Golf Rules Q&A

It is important to understand the Rules of Golf to play the game fairly and record your scores accurately. Sometimes, the rules aren't clear-cut and need further understanding and explanation. Into the Rough helps you understand how to play the beautiful game.

tiger woods taking penalty drop

Do the Professionals Play by the Same Rules We Do?

How often does one hear your average Saturday afternoon player say that something is allowed or not, referring to the fact that that is how things are done on the professional tours. Into the Rough brings you a list of some of the more common differences to look out for.

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road hole bunker st andrews

Bunker do’s and dont’s

Bunkers are feared and misunderstood beasts. Professional golfers make them look advantageous whilst amateurs make them look like coal pits. Let Into the Rough clear up some do's and don'ts in the sandy traps.

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golf ball under tree

Golf Rules That Can Help You

It's not all about penalties and punishment. Many times the rules are there to help you - if you know them. Read on to make sure you're not doing yourself out of shots on the course with our rules FAQ.

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van de velde water

Casual Water and Rule 25

Looking for a free drop? Rule 25 covers a whole host of situations, all under the very general heading 'Abnormal Ground Conditions' and if it's not covered there the chances are you won't get it as our guide to casual water explains

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tiger woods taking penalty drop

Does an accidental graze on a practice swing incur a penalty?

During my last round, I landed in the back of a greenside bunker. As I was taking a practice swing, I accidentally grazed the top of the ball with the sole of my club. Even though the ball didn't appear to move from the original resting place, should I have called a penalty on myself?

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van de velde water

Does a player need to retrieve his ball from casual water to get relief?

Rich hits his tee shot into the fairway, but it ends up in a large puddle of casual water. He can see a ball toward the middle of the puddle, but he can't retrieve or identify it as his without sloshing through some ankle-deep water.

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A suggestion can be costly for the person giving it

Tom hits his tee shot into the trees, with his ball coming to rest near a bush. His fellow competitor in stroke play, Paul, tells him, "It looks like you have no shot. If I were you, I would declare the ball unplayable."

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tiger woods reading green

What can a player or caddie do to indicate a line for putting?

Mark and Tom are partners in a four-ball match, and they are reading a line for Mark's upcoming putt. Tom, standing behind the hole, wants to show that he thinks the putt will break about six inches. He uses his foot to point to a spot on an extension of the line he thinks Mark should aim along, touching the ground with his toe at the spot.

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tiger woods dropping the golf ball

Is a re-drop always required when a dropped ball rolls toward the hole?

Nick's tee shot ends up at the base of a bush and he takes a drop after declaring his ball unplayable, using the option of dropping within two club-lengths of where the ball lay. The dropped ball rolls forward and comes to rest nearer to the hole than where it hit the ground, but not nearer to the hole than its original position in the bush.

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signing scorecard golf

How quickly do you need to tell your opponent you've incurred a penalty?

Jim is hitting an iron shot from an uphill lie. After he addresses the ball and starts his backswing, the ball moves. He continues his swing and hits the ball, which ends up near the green. Under Rule 18-2, Jim incurs a one-stroke penalty. Jim's match-play opponent, Harry, then hits his second shot. As the two players approach the vicinity of the green, Jim informs Harry that he incurred a penalty stroke, so that he lies three instead of two.

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two golf balls

What happens if a player substitutes a ball during play of a hole to avoid confusion?

After playing their tee shots on a par-five hole, Dennis and Kevin realize that they are playing balls with identical markings. From watching their tee shots, they know which ball belongs to each of them, but to avoid possible confusion later on, Dennis lifts his ball and replaces it with a ball that has a different number. He plays out the hole with the substituted ball.

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golf bag on course

What happens when a ball strikes an opponent's golf bag?

Paul and Craig are playing a match. Paul skulls his pitch shot from one side of the green so that it flies over the green. His ball strikes Craig's golf bag, which Craig has laid down next to the green.

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provisional golf ball

What's the proper order for hitting a provisional ball?

