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PRINCIPAL RULES CHANGES SINCE 2008-2009

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Golf Etiquette

Unlike many sports, golf is for the most part played without the supervision of a referee, umpire or coach. The game relies on the individual golfer to show consideration for other players and to abide by the rules. New golfers are often in need of advice about customary behavior and practices to follow on course so that play proceeds safely and without delay. Here are 10 tips to help all players get the maximum enjoyment from the game.

The Spirit of the Game
Unlike many sports, golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.

Safety
Players should ensure that no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like when they make a stroke or practice swing.

Players should not play until the players in front are out of range.

Players should always alert greenstaff nearby or ahead when they are about to make a stroke that might endanger them.

If a player plays a ball in a direction where there is a danger of hitting someone, he should immediately shout a warning. The traditional word of warning in such a situation is "fore."

Consideration for Other Players

No Disturbance or Distraction

Players should always show consideration for other players on the course and should not disturb their play by moving, talking or making any unnecessary noise.

Players should ensure that any electronic device taken onto the course does not distract other players.

On the teeing ground, a player should not tee his ball until it is his turn to play.

Players should not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.
On the Putting Green

On the putting green, players should not stand on another player’s line of putt or when he is making a stroke, cast a shadow over his line of putt.

Players should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.
Scoring

In stroke play, a player who is acting as a marker should, if necessary, on the way to the next tee, check the score with the player concerned and record it.

Pace of Play

Play at Good Pace and Keep Up

Players should play at a good pace. The Committee may establish pace of play guidelines that all players should follow.

It is a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If it loses a clear hole and it is delaying the group behind, it should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group.
Be Ready to Play

Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn to play. When playing on or near the putting green, they should leave their bags or carts in such a position as will enable quick movement off the green and towards the next tee. When the play of a hole has been completed, players should immediately leave the putting green.
Lost Ball

If a player believes his ball may be lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, to save time, he should play a provisional ball.

Players searching for a ball should signal the players in the group behind them to play through as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball will not easily be found.

They should not search for five minutes before doing so. Having allowed the group behind to play through, they should not continue play until that group has passed and is out of range.
Priority on the Course

Unless otherwise determined by the Committee, priority on the course is determined by a group’s pace of play. Any group playing a whole round is entitled to pass a group playing a shorter round.
Care of the Course

Bunkers

Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints made by them and any nearby made by others. If a rake is within reasonable proximity of the bunker, the rake should be used for this purpose.
Repair of Divots, Ball-Marks and Damage by Shoes

Players should carefully repair any divot holes made by them and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball (whether or not made by the player himself). On completion of the hole by all players in the group, damage to the putting green caused by golf shoes should be repaired.
Preventing Unnecessary Damage

Players should avoid causing damage to the course by removing divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason.

Players should ensure that no damage is done to the putting green when putting down bags or the flagstick.

In order to avoid damaging the hole, players and caddies should not stand too close to the hole and should take care during the handling of the flagstick and the removal of a ball from the hole. The head of a club should not be used to remove a ball from the hole.

Players should not lean on their clubs when on the putting green, particularly when removing the ball from the hole.

The flagstick should be properly replaced in the hole before players leave the putting green.

Local notices regulating the movement of golf carts should be strictly observed.
Conclusion; Penalties for Breach

If players follow the guidelines in this Section, it will make the game more enjoyable for everyone.

If a player consistently disregards these guidelines during a round or over a period of time to the detriment of others, it is recommended that the Committee consider taking appropriate disciplinary action against the offending player. Such action may, for example, include prohibiting play for a limited time on the course or in a certain number of competitions. This is considered to be justifiable in terms of protecting the interest of the majority of golfers who wish to play in accordance with these guidelines.

In the case of a serious breach of Etiquette, the Committee may disqualify a player under Rule 33-7.

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Etiquette

Etiquette

This section provides guidelines on the manner in which the game of golf should be played. If they are followed, all players will gain maximum enjoyment from the game. The overriding principle is that consideration should be shown to others on the course at all times.
The Spirit of the Game
Unlike many sports, golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they maybe. This is the spirit of the game of golf.
Safety
Players should ensure that no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like when they make a stroke or practice swing.
Players should not play until the players in front are out of range.
Players should always alert greenstaff nearby or ahead when they are about to make a stroke that might endanger them.
If a player plays a ball in a direction where there is a danger of hitting someone, he should immediately shout a warning. The traditional word of warning in such a situation is "fore."

