Learning To Use The Golf Rules Book

Playing By The Rules

With the competitive golf season now on the horizon, learning how to use a Rules book could come in very handy if you plan on playing any tournament golf.  The Rules book itself is actually organized very logically and is not as complicated to use as one might imagine.  A good starting point is the Contents pages which can be found on pages 2 through 4 in the pocket version of the Rules of Golf.

Rules 1, 2 and 3 deal with the game itself.  Rule 1 defines the game and Rules 2 and 3 describe the formats of play, that being Match Play and Stroke Play.  Rules 4 and 5 deal with equipment.  Rule 4 defines the rules for golf clubs and Rule 5 defines the rules for golf balls.

Rules 6 through 9 cover the players responsibilities such as practice, advice, indicating line of play and information as to strokes taken.  Rule 10 tells us about the order of play.  Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, we are ready to get on the golf course and start play.  Rule 11 starts with the teeing ground.  Rules 12 through 15 educate us on playing the ball and deal with searching for and identifying the ball, ball played as it lies, striking the ball and substituted and wrong balls.  We have now reached the putting green, so Rules 16 and 17 cover the putting green and what you can and cannot do once you reach the putting green and flagstick.

Rules 18 and 19 instruct us on what to do if a ball is moved, deflected or stopped when the ball is at rest or in motion.  Rules 20 through 28 describe relief situations and procedures like lifting, dropping and placing your ball, playing from a wrong place, obstructions, water hazards, embedded balls, balls lost or out of bounds and a ball that is unplayable.

Rules 29 through 32 cover other forms of play like threesomes, foursomes, three balls, best balls and Stableford competitions.  Finally, Rules 33 and 34 deal with Tournament Administration and define tournament committees and how to handle disputes and decisions.

If you don’t read all of the Rules book, I would encourage you to read at least page 9 “How to Use the Rules Book”.  It will save you a great deal of time and will prevent misinterpretations and misunderstandings.  The final paragraph on that page reads “Understanding the Words”.  You should be aware of and understand the following differences in word use:

MAY = optional
SHOULD = recommendation
MUST = instruction (and penalty if not carried out)
A BALL = you may substitute another ball (e.g. Rules 26, 27 and 28)
THE BALL = you must not substitute another ball (e.g. Rules 24 – 2 and 25 – 1)

The following page, #10 is equally as important.  It continues the explanation of “How to Use the Rule Book” , including “Know the Definitions” and “The Facts of the Case”.  Again, information on this page will be helpful when applying the Rules of Golf.  Very few players take the time to read the entire Rules of Golf book from start to finish.  It is not fascinating or exciting reading, but at least knowing how to USE a Rules book could help you to apply the Rules correctly.   Here’s hoping you have a great golf season and let’s all pitch in and help #growgolf and #growgolfrules

Frank Guastella, PGA Rules Official Michigan Section PGA
Staff Writer, Mike Fay Golf
If you have a question for Frank here’s where you can contact him.
Email:  fguastella@franklin-golf.net
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