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10 Basic Golf Rules For Newbies To Must Learn

Golf Rules and regulations are extremely important, just as fundamental pillars, to make this game more classy and accurate for players of all skill levels. That is why the spirit of the game is preserved by knowing and observing these rules, which help make the course safe and enjoyable for all players. According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), over the years, the interest in understanding the Rules of Golf has remained consistently high. With a revision cycle every four years, each new edition brings significant changes to the rules. Equally important is the regular revision of the Decisions on the Rules of Golf, which occurs every two years. Since 1984, the number of decisions has grown significantly, reaching a peak of 1,275 in 2012 and remaining steady at that level ever since. 

Talking about rules for any game seems making restrictions but in reality, it’s the freedom to make a fair game play. As for all the newbie golfers, I strongly suggest they learn the basic golf rules for a great experience on the green and understand the strategies of putting them expertly.  So all the new golfers, Don’t get stressed about the basic regulations of golf because I will provide you with explanations and insights that will help you understand the fundamental golf rules, and enable you to play with knowledge. let’s walk through the course of golf regulations to learn the first step!

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When it comes to golf rules, remember: ‘Fore’ is a warning, not a request for applause!

Rule No 1: Golf Equipment (Clubs/Balls Regulations)

Being new on the golf course you need to learn the regulations of using different clubs to hit the ball for specific outcomes. Equipment rules in golf ensure fair play and consistency on the course. Here are the basics you need to know!

Clubs You’re allowed to carry up to 14 clubs in your bag. If you have an extra club, it’s best to leave it in the car to avoid any rule violations. The choice of clubs is up to you, and there is no requirement to have exactly 14 clubs. However, remember that you must have at least one club in your bag to play.
Balls  It’s important to finish a hole with the same ball you started with. You can switch to a different ball between holes, but not during a hole. If you happen to lose your ball during a hole, you can substitute it with any other ball as the new ball in play. Just be mindful of the rules and use only one ball at a time.

Rule No 2: Tee Placement Etiquette

The regulations and protocol on the tee box will be clearer to you if you keep these things in mind, resulting in a smooth and enjoyable golfing experience for everyone.

Tee Placement Make sure to tee the ball up behind the line formed by the tee markers. You have the flexibility to tee it up anywhere between the markers and as far back as two driver lengths. Avoid teeing up in front of the tee markers, as this is a common mistake. To be safe, tee it up at least one foot behind the line.
Ball Falling off the Tee If the ball falls off the tee before your swing, it doesn’t count as a shot. Simply put the ball back on the tee and prepare for your shot. Brace yourself for the inevitable joke when someone says “one” as you re-tee the ball.
Practice Swing and Hitting the Ball During a practice swing on the tee, if you accidentally hit the ball, you don’t incur a penalty. Place the ball back on the tee and proceed with your shot. Remember, this only applies to the tee ball, not when the ball is in play down the fairway or on the green.
Swinging and Missing If you swing at the ball and miss it completely, it counts as one shot. If the ball falls off the tee due to the wind generated by your swing, play it from that position without putting it back on the tee. That becomes your first shot, and you will be hitting your second shot.
Order of Play The order of play on the tee is determined by the scores from the previous hole. The lowest scorer hits first, followed by players in ascending order of scores until everyone has hit. However, if your group plays “ready golf,” anyone who is ready can hit the ball regardless of their distance from the pin.
Tee Etiquette  When others are hitting on the tee, it’s important to stand outside the teeing ground. Avoid standing directly behind the ball, looking down the fairway while your friend is preparing to hit. This can be distracting for them. Remain still until after they have completed their shot.

