The R&A - Working for Golf
Rule

22

Interpretations
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Foursomes (Also Known as Alternate Shot)
Interpretations
See Rule Content
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22.1
22.1
22.1/1
22.3
22.3
22.3/1
22.3/2
22.3/3
22.3/4

Purpose: Rule 22 covers Foursomes (played either in match play or stroke play), where two partners compete together as a side by alternating in making strokes at a single ball. The Rules for this form of play are essentially the same as for individual play, except for requiring the partners to alternate in teeing off to start a hole and to play out each hole with alternate shots.

22.1
Overview of Foursomes
22.1/1
Individual Handicaps Must Be Recorded on Scorecard

Under Rule 3.3b(4) (Handicap Shown on Scorecard), it is the player's responsibility to make sure that his or her handicap (see 3.3b(4)/1) is correctly shown on the scorecard. In a Foursomes competition, this would apply to both the player and his or her partner.

If the side returns a scorecard on which the handicaps are not individually recorded for both the player and the partner, such as being combined as a side handicap allowance or being omitted, the side is disqualified.

22.3
Side Must Alternate in Making Strokes
22.3/1
When Playing Again from Teeing Area in Mixed Foursomes Ball Must Be Played from Same Teeing Area

In playing mixed Foursomes where different teeing areas are used by women and men if, for example, a man tees off from the teeing area defined by green tee-markers and hits his shot out of bounds, the woman must play the next stroke from the green teeing area.

22.3/2
Determining Which Ball Is in Play When Both Partners in Foursomes Tee Off from Same Tee

If both the player and his or her partner mistakenly tee off from the same teeing area, it must be determined whose turn it was to play.

For example, Player A and Player B are partners of the side A-B. Player A tees off first; then Player B tees off from the same teeing area:

  • If it was Player A's turn to tee off, Player B's ball would be the side's ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 18.1). The side has taken 3 strokes (including one penalty stroke) and it is Player A's turn to play next.
  • If it was Player B's turn to tee off, the side loses the hole in match play or gets two penalty strokes in stroke play for playing in the wrong order when Player A played first. In stroke play, Player B's ball is the side's ball in play, the side has taken 3 strokes (including two penalty strokes) and it is Player A's turn to play next.
22.3/3
Player May Not Purposely Miss Ball so His or Her Partner Can Play

A player may not change whose turn it is to play by intentionally missing the ball. A "stroke" is the forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. Therefore, if a player has intentionally missed the ball, he or she has not made a stroke and it is still his or her turn to play.

For example, Player A and Player B are partners of the side A-B. If Player A purposely misses the ball so that Player B can hit the shot, Player A has not made a stroke as there was no intention of striking the ball. If Player B subsequently plays the ball, side A-B gets the general penalty because Player B played in the wrong order as it was still Player A's turn to play.

However, if Player A intends to strike the ball and accidentally misses it, he or she has made a stroke and it is Player B's turn to play.

22.3/4
How to Proceed When Provisional Ball Played by Wrong Partner

If a side decides to play a provisional ball, it must be played by the partner whose turn it is to make the side's next stroke.

For example, Player A and Player B are partners of the side A-B. Player A plays his or her ball and there is doubt whether the ball is out of bounds or lost outside a penalty area. If the side decides to play a provisional ball, Player B must play the provisional ball. If, by mistake, Player A plays the provisional ball, there is no penalty if the original ball is found and the provisional ball does not become the ball in play.

However, if the original ball is lost and the provisional ball becomes the ball in play, since Player A played the provisional ball in this example, the side loses the hole in match play or gets a penalty of two strokes in stroke play for playing in the wrong order. In stroke play, the provisional ball must be abandoned and Player B must return to the spot of Player A's last stroke at the original ball and put a ball in play (Rule 18.2b).

Scorecard

The document where a player’s score for each hole is entered in stroke play.

