Golf Rules: The Basics
The Rules of Golf
Even those who are new to golf have a basic understanding of the game:
Use clubs to hit a golf ball from the tee until the ball makes it to the cup, ideally in the fewest amount of strokes possible.
Golf rules are established for fairness of play and etiquette, and can vary depending on the type of game you are playing (match or stroke play, for example.)
It’s a good idea to have an understanding of the rules, as it could save you some costly penalty strokes in the future. Here are the basics:
Clubs and Balls
Golf rules typically put a maximum amount of clubs that the golfer can carry in his or her bag.
Fourteen clubs as a maximum is a general rule of thumb.
Some golf rules specify that the make and model of your clubs must conform to certain standards.
It’s a good idea to check with USGA official documentation to be sure about your set.
The golf balls also must conform to certain standards concerning size and construction.
Mark your ball for identification and make sure the integrity of the ball has not become compromised due to a defect or cut during play.
A very important golf rule during play is correctly recording your score for each hole.
If you fail to write down correct scores, severe penalties can be enforced.
Off the Tee
Take care to make sure you know when it is your turn.
Some rules specify penalties for playing out of turn.
Usually the winner of the previous hole will be first off the tee.
When addressing a ball off the tee, make sure that the ball is properly teed from within the correct position of the tee markers..
In the Fairway
Establish which player in your group hits first from the fairway.
Make sure that the ball is struck during your stroke swing.
Any attempt to strike the ball counts, whether or not contact is made with the ball.
Also, many golf rules stipulate that the ball must be played from where it comes to rest in the field of play.
This rule can change in winter when the conditions of the fairways may be compromised due to bad weather.
Practice swings away from the ball are allowed, but the rules change if your ball lands in a designated hazard.
Penalties will also occur if your ball lands out of bounds, or comes to rest in certain hazards where a shot would be considered unplayable.
On the Green
Make sure you first repair any damage your ball might have caused to the putting surface from your last shot.
Take care not to step directly in the line your opponents may use to putt their ball to the green.
You are allowed to remove loose obstacles on the green if they should happen to be in your line, but no other alterations to the surface can be made to give yourself a more advantageous line.
Golf can be a complicated game at times, but with a good understanding of these basic golf rules, you should be able to enjoy a great day out at your local course.
Want more? Check out our Golf Vocabulary post!
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