Five Rules of Golf You Must Know
Golf has some important rules that not many weekend golfers might know, or at least, they don’t know the full details of each rule. It’s good to review the rules on occasion because simply put — you should know them! Adhere to them whenever you play. They may save you a stroke or two in a sticky situation.
Here are some of the most important rules you should remember:
1. Water Hazards
Golf’s rules define a water hazard as any sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface draining ditch, or other open water course (whether or not containing water), and anything of a similar nature. Courses mark water hazards with yellow stakes and lines.
If you hit into water you have four options:
- Play the ball as near as possible to the spot from which the original ball was played.
- Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the ball entered the water’s edge, directly behind the hole and the spot where the ball is dropped. There’s no limit to how far back the ball may be dropped, as long as the point of crossing lies between the drop and the hole.
- Play the ball as it lies in the water hazard.
- If a ball goes into a lateral water hazard, drop a ball away from the hazard, but within two club lengths of the point from which the ball last crossed the water. However, the ball can’t come to rest any closer to the hole than the point at which the first ball crossed the hazard.
2. Putting Wait Time
You’re on the green and you’re ready to make your 6 ft putt. You’re feeling confident, the line is setup correctly and the speed is good. You think to yourself, “this is a done deal!” But the ball stops just at the lip of the cup. How long can you wait for the ball to drop into the cup. According to rule 16-2, you can wait the time it takes you to reach the hole plus 10 seconds. By the way, there’s no penalty for allowing a ball stay in the cup and letting the next player’s ball land on it.
3. White Stakes
White stakes on a course indicate out-of-bounds. You have only one option under Rule 27, the dreaded stroke and distance penalty. Add a stroke and drop a ball as close as possible to where you last played. To keep play moving when you might be OB, play a provisional ball under Rule 27-2.
4. Lost Ball
So you just hit your ball deep into the fairway rough. You look for the ball but can’t find it. You declare a lost ball, but after hitting a second ball you discover your original ball. Under Rule 27, once the ball is declared lost and another ball played you can’t play the original ball. However, what if the first ball went in the hole?
If the ball goes in the hole, the first ball would be counted, even if you hit a second ball. The first rule of golf states: The Game of Golf consists of playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules. The key words here are “into the hole.” Once the first ball when in the hole, the hole was over for the player. Once you’ve done that, your play of that hole is considered finished. You’ve completed play of a hole as soon as your ball finds the cup
These four rules come into play fairly frequently and the better you know them, the more knowledge you’ll have about the game and avoid any potential mistakes.
Are You Trapped in the Sand?
Do’s and Don’ts in the bunker
Many golfers, whether they are serious players or not, usually know they will receive a a two-stroke penalty for grounding their club in a bunker. But, few know any of the other rules covering bunker play. That’s not surprising. The topic isn’t normally covered even when taking golf lessons. So golfers have to learn them on their own.
The penalty strokes incurred for breaking a bunker rule won’t probably impact golf handicap, but they do have consequences. They can cost you a hole in match play or the match itself. If you play regularly, it’s good to know some of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to bunker play.
- Grounding the Club
As mentioned above, this is one of the most common DON’TS when it comes to playing from the sand. You can, however, ground your club in a waste area. Waste areas are usually massive bunker-like regions of firm, unkept sand that aren’t hazards. If you’re not sure where to look courses usually mark these areas for golfers.
- Touching the Sand
Digging in your feet in the sand when hitting from a bunker is okay. You can also leave the bunker, get a new club, come back and dig in your feet again. What you can’t do is touch the sand, meaning, you can’t draw a line in the sand like an instructor might do for a lesson and you also can’t slam your club into the ground because you’re angry you messed up the first shot. I mean, you can do this if you so please, but each infraction will cost you two strokes.
This is another area of bunker play not many people know the rules for. You can rake after hitting a bunker shot, even if your ball never left the bunker. However, you can’t disturb your new lie, the area of your stance or swing, or the new line of play for your next shot. You also can’t rake your footprint trail behind you as you walk to your lie. You’d be penalized two strokes for testing the sand’s condition.
- Unplayable Lie
If you have an unplayable lie in a bunker, you may replay your previous shot and take a one-stroke penalty. Or, if you don’t want to go back to your previous shot, take a drop in the bunker within two club lengths of the ball.