In the game of golf, just like any other sport, there are rules to be followed. Before you even begin playing the game, you should be aware of these rules, as they will not only improve your game, but your entire experience. Many rules are very detailed, and some may be common sense while others may be unexpected, but knowing the rules is imperative to your game.
While the official rule book can be somewhat dry and boring, there are at least 10 rules that you should know before starting out. Below, we will go into detail about the top 10 most important rules in golf. You should be able to figure out the rest as you go.
Here are the top 10 most important rules in golf:
- You can carry up to 14 clubs in your bag during a competitive round. It does not matter which 14 you choose (but choose wisely). However, if you have more than 14 in your bag, it could cost you penalty strokes on each hole that you play. Even if you have 15 clubs, that is one too many and can cost you those penalty strokes.
- Make sure to tee up behind the indicated tee markers. As long as you tee up between the two markers, you are fine, and you can tee as far back as the length of two drivers. This means that if your driver is 45 inches, you can tee up as far back as 90 inches. There are typically different colored tees for you to choose from, so how do you know which to use? Well, that depends on your level of skill. Generally speaking, red tees are for newer female golfers or those looking to improve their game, blue tees are for more experienced female players, yellow tees are for newer male golfers who are looking to improve their game, and white tees are for male golfers who have a good level of experience and skill. Remember, if you tee up outside the set parameters, then there will be two penalty strokes incurred.
- Be sure to use your own ball. While this may sound like an obvious rule, it can be difficult because of all of the similarly stamped balls on the course. If you happen to accidentally pick up someone else’s ball and use it to play, then this could result in a loss of hole if you are playing singles or a two-stroke penalty in strokeplay. If you lose a ball during a hole, then you can play with a new ball, but otherwise you must finish the hole with the ball you started with. Changing balls in between holes is fine. So how can you recognize your ball? Remembering the number printed on it is one easy way of doing this. You could also draw a distinctive marking on your ball or use different colored balls than other players.
- You may repair any pitchmarks, but you may not make the lie better to make your swing easier. This rule is broken by many people, as a lot of people think that they are the same thing. However, if your ball is lying still and you press down with your club or foot behind it to make for a better swing, this is against the rules.
- You have three options if your ball is considered “unplayable” where it lies. Some people will attempt to hit the ball from where it is, though this is very tricky and can end in frustration for the player. However, at a one shot penalty, you are able to hit the ball from the point of your previous shot, drop the ball two club lengths behind where the ball landed (not getting closer to the hole), or drop the ball to either side (again within two club lengths) of where it lies (and again, without getting closer to the hole).
- The person furthest from the hole plays first. This is mostly for safety reasons, so that no one gets knocked in the head by a golf ball. However, some people play “ready golf” which means that the person that is ready can go first. However you play, make sure that the other players are on board and everyone is on the same page.
- If you think your ball is out of bounds, you can play a “provisional” ball. If you suspect that your ball is lost or went into the water, then you can hit a provisional ball from the same location. If you find your other ball, then you can play that one and remove the provisional ball without penalty. If the ball is, indeed, lost, then you can play on with your provisional ball at a one stroke penalty.
- Don’t seek advice from anyone other than your own teammate. While golf is a social game, the rules are clear that you should not seek advice, nor should you offer it, to anyone that is not your teammate. You can, however, ask for information on the rules from anyone.
- Never hit moving balls. Now, this rule has the exception of the ball being in the water. However, if the ball is anywhere on the green and it is moving, do NOT hit it. If the shot was an intentional double hit, then you will be penalized. Meaning that if the ball is still moving and you knowingly hit it again, you will be penalized.
- Be sure to score correctly. After a strokeplay round, you will make sure that you have scored your round correctly by switching scorecards with a person from the opposing team. They will review your scorecard and once the scorecards have been double checked and signed off by everyone. Incorrect scorecards and unsigned scorecards may be disqualified.