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. There is a maximum number of clubs 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, advice 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 feared to have been hit out of bounds, a second, 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 make sure to shake hands with the competitors and offer congrats to the winner and console the losers.

1. A player must play the ball as it lies

When playing golf, a player must use their turn to hit their ball at whatever place it stopped from the previous turn. This means that unless other rules of golf apply, a player must hit their ball where it comes to a stop, wherever that may be. A player may remove obstructions in the path of the ball 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

During a competitive round of golf, a golfer may only carry up to fourteen clubs in their bag any one 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 the rules of golf and do not hesitate to enforce and penalty strokes during competition if any player is found to have broken and rules, no matter if it may have no effect on the match being played.

golf club bag

3. Teeing up a ball

A player usually tees up their ball once per hole that they play. A player is allowed to tee up their ball only on the first stroke of any hole unless other rules state otherwise. This ball must be placed behind the markers that are present at each hole that is played at every course. There are usually different tee markers at each hole, each corresponding to a different length to the hole and a different player. The white tee markers are usually the farthest back as they are for people who use medal tees and usually hit the ball the farthest. The next tee marker is usually yellow; this tee is usually used for men and is the second farthest behind the white tees. The last tee, or the up-tees, are red and are usually used by women. Most people disregard the assignment for each tee and usually play where it is most comfortable for them. 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.

golf Teeing up a ball

4. Unplayable lies

There are times during play that a player may hit their ball and it lands in a place that the player believes is unplayable. There are a few options that a player has in this kind of situation but all options result in a single penalty stroke. A player may hit another ball from the place of the previous shot. This gives the player another chance at the same exact shot to do better than the last one. The problem with this choice is that a player may be moving the ball back so far that it would not be worth it and may end up being in a worse position. The next choice that the player has is to drop a ball behind the unplayable lie ensuring that the unplayable lie is still between the new drop and the hole. This could be beneficial in order to get the player away from an obstruction in their path. The last option is that a player can move their within two club lengths to either side of the unplayable lie. This assists a player whose obstruction is directly in front on the ball and cannot be moved.

golf Unplayable lies

5. Advice is technically not allowed

While it is considered a sociable sport as it encourages people playing together in foursomes, there is a rule in golf that restricts advice being given out between players. A player, during a competitive match, may not ask for advice on any club selections from other players that are not a teammate. A player can however, ask his caddie, and his caddie for advice at any point during play. Even though a player may not ask for advice from other players during play they may ask about rules clarifications, distances, or positions of hazards. When playing with a partner or partners, advice can be exchanged between them and their caddies but if players are caught giving or asking for advice in any way they are to be accessed a two stroke penalty to their score.

6. Time allowed to look for a ball

A player may lose a ball during a round of play, but they are given time to look for the ball before it is deemed lost and the player is forced to take multiple stroke penalties. If a player hits their ball into an obstruction, they are given five minutes to go and look for the ball if they wish. This is better than losing a ball because it gives the player a chance to save a stroke penalty from their score if they were to find it. If a player finds the lost ball before the five minutes are up they have many choices that they could do to continue playing. They could play their ball as it lies and not take any stroke penalty to their score. This is the best option usually as it does not add a stroke to the score of the player. However, the player believes their ball is unplayable they could perform any of the three actions that were listed in Rule 4 with, of course, a one stroke penalty.

7. Whoever is farthest from the hole shoots

This rule mainly applies for competitive matches because when playing recreationally, players usually follow different rules as they play ready golf. Ready golf is when players simply 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 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 and this does not happen very often.

8. 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, after announcing the use of a provisional ball, may hit a second shot. This rule is used to save time when looking for a ball and allows a player to continue in case their ball is lost. The player may continue to strike this ball until the area in which the ball went out of bounds in reached. At this time, the player may use their five 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 in use and the player continues with the original ball. At the completion of the hole, if the player continued with the provisional ball the player receives a one stroke penalty to their score. If the original ball is used to finish the hole, an extra penalty is not added, but whatever penalties occurred during the hole are still in effect.

9. Do not take your shot until everyone is out of the way

This may not be an official rule of the sport of golf but for safety concerns, no player should shoot when there is a concern of hitting the group or foursome 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 in order to make sure that they will not be hit with any of your next shots. If a player believes that there is any remote chance of hitting the players in front of them, they should wait to strike their ball. If a player notices that a ball will be close to other players they should scream "Fore" immediately in order to warn those players of the incoming ball. If the ball is to come anywhere near other players, then the person that hit it should make a point of apologizing to all the players in the area that were put in harm.

10. Congratulate Competitors

Again, this is not an official rule of play for golf but it is in good etiquette that competitors shake each others hang and congratulate them on good play no matter the outcome of the match. At the end of the match, no matter who wins, it was a pleasure to play the game of golf with some peers. Shaking hands is a good way to show respect to fellow competitors and a great chance to compliment them on their game. You can congratulate the winner of the match and console the losers but in the end, if it is recreational golf, it is all just for fun and a great way to spend time with friends and co-workers.