Consideration for Other Players
No Disturbance or Distraction
Players should always show consideration for other players on the course and should not disturb their play by moving, talking or making any unnecessary noise.
Players should ensure that any electronic device taken onto the course does not distract other players.
On the teeing ground, a player should not tee his ball until it is his turn to play.
Players should not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.
On the Putting Green
On the putting green, players should not stand on another player’s line of putt or when he is making a stroke, cast a shadow over his line of putt.
Players should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.

Scoring
In stroke play, a player who is acting as a marker should, if necessary, on the way to the next tee, check the score with the player concerned and record it.
Pace of Play
Play at Good Pace and Keep Up
Players should play at a good pace. The Committee may establish pace of play guidelines that all players should follow.
It is a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If it loses a clear hole and it is delaying the group behind, it should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group.
Be Ready to Play
Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn to play. When playing on or near the putting green, they should leave their bags or carts in such a position as will enable quick movement off the green and towards the next tee. When the play of a hole has been completed, players should immediately leave the putting green.

Lost Ball
If a player believes his ball may be lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, to save time, he should play a provisional ball.
Players searching for a ball should signal the players in the group behind them to play through as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball will not easily be found.
They should not search for five minutes before doing so. Having allowed the group behind to play through, they should not continue play until that group has passed and is out of range.

Priority on the Course
Unless otherwise determined by the Committee, priority on the course is determined by a group’s pace of play. Any group playing a whole round is entitled to pass a group playing a shorter round.

Care of the Course
Bunkers
Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints made by them and any nearby made by others. If a rake is within reasonable proximity of the bunker, the rake should be used for this purpose.
Repair of Divots, Ball-Marks and Damage by Shoes
Players should carefully repair any divot holes made by them and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball (whether or not made by the player himself). On completion of the hole by all players in the group, damage to the putting green caused by golf shoes should be repaired.
Preventing Unnecessary Damage
Players should avoid causing damage to the course by removing divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason.
Players should ensure that no damage is done to the putting green when putting down bags or the flagstick.
In order to avoid damaging the hole, players and caddies should not stand too close to the hole and should take care during the handling of the flagstick and the removal of a ball from the hole. The head of a club should not be used to remove a ball from the hole.
Players should not lean on their clubs when on the putting green, particularly when removing the ball from the hole.
The flagstick should be properly replaced in the hole before players leave the putting green.

Local notices regulating the movement of golf carts should be strictly observed.
Conclusion; Penalties for Breach
If players follow the guidelines in this Section, it will make the game more enjoyable for everyone.
If a player consistently disregards these guidelines during a round or over a period of time to the detriment of others, it is recommended that the Committee consider taking appropriate disciplinary action against the offending player. Such action may, for example, include prohibiting play for a limited time on the course or in a certain number of competitions. This is considered to be justifiable in terms of protecting the interest of the majority of golfers who wish to play in accordance with these guidelines.
In the case of a serious breach of Etiquette, the Committee may disqualify a player under Rule 33-7.

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What can I do on the green?

What can I do on the green?

MARKING THE BALL

As soon as the ball is on the putting green, a player may pick up and wipe his ball as long as it is marked properly.

The ball is on the putting green when any part of it touches the surface.

You may use anything to mark the ball but a small penny or marker pin is recommended.

If the marker is in the line of your opponent’s putt you may choose to move the marker to either side of the line.

This should be done by marking the ball then moving it one club’s head or club’s length to the side on a line with a fixed spot on the horizon.

Be careful after marking your ball and putting in your pocket that you take out the right one.

If you put down a different ball, you will be penalized two shots, or in match play, concede the hole.

Take care what you do while you are waiting to putt. You are not allowed to practice putting on the green or test the surface before your shot.

ATTENDING THE FLAG

Hitting the pin with a shot played from off the green is fine.

