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local rule

What is a Local Rule?

Ever found yourself wondering what a Local Rule is all about? Our Rules of Golf expert has a simple explanation for you

 

If you’ve played any sort of golf, you will have come across a Local Rule. Often printed on the back of a scorecard, or placed on a noticeboard in the locker room, they can cover everything from abnormal course conditions to internal out of bounds and even the type of ball or club you can use in a particular event.

But if this concept has passed you by, or you’ve never paid enough attention to what’s on your club’s website, let’s take a deeper look at them and what they mean to your game….

What is a Local Rule?

It’s a modification of a Rule of Golf, or an additional rule that a committee – whether that’s at the highest level on tour or at your golf club – adopts for general play or a particular competition.

When a Local Rule is brought in, it has the same status as a Rule of Golf for that competition or golf course. So, if you break one, you’re going to receive a penalty.

There are a whole host of guidelines a Local Rule needs to be consistent with and are found in the Committee Procedures in the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf.

If not, a round played with such a rule in effect isn’t considered to have been played to the Rules of Golf, and handicapping authorities can even decide it isn’t an acceptable score.

local rule

What are some of the guidelines for bringing in a Local Rule?

There’s a whole host of them going from A to I, with some sub-sections in between, in the committee procedures. You can find them all here, but some of the more interesting include:

– Unless it’s set out differently, the sanction for breaching a Local Rule is usually the general penalty (two shots or loss of hole in match play).

– A committee “must not use a Local Rule to waive or modify a Rule of Golf simply because it might prefer a Rule to be different”. An example given is extending the search time for a ball from three to five minutes.

– A committee can’t use a Local Rule to change the penalty for a breach.

– If a Local Rule is brought in because of a temporary situation – such as animal damage – it should be removed as “soon as the situation no longer requires the use of the Local Rule”.

What is a Model Local Rule?

You’ll often hear this when referees discuss rulings, or when governing bodies announce changes to, or introduce new, Rules of Golf.

In the committee procedures, there are approaching 100 that set out common situations and issues which come up frequently enough to “justify having a model form”.

Not only do they explain the purpose to any committee that may be thinking about implementing them, they also produce language clubs can use when constructing their own Local Rules.

What are some of the more unusual rules?

Model Local Rule F-12 deals with animal dung on the course if there are concerns about its effect on fair play, G7 prohibits the use of certain types of shoes (think spikes), and G-10 stops players from using clubs that are longer than 46 inches.

Got a question for our expert?

Despite the changes to the Rules of Golf in 2019 and 2023, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. I’ll try to help by featuring the best of your queries in this column.

What do you think about the local rule? Let me know by leaving a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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