The scorecard may be in any paper or electronic form approved by the Committee that allows:

  • The player’s score to be entered for each hole,
  • The player’s handicap to be entered, if it is a handicap competition, and
  • The marker and the player to certify the scores, and the player to certify his or her handicap in a handicap competition, either by physical signature or by a method of electronic certification approved by the Committee.

A scorecard is not required in match play but may be used by the players to help keep the match score.

Foursomes (also known as "Alternate Shot")

A form of play where two partners compete as a side by playing one ball in alternating order on each hole.

Foursomes may be played as a match-play competition between one side of two partners and another side of two partners or a stroke-play competition among multiple sides of two partners.

Partner

A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Scorecard

The document where a player’s score for each hole is entered in stroke play.

The scorecard may be in any paper or electronic form approved by the Committee that allows:

  • The player’s score to be entered for each hole,
  • The player’s handicap to be entered, if it is a handicap competition, and
  • The marker and the player to certify the scores, and the player to certify his or her handicap in a handicap competition, either by physical signature or by a method of electronic certification approved by the Committee.

A scorecard is not required in match play but may be used by the players to help keep the match score.

Partner

A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Foursomes (also known as "Alternate Shot")

A form of play where two partners compete as a side by playing one ball in alternating order on each hole.

Foursomes may be played as a match-play competition between one side of two partners and another side of two partners or a stroke-play competition among multiple sides of two partners.

Teeing Area

The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.

The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where:

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.

The teeing area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

All other teeing locations on the course (whether on the same hole or any other hole) are part of the general area.

Teeing Area

The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.

The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where:

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.

The teeing area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

All other teeing locations on the course (whether on the same hole or any other hole) are part of the general area.

Out of Bounds

All areas outside the boundary edge of the course as defined by the Committee. All areas inside that edge are in bounds.

The boundary edge of the course extends both up above the ground and down below the ground:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the boundary edge is in bounds, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the boundary edge (such as steps attached to a boundary fence, or a tree rooted outside the edge with branches extending inside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is outside the edge is out of bounds.

The boundary edge should be defined by boundary objects or lines:

  • Boundary objects: When defined by stakes or a fence, the boundary edge is defined by the line between the course-side points of the stakes or fence posts at ground level (excluding angled supports), and those stakes or fence posts are out of bounds.
    When defined by other objects such as a wall or when the Committee wishes to treat a boundary fence in a different way, the Committee should define the boundary edge.
  • Lines: When defined by a painted line on the ground, the boundary edge is the course-side edge of the line, and the line itself is out of bounds.
    When a line on the ground defines the boundary edge, stakes may be used to show where the boundary edge is, but they have no other meaning.

Boundary stakes or lines should be white.

Stroke

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
Teeing Area

The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.

The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where:

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.

The teeing area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

All other teeing locations on the course (whether on the same hole or any other hole) are part of the general area.

Partner

A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.

Teeing Area

The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.

The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where:

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.

The teeing area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

All other teeing locations on the course (whether on the same hole or any other hole) are part of the general area.

Partner

A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Teeing Area

The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.

The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where:

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the Committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers.

The teeing area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

All other teeing locations on the course (whether on the same hole or any other hole) are part of the general area.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

In Play

The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

A ball that is not in play is a wrong ball.

The player cannot have more than one ball in play at any time. (See Rule 6.3d for the limited cases when a player may play more than one ball at the same time on a hole.)

When the Rules refer to a ball at rest or in motion, this means a ball that is in play.

When a ball-marker is in place to mark the spot of a ball in play:

  • If the ball has not been lifted, it is still in play, and
  • If the ball has been lifted and replaced, it is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed.
Stroke and Distance

The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).

The term stroke and distance means that the player both:

  • Gets one penalty stroke, and
  • Loses the benefit of any gain of distance towards the hole from the spot where the previous stroke was made.
Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Match Play

A form of play where a player or side plays directly against an opponent or opposing side in a head-to-head match of one or more rounds:

  • A player or side wins a hole in the match by completing the hole in fewer strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes), and
  • The match is won when a player or side leads the opponent or opposing side by more holes than remain to be played.