Rule No 3: Regulations During Play of a Hole

  1. You need to remember that “Play the ball as it lies”. You are not allowed to kick or move it to a better spot, and this applies to both you and your caddie.
  1. You cannot use a tee to prop up the ball anywhere except on the tee box. In the fairway, you must play the ball without a tee.
  1. Do not alter the lie of the ball by pressing your club or foot into the ground behind it. This includes trying to flatten the ground or make it easier to hit the ball. The only time you can stamp your foot behind the ball is on the tee for your first shot.
  1. Local rules may sometimes allow for preferred lies, which means you can place your ball on the fairway within a specified distance of its original position.
  1. Do not break or bend branches to create an easier swing path to the ball.
  1. When in a bunker, do not ground the club in the sand behind or in front of the ball. Avoid raking the sand or using your fingers to test its consistency. However, you can remove impediments like leaves and stones from the bunker. Incidentally touching the sand with your club while walking to your ball is no longer penalized.
  1. In waste bunkers, you are allowed to test the sand and hit the sand on practice swings. Make sure to confirm the locations of waste bunkers on the course beforehand.
  1. You can pick out stones, leaves, rocks, boulders, feathers, dead grass, pine needles, etc., from around your ball, but avoid moving the ball itself, as that incurs a penalty. Use your hands to move these impediments, and refrain from dragging your feet or altering the surface.
  1. Do not damage any growing things to improve your lie. If you encounter a significant problem, take a penalty drop within two club lengths of the original ball position. Mark the spot, measure two club-lengths, drop the ball, and add one shot before playing from the new position.
  1. You cannot place any objects in front of your ball for aiming purposes, nor can you have someone stand in front of you to serve as a target. However, you can use existing leaves, stones, grass, etc., to align your club during setup.
Practice Your Shots Take practice swings in the air, but avoid hitting the ball before your actual shot.
You can hit acorns or stones on the ground, but golf balls are not allowed during practice swings.
In normal bunkers, avoid hitting the ground with your practice swings. In waste bunkers, hitting the ground is permitted.
On grass, practice swings can hit the ground without any issues, and you can even test the surface with a practice swing that takes a divot.
Playing order/ Sequence When starting a new group, the person closest to the hole should go first.
Be careful not to play when someone else is hitting if you prefer “ready golf,” which allows players to hit whenever they’re ready. If uncertain, decide who should go first.
During the ball strike Use a single strike; do not scoop or push the ball with prolonged contact (like a hockey puck).
Only strike a fixed ball; unless it’s in a water hazard, don’t strike a moving ball. By adhering to this guideline, you may keep it simple and prevent confusion regarding shots and penalties.
Double-hit & Scoring Double hits that are unintentional rather than accidental incur a penalty.
There is no punishment if you miss a stroke and then unintentionally hit the ball again when you follow through.
Learn the meanings of key golf terminology like “eagle” and “birdie” to better comprehend scoring.

Rule No 4: Reaching Across the Greens

Cheers if your ball touches the green in any way. You can put a marker behind the ball while on the green, remove it to clean it, and then put it back. Also, pay attention to the positions of other players’ balls on the green. People can be sensitive about others standing on their intended putting line. 

As a beginner, you might inadvertently stand in someone’s line. If reminded, apologize and thank them for helping you understand the rules. Take note of where everyone’s ball is and be cautious about standing where their balls are likely to roll. Check out the listed rules to consider while you reach the greens!

Putting and Touching the Green You are allowed to remove loose impediments such as stones, sand, gravel, and leaves from your putting line. Feel free to fix any ball marks or spike marks as well, ensuring your line is as perfect as you prefer. Just remember not to delay play.
Avoid scraping or rubbing the surface of the green with your hand or club to feel the grain or texture. Testing the surface in that way is not allowed.
Sometimes, other golfers may ask you to move your marker if it interferes with their line. To do this, place the heel of your putter head next to the marker and move the marker to the toe of the putter. Make sure to return the marker to its original position before playing your shot.
Always replace the ball as close as possible to its original position after marking it. Many golfers mistakenly move the ball closer to the hole, which is against the rules. Avoid this error to maintain friendly relations on the course.
If your putt comes to a stop on the edge of the hole, you can wait for 10 seconds to see if it drops in. If it takes longer than 10 seconds, count it as a shot and move on.
The Flagstick If no one is touching the flagstick when your ball strikes it, it won’t be a problem if it happens while you’re off the green. 
The flagstick is no longer subject to a penalty stroke if it is left in the hole when you putt it. Time is saved by this adjustment. 
During your play, you are free to remove or leave the flagstick as you like.
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Rule No 5: Discussion with Competitor Or Other Players

If you are wondering about talking or having a piece of advice from competitors or another player on the golf course then be careful with the rules I am going to mention for you down below!