But once you are on the putting surface, if your ball hits the flagstick you will be penalized two shots.

In match play you lose the hole.

This applies whether the flagstick is in the hole or lying on the green.

You may ask for the flagstick to be attended when playing from off the green.

However you may not ask for it to be adjusted so it is leaning in a particular direction.

It must be centered, removed or attended.

MARKING THE HOLE

If the ball comes to rest on the lip you are allowed enough time to reach the hole in reasonable time and can then wait another ten seconds to see if the ball will drop.

If you wait longer and it does drop, you are still deemed to have taken an extra shot to hole the ball.

If the ball is wedged against the flagstick when you arrive on the green, you are allowed to remove the pin to see if it drops.

If it doesn’t, you must place the ball on the lip of the hole and putt out.

THE GRASS

You should always repair pitchmarks on the green, including those not made by you.

However you are not allowed to repair any other damage, such as spike marks.

You should also be careful when touching the line of your putt.

You are only allowed to do so to measure which player is furthest from the hole or in the process of marking the ball.

You may also do so to repair pitchmarks or remove loose impediments, such as pine needles, leaves or sand.

You can only brush the things away and must not press anything down.

ETIQUETTE

·        Repair pitchmarks

·        No bags or trolleys

·        Attend your opponent’s shot

·        Don’t step on the line between your opponent’s ball and the hole

·        Shake hands after the match

·        Mark cards on way to next tee not on green

·        Take care not to damage the hole when taking the flag from a hole and putting it back

·        Avoid scuffing your spikes on the green.

 

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Rule 1

Definitions

 

Course

The "course’’ is the whole area within any boundaries established by the Committee (see Rule 33-2).

Rule or Rules

The term "Rule’’ includes:

a. The Rules of Golf and their interpretations as contained in "Decisions on the Rules of Golf";

b. Any Conditions of Competition established by the Committee under Rule 33-1 and Appendix I;

c. Any Local Rules established by the Committee under Rule 33-8a and Appendix I; and

d. The specifications on clubs and the ball in Appendices II and III.

Stipulated Round

The "stipulated round’’ consists of playing the holes of the course in their correct sequence unless otherwise authorized by the Committee. The number of holes in a stipulated round is 18 unless a smaller number is authorized by the Committee. As to extension of stipulated round in match play, see Rule 2-3.

Rule 1. The Game

1-1. General

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.

1-2. Exerting Influence on Ball

A player or caddie must not take any action to influence the position or the movement of a ball except in accordance with the Rules.

(Removal of movable obstruction — see Rule 24-1.)

Penalty for Breach of Rule 1-2:

Match play — Loss of hole; Stroke play — Two strokes.

Note: In the case of a serious breach of Rule 1-2, the Committee may impose a penalty of disqualification.

1-3. Agreement to Waive Rules

Players must not agree to exclude the operation of any Rule or to waive any penalty incurred.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 1-3:

Match play — Disqualification of both sides;

Stroke play — Disqualification of competitors concerned.

(Agreeing to play out of turn in stroke play — see Rule 10-2c.)

1-4. Points Not Covered by Rules

If any point in dispute is not covered by the Rules, the decision should be made in accordance with equity.

Key Decisions

1-1/2 Player Unaware He Has Holed Out Puts Another Ball into Play

Q. A player, unable to find his ball, puts another ball into play. He then discovers that his original ball is in the hole. What is the ruling?

A. The score with the original ball counts. The play of the hole was completed when the player holed that ball.

1-2/4 Player Jumps Close to Hole to Cause Ball to Drop

Q. A ball overhangs the lip of the hole. The player jumps close to the hole in the hope of jarring the earth and causing the ball to fall into the hole, which it does. Is this permissible?

A. No.

If the ball was still moving when the player jumped, the player took action to influence the movement of the ball in breach of Rule 1-2. In match play, he lost the hole. In stroke play, he incurred a penalty of two strokes, and the ball was holed.

If the ball was at rest when the player jumped, it should be assumed that the player caused the ball to move, and he incurred a penalty of one stroke in both match and stroke play under Rule 18-2a and was required to replace the ball.

