Rules
of Golf

A game that is played

by the Rules of Golf.


IN SHORT

It is the duty of every golfer to know the rules of the game. If you don't abide by the rules, you are playing another game, not golf.



Rules of Golf

Many golfers break the Rules of Golf because they have never learned them. Others ignore them because they consider certain rules to be stupid.

However, if you play in an official competition you have a duty to the field to abide by the rules and to penalise yourself for any infraction.

There are 34 Rules and a multitude of Decisions that cover every aspect of the game.

Around the Putting Green there are occasions when you could incur an unnecessary penalty for a moment of carelessness.


Occasion 1

  • You hit your approach shot to the green and mark your ball in order to clean it.

  • You replace your ball using a line on it to orient it in the desired direction.

  • You pick up your marker and step back to check that the line is pointing to your target.

  • Not satisfied you rotate the line on the ball without first replacing your marker.

  • YOU have just broken a rule.

Rule 18-2 states that when your ball is in play, if you lift, move or touch it purposely without first marking it, you incur a penalty of one stroke.


Occasion 2

  • Your ball is just off the green and you wish to putt rather than chip it as the fringe grass is closely mown.

  • You notice that your ball left a pitch mark in the fringe an inch or so in front of your ball that could interfere with its roll.

  • You carefully fix the pitch mark and tap down the grass with your putter.

  • YOU have just broken a rule.

One of the provisos of Rule 13-2 states that you must not improve or allow to be improved your line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole.

Rule 16-1c does allow you to repair a pitch mark or old hole plug on the putting green irrespective of whether or not your ball is actually on the green.

However, on Occasion 2 above your pitch mark was not on the green. You therefore incur a penalty of two strokes for improving your line of play.


Penalty

Whether you intend to break the rules or do so unknowingly does not make a difference. If you don't correct your score and you sign an incorrect scorecard the ultimate penalty is disqualification.

Many rules go unnoticed because neither the player nor the marker knows them. However, if you are a marker or a fellow competitor and see an infraction, you have an obligation to the other players in the competition to call the penalty.

In the event of a disagreement, you can refuse to sign the card as marker. It is then up to the competition committee to decide the outcome.


Matter of Honour

Penalising others for rules infractions can sometimes lead to unpleasantness. However, calling a penalty on yourself when you break a rule should be a matter of honour.

To break the Rules of Golf is understandable – it is part of the process of learning them. However, to break the same rule twice is sheer carelessness.

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