Golf’s Four Most Common Rules

Golf doesn’t have a lot of rules, but you should know them. That’s why it’s good to review the rules periodically. I don’t devote a golf lesson or a longer golf instruction session to the rules, but I mention them during my golf lessons. That way the student learns the rules without detracting from his or her golf lesson.

Below we examine five common rules. Adhere to them whenever you play. Also, don’t forget about local course rules. All clubs have rules covering specific course areas. If you’re playing a course for the first time, check out these rules beforehand. They may save you a stroke or two in a sticky situation. If you’re playing a course for the umpteenth time, refresh your memory as to the local rules. They may have changed.

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. But the rules don’t stop there, as I mention in my golf tips, they also discuss a lateral water hazard.

The rules define a “later water hazard” as part of a water hazard “so situated that it is not possible, or is deemed by the committee to be impracticable, to drop a ball behind the water hazard according to Rule 26-1b.” In other words, it’s a water hazard that doesn’t lie between the tee and the green. The course marks these off by red stakes or lines.

If you hit into water you have four remedies:

1. Play the ball as near as possible to the spot from which the original ball was played.

2. 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.

3. Play the ball as it lies in the water hazard.

4. 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. Hang Time
You’re on the 7th green and you hit what your think is a great put. The line is good. The speed is good. And the break is good. It’s a done deal, you think. 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
You tee off on the 9th hole. You pull the ball left pass some 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. Keep in mind that a wall or other boundary can also mark OB under local rules. That’s why you need to check local rules.

4. Lost Ball
On the 15th you hit a drive just to the left of the fairway in deep rough. You look for the ball but can’t find it. You declare a lost ball. After hitting, you discover your original ball. If you declared a lost ball and you hit a second ball, the provisions of Rule 27 apply. 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. They won’t necessarily change your golf handicap or eliminate your need for golf lessons, but they are good to know to enhance your knowledge of the game and avoid getting others mad for not knowing them.

Copyright (c) 2007 Jack Moorehouse