Rules and Amateur Status

As golf’s governing body, The R&A is responsible for writing both the Rules of Golf and the Rules of Amateur Status.

The Rules of Golf have developed over a period of more than 250 years and are written and revised by The R&A and the United States Golf Association. Since 1952, The R&A and USGA have worked closely to produce a joint code of Rules so that, wherever the game is played around the world, the same laws apply.

They don't only cover the playing Rules, but Etiquette and the specifications and regulations that relate to clubs and balls as well.

The Rules of Amateur Status establish the framework under which amateur golf is played. The purpose of the Rules of Amateur Status is to maintain the distinction between amateur and professional golf and, particularly given that amateur golf is largely self-regulating with regard to the Rules of play and handicapping, to focus on the game’s challenges and inherent rewards, rather than financial gain.

The Rules of Amateur Status cover matters such as amateurism and professionalism, prizes and prize limits, expenses, instruction and advertising.

Click the links on the left to find the information you require.

A selection of apps and publications, including the Rules of Golf and A Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf, are available to download on the Downloads and Free Publications page.

Rules Explorer

The Rules Explorer is an online Rules book, designed to make it as easy as possible to find what you're looking for. Click through to reference any Rule or any decisions relating to it.

Rules in Focus

We take the chance to question a member of the Rules Department about a topical Tour ruling or commonly-asked rules query. If you would like to get in touch to ask a question of your own, send your question to


Click here for more information on the The R&A and USGA's proposed change to Rule 14-1b, including a series of images detailing the prohibited and permitted strokes, frequently asked questions, and guidelines for players and officials.


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, care for the course and to abide by the Rules.

Guidance on Running a Competition

Guidance on Running a Competition is an important and useful guide. It contains the latest advice to emerge from golf tournaments that have taken place around the world and is designed to help those running competitions for the first time or who wish to run a check on best practice.

Rules Education

The R&A’s formal Rules Education programme consists of a three-tiered approach with the aim of graduating delegates through the stages to develop their Rules knowledge.

Pace of Play

Clubs, public courses, resorts and competition organisers have differing views on what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable pace of play, but the fact is that slow play detracts from the enjoyment of the game for many players. Few golfers are heard to complain about play being too quick!

Rules Quiz

Test your knowledge with our Rules quiz! Choose how difficult you want the questions to be before getting started and challenge a friend once you've finished.

Amateur Status

As amateur golf is essentially self-regulating with regard to Rules and handicapping, it is considered necessary to safeguard the sport so that it can be fully enjoyed by all amateur golfers. Click through to find out more about the Rules of Amateur Status.