Match play can be played as a singles match (where one player plays directly against one opponent), a Three-Ball match or a Foursomes or Four-Ball match between sides of two partners.

Stroke Play

A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.

In the regular form of stroke play (see Rule 3.3):

  • A player’s or side’s score for a round is the total number of strokes (including strokes made and any penalty strokes) to hole out on each hole, and
  • The winner is the player or side who completes all rounds in the fewest total strokes.

Other forms of stroke play with different scoring methods are Stableford, Maximum Score and Par/Bogey (see Rule 21).

All forms of stroke play  can be played either in individual competitions (each player competing on his or her own) or in competitions involving sides of partners (Foursomes or Four-Ball).

Stroke Play

A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.

In the regular form of stroke play (see Rule 3.3):

  • A player’s or side’s score for a round is the total number of strokes (including strokes made and any penalty strokes) to hole out on each hole, and
  • The winner is the player or side who completes all rounds in the fewest total strokes.

Other forms of stroke play with different scoring methods are Stableford, Maximum Score and Par/Bogey (see Rule 21).

All forms of stroke play  can be played either in individual competitions (each player competing on his or her own) or in competitions involving sides of partners (Foursomes or Four-Ball).

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

In Play

The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

A ball that is not in play is a wrong ball.

The player cannot have more than one ball in play at any time. (See Rule 6.3d for the limited cases when a player may play more than one ball at the same time on a hole.)

When the Rules refer to a ball at rest or in motion, this means a ball that is in play.

When a ball-marker is in place to mark the spot of a ball in play:

  • If the ball has not been lifted, it is still in play, and
  • If the ball has been lifted and replaced, it is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed.
Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Stroke

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
Stroke

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
Partner

A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Stroke

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

General Penalty

Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

Stroke

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Provisional Ball

Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be:

  • Out of bounds, or
  • Lost outside a penalty area.

A provisional ball is not the player’s ball in play, unless it becomes the ball in play under Rule 18.3c.

Partner

A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Stroke

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
Partner

A player who competes together with another player as a side, in either match play or stroke play.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Out of Bounds

All areas outside the boundary edge of the course as defined by the Committee. All areas inside that edge are in bounds.

The boundary edge of the course extends both up above the ground and down below the ground:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the boundary edge is in bounds, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the boundary edge (such as steps attached to a boundary fence, or a tree rooted outside the edge with branches extending inside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is outside the edge is out of bounds.

The boundary edge should be defined by boundary objects or lines:

  • Boundary objects: When defined by stakes or a fence, the boundary edge is defined by the line between the course-side points of the stakes or fence posts at ground level (excluding angled supports), and those stakes or fence posts are out of bounds.
    When defined by other objects such as a wall or when the Committee wishes to treat a boundary fence in a different way, the Committee should define the boundary edge.
  • Lines: When defined by a painted line on the ground, the boundary edge is the course-side edge of the line, and the line itself is out of bounds.
    When a line on the ground defines the boundary edge, stakes may be used to show where the boundary edge is, but they have no other meaning.

Boundary stakes or lines should be white.

Lost

The status of a ball that is not found in three minutes after the player or his or her caddie (or the player’s partner or partner’s caddie) begins to search for it.

If the search begins and is then temporarily interrupted for a good reason (such as when the player stops searching when play is suspended or needs to stand aside to wait for another player to play) or when the player has mistakenly identified a wrong ball:

  • The time between the interruption and when the search resumes does not count, and
  • The time allowed for search is three minutes in total, counting the search time both before the interruption and after the search resumes.

 

Interpretation Lost/1 - Ball May Not Be Declared Lost

A player may not make a ball lost by a declaration. A ball is lost only when it has not been found within three minutes after the player or his or her caddie or partner begins to search for it.

