General Rules of Playing Golf

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Golf is a sport in which a ball is belted with a solid club from a thoroughly prepared area, called the teeing ground, across to the next area, in which there’s a hole somewhere, called putting green.

Golf’s entire purpose is to put the ball inside the hole on the putting green by belting a ball from the starting place in the least number of strokes. There are 18 such holes, in a round of golf.

There are two ways to decide a winner:
1. Most holes won and most holes lost.

2. The number of shots taken for completing a round.

While playing this elegant sport, there are certain principles that you need to keep in mind:
Get on the course and play like you found it. Play the ball as it’s still on the ground.
And in case you couldn’t even do that, make sure to do something which is at least fair.
And in order to learn what’s fair, you need to have a firm knowledge of the rules. Below mentioned are some of the rules of golf.


Let’s have a look at the definitions of some of the golf terminologies. Sound knowledge of the below-mentioned terms will help in learning the rules more quickly and efficiently

Casual Water –Water which could be seen long before the player even takes his stance.

Obstructions –Objects that are man-made, apart from: objects that are immovable and are out of bounds.

Out of Bounds –An area that is not part of the course.

Putting Green –A specialized area that contains a hole.

Teeing Ground –Denoted by 2 tee-markers, it is the hole’s starting or initial place.

 –A bunker or water hazard.

Through the Green
 –Entire golf course’s area, apart from the putting green of the hole and teeing ground.

Golf Playing Rules:

General Points
Prior to round commencing:
(1) Carefully read the instructions as well as local rules on the provided scorecard.

(2) Don’t forget to put a mark on your ball, it’ll help you in identifying it later.

(3) Keep a count of your clubs. Remember that you cannot have more than 14 clubs.

While the round is going on, neither seek advice from anybody nor offer any.
While playing a hole, you cannot play a practice stroke.

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1. Teeing Off

  1. Make sure to not tee off in front of the tee markers, instead tee off between them. You are allowed to tee off for two club-lengths behind the tee markers’ front line.
  2. In match play, if you teed off outside the intended place, there’s no penalty. But your rival player might ask you to play your stroke again. By doing that, you receive a 2-stroke penalty and an unsaid warning to play within the appropriate area.

2. Hitting The Ball

  1. Belt the ball powerfully as it lies still.
  2. In case your ball ends up in a bunker or lateral water hazard, make sure that you don’t touch the water in the water hazard, prior to downswing.
  3. Hit the ball with immense power. NO pushing or spooning.
  4. During match play, if you ended up playing the wrong ball, you lose the hole, simple as that. But during stroke play, you are bound to receive a 2-stroke penalty, and then additionally, you are ought to play the correct ball.

3. Putting Green

  1. You are allowed to fix old hole plugs and ball marks only on the line of your putt.
  2. You are allowed to clean, lift, and mark your ball on the putting green. Be aware of where your ball was and put it exactly there.
  3. Do not scrape the surface just for the sake of testing it.
  4. During match play, if the ball that is played from putting green, somehow strikes flagstick, the player loses the hole. Though, during stroke play, the player is bound to receive a 2-stroke penalty.

4. The Ball Moved

  1. In case your ball was mistakenly moved, while it was at rest, by your caddie, your partner or even by you unless permitted by the Rules, or even if it moves after you’re done addressing it, simply add a penalty stroke and change your old ball with a new one.
  2. In case your ball was mistakenly moved, while it was at rest, by another ball or another player, change the ball without a penalty.
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5. Ball In Motion Stopped

  1. You will be awarded a 1-stroke penalty, in case the ball that you struck is stopped or even deflected by your caddie, your partner, or you. And the ball will stay where it is.
  2. In case the ball that you struck is stopped or even deflected by someone other than you, start playing the ball from where it currently rests.
  3. During match play, if your rival’s caddie or even the rival himself deflects the ball, you will be offered a chance to replay the stroke.
  4. During stroke play, if the ball gets somehow removed from its original position after a stroke on the putting green, you have to replay it.

6. Placing, Dropping Or Lifting The Ball

  1. The position of the ball must always be marked if there’s a need to lift the ball, place it somewhere else or get it replaced.
  2. In an event of the ball hitting you, your equipment, your caddie, or even your partner, you are required to immediately re-drop the ball (no penalty).

7. Assisting Players

  1. You have the liberty to lift your ball in order to assist someone else.
  2. Similarly, you can also have any ball lifted if you feel that it might disturb your game.

8. Obstructions

  1. Be sure to check the scorecard for guidance and local rules on immovable obstructions such as paths, and surfaced roads, etc.
  2. If there are any movable obstructions, no matter where on the course, they should be removed instantly.

9. Ground Under Repair And Casual Water

  1. In case, your ball gets stuck in a cast, a hole, under repair ground or in casual water, you are allowed to drop under one club-length of the nearest relief point, without penalty.

10. Watery Hazards

  1. As stated earlier, check the scorecard vigorously and look out for local rules in order to determine whether the river/lake/sea is a ‘lateral water hazard’ or a simple ‘water hazard’.
  2. If the ball lands in a watery hazard, you can either accept a 1-stroke penalty or play the ball from where it landed. (a) Eliminate all sorts of distance and maintain a straight line between the hole behind the water hazard and the spot where the ball landed, or (b) you could simply play again from where you struck the ball in to the hazard.
  3. If the ball lands in any other type of watery hazard you are allowed to drop under two club-lengths of (a) the spot on which the ball crossed the margin of the hazard or (b) a spot on the opposite side of the hazard.
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11. Lost The Ball

  1. Players are permitted to look for their respective balls for no more than five minutes. And if that ball is not located or found under the specified time, it is considered to be lost. Let’s assume that you struck an extremely powerful shot, and as soon as you struck it, you had a feeling that the ball might go out of bounds or land in a watery hazard, in such case, you are allowed to play another ball, which is termed as the “provisional ball”. You need to mention beforehand that you’re using a provisional ball, prior to searching for the previous ball. And if the previous ball did get lost then you shall resume with the provisional ball, receiving a penalty of 1-stroke. However, if the previous ball is successfully located, you shall play the rest of the game with it, whilst abandoning the provisional ball.


Who invented golf?

Golf was invented by the Scots in the 15th century in Scotland.

What does ‘GOLF’ stands for?

You might have heard in your childhood that the acronym of GOLF is Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden, well, sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s just a misconception. The world ‘GOLF’ is derived from a word which means club.


Any confusion or ignorance as far as the rules of Golf are concerned can result in: a match lost, or a good score spoiled. The golfer needs to have complete knowledge of the rules, only then will he be able to play properly and tackle the problems.

Furthermore, the complete rules of Golf, approved by the Royal and Ancient Gold Club of St. Andrews and the United States Golf Association, can be checked and consulted if any type of query or confusion arises.

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