During the past
few years, more and more new golfers are hitting the links. It’s a great thing!
The game is more popular than ever, and Texans new to the game are enjoying all
the physical and mental benefits it provides, as well as the challenges, thrills,
and coveted time outdoors with friends and/or family.
When it comes
to the Rules of Golf, things can get confusing and overwhelming in a hurry. The
Rules, especially for competitive tournaments, need to be very specific and detailed
to cover the various scenarios that can arise during a round of golf. For
example, when you’re dealing with 144 different rounds of golf like each of the
first two days at the Texas Amateur. But there are times when even the most
seasoned professional golfers sometimes struggle with knowing the correct Rule
for a certain situation.
Here’s the good
news. For most recreational golfers, a full understanding of all the Rules isn’t
necessary. It is important, however, to have a basic understanding of the Rules
because oftentimes they can help you.
Here are Five
Rules Every Golfer Should Know:
Most of the
time, you’ll play your ball as it lies. Rule
16.1 covers “Relief from Abnormal Course Conditions, including Immovable
Obstructions.” There are four types of Abnormal Course Conditions; they are detailed
for all these instances in the General Area is determined using the Nearest
Point of Relief and a club-length from there, provided it is no closer to the
hole than the original spot. The Nearest Point of Relief is not always the nicest
point of relief, meaning the nearest point off a cart path could be in the
fairway or in a bush.
ball becomes lost in an abnormal course condition, but if it is known or
virtually certain that ball is in the condition, then relief is available under
this rule. Relief is not available under this rule for a ball in a penalty
area, but if in a bunker, the relief area must be determined in the bunker to
avoid a penalty stroke. For one penalty stroke, the ball may be brought out of
the bunker under back-on-the-line relief.
· Animal Hole: Any hole
dug in the ground by an animal, except for holes dug by animals that are also
defined as loose impediments (such as worms, insects, spiders, and
· Ground Under Repair
(GUR): Any part of the course the committee defines to be ground under
repair. Any defined GUR includes both the ground inside the edge of the defined
area and any grass, bush, tree, or other growing or attached natural object
rooted in the defined area, even if it extends beyond the defined area. GUR
also is any hole made by the committee or maintenance staff in setting up or
maintaining the course except aeration holes. Grass cuttings, leaves, or
other material piled for removal, as well as any animal habitat that is so near
a player’s ball that the player’s stroke or stance might damage it are
· Immovable Obstruction:
Any obstruction that might be moved without unreasonable effort or without
damaging the obstruction or the course. The committee may define any
obstruction to be an immovable obstruction even if it meets the definition of a
· Temporary Water: Any
temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground that is not in a
penalty area and can be seen before or after the player takes a stance.
There is a
limit on the number of clubs you can have in your bag. Rule
4.1b states players must not start a round with more than 14 clubs or have
more than 14 clubs during the round. Players that start the round with fewer
clubs may add clubs, provided they don’t go over the 14-club limit.
Players may not
share clubs unless playing in a team/partner format, and the shared clubs can’t
add up to more than 14 for each player.
If a club is
lost or damaged due to a player’s actions, the Rules prevent that player from
replacing clubs, but the player can continue using it for that round. If a club
is lost or damaged by an outside influence, such as natural forces or by any
person other than the player or caddie, then it can be replaced.
When adding or
replacing clubs, the player must not unreasonably delay play, borrow from
another player, or build a club out of parts carried by anyone.
Penalty for a
breach of Rule 4.1b is different in Match Play versus Stroke Play. In Match Play:
the match score is revised by deducting a hole per offense with a maximum
penalty of two holes. In Stroke Play, it’s a two-stroke penalty per hole with
more clubs with a maximum of four strokes.
Rule 14.1 covers
Marking, Lifting and Cleaning your Ball. When a ball is lifted under the Rules,
the spot must be marked if being replaced. To mark a spot, place a ball-marker
right behind or next to the ball, or you can hold a club on the ground in those
Who can mark and lift your ball? The Rules say it’s the player or
anyone the player authorizes. However, unless it’s your caddie, and your ball
is on the putting green, then authorization must be made before each instance.
There are four times when a ball lifted can’t be cleaned.
lifted to identify it.
lifted to see if cut or cracked.
lifted because it interferes with play.
lifted to see if it lies in a condition where relief is allowed.
The penalty for improper procedure on marking, lifting, and
cleaning a ball is one stroke.
The teeing area
is defined by Rule
6.2 as “The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she
is playing. The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where
the front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two
tee-markers set by the committee and the side edges are defined by the lines
back from the outside points of the tee-markers.”
All tee markers
must remain in place for the hole being played. All other teeing locations on
the course are part of the general area. Conditions may be improved in the
teeing area, including:
· Altering the surface
of the ground (indentation with club or foot).
· Moving, bending, or
breaking grass, weeds, and other natural objects that are attached or growing
in the teeing area.
· Removing or pressing
down sand and soil in the teeing area.
· Removing dew, frost,
and water in the teeing area.
In Stroke Play,
players must hit from within the teeing area, otherwise the player is subject
to a DQ if the shot is not replayed from the correct teeing area before the
next hole is started. The player still receives a two-stroke penalty but can
continue playing. A ball not played within the teeing area in Match Play can be
recalled, but it is not required.
A player may
decide to take Unplayable Ball relief anywhere on the course except in a
penalty area. There are three options for taking an unplayable ball under Rule
back to where the previous stroke was made.
back-on-the-line relief using the spot of the ball with the hole location and going
back as far as you want on the golf course.
lateral relief within two club lengths.
The penalty for
taking an Unplayable Ball is one stroke. Only the player can declare a ball unplayable.
The ball must be dropped after taking an Unplayable Ball unless the player goes
back to the teeing area. In that case, the ball can be re-teed.
If a player decides
to declare an Unplayable Ball in a bunker, those options outlined above count
provided the ball is dropped in a bunker for (2) and (3). For two penalty
strokes, the player may take back-on-the-line relief outside of the bunker.
For more on the
Rules of Golf, click here.