The Top 10 Rules Of Golf

Top 10 Rules Of Golf

Golf is a sport played all over the world, with a standard set of rules that must be followed to ensure fairness. While there are a plethora of specific rules in golf, there are a few that are considered to be the most important. Read on to learn about the top 10 rules of golf.

What Are the Most Important Rules in Golf?

  1. A player must play the ball as it lies.
  2. A maximum of 14 clubs are allowed in a player’s bag during play.
  3. A player must tee up their ball behind the tee markers.
  4. Unplayable lies cause a one-stroke penalty.
  5. In competitive play, seeking advice from an opponent is not allowed.
  6. There is a limit on the time you are allowed to look for a lost ball.
  7. When playing in a competitive manner, the person whose ball is farthest from the hole shall hit first.
  8. If a tee shot is thought to have been hit out of bounds, a provisional ball may be played.
  9. Do not take your turn until you are sure that the group in front is out of reach of your shot.
  10. At the end of the round, shake hands with the competitors and congratulate the winner.

1. A Player Must Play the Ball as it Lies

a player must play the ball as it lies

When playing golf, players must use their turn to hit their ball at whatever place it stopped after the previous stroke. This means that a player must hit their ball from where it comes to a stop unless penalties or relief rules are applied. A player may remove obstructions in the ball’s path, including leaves, twigs, or litter.

A player may also move their ball within one club length, no closer to the hole if there are man-made paths, sprinklers, or drainage in the path of the ball. This will not result in a penalty stroke as long as the player follows the guidelines stated above when in these situations. A player will receive a one-stroke penalty if they move the ball instead of playing it as it lies.

2. Clubs in a Bag

golf clubs in a bag

During a competitive round of golf, a golfer may only carry up to fourteen clubs in their bag at any time. If a player is found with more than fourteen clubs in their bag during a round of play, that player may receive penalty strokes for every hole they played. This rule came into play during the 2001 Open Championship final round when the leader at the time, Ian Woosnam, was deducted two strokes because he had fifteen clubs in his bag during a number of holes. The USGA and PGA Tour are very strict with their rules and do not hesitate to enforce penalty strokes during competition if any player breaks the rules.

3. Teeing Up a Ball

types of tees

Players are allowed to tee up their ball only on the first stroke of any hole. This ball must be placed behind the markers present at each hole. There is a penalty of two strokes in match play for a player that tees their ball up in front of the markers. However, it is not a penalty for a player to take his stance in front of the marker as long as the tee with the ball is behind.

There are usually different tee markers at each hole, each corresponding to a different length to the hole catered to different players. The black tee markers are usually the farthest back for golfers that hit the ball the farthest. The next tee marker is usually white, followed by yellow and red.

4. Unplayable Lies

Golf Unplayable Lies

There are times during play when a player may hit their ball into a place that the player believes is unplayable. There are a few options that a player has in this situation, but all options result in a one-stroke penalty. A player may hit another ball from the spot of their previous shot, giving the player another chance to perform better at the same exact shot.

The next choice is to drop a new ball behind the unplayable lie, ensuring that the unplayable lie is still between the new drop and the hole. This could be beneficial to get the player away from an obstruction in their path. The last option is for a player to move their ball within two club lengths to either side of the unplayable lie but no closer to the hole. This assists a player whose obstruction is directly in front of the ball and cannot be moved.

5. Advice Is Technically Not Allowed

advice is technically not allowed

While golf is considered a sociable sport, there is a rule in golf that restricts advice from being given out between players in official competitions. During a competitive match, a player may not ask for advice on any club selections from other players. A player can, however, ask their teammate or caddie for advice at any point during play. 

Even though a player may not ask for advice from other players, they may ask about rules clarifications, distances, or positions of hazards. When playing with a partner, advice can be exchanged between each other and their caddies. If players are caught giving or asking for outside advice in any way, they are assessed a two-stroke penalty to their score.

