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.