Advice-Giving and Advice-Seeking Remember, Only your caddy can give you Golf tips for Beginners on how to approach a hole. You cannot, therefore, ask other golfers for advice on how to putt it or which club to use. However, in informal rounds, this rule is frequently disregarded, so consider how other players are behaving before making a decision. Just keep in mind that friends frequently give each other advice.
Also, before your shot, your caddy cannot line you up. When it’s time to hit, you must set up and aim on your own. They can offer suggestions for the putting line and advice on where to smash the ball. The caddy cannot check your alignment while standing behind you.
For everyone else, anyone can raise the flag. Additionally, you can enquire about more general information like the distance from the sprinklers your friend is standing next to or the position of any nearby water dangers.
Even if a player asks for advice, you are not authorized to give it to them if they are not your competition partner. No of how you feel about them personally, this still holds true.
Whether a ball moves accidentally or naturally There is no penalty if you mistakenly move the ball while looking for it. If you can’t locate the ball within three minutes, you must either drop it or take a penalty shot to retake the shot.
Also, there is no penalty if another player or an animal moves your ball. Just be sure you put everything back where it was and carry on with your game as normal.
If your ball is transported by water or wind, you can play it from the new location without incurring any penalties as long as you didn’t ground your club behind the ball. You don’t have to return it to its original location.

Rule No 6: Dropping and Marking of Balls Outside the Green

Here are the different rules if you are somehow out of luck drop the ball outside of the green. I have listed the basic penalties, free drops, and procedure of dropping of marking a ball outside of the green below for you so that you can understand them in a better way!

Penalty Drops When the Ball gets Outside the Green Drop the ball from knee height without touching your body or equipment.
If the ball rolls into a hazard after a drop, retrieve it and drop it again.
Take full relief from obstacles to ensure your stance is not hindered.
If the ball still rolls into the hazard or previous drop area after two attempts, place it where it last struck the ground.
Determine the point where the ball crossed into the water hazard and drop at that point or behind it, aligned with the flag.
Seek agreement from playing partners to maintain fairness and integrity.
Avoid manipulating the ball’s descent and allow it to fall naturally.
Free Drops When the Ball gets Outside the Green


Temporary water on the ground allows for a free drop if it’s not marked as a hazard.
Check if water emerges from the ground by standing on it.
Ground Under Repair (GUR) areas require a drop away from those marked locations.
Drop away from burrowing animal holes without penalties.
If you land on the wrong putting green, drop the ball one club length from the edge.
Avoid hitting balls from the green to prevent damage and discontent.
Check for additional local rules on free drops in unique situations by consulting the course’s scorecard.
Dropping a Ball When dropping a ball, it must be released from knee height. This rule ensures consistency and fairness in the game. Although it may feel awkward at first, it is important to comply with this requirement.
If the ball rolls into a hazard after being dropped, it should be retrieved and dropped again. Take care to achieve full relief from any obstacles or trouble that may hinder your stance. If the ball continues to roll into the hazard or returns to the previous drop area after two attempts, place it on the spot where it last struck the ground during the drop.
When dealing with water hazards, it is crucial to accurately determine the point where the ball crossed into the hazard. Drop the ball at that point or behind it, aligned with the flag. You have the option to go as far back as you prefer.
 It is essential to maintain integrity and avoid cheating with your drops. Seeking agreement from playing partners on the location of the hazard crossing is recommended.
Marking a ball not on the green If another ball obstructs your path or interferes with your swing, ask the player responsible for that ball to mark and lift it.
When asked to mark and lift a ball not on the green, use a coin or a tee peg to mark its position. Lift the ball without cleaning it and hold onto it until the other player has completed their shot.
If you are unsure whether a found ball is yours, mark it, lift it to identify it, and then put it back in its original position to continue playing.

Rule No 7: Tackling Obstructions in Golf

While playing golf you can come across will different abstractions but they can be tackled by certain rules. Understanding and abiding by the rules pertaining to obstructions will contribute to fair and enjoyable play during a round of golf. So, Let’s learn the basics of them listed here! 

