The Rules of Golf 1-15

Understand the concepts in golf so you are well equipped when playing on the course.

A golf course

Rule 1: The Game


The holes on the course should be played in order (1 through 9, or 1 through 18) unless decided otherwise.


Rule 2: Match Play


In match play, each hole is a separate contest. If you win the first hole, you are “one-up”; if you lose it, you are “one-down”; if you halve it, you are “all-square.” You have won the match when you are more holes up than there are left to play. Anyone you are playing against is your “opponent.”


Rule 3: Stroke Play


In stroke play, the competitor with the lowest total score for the round (or rounds) is the winner. You must play your ball into the hole before starting the next hole. Anyone you are playing with is a “fellow-competitor”.


It is not possible to play match play and stroke play at the same time.


Rule 4/ Rule 5: Clubs and the Ball


You may carry no more than fourteen clubs. You may not change balls during the play of a hole unless a Rule allows it. However, if you damage your ball or it goes out of shape, you may change the ball after first consulting your opponent or fellow competitor.


Rule 6: Player’s Responsibilities


Read the notices given to you by the tournament officials. Always use your correct handicap. Know your tee-time or starting time, and be there ready to play at that time. Make sure you can identify your own ball (put a mark on the ball in case someone else is using an identical ball). In stroke play, make sure your score for each hole is correct and sign your card before returning it.


Rule 7: Practice


You may not hit a practice shot while playing a hole, or from any hazard. Normally, practice is not allowed on the course before a stroke event, but is allowed before a match.


Rule 8: Advice on How to Play


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


Rule 9: Advising Opponent on Strokes Taken


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


Rule 10: The Order of Play


The player who has the lowest score on a hole has the right to play his/her ball first on the next hole. This is called the “honour.” While playing a hole, the player whose ball is farthest from the hole plays first. In match play, if you play out of turn, your opponent may make you replay your shot. This is not so in stroke play.


Rule 11 : Teeing Ground


Tee your ball between the tee-markers or a little behind them. You may tee your ball as far as two club lengths behind the markers.


If your ball accidentally falls off the tee before making your first stroke, you may replace it without penalty.


Rule 12: Searching for and Identifying Ball


A hazard is any bunker (a hollow area containing sand) or water hazard (lake, stream, drainage ditch, etc). Anywhere on the course, if loose impediments in a hazard completely cover your ball, you may remove enough of the sand or impediments during a search to be able to see a part of the ball.


You may lift your ball to identify it anywhere on the course. You must tell your opponent or fellow competitor before you lift your ball to identify it.




Rule 13: Playing the Ball as It Lies




You must play the ball as it lies. You may not improve your lie by pressing down behind the ball. The club may be grounded only lightly behind the ball.


You may not improve the area of your stance, intended swing or line of play by bending or breaking anything growing, such as tree branches or long grass.


In a bunker you may not touch the sand, or in a water hazard touch the ground or water, with your club before or during your back swing.


In any 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




You must strike the ball fairly with the head of the club. You must not hit your ball while it is moving (except in water).




Rule 15: Playing a Wrong Ball




If you play a ball that is not yours, you lose the hole in match play, or incur a two-stroke penalty in stroke play.



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