Want to just get on with it? Here’s what the Rules of Golf say about playing out of turn

Once upon a time, in the days when my job largely consisted of using a pen and paper, we relied on a postman to tell us what readers wanted. If you got a lot of letters, it was a topic for a discussion. If the postbag was empty, forget it.

Now we’ve got all sorts of ways of getting in touch, email and social media to name but two, but today’s rules topic comes straight from Google.

Because you’ve been clicking on this in your numbers, we’ve got the stats to prove it. And when there’s enough people typing ‘ready golf rules’ into their computers, it’s time to fill the gap and get writing!

So here’s everything you could ever want to know about Ready Golf…

What is Ready Golf and what do the Rules of Golf say about it?

If you’ve never read the R&A’s Pace of Play manual you should definitely give it a skim. There are all sorts of tidbits in there, including some stuff that will get some of you a little flustered – a suggestion of cutting down the rough to get things moving is my personal favourite.

But, early on, they provide a definition of Ready Golf and they say it is the following: “A term used in stroke play, which indicates that players should play when they are ready to do so, rather than strictly following the procedure of ‘farthest from the hole should play first’ in the Rules of Golf.”

They give plenty of examples of this in action, such as shorter hitters going longer hitters need to wait, playing before helping someone else look for their ball, and putting out if it means standing close to someone’s line.

Now you understand what Ready Golf is, what does the rule book say about it?

It’s covered under Rule 6.4b (2): Playing Out of Turn in a Safe and Responsible Way. Not only are you allowed to play out of turn in stroke play, the rule says you are encouraged to do so “in a safe and responsible way”.

The rule gives some examples of that in action, such as if two or more players agree to it for “convenience or to save time”, if they’re very close to the hole and just want to putt out, or if they’re simply ready to go and the player who is farthest away from the hole is not – ‘so long as in playing out of turn the player does not endanger, distract or interfere with any other player”.

But, even though it’s in vogue, Ready Golf doesn’t constitute a free for all. In fact, Rule 6.4b (2) also says that if the player whose turn it is to play is ready and able, and indicates they want to go first, other players should “generally wait until that player has played”.

There are other restrictions too. If two players agreed to play out of turn to give one an advantage, for example, then both would get a two-shot penalty.  

Otherwise, though, there are no penalties under the rule whether you play out of turn or not under Rule 6.4b (1).

The situation is also different in match play, where the order of play is of primary importance. There, if you don’t stick to the normal order of play, your opponent can cancel your stroke and compel you to play again.

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. Steve is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 3-Wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Hybrids: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Irons: TaylorMade Stealth 5-A Wedge Wedges: TaylorMade Hi-Toe 54 and 58 Putter: Sik Sho Ball: TaylorMade TP5

Handicap: 11.3

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