Basic Rules of Golf

New to golf? Before you step foot on the course, you’ll need to get your head around some basic rules, first! 

Whether you plan on playing for fun, or you want to attend a golf tournament as a spectator and want to understand what’s going on, make sure you’re familiar with the basic rules of golf etiquette with our simple to follow cheat sheet. 

Rules for Golf Equipment

Always remember, you’re only allowed to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in your golf bag. You’re allowed to have less, however, if you bring more than 14 onto the course with you, you’re going to get points deducted, especially if you’re playing in a tournament.

As for golf balls, you should always finish a hole with the ball that you first started with. You’re allowed to replace a ball between holes but never during a hole. The only exception is if you were to mis-hit and lose the ball that you’re currently playing, in which case you are allowed to replace it with a new one.

Rules for the Teeing Ground

When in the tee box (or teeing ground) you have to tee the ball up behind the line that has been created by the tee markers. Though it’s extremely important that you never stand in front of the tee markers, you’re allowed to tee the ball as far back as two drivers from the imaginary line. 

After you’ve positioned the ball, it will be time to swing. If you miss the ball, that will count as one shot and if the wind happens to move the ball, you must play it from wherever it stops rolling.

The order of play in the tee box is determined by the scores from the previous hole. The player who has the lowest score gets to hit first, working from lowest to highest until everyone has taken their shots. However, if you play ‘ready golf’ with your golf buddies, the rules are different and more relaxed. In this instance, whoever is ready will take their shot, regardless of scores.

Rules for marking the ball

You may mark your ball with a coin or marker, as this will ensure that other players do not mistake your ball for their own, and vice versa. Though there are no rules enforced that makes you mark your ball, it is considered good golf etiquette to do so. However, if you don’t mark the ball correctly, however, you can incur some penalties.

If you mark the ball with a coin, it will be considered a moveable obstruction in the rules of golf. So, if a player requests that a ball marker is in his line of play, it is allowed to be moved. 

If you drop your marker on the golf ball and move it, you will incur a one-stroke penalty. However, in the instance that the wind moves the marker, or it gets accidentally knocked by circumstances out of your control, there will be no penalty. Additionally, if a player picks up a marker before the hole has been decided, a one-stroke penalty will be applied. If a player tries to give themselves an unfair advantage by placing the ball too far in front of the marker, this can result in disqualification, especially if done more than once. 

Basic Rules During Play 

While playing a hole:

You have to play the ball as it lies. You must never kick or roll the ball into a more advantageous position, nor can your caddie. If you do this, you risk getting points deducted and if you’re playing in a tournament, you could even get disqualified. 

Just like how you can’t move the ball, you’re also not allowed to try to improve lie conditions. This rule is broken by a lot of people, with many players pressing their foot directly behind the ball to make it easier for them to hit. You should also not press your club down to try and flatten the ground.

If you’re in a bunker, you can’t ground the club in the sand behind the ball. However, you are allowed to remove leaves, stones, and other obstructing objects. 

While hitting the ball:

Make sure that you know which ball is yours before playing it. If you play another player’s ball, you will get a 2 stroke penalty.

If you non-intentionally make a double hit, you won’t get penalized. However, if you do intentionally make a double hit, you will get penalized. 

You must hit the ball with one strike. You’re not allowed to push or scoop the ball.

While on the greens:

While on the greens, you’re allowed to clear away any loose impediments such as sand from the bunkers, gravel, and leaves. 

You’re not allowed to rub or scrape the surface of the green with your clubface or hands in order to get a feel of the texture.

In the instance that a golfer asks you to move your marker to the left or right due to obstruction, simply place your putter next to the marker and move it down to the heel. After the golfer has made their shot, simply push the marker back in line with the head of the putter. 

After putting a ball, if it stops just at the edge of the hole, you are allowed to wait 10 seconds to see if it goes in and, if it does, you can count that as one shot. However, if it takes longer than 10 seconds to go in, you have to count an additional shot. 

Rules for Talking to Other Players

If playing in a tournament, your caddie can only give you advice on how to play the hole. You can’t ask another player for help or advice. However, if you’re playing with friends or in a more casual environment, these rules do not apply and you’re free to engage in conversation as you wish!

In addition, while in competitive play, your caddie can’t line you up before a shot is taken. They can only advise you. 

Scoring Correctly

Regardless of whether you’re playing for fun or competitively, it is good golf etiquette to talk to other players tt the end of a strokeplay round in order to make sure your card has been completed correctly. You should each come together and compare scores by exchanging cards and making sure that everyone has the same figures. 

Once you have done this and are all in agreement with the scores, the cards must be signed by all parties to indicate that the scoring records are correct. If there are any incorrect scorecards (whether that be lower scores marked or unsigned cards) this will lead to an instant disqualification under rule 6-6.

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Whether you plan on playing for fun, or you want to attend a golf tournament as a spectator and want to understand what’s going on, make sure you’re familiar with the basic rules of golf etiquette with our simple to follow cheat sheet. 

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