If it is not possible to determine whether the ball was still moving, it should be presumed to be moving unless it was deemed to be at rest under Rule 16-2.

1-3/2 Agreement to Concede Short Putts

Q. In a match, the two players agree in advance to concede all putts within a specified length. Is this contrary to Rule 1-3?

A. Yes. The players agreed to exclude the operation of Rule 1-1 and should be disqualified under Rule 1-3. Under Rule 2-4, the only stroke which may be conceded is the "next stroke" and it cannot be conceded in advance.

1-4/10 Dangerous Situation; Rattlesnake or Bees Interfere with Play

Q. A player’s ball comes to rest in a situation dangerous to the player, e.g., near a live rattlesnake or a bees’ nest. Does the player have any options in addition to playing the ball as it lies or, if applicable, proceeding under Rule 26 or 28?

A. Yes. It is unreasonable to expect the player to play from such a dangerous situation and unfair to require the player to incur a penalty under Rule 26 (Water Hazards) or Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable).

In equity (Rule 1-4), as an additional option the player should be permitted, without penalty, to drop a ball on the nearest spot not nearer the hole which is not dangerous.

If the ball lay in a hazard, it should be dropped, if possible, in the same hazard and, if not, in a similar nearby hazard, but in either case not nearer the hole. If it is not possible for the player to drop the ball in a hazard, he may drop it, under penalty of one stroke, outside the hazard, keeping the point where the original ball lay between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped.

If it is clearly unreasonable for the player to play a stroke because of interference by anything other than the dangerous situation he may not take relief as prescribed above, but he is not precluded from proceeding under Rule 26 or 28.

Danger from Fire Ants — See 33-8/22.

1-4/12 Player Breaches Rules More Than Once Prior to Stroke; Whether Multiple Penalties Applied

Prior to making a stroke, there may be circumstances where a player breaches a Rule more than once, or breaches different Rules and it would seem that a penalty should be applied to each separate breach. However, in the majority of cases and based on equity (Rule 1-4), it would not be appropriate to apply multiple penalties.

For the purpose of applying the principles in this Decision, Rules 4-3a, 4-3b, 4-3c, 13-4a, 13-4b, 13-4c, 14-2a, 14-2b, 17-3a, 17-3b, 17-3c, 18-2a and 18-2b should be considered as separate Rules.

Below are the specific principles to be applied when determining whether multiple penalties are appropriate when more than one breach has occurred prior to a player making a stroke:

1. SINGLE ACT RESULTS IN ONE RULE BEING BREACHED MORE THAN ONCE — SINGLE PENALTY APPLIED

Example: In stroke play, a competitor’s ball on the putting green strikes a fellow-competitor’s ball in breach of Rule 19-5 and then strikes another fellow-competitor’s ball, also in breach of Rule 19-5. The ruling would be a single two-stroke penalty (see Decision 19-5/3).

2. SINGLE ACT RESULTS IN TWO RULES BEING BREACHED — SINGLE PENALTY APPLIED

Example: In stroke play, a competitor is considering putting his ball from a bunker and rakes a footprint in the bunker on his line of play. Both Rule 13-2 and Rule 13-4a have been breached. The ruling would be a single two-stroke penalty.

3. MULTIPLE OCCURRENCES OF THE SAME OR SIMILAR ACTS RESULT IN ONE RULE BEING BREACHED MORE THAN ONCE — SINGLE PENALTY APPLIED

Example 1: In stroke play, a competitor takes several practice swings in a hazard, touching the ground each time. The ruling would be a single two-stroke penalty (see Decision 13-4/3).

Example 2: In stroke play, a player removes sand on his line of play through the green and presses down a replaced divot which is also on his line of play. The ruling would be a single two-stroke penalty.

4. DIFFERENT ACTS RESULT IN TWO RULES BEING BREACHED, BUT BREACH OF SECOND RULE IS A DIRECT CONSEQUENCE OF THE INITIAL BREACH — SINGLE PENALTY APPLIED

Example: In stroke play, a competitor’s ball moves prior to address and while it is in motion it is accidentally stopped by the competitor’s club in breach of Rule 19-2b. The competitor then moves the club and, therefore, moves his ball, normally a penalty stroke under Rule 18-2a. This would result in a single two-stroke penalty under Rule 19-2b (see Decision 19-2/1.5).

