The R&A - Working for Golf

Rules Education

The R&A’s jurisdiction is global (excluding the United States and Mexico), and it takes the educational aspect of its role seriously.

Golf is a self-regulating game and it is the responsibility of all golfers to know the Rules. The Rules provide the framework for the way the game is played. A sound knowledge of them will allow you to deal with most situations you encounter on the golf course and itmay even save you a few strokes.

The basics, the Rules that occur most often, such as taking relief from a cart path and what to do when your ball is in a water hazard, out of bounds or lost, are not as difficult to learn as you may think. They are covered in A Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf and knowledge of them is enough to meets the needs of most players.

For those that want to know more than the basics, and for those that need to know more, e.g. referees, golf club officials and competition organisers, a more thorough knowledge of the Rule book and Decisions on the Rules of Golf is required. The Rules and Decisions are at the core of The R&A’s Rules Explorer.  Additional Guidance to Committee’s is available within the Rules Explorer under the Guidance on Running a Competition section.

Rules Schools

The R&A’s Rules Education programme consists of a three-tiered approach with the aim of graduating delegates through the stages to develop their Rules knowledge. The Schools are tailored to provide basic instruction for those newer to the game, as well as meeting the demands of more experienced officials looking for tournament specific guidance.

The R&A’s Rules Education Programme

There are three levels:

  • Level 1 Introductory Rules School
  • Level 2 Rules School
  • Level 3 Tournament Administrators and Referees School

At each stage, there is the opportunity to sit an appropriate exam. The exams are recognised throughout The R&A’s jurisdiction. Ideally, delegates should successfully complete each stage before progressing to the next level, attaining and building a comprehensive Rules knowledge in the process. It is also vital that practical experience is obtained in order to become an effective exponent on the Rules, refereeing and running competitions.

Explore the panels opposite to find out more.

Level 1

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Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Introduction to the Rules

Level 1 focuses on Etiquette, the principle definitions and on the Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf.

Level 1 Introductory Rules School

This one day School is taught by experienced instructors from many national golf associations and federations and by The R&A.  The School uses R&A materials and combines text, diagrams, photos and many videos of real life Rules situations.

An invaluable on-course practical demonstration is the highlight. Also included is the Level 1 Introductory Rules Exam.

For a specimen programme, click here.

To check for Level 1 schools in your area, see the table of upcoming Rules Schools.

Rules Academy

The Rules Academy is an online version of the Level 1 Introductory Rules School and provides an interesting and easy way to learn the basics of the Rules of Golf. Test your knowledge by taking the review questions at the end of each section and try to gain an official R&A certificate by taking the online Level 1 Exam.

Learn more

Level 2

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Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Rules School

Level 2 consists of a two and a half day School either conducted by The R&A or, by an R&A affiliate.

The School looks at the more important playing Rules in detail, e.g. Ball Played as it Lies (Rule 13) and Relief Situations (Rules 20-28). Some of the complexities that are found in the Decisions book are introduced along with an explanation of the role of the Committee in competitions. An on-course demonstration forms an important part of this school.

Ultimately though it should be remembered that the Rules do not exist on the page of a book - they must be applied on the golf course. The last part of the School, therefore, concentrates on the practical aspects of refereeing.

Knowledge required

Ideally attendees would have successfully completed a Level 1 School (either an actual Level 1 School or the online equivalent, i.e. The R&A Rules Academy) and, in any case, attendees would be expected to know the basics of the Rules as covered in the Quick Guide.

Target Audience

  • Individuals with an involvement in tournament administration at any level of the game or a desire to have such an involvement, e.g. club managers, committee members, club professionals
  • Individuals with a desire to progress to Level 3.

For a specimen programme, click here

To check for Level 2 schools in your area, see the table of upcoming Rules Schools.


Level 3

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Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Tournament Administrators and Referees School

This three day Level 3 Tournament Administrators and Referees School (TARS) is only conducted by The R&A.

A TARS in St Andrews is held annually, usually in February, and it is The R&As premier School.  All of The R&As Affiliates are invited to send a maximum of two delegates. Additional TARS courses are held around the world, e.g. South America, Africa and Asia to meet demand.

The purpose of a TARS is to give guidance and advice on running tournaments and refereeing. There is no lecturing on individual Rules at a TARS and so delegates are assumed to have a very good knowledge of the Rules before attending.

The course includes sessions on course set-up, course marking, pace of play, suspension of play and starting and recording. Delegates are also given an opportunity to test their refereeing skills by giving rulings to R&A instructors during a role play session.

Target Audience

As a Level 3 TARS is generally by invitation only, we would recommend that you speak to your National Golf Union or Federation if you are interested in attending.

For a specimen programme, click here.

Upcoming Rules Schools

A list of upcoming Rules schools are available from the link below:

Upcoming Rules Schools

Teach yourself and others the Rules of Golf


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A rub of the green occurs when a ball in motion is deflected by the player or his equipment.

Think you know the Rules of Golf? Test your knowledge now to find out whether you are a novice or a master.

Think you know the Rules of Golf? Test your knowledge now to find out whether you are a novice or a master.

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