Movable Obstructions Movable obstructions like bottles, cans, and rakes can be moved if they interfere with your shot or stance. Be careful not to move your ball accidentally.
Immovable Obstructions Immovable obstructions include objects like sprinkler heads and cart paths. If they hinder your stance or swing, take a free drop at the nearest point of full relief.
Buildings and Special Cases Buildings generally don’t allow for a free drop, but specific rules may vary by the golf course.
Handling Obstructions Move movable obstructions, ensuring your ball remains still.
You can mark your ball and drop it at the nearest point for an unimpeded swing when facing immovable obstructions.

Rule No 8:  Water Hazards (Penalty Areas) in Golf

As a newbie you should know that sometimes there is no water in a water hazard, allowing you to play outside of it. Water hazards, now referred to as penalty areas, are designated by yellow stakes or painted lines. Lateral water hazards are marked by red stakes or painted lines. Here are the options when dealing with a water hazard:

  1. Play the Ball Inside the Hazard: You have the choice to play the ball as it lies within the hazard.
  2. Drop a Ball with Penalty: Drop a ball at the spot where you last played your shot from outside the hazard, adding one penalty shot to your score.
  3. Drop in Line with the Hole: Drop a ball on a line between the hole and the point where your ball last crossed the hazard. You can go as far back as you prefer along that line.
  4. Lateral Hazard (Red Stakes): If the hazard is marked by red stakes, you can drop within two club lengths of the point where your ball last crossed the line of the hazard.

It is important to drop the ball where it last crossed a red stake hazard, rather than in line with where it ended up. Dropping incorrectly may lead to criticism from fellow players. For example, if the water hazard is right in front of the tee box and that’s where your ball last crossed, you must drop it at the front of the tee box.

Remember adhering to the correct procedures ensures fairness and avoids penalties when dealing with water hazards on the golf course.

water-hazards-on-the-golf-course

Rule No 9: Lost & Out of Bounds in Golf

When encountering a situation where your ball may be lost in an obstructed area or potentially out of bounds, the following guidelines apply!

Provisional Ball If you suspect your ball is lost or out of bounds, you have the option to hit a provisional ball from the same position. It is important to declare it as a “provisional ball” to your playing partners. 
You can then search for the original ball, and if found, you have the choice to play it without penalty, disregarding the provisional ball. 
Alternatively, if the original ball is deemed unplayable, you can play the provisional ball with a one-stroke penalty. At any point, you may also declare the original ball lost and continue to play with the provisional ball, incurring a one-stroke penalty.
Lost Ball A ball is considered lost if it cannot be found within a three-minute search period or if you declare it lost. 
Alternatively, you can declare a ball lost while standing at the location from where the shot was played. In this case, the next ball played from that spot becomes the ball in play, and a one-stroke penalty is added.
Out of Bounds, An out-of-bounds situation occurs when the entire ball lies outside the designated white line or stake marking the boundary. 
In such cases, you must return to the original position and replay the shot from there. However, some areas may allow for a drop at the point of the out-of-bounds area, albeit with a significant penalty.

Rule No 10: Unplayable Ball in Golf

In situations where you encounter a ball that you deem unplayable, typically due to being obstructed by a bush, tree, or other challenging circumstances, the following options are available, each incurring a one-stroke penalty:

Line Drop You can drop a ball on a line that extends from the hole through the spot where your original ball was lying. This line allows you to choose any point behind the original spot, giving you the flexibility to drop the ball as far back as you desire along that line.
Stroke Replay Another option is to replay the shot from the same location where the previous shot was played. This allows you to give it another attempt without moving the ball.
Two Club Lengths Two Club Lengths: You may also measure two club lengths from where the ball lies and drop a ball within that designated area. This provides you with a wider zone in which to drop and play your next shot.

WrapUp: Basic Golf Rules

Fair play, integrity, and good experiences on the course are built upon an understanding of and adherence to the basic golf rules. Knowing the regulations enables golfers to make educated judgments, encourage sportsmanship, and appreciate the spirit of this age-old game, whether it be managing penalties, drops, hazards, or unplayable circumstances. So, tee off with assurance, respect the course, and let the rules direct you on your way to an enjoyable golfing experience. So learn the rules to strike like a pro golfer!

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