Do you know the rules of golf?


Each week I will post a new rule on this page so remember to keep checking this page if you want to be clued up on the Rules of Golf.

If you are unsure of any rule please feel free to pop into the shop and discuss with me. We also have rule books available free of charge.


Rule One

Are you aware of the difference between sand or soil lying on the green and sand or soil lying off the green?

On the green it is a loose impediment and can be brushed away. If the sand lies off the green it is not and thus you are not allowed to brush it away. Breach of this rule is a loss of hole in match play and a two shot penalty in stroke play!


Rule Two

If your ball is in a bunker or water hazard, do not:

- touch the ground (or water in a water hazard) with your hand or club before your downswing
- move loose impediments (Rule 13-4)

Penalty for breach of rule: Strokeplay - 2 Shots; Matchplay - Loss of hole


Rule Three

Water Hazards (Rule 26)

If your ball is in a water hazard (yellow stakes) you may play it as it lies or, under penalty of one stroke:
- Play a ball from where your last shot was played, or
- Drop a ball any distance behind the water hazard keeping a straight line between the hole, the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard and the spot on which the ball is dropped.

Water Hazard Rule

The above diagram shows a ball being hit from point A and finishing in the hazard at point B. X marks where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard. It is this point X that MUST be kept between you and the hole (O) when you drop the ball. This is defined in the diagram along the line DX. Even if the tee shot had crossed the hazard and then gone in on the other side, a player cannot drop the ball on the other side when the hazard is marked with yellow stakes. This is only an extra option when the water hazard is marked by red stakes (lateral water hazard).


Rules Four

One of the most common mishaps on the golf course is hitting a wrong ball. We have previously mentioned the importance of marking your ball so that it is easier to identify as your own.

Not including hitting the wrong ball from a water hazard;
If a wrong ball is hit in match play the penalty is loss of hole.
If a wrong ball is hit in stroke play the penalty is 2 strokes.

The competitor must correct his mistake by playing the correct ball. If he fails to correct his mistake before making a stroke on the next teeing ground or, in the case of the last hole of the round, fails to declare his intention to correct his mistake before leaving the putting green, he is disqualified. Strokes made by a competitor with a wrong ball do not count in his score.


Rule Five

With many courses still recovering from the constant rain and flooding through the winter (Princes was no exception with many bunkers out of play) it appears to be very apt to talk about the relief that a player can get from GUR (ground under repair).

If a ball lies in GUR and the player takes relief then the first thing to be done is find the nearest point of relief, that gives complete relief from the GUR area. This is not a choice of where the player would like to drop the ball, but the nearest point to the ball that gives the player complete relief from the GUR. Once this point is identified, the player can then drop their ball within one club length of this point not nearer the hole.

A player is allowed to clean their ball when taking relief from GUR.


Rule Six

Pace of Play - Players should play at a good pace. It is a group's responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If it loses a clear hole and it is delaying the group behind, it should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group. Where a group has not lost a clear hole, but it is apparent that the group behind can play faster, it should invite the faster moving group to play through.

Be Ready to Play - Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn to play. When playing on or near the putting green, they should leave their bags or carts in such a position as will enable quick movement off the green and towards the next tee. When the play of a hole has been completed, players should immediately leave the putting green.

Lost Ball - If a player believes his ball may be lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, to save time, he should play a provisional ball. Players searching for a ball should signal the players in the group behind them to play through as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball will not easily be found. They should not search for five minutes before doing so.


Rule Seven

Ball at Rest Moved (Rule 18)

Generally, when your ball is in play, if;
- You accidently cause it to move
- You lift it when not permitted, or
- It moves after you have addressed it

Add a penalty stroke and replace your ball.

There are exceptions to this but the above is generally true. For exceptions please please see Rule 18 in rule book.

Rule Eight

Touching Line of Putt

The line of putt must not be touched except:
(i) the player may remove loose impediments, provided he does not press anything down
(ii) the player may place the club in front of the ball when addressing it, provided he does not press anything down.
(iii) In measuring - Rule 18-6
(iv) In lifting or replacing the ball - Rule 16-1b
(v) In pressing down a ball marker
(vi) In repairing old hole plugs or ball marks on the putting green - Rule 16-1c and
(vii) In removing movable obstructions - Rule 24-1

Penalty for breach of rule: Match Play - loss of hole; Stroke play - Two strokes.