6. Time Allowed to Look For a Ball

time allowed to look for a ball

If a player loses a ball during a round of play, they are given three minutes to look for the ball before it is deemed lost. However, the player is forced to take a one-stroke penalty if they can’t find their ball. If a player hits their ball into an obstruction, they are given three minutes to go and look for the ball if they wish. 

This gives the player a chance to save a penalty stroke from being added to their score if they were to find the ball. If a player finds their lost ball before the three minutes are up, they can play their ball as it lies and not take a penalty stroke. However, if the player believes their ball is unplayable, they can perform any of the three actions that were listed in Rule 4.

7. Whoever Is Farthest From the Hole Shoots

Whoever is farthest from the hole shoots

In professional golf, whoever is farthest from the hole shoots first. This rule mainly applies to competitive matches because recreational golfers tend to play what is called ready golf. Ready golf is when players shoot whenever they are ready and do not follow a set order after the first tee shot. However, in competitive play, an order must be maintained throughout the holes, allowing the person farthest from the hole to go until the hole is complete.

This means that after the first tee shot, players continue to shoot depending on how far they are from the hole. If a player were to break this order during the hole at any point, a competitor is allowed to cancel that shot and force the player to reshoot it. This rule is not usually enforced as it requires competitors to call each other out, which does not happen very often.

8. A Provisional Ball May Be Used After a Tee Shot

A Provisional Ball May Be Used After a Tee Shot

If a player fears that their tee shot may be lost or hit out of bounds, they may hit a second shot which is called a provisional. This rule is used to save time when looking for a ball and allows a player to continue if their ball is lost. The player may continue to play the provisional ball until they reach the area in which their first ball went out of bounds. At this time, the player may use their three-minute window to search for their ball.

If the ball cannot be found, the player may continue to play with the provisional ball until they finish the hole. If the player finds their ball, the provisional ball is no longer used, and the player continues playing with their original ball. If the player continues with the provisional ball, they will receive a one-stroke penalty at the completion of the hole. If the original ball is used to finish the hole, an extra penalty is not added.

9. Don’t Take Your Shot Until Everyone Is Out of the Way

Dont Take Your Shot Until Everyone Is Out of the Way

This may not be in the official rulebook for golf, but for safety concerns, no player should shoot when there is a concern of hitting a player or group in front of them. A general rule is to wait for the group in front of you to reach a distance that is farther than two of your shots to make sure that they will not be hit with any following shots.

If a player believes that there is any chance of hitting the players in front of them, they should wait to strike their ball. If a player notices that a ball may land close to other players on the course, they should scream “Fore” immediately to warn those players of the incoming ball. If the ball comes anywhere near other players, the person that hit it should make a point of apologizing to anyone they potentially endangered.

10. Congratulate Competitors

golf etiquette

Though it is not an official rule, it is proper etiquette for competitors to shake each other's hands and congratulate them, no matter the outcome of the match. Typically, competitors will remove their hats and gather to shake hands on the green after the last person in the group has put their ball in the hole. Shaking hands is a good way to show respect to fellow competitors and to compliment them on their game.


How do you play golf?

The basic principle of playing golf is simple: a player wants to use their club to hit their ball into the corresponding hole in as few strokes as possible. Whoever gets their ball in with the fewest strokes is declared the winner. Each hole has a different set of distances and obstacles, and there are penalty strokes for rule infractions, but the goal remains the same in both friendly and professional play.

What are the basic rules of golf?

Golf has many complex rules, but there are a few basic ones, such as a maximum limit of 14 clubs in a player’s bag and the requirement to tee off behind the appropriate marker. Other basic golf rules include: players must mark their balls and only play their own balls, balls must be played where they lie, and the number of strokes must be recorded on the scorecard at the end of each hole.

Who hits first in golf?

In golf, the player who shoots on a hole first is the player who recorded the lowest score on the previous hole. At the beginning of the round, players in a group may either draw straws, flip a coin, or use another random method to determine the order they will hit. After all players have made their tee shots on a hole, the first person to shoot their second shot will be the player with the ball furthest from the hole. This sequence continues until all balls have been put in the hole.