The Basic Rules Of Golf Are Constantly Changing

By: Allan Wilson

The rules of golf are constantly being amended and added to. This set of tips will explain some of the basic rules and help you understand the game a bit better.

Match Play

There are two ways to play golf: match play and stroke play. In match play, each hole is a separate contest. The scoring is as follows: if you win the first hole, you are one-up; if you lose it, you are one-down; if you tie it, you are all-square.

Stroke Play

Stroke play is a round of golf in which the score is kept by adding the total of strokes taken throughout the round (9 or 18 holes). Another name for stroke play is medal play.

Your Responsibilities

You have several responsibilities as a golf player. Here are a few:

Read the rules on the course you're playing on.
Tee off on time.
Always use your correct handicap.
Record your score correctly on your scorecard.
Play your own ball.

Practice

You are not allowed to take practice shots from any hole, or on any hazard. Local courses may have their own rules about this; make sure you're familiar with them.

Asking Advice

When playing a round of golf, you're not allowed to ask anyone except your caddie or partner for advice on how to play. You can ask about rules, however. You're not allowed to give advice to your opponent or fellow-competitor, either.

When to Play

When playing a hole, the player whose ball is farthest from the hole plays first. This is important to remember because, if you play out of turn, your opponent can make you replay your shot.

Teeing Ground

The area you tee your ball to make the first hit of each hole is called the teeing ground. You can put your ball between the tee markers, or a little behind them. You're allowed to place your ball as far as two club lengths behind the markers. If your ball accidentally falls off the tee, you may replace it without penalty.

As It Lies

A big rule in golf is that you must play the ball as it lies; you can't move it to a better spot. You can't improve your shot by pressing down the turf behind the ball. If you find yourself in a hazard, you can't touch the sand, ground or water with the club before or during your back swing.

How To Strike

You must hit your golf ball swiftly while making a shot. You aren't allowed to push, rake, or scrape the ball. You also aren't allowed to hit or touch the ball while it's moving.

Water Hazard

If your ball is in a water hazard, you can play it as it lies. If you can't find it or don't want to play it, you need to add a penalty stroke and drop and play another ball from where you last played, or drop a ball behind the water hazard as far back as you want.

Dropping Your Ball

When you drop your ball, stand straight, hold your arm out straight and drop it. There are several rules about when this drop doesn't count, and you're allowed to re-drop.

Here are some of those circumstances:
If it hits the ground and rolls into a hazard
If it comes to rest more than two club-lengths from where it first struck a part of the course
If you are dropping away from an immovable obstruction or ground under repair, etc., and it goes back into the obstruction.

The Putting Green

When your ball is on the green, you're allowed to brush away leaves and other loose impediments within your line of putt. You're not allowed to test the surface of the green by rolling a ball or scraping the surface.

Hitting the Flagstick

There are several rules about hitting the flagstick. Here are a few:

If your ball is off the green, there is no penalty if you play and your ball strikes the flagstick.

If your ball is on the green, either take the flagstick out or ask another player to hold it and take it out when you play your ball.

In match play, if you putt and your ball hits the flagstick when it is in the hole, you lose the hole. In stroke play, you must add two penalty strokes to your score for the hole.

Ball Interference

If another ball is in your line of putt, you can ask the owner to lift it. If your ball is near the hole, and could be in the way of another player's shot, you may lift your ball.

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