Rule Nine

When to re-drop

A ball dropped must be re-dropped, without penalty, if it:
i) rolls into and comes to rest in a hazard;
ii) rolls out of and comes to rest outside a hazard;
iii) rolls onto and comes to rest on a putting green;
iv) rolls and comes to rest out of bounds;
v) rolls to and comes to rest in a position where there is interference by the condition from which relief was taken under Rule 24-2b (immovable obstruction), Rule 25-1 (abnormal ground conditions), Rule 25-3 (wrong putting green) or a local rule (Rule 33-8a), or rolls back into the pitch-mark from which it was lifted under 25-2 (embedded ball);
vi) rolls and comes to rest more than 2 club-lengths from where it first struck a part of the course; or
vii) rolls and comes to rest nearer the hole than:
a) its original position or estimated position (see Rule 20-2b) unless otherwise permitted by the rules; or
b) the nearest point of relief or maximum available relief (Rule 24-2, 25-1 or 25-3); or
c) the point where the original ball crossed the margin of the water hazard or lateral water hazard (Rule 26-1).

If the ball when re-dropped rolls into any position listed above, it must be placed as near as possible to the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped.

Rule Ten

Players are often confused as to what damage they can repair on the putting green. Let's try and clarify this:

Rule 16-1c states;
The player may repair an old hole plug or damage to the putting green caused by the impact of a ball, whether or not the player's ball lies on the putting green. This is the only damage that a player may repair on the putting green without incurring a penalty and note that the player's ball does not have to be on the green for the player to repair the damage.

.......and while we are on the subject; do you know the correct way to repair a pitch mark? It amazes me how often I see single figure golfers and even some professionals 'repairing' pitch marks incorrectly.

A pitch mark should be repaired as follows:

- Commence at the back of the pitch mark and push forward with a pitch mark repairer.
- Attend to each side of the pitch mark, easing the turf towards the centre.
- NEVER lift the pitch mark fork or tee upward bringing soil to the surface.
- NEVER twist the fork within the ground.
- DO NOT replace any turf that came out with the pitch
- Complete the repair by tapping down with a putter.


Rule Eleven

Playing from Outside Teeing Ground

Match Play - If a player, when starting a hole, playes from outside the teeing ground, there is no penalty, but the opponent may immediately require the player to cancel the stroke and play a ball from within the teeing ground.

Stroke Play - If a competitor, when starting a hole, plays a ball from outside the teeing ground, he incurs a penalty of two strokes and must then play a ball from within the teeing ground. If the competitor makes a stroke from the next teeing ground without first correcting his mistake or, in the case of the last hole of the round, leaves the putting green without first declaring his intention to correct his mistake, he is disqualified. The stroke from outside the teeing ground and any subsequent strokes by the competitor on the hole prior to his correction of the mistake do not count in his score.


Rule Twelve

Rule 12-2 Lifting Ball for Identification

The responsibility for playing the proper ball rests with the player. Each player should put an identification mark on his ball.

If a player believes that a ball at rest might be his but he cannot identify it, the player may lift the ball for identification, without penalty. The right to lift a ball for identification is in addition to the actions permitted under Rule 12-1.

Before lifting the ball, the player must announce his intention to his opponent in match play or his marker or fellow competitor in stroke play and mark the position of the ball. He may then lift the ball and identify it, provided that he gives his opponent, marker or fellow competitor an opportunity to observe the lifting and replacement. The ball must not be cleaned beyond the extent necessary for identification when lifted under Rule 12-2.

If the ball is the players ball and he fails to comply with all or any part of this procedure, or he lifts his ball in order to identify it without having good reason to do so, he incurs a penalty of one stroke. If the lifted ball is the player's ball, he must replace it. If he fails to do so, he incurs a 2 shot penalty in stroke play and loss of hole in matchplay.