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Summary of the 100s and 100s of rules

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

Golfers love rules and some guys can be real sticklers for them.

By that, I mean they have arguments and carry a pocket rule book to prove they're right over the tiniest of innocent infringements. That's a minority of guys but generally we all like to play by the book as best we can.

The official rule book is 100 pages long and a bit boring to sift through and know which are the most essential. Do it, I mean for your own reference.

But I've summarized the most important ones to ensure you don't commit any mortal sins on the course.

Rules: Equipment

Clubs and balls

  • Clubs: You can carry a maximum of 14 clubs.The 14 clubs can be a combination of anything you like. You do not need to have 14 clubs - it's just the maximum and there is no minimum requirement besides 1.

  • Ball: You must finish a hole with the ball you started it with. You can change a ball between holes but not during a hole. However, if you lose a ball during a hole, you can use any other ball as the new ball in play.

Rules: During play of a hole

You must play the ball as it lies. You're not allowed to kick it or move it to a better spot and neither is your long-toed caddie! You cannot use a tee to tee the ball up in the fairway. This is for the tee box only.

  • You can't make the lie better

When you're in a bunker always remember to not ground the club in the sand behind or in front of the ball. Also no raking before your shot or using your fingers in the sand to test the consistency. You can remove impediments like leaves and stones from the bunker. Also, if the club incidentally touches the sand, like while you're walking to your ball there is no penalty anymore. Just don't test the sand with your club! NO TOUCHING THE SAND ON PRACTICE SWINGS!

  • In a water hazard (now known as penalty area), sometimes there is no water and you can play out of it. You can ground your club in the water hazard.

  • You can't place anything in front of your ball for aiming or have someone stand in front of you to aim at them. You can however, use leaves and stones and grass that were already there to line your club up to for alignment!

Hitting the ball

  • You need to hit the ball with one strike. Scooping is not allowed. Pushing the ball with extended contact like a hockey puck is not allowed.

  • Only hit a ball that is standing still. Don't hit moving balls unless it's in the water. It gets very complicated counting shots and penalties. Just don't do it!

  • Identify your ball before you play it - if you hit any other ball but yours, you will get a 2 stroke penalty.

  • An unintentional double-hit is not penalized but an intentional one is.

Putting & touching the green

  • You can move away stones, sand, gravel, leaves and other loose impediments on your line. You can fix the putting line whether that's a ball mark, spike mark, and pretty much prepare your line to be as perfect as you like. Without delaying play of course.

  • Don't scrape or rub the surface of the green with your hand or club to feel grain or texture of the green. You can't test the surface that way.

How to drop a ball

When you drop a ball, you must drop it from knee height. I have no idea why they made it so complicated and awkward - right now try dropping a ball from knee height. Don't you feel like a fool?

  • If your ball rolls into the hazard after a drop, make sure you retrieve it and drop it again. You must take full relief from obstacles or trouble so your stance mustn't be hindered by the thing you're dropping away from. If after 2 drops, the ball still rolls into the hazard or area you dropped from, place the ball on the spot it landed on when you dropped it last.

  • Make sure you watch where the ball crosses the water hazard and drop at that point or behind that point in line with the flag as far back as you like. There's nothing that grinds golfers more than a guy who cheats with his drops!

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