5. DIFFERENT ACTS RESULT IN TWO RULES BEING BREACHED — MULTIPLE PENALTIES APPLIED

Example: In stroke play, a competitor (1) lifts his ball in play and (2) substitutes another ball, both acts without authority, and plays the substituted ball. The ruling would be a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2a (lifting the ball in play) and a further penalty of two strokes under Rule 15-2 and the applicable Rule (substitution without correction), giving a total penalty of three strokes (see Decision 15/6.5).

6. DIFFERENT ACTS RESULT IN ONE RULE BEING BREACHED MORE THAN ONCE — MULTIPLE PENALTIES APPLIED

Example: In stroke play, a competitor (1) purposely steps on another player’s line of putt with the intention of improving the line, and then (2) purposely stops his own ball in motion after it began moving without apparent cause before address. The ruling would be two separate penalties, each of two strokes, for breaches of Rule 1-2, giving a total penalty of four strokes.

The following chart summarizes the principles of this Decision:

8-2a/3 Player Places Mark to Indicate Distance for Pitch Shot

Q. A player who has a pitch shot places a club on the ground off his line of play to indicate the distance he would like his ball to carry and leaves the club there during the stroke. What is the ruling?

A. In view of the purpose of Rule 8-2a, in equity (Rule 1-4), the player incurs the general penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.

19-1/4 Ball Played from Putting Green Deliberately Deflected or Stopped by Spectator

Q. A player plays a stroke from the putting green and, while the ball is still in motion, a spectator deliberately deflects or stops it. What is the ruling?

A. The Committee must act in equity — see Note under Rule 19-1. The stroke should be canceled, the ball replaced and the stroke replayed, without penalty.

 

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Golf Terms

The “line of play’’ is the direction that the player wishes his ball to take after a stroke, plus a reasonable distance on either side of the intended direction. The line of play extends vertically upward from the ground, but does not extend beyond the hole.

The “line of putt’’ is the line that the player wishes his ball to take after a stroke on the putting green. Except with respect to Rule 16-1e, the line of putt includes a reasonable distance on either side of the intended line. The line of putt does not extend beyond the hole.

“Loose impediments’’ are natural objects including: • stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like, dung, and worms and insects and casts or heaps made by them, provided they are not: fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or adhering to the ball. Sand and loose soil are loose impediments on the putting green, but not elsewhere. Snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player. Dew and frost are not loose impediments.

A ball is deemed “lost’’ if:
a. It is not found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his or their caddies have begun to search for it; or
b. The player has made a stroke at a substituted ball; or
c. The player has made a stroke at a provisional ball from the place where the original ball is likely to be or from a point nearer the hole than that place.
Time spent in playing a wrong ball is not counted in the five-minute period allowed for search.

A “marker’’ is one who is appointed by the Committee to record a competitor’s score in stroke play. He may be a fellow-competitor.. He is not a referee.

Matches
Single: A match in which one plays against another.
Threesome: A match in which one plays against two, and each side plays one ball.
Foursome: A match in which two play against two, and each side plays one ball.
Three-Ball: A match-play competition in which three play against one another, each playing his own ball. Each player is playing two distinct matches.
Best-Ball: A match in which one plays against the better ball of two or the best ball of three players.
Four-Ball: A match in which two play their better ball against the better ball of two other players.

A ball is deemed to have “moved’’ if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place.

The “nearest point of relief” is the reference point for taking relief without penalty from interference by an immovable obstruction (Rule 24-2), an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1) or a wrong putting green (Rule 25-3).
It is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies:
(i) that is not nearer the hole, and
(ii) where, if the ball were so positioned, no interference by the condition from which relief is sought would exist for the stroke the player would have made from the original position if the condition were not there.
Note: In order to determine the nearest point of relief accurately, the player should use the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke.

An “observer’’ is one who is appointed by the Committee to assist a referee to decide questions of fact and to report to him any breach of a Rule. An observer should not attend the flagstick, stand at or mark the position of the hole, or lift the ball or mark its position.

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