The game of golf has many rules to be followed. Some of these rules may be simple, some may be complex, and some are simply confusing. Needless to say, it is essential you know about the rules of golf so that you are not caught unawares on the course. The official golf rulebook has many rules, but not all of them are absolutely essential.
In this post, we have sifted through the book to give you the most important rules to follow while playing golf. After reading this article, you will be more aware of the rules of golf, and commit fewer grave mistakes on the course! The rules mentioned below cover strokeplay, so if you have any questions about matchplay games, do post them in the comments!
Rules related to Equipment:
1. Clubs- You are allowed to carry only 14 clubs with you on the course. If you are carrying more than 14, leave the others in the car to avoid a penalty. There are no rules regarding what clubs you should take out to the course, so you are free to pick any club you think will work best for that shot.
2. Balls- Once you start playing a hole with a ball, you have to finish playing with the same ball. Balls can be replaced when you are between two holes, but never in the middle of a hole. The exception to this rule is when you lose the ball you were playing with, in the midst of playing the hole. In such a case, you are allowed to use a new ball.
Rules related to tee box:
1. Tee the ball behind the line that has been made by the markers. Teeing the ball anywhere between the two markers is allowed, and you can tee it as far as the length of two drivers inside the marked area. Note that teeing the ball in front of the markers is NOT ALLOWED.
2. For whatever reason, if the ball falls off the tee before you get a chance to take a swing at it, it does not count as a shot. You can put it back on the tee and still take your first swing!
3. However, if you take a swing at the ball and miss it, it still counts as a shot. Sometimes balls are known to fall off the tee from the wind generated by your driver, even if you completely miss the ball. If that happens, you have to continue from the position the ball fell in.
Rules related to playing a hole:
1. You must play the ball as it is positioned. Touching the ball during the play of a hole is not allowed. You are also not allowed to make the ground better for the shot by pressing your shoe or club into the ground. This goes without saying, but you are not allowed to press the ball with your shoe so it becomes easier for you to hit the ball. This is broken by many people, but it is a violation of the golf rules.
2. You are not allowed to bend or break any branches so you can get an easier swing at the ball.
3. When playing from a bunker, remember to touch only the sand when you take a swing at the ball. Practice swings where you touch the sand are not allowed. Don’t press the golf club into the sand right before you start making a swing.
4. Sometimes your ball may fall into a water hazard. If there is no water in the hazard at the time, you are allowed to play from inside the hazard. If your ball is inside the red and yellow lines of the hazard, rule #3 applies to this case as well, ie, no grounding the ball, or removing stones, leaves, and other obstacles with your hand or the shoe or the club.
5. You are not allowed to aim by keeping something in front of the hole before you make a shot. Neither are you allowed to take the help of another player/ caddie to stand in front of the hole and help you in aiming the shot.
6. If you are on the golf course, you are allowed to remove small obstacles like feathers, dead grass, stones, leaves, and more, as long as you don’t brush against the ball and move its position. If the ball moves from its position it is a penalty. When picking out the obstacles, use only your hands, because using your club or shoes is not allowed.
7. The player who is the furthest from a hole has to play first. This rule is followed mostly in new groups and beginners since it gives all players an equal opportunity. Some people also play ‘ready golf’ which means anyone who is ready to play can play, and no particular order of play is followed.
8. The ball needs to be hit in one swift strike. Keeping extended contact with the ball by pushing it like a hockey puck is not allowed. Scooping the ball is also not allowed. You are allowed to hit only standing balls. Unless a ball is in the water, you cannot hit moving balls. The penalties that come with this violation are very severe, so don’t do it! One of the most common mistakes made by the players is not marking their ball properly. If you hit a ball that is not yours, you straightaway get a 2 stroke penalty.
We hope you have understood some of the basic rules of golf that we have written about in this article. There are a few more rules related to playing on the greens, rules about obstructions, and few more special conditions, which we will cover in the second part of this post! Stay tuned!