For example, a player searches for his or her ball for two minutes, declares it lost and walks back to play another ball. Before the player puts another ball in play, the original ball is found within the three-minute search time. Since the player may not declare his or her ball lost, the original ball remains in play.

Interpretation Lost/2 - Player May Not Delay the Start of Search to Gain an Advantage

The three-minute search time for a ball starts when the player or his or her caddie (or the player's partner or partner's caddie) starts to search for it. The player may not delay the start of the search in order to gain an advantage by allowing other people to search on his or her behalf.

For example, if a player is walking towards his or her ball and spectators are already looking for the ball, the player cannot deliberately delay getting to the area to keep the three-minute search time from starting. In such circumstances, the search time starts when the player would have been in a position to search had he or she not deliberately delayed getting to the area.

Interpretation Lost/3 - Search Time Continues When Player Returns to Play a Provisional Ball

If a player has started to search for his or her ball and is returning to the spot of the previous stroke to play a provisional ball, the three-minute search time continues whether or not anyone continues to search for the player's ball.

Interpretation Lost/4 - Search Time When Searching for Two Balls

When a player has played two balls (such as the ball in play and a provisional ball) and is searching for both, whether the player is allowed two separate three-minute search times depends how close the balls are to each other.

If the balls are in the same area where they can be searched for at the same time, the player is allowed only three minutes to search for both balls. However, if the balls are in different areas (such as opposite sides of the fairway) the player is allowed a three-minute search time for each ball.

Penalty Area

An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there.

A penalty area is:

  • Any body of water on the course (whether or not marked by the Committee), including a sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open watercourse (even if not containing water), and
  • Any other part of the course the Committee defines as a penalty area.

A penalty area is one of the five defined areas of the course.

There are two different types of penalty areas, distinguished by the colour used to mark them:

  • Yellow penalty areas (marked with yellow lines or yellow stakes) give the player two relief options (Rules 17.1d(1) and (2)).
  • Red penalty areas (marked with red lines or red stakes) give the player an extra lateral relief option (Rule 17.1d(3)), in addition to the two relief options available for yellow penalty areas.

If the colour of a penalty area has not been marked or indicated by the Committee, it is treated as a red penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area extends both up above the ground and down below the ground:

  • This means that all ground and anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge is part of the penalty area, whether on, above or below the surface of the ground.
  • If an object is both inside and outside the edge (such as a bridge over the penalty area, or a tree rooted inside the edge with branches extending outside the edge or vice versa), only the part of the object that is inside the edge is part of the penalty area.

The edge of a penalty area should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • Stakes: When defined by stakes, the edge of the penalty area is defined by the line between the outside points of the stakes at ground level, and the stakes are inside the penalty area.
  • Lines: When defined by a painted line on the ground, the edge of the penalty area is the outside edge of the line, and the line itself is in the penalty area.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a beach or desert area or a retaining wall), the Committee should say how the edge of the penalty area is defined.

When the edge of a penalty area is defined by lines or by physical features, stakes may be used to show where the penalty area is, but they have no other meaning.

When the edge of a body of water is not defined by the Committee, the edge of that penalty area is defined by its natural boundaries (that is, where the ground slopes down to form the depression that can hold the water).

If an open watercourse usually does not contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee may define that area as part of the general area (which means it is not a penalty area).

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Provisional Ball

Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be:

  • Out of bounds, or
  • Lost outside a penalty area.

A provisional ball is not the player’s ball in play, unless it becomes the ball in play under Rule 18.3c.

Provisional Ball

Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be:

  • Out of bounds, or
  • Lost outside a penalty area.

A provisional ball is not the player’s ball in play, unless it becomes the ball in play under Rule 18.3c.

Provisional Ball

Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be:

  • Out of bounds, or
  • Lost outside a penalty area.

A provisional ball is not the player’s ball in play, unless it becomes the ball in play under Rule 18.3c.

Provisional Ball

Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be:

