hazard - in addition to the options for a ball in a
water hazard (see above), under penalty of one stroke, you may drop
within two club-lengths of (a) the point where the ball crossed the
margin of the hazard or (b) a point on the opposite side of the hazard
equidistant from the hole.
BALL LOST OR OUT OF BOUNDS
Check the Local Rules on the score card to identify the boundaries of the
course. If your ball is lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds you
must play another ball from the spot where the last shot was played
under penalty of one stroke i.e. stroke and distance. You are allowed 5
minutes to search for a ball, after which if it is not found or
identified it is lost. If, after playing a shot, you think your ball may
be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds you may play a
`provisional ball'. You must state that it is a provisional ball and
play it before you go forward to search for the original ball. If the
original ball is lost or out of bounds you must continue with the
provisional ball under penalty of one stroke. If the original ball is
not lost or out of bounds, you must continue play of the hole with it
and the provisional ball must be abandoned.
If you believe your ball is unplayable outside a water hazard (and you are
the sole judge), you may under penalty of one stroke, (a) drop within
two club-lengths of where the ball lies not nearer the hole, (b) drop
any distance behind the point where the ball lay keeping a straight line
between the hole, the point where the ball lay and the spot on which the
ball is dropped, or (c) replay the shot. If your ball is in a bunker you
may proceed under (a), (b) and (c). However, if you elect to proceed
under (a) or (b) you must drop in the bunker.