You are ready to play golf! You’ve gone through all the basics of golf, learning your stances and practicing your swing. However, there’s something more important to learn; the rules of golf.
When you sign up to a golf club they give you a handbook of the rules you need to follow. The most popular one is the USGA rules of golf. You have to know proper etiquette, match play; there are even rules for the teeing ground! Let’s take a look at your most basic of rules: etiquette, match play, scramble rules, order of play, out of bound rules, and take a closer look at the flagstick. Grab your clubs and your golf balls and let’s learn about the rules of golf!
Rule of Golf #1: Etiquette
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If you’ve ever watched a PGA tournament in person, or on tv, what have you noticed? No referee. That’s because golf relies on players to play in a disciplined manner and have respect for other players. Basically, to succeed at a tournament you have to remember what your mama taught you; be kind, courteous, and to always be quiet during certain situations. Not to mention, if you’re a bit hot-headed, you must keep your temper under control.
Let’s Do The Safety Dance!
Another part of the rules of golf is safety. Dont stand too close to other players who are on the teeing green, or in any position where they debris from the club may hit them. Another part of being safe on the course is to tell the greenstaff if they’re going to be endangered by the ball, that way the greenstaff are able to move into a safer position.
Don’t Forget to Keep Their Attention – Fore!
Now, we’ve all heard a golf yell, “Fore!” But what does this actually mean? Basically, this is what you want to yell if you’re on a long faraway and there could possibly be players at the bottom, or audience members who could get hit by the ball. Yelling “Fore!” is going to let them know you’ve hit the ball and to look out for it as it makes it way to where it is going to land.
Oh That Beautiful Green: Teeing Off
Next, you don’t want to tee off until it is your turn. Golfers should also not disturb other players while it is their turn. No wonder golf tournaments are so quiet! Again, you don’t want to be a distraction to the other players, nor stand too close to them as they make their drive. While on the putting green you want to make sure that you are not standing on the players line of putt, nor cast a shadow over their line of putt. Basically, stand back and to the side of them.
Rule of Golf #2: Match Play
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This golf rule states that a match is played by holes. Whoever finishes the hole with fewer strokes wins that hole played. This can be frustrating if you’re a beginner, and it’s your first time in front of the audience and pro-golfers. You’re going to get nervous and jittery. But if you stay calm and have fun, you’re going to do a good job.
To determine the winner of the match “when one side leads by a number of holes greater than the number remaining to be played.” If there is a tie, the Committee will extend the round until a winner comes out for that hole.
Penalty? You guessed it, there is a penalty for match play. This rule of golf generally states that when there is a breach of the match play rule, they golfer who breached it loses the hole. Points are awarded to the other player.
Stroke play falls under the Match Play rules where each golfer completes a hole, or rounds, and have to return a score card that has their gross score for each hole. The golfer who finishes the round with the lowest net score wins the round. This rule of golf has a lot of subsections to fall under, but once you’ve read over them a couple of time it all starts to make sense.
Rule of Golf #3: Scramble Rules
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This is where golf can almost be considered a team sport because you don’t necessarily have to keep individual scores. It is a team tournament! Scramble is played in 2-person or 4-person teams and generally done for charity, and golf association events.
Players can tee off using whichever golf club they’d like, yet not using their driver. After each player tees off, you’re going to want to choose the best ball and mark that spot with a golf marker. All golfers play their second stroke from the location that the best of the first strokes landed.
Next, each player will hit their ball from one club length of the marked ball. To win at a golf scramble, your team needs to finish the hole with the fewest amount of strokes. Whichever team gets their ball in the hole, with the fewest strokes to get there, wins the hole.
Here’s a fun video of Todd Kolb showing a 2-person scramble:
Rule of Golf #4: Order of Play
Order of play: order of draw tees off first. The player who wins the hole tees off on the next one. This continues throughout the match. During play of the hole, and after play has started, the ball farthest from the hole is played first. If you have more than one ball that’s at the same distance from the hole, it is determined by the lot who shall hit their ball first. There is an exception to this rule explained in the USGA Rules handbook, Rule 22: Ball Assisting or Interfering of Play.
Playing out of turn can be a good thing, or a bad thing.Mostly a bad thing. If you play out of turn you have to play your ball wherever it lies. So if it landed in a hazard during tee-off, then you have to play it there. However, if it’s decided by the Committee that a player has played out of turn for an advantage to themselves, that player is disqualified from the game.
Rule of Golf #5: Out of Bounds
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It happens to every golfer from time to time. Their ball is going to go out of bounds, or into a hazard section of the course they are playing. Unfortunately, this often results in a penalty of one stroke. According to the USGA Rules of Golf, the player must play their ball as close to the spot as they played their last stroke. Here’s where stroke and distance will come in handy. You’ll still receive a one-stroke penalty, but you’ll play the ball as close as possible where it was last played.
There is also a five-minute rule for playing out of bounds. If your ball ever ends up out of bounds, you’re allowed five minutes to find the ball. If a ball is not claimed within the five-minute rule, that player receives a one-stroke penalty. You will have to play as near as possible to where you played it last.
You’ve hit your ball into the water, now what? Normally nothing good happens once you’ve hit your ball into the water. According to the USGA rules, Rule 26-1 states: “If a ball is found in a water hazard or if it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard (whether the ball lies in water or not), the player may under penalty of one stroke.”
To make it a little easier, here’s a video on golf hazards:
Rule of Golf #6: The Flagstick
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This rule of golf is simple: the flagstick is generally found on the putting green. Once all golfers get to the putting green they can have the flagstick attended, held up, or removed. Your caddie may attend you during putting. However, if it’s removed with your knowledge, then it’s assumed the flagstick was attended,with your approval.
As you might have guessed it, there’s a penalty for this rule. If there is a breach of this rule the golfer loses the hole during match play, where there is a two-stroke penalty during stroke play.
Penalty for Breach of Rule 17-1 or 17-2:“In stroke play, if a breach of Rule 17-2 occurs and the competitor’s ball subsequently strikes the flagstick, the person attending or holding it or anything carried by him, the competitor incurs no penalty. The ball is played as it lies, except that if the stroke was made on the putting green, except that if the stroke was made on the putting green, the stroke is canceled and the ball must be replaced and replayed.”
We’ve gone over just a tip of the rules of golf. There are a lot of things to take into consideration when playing golf and the rules of golf are a big part of that. Knowing the rules and how to obey them, follow them, what have you, is going to keep you knowledgeable about the game, and how to treat other players. For a closer look at the whole set of rules, follow the guidelines set in the USGA rule handbook.