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basic rules of golf

Rules of golf you have to know

Are you getting these basic rules of golf right?

 

There are so many Rules of Golf it can be hard to know where to start. So let’s run through seven really important basic rules of golf that can help get you started.

basic rules of golf

We would recommend you watch the video for the best explanation, but if you would prefer to read the article, just keep scrolling…

What are the basic Rules of Golf you must know

Basic Rules of Golf: Identify your golf ball

This isn’t technically a rule in itself, but you can break numerous other rules if you are unable to identify your golf ball out on the golf course.

If you and your playing partners all have similar golf balls it can be impossible to know whose is whose if you hit them close together. Using a sharpie pen to add some custom markings to your golf ball will make sure you are always hitting your golf ball and will make it easier to find.

Basic Rules of Golf: Hit from the teeing area

The markers on the tee box give you a pretty good idea of where you need to hit the golf ball from, but did you know you can rack up penalties by not hitting your ball from the correct part of the tee box?

Any part of the golf ball must be inside the width of the tee markers. You can’t put the ball in front of the markers but you place it behind the markers as long as it is within two club lengths of the front of the markers.

It is important to note, that it is only your golf ball that has to be in the teeing area. Your feet and body can be outside of the teeing area.

basic rules of golf

This comes under Rule 6.1b, a breach would mean a two-shot penalty in stroke play and disqualification if you don’t replay the stroke and correct your mistake. There is no penalty in match play and you play your ball as it lies, but your opponent may cancel the stroke in which case you must replay the shot from inside the teeing area.

Basic Rules of Golf: Mark your ball before lifting

Before lifting a ball the player must mark the original spot.

This is most obvious on the green if you want to lift your ball to clean it or line it up but also applies if you are taking a drop or even if you want to lift your ball to identify it.

basic rules of golf

This comes under Rule 14.1a. If the player lifts the ball without marking its spot, marks its spot in a wrong way or makes a stroke with a ball-marker left in place, this would lead to a one-shot penalty.

Basic Rules of Golf: Unplayable Ball

If you hit your ball somewhere unideal, like a bush, you might be pleased to hear you can take a penalty drop to get yourself out of the situation.

If you decide a ball is unplayable, you have three options for taking a drop, in each case adding one penalty stroke.

The simplest is taking lateral relief. You can drop within two club lengths of the original spot of the ball as long as you don’t drop nearer the hole. (Option 3 below)

You can also take back-on-the-line relief by dropping the ball in a relief area based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball and in line with the pin. (Option 2 below)

Finally, you can also take stroke-and-distance relief by returning to where you hit the original shot from and taking the stroke again.

basic rules of golf

You should always use tee pegs to mark the location of the ball and the drop zone area before lifting the ball.

Basic Rules of Golf: Lost ball

What happens if you can’t find your golf ball?

Firstly, if you hit a shot and you aren’t sure where it has ended up, the best practice is to drop a second ball and hit a provisional ball. This can save lots of time later on.

A ball is considered lost if not found within three minutes of the player or his or her caddie beginning to search for it.

If you have lost your ball you have to take a stroke and distance penalty and replay the shot from where you originally lost the ball from. This is under penalty of one shot, so if you drove off the tee and lost your ball, you add a one-shot penalty and you are now hitting three off the tee.

If you hit a provisional you can go and play this ball under the same penalty.

Basic Rules of Golf: Penalty areas

All ball is classed as being in the penalty area (previously known as water hazards) when any part of the ball lies in or touches the ground inside the penalty area.

Penalty areas are defined as either red or yellow, both of these have slightly different relief options.

If you’re feeling brave or the lie is nice you can go into the penalty area and play the shot as it lies. If you choose to do this you can move loose impediments and have practice swings in the penalty area.

If this is not possible, or you don’t fancy the hero recovery shot there are numerous places you can take a drop.

Yellow penalty area

From a yellow penalty, you have two relief options. You can take a stroke and distance relief, return to where the original stroke was taken, and replay the shot under a one-stroke penalty.

Alternatively, you can take back-on-the-line relief by dropping back on line with the pin and the point the ball entered the penalty area.

basic rules of golf

Red penalty area

If your ball is in a red penalty area, you can take stroke and distance or back on-the-line relief, but there is another option.

You can take lateral relief, which is two club lengths from where the ball crossed into the penalty area. When taking this relief option, you must be careful not to drop the ball closer to the hole.

basic rules of golf

Basic Rules of Golf: Finding and identifying the golf ball

As a golfer, you are responsible for finding your golf ball after each shot.

You are allowed to move or bend things such as grass and bushes if it is required to find and identify your golf ball.

If you find a ball but aren’t sure it is yours, you are allowed to lift it to identify it, but you must mark the golf ball before you do this.

If you or a partner accidentally moves your ball while searching for it, there is no penalty but the ball must be replace back on its original spot.

Hannah Holden

hannah holden

Hannah Holden is the Equipment and Instruction Editor here at National Club Golfer. If you’re looking to improve your game, by changing your golf swing or upgrading your golf equipment she’ll have the answers.

As well as writing lots of features and reviews you can find her on our YouTube channel giving you insights on the latest rules, clubs and tips to improve your golf game.

Hannah is a member at Alwoodley golf club. You will either find her here or driving up and down the country playing in a variety of elite amateur events.

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