Know the Rules: General Considerations

There are some rules that govern the game in general and which are scattered throughout the rule book. Let’s call them rules every golfer should know.

Rule 1-2. A player must not (i) take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play or (ii) alter physical conditions with the intent of affecting the playing of a hole. Penalty: two strokes

Rule 1-3. Players must not agree to exclude the operation of any Rule or to waive any penalty incurred. Penalty: DQ.

Rule 3-2. If in stroke play a competitor fails to hole out at any hole and does not correct his mistake before he makes a stroke on the next teeing ground or, in the case of the last hole of the round, before he leaves the putting green, he is disqualified.

Rule 6-6d. The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified. If he returns a score for any hole higher than actually taken, the score as returned stands. Note: The Committee is responsible for the addition of scores and application of the handicap recorded on the score card.

This is a commonly misunderstood rule. The player is responsible for turning in the correct scores on each hole. The player is NOT responsible for the total score. If all your hole scores are correct and you turn in an 86 but the scores really add up to 87, there is no penalty.

Advice: Advice, which is any counsel or suggestion that could influence a player in determining his play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke, may not be given to a competitor.
Information on the Rules, distance or matters of public information, such as the position of hazards or the flagstick on the putting green, is not advice. Except on the putting green, the line of play may be indicated by anyone, but no marker may be placed.

Stroke: A “stroke’’ is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if a player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball he has not made a stroke.

Cleaning the ball: A ball may be lifted and cleaned on the putting green. Elsewhere, a ball may be cleaned when lifted, except when it has been lifted:
a. To determine if it is unfit for play (Rule 5-3);
b. For identification (Rule 12-2), in which case it may be cleaned only to the extent necessary for identification; or
c. Because it is assisting or interfering with play (Rule 22).

My new book, The Golfing Self, is now available at It will change everything about the way you play.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.