A Condensed Version of the Rules of Golf We offer a brief version of some of the main rules governing the game of golf. Complete rules are available and are published by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews as well as the Royal Canadian Golf Association and the United States Golf Association.
We offer a brief version of some of the main rules governing the game of golf. Complete rules are available and are published by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews as well as the Royal Canadian Golf Association and the United States Golf Association.
Match and Stroke Play
No more than 14 clubs are allowed. (4-4)
No artificial devices or unusual equipment for gauging or measuring distance or conditions, or to give artificial aid you in gripping the club. (14-3)
You can ask advice from your caddie or your partner but not from anyone else. You are not to give advice to anyone except your partner. (8-1)
A practice swing is permissable during a hole but you may not play a practice stroke. Between holes you may practice chip and putt on or near the putting green of the hole last played or the tee of the next hole but not from a hazard. (7-2)
Play without delay. (6-7)
Order of Play
In match play, the ball farther from the hole is played first. The winner of a hole tees off first on the next hole. If a player plays out of turn anywhere on the course, his opponent may require him to replay. (10-1)
In stroke play, the ball farthest from the hole is played first. The competitor with the lowest score on a hole tees off first on the next hole. There is generally no penalty for playing out of turn. (10-2)
In four-ball competitions, partners may play in the order they consider best (30-3c and 31-5)
If you tee off outside this area, in match play there is no penalty but your opponent may require you to replay the stroke. In stroke play you incur a two-stroke penalty and must then play from within the proper area. (11-4)
Playing the Ball
Play the course as you find it. Do not improve your lie, the area of your intended swing or your line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole by moving, bending or breaking anything fixed or growing except in fairly taking your stance or making your swing. Do not press anything down. (13-2) Do not build a stance (13-3)
If your ball lies in a bunker or water hazard, Do not touch the ground in the bunker or the ground or water in the water hazard before the downswing. (13-4)
Strike at the ball with the clubhead. Do not push or scrape it. (14-1) If your club strikes the ball more than once in a single stroke, count the stroke and add a penalty stroke. (14-4)
If you play a wrong ball (except in a hazard), in match play you lose the hole. In stroke play you incur a two-stroke penalty and must then play the correct ball. (15)
You may lift, and if desired clean, your ball on the putting green. Always replace it on the exact spot. (16-1b)
Do not test the surface by scraping it or rolling a ball. (16-1d)
If your ball played from the putting green strikes the flagstick, in match play you lose the hole or in stroke play you incur a two-stroke penalty. (17-3)
Always hole out unless in match play your opponent concedes your putt. (2-4, 3-2, 16-2)
Ball At Rest Move
If your ball is moved by someone else or another ball, replace it without penalty to you. (18)
Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped
If your ball in motion is deflected or stopped by someone else, play your ball as it lies without penalty, except (a) in match play, if an opponent or his caddie deflects your ball, you may play it as it lies or replay it or (b) in stroke play, if your ball is deflected after a stroke on the putting green, you must replay. (19)
If your ball in motion is deflected or stopped by another ball at rest, play your ball as it lies. In stroke play, you incur a two-stroke penalty if your ball and the other ball were on the green before your stroke. Otherwise, there is no penalty. (19-5)
Lifting, Dropping and Placing
When dropping, stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm's length and drop it. A ball to be dropped in a hazard must be dropped, and stay, in the hazard. (20-2a)
If a dropped ball strikes the player or his partner, caddie or equipment, it must be re-dropped without penalty. (20-2a)
A dropped ball must be re-dropped if it rolls into a hazard, out of hazard, onto a putting green, out of bounds or to a position where there is interference by the condition from which relief is taken (in case of immovable obstructions, abnormal ground conditions and wrong putting green) or comes to rest more than two club-lengths from where it first struck a part of the course or nearer the hole than its original position or other reference point. If the ball when re-drooped rolls into any position listed above, place it where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped. (20-2c)
If the original lie of a ball to be replaced has been altered, place it in the nearest similar lie within one club-length not nearer the hole, except in a bunker recreate the original lie and place it in that lie. (20-3b)
You may have any other ball lifted if it might interfere with your play or assist any other player. (22)
You may move them unless the loose impediment and your ball lie in or touch a hazard. (23-1)
If you move a loose impediment within one club-length of your ball and your ball moves, the ball must be placed and (unless your ball was on the putting green) you incur a penalty stroke. (18-2c)
Movable obstructions anywhere may be moved. If your ball moves, replace it without penalty. (24-1)
If an immovable obstruction interferes with your stance or swing, you may, except when your ball is in a water hazard, drop within one club-length of the nearest point of relief not nearer the hole. In a bunker drop in the bunker, and on the putting green place in the nearest position which affords 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 green. (24-2)
If your ball is lost in an immovable obstruction (except in a water hazard) take the same relief based on the point where the ball entered the obstruction. (24-2c)
Abnormal Ground Conditions
If your ball is lost in such condition (except in a burrowing animal hole in a water hazard), take the same relief based on the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the area. (25-1c)
In a lateral water hazard, you may also, under penalty of one stroke, drop within two club-lengths of (a) the point where the ball last crossed the hazard margin equidistant from the hole. (26-1c)
Lost or Out of Bounds
If your ball is lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, add one penalty stroke and play the provisional or, if you did not play a provisional, replay the shot. (27-1)
Do not play until the group in front is out of the way.
Always play without delay. Leave the putting green as soon as all players in your group have holed out
Offer faster groups the chance to play through.
Replace divots. Smooth out footprints in bunkers.
Do not step on the line of another's putt.
Do not drop clubs on a putting green.
Replace the flagstick carefully in an upright position.
Leave the course in the condition in which you would like to find it.