Steve hits his tee shot deep into the woods, where the ball might be lost. He announces that he will play a provisional ball, and plays the provisional before his opponent in match play, Tom, hits his tee shot.

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golf ball in divot hole

Where do you drop when a divot hole marks the previous spot?

Kevin hits an iron shot from the fairway and it goes out of bounds. He takes his stroke-and-distance penalty and drops the ball so it lands about a foot away from the divot hole he just made.

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What do you do if an old hole plug interferes with your line?

Todd's ball is on the green, and he notices that an old hole plug, on his line of putt, has been poorly replaced and is above the level of the green.

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golf ball in rough

What's the ruling when a ball moves before a shot from the rough?

Lloyd's ball is sitting up in tall rough. Preparing to play his shot, he touches the grass behind the ball with his club. The ball falls backward. Lloyd claims there is no penalty because touching the grass did not constitute grounding his club and he, therefore, had not addressed the ball when it moved.

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golf ball in water hazard

Can a player be penalized for moving his ball in a hazard?

Carl hits his tee shot into a water hazard. While using a club to probe for his ball in the water, he accidentally kicks the ball, which is actually lying in long grass on the bank.

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tiger woods dropping the golf ball

Re-drop Required? Changing clubs after a drop can affect the ruling

Tim's ball lies in heavy rough near a paved cart path approximately 230 yards from the green. He selects a wedge for his next shot and finds that, when he takes his stance, his heels touch the path. He uses a stance with the wedge to determine his nearest point of relief from the path. He drops into a better lie and is now able to hit a 3-wood, but when he takes his stance with that club, his heels are again touching the path.

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Can a player brush away sand from his line on the fringe?

Steve's ball lies on the fringe of the green, a few feet off the putting surface. He plans to use his putter for his next stroke. There is some sand on the fringe from an explosion shot from a greenside bunker made by a player in a previous group. Steve brushes away some sand from the fringe on his line and plays his stroke.

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bunker stance

Are you allowed to take a second stance in a greenside bunker?

Bill takes his stance in a greenside bunker, digging his feet into the sand. He then changes his mind about the type of shot to play and walks out of the bunker to change clubs. He returns to his ball, smooths out the original footprints, takes a new stance, and plays the shot.

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golf ball under tree

Is a player allowed to shake water off a branch?

Gene's tee shot comes to rest underneath a tree, so that a branch interferes with his backswing. The tree is wet from recent rain. Before playing his next stroke, Gene shakes the water off the branch so he won't be distracted by water dislodged when he strikes the branch with the club.

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tiger woods brendan jones wgc match play

What happens when players are mistaken about the status of a match?

In a match-play event at their club, Craig and Brian leave the 18th green thinking their match is all square. They play extra holes and Brian wins at the 20th hole. Then, Craig and Brian both realize that Craig was actually 1-up after 18 holes.

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lost golf ball

What happens when you find your ball, but don't know it?

Steve and Paul are searching for their balls in the same area of the rough. After two minutes, Steve finds a ball, which he believes is Paul's, and resumes his search. After the five-minute search period elapses, it is discovered that the ball Steve found was in fact his own, not Paul's.

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unplayable golf ball

What happens when a player declares a wrong ball unplayable?

Jeff finds a ball, which he mistakenly thinks is his, in a bad lie. He declares the ball unplayable, drops it within two club-lengths of the spot where it lay, and plays it. He then finds his original ball.

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x-out golf balls

Is an "X-out" ball allowed in competition?

While competing in his club championship, Andrew uses an "X-out" golf ball, a ball that the manufacturer considers to be imperfect and sells with the brand name crossed out. His fellow competitor, Tony, questions whether or not it is legal to use the ball.

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out of bounds ball

Can I play a lost ball from its point of entry, if not out of bounds?

You see this happen all the time, especially during a busy weekend at the course. A ball is lost in rough not marked as a hazard or out of bounds. Can a player play his next shot from where the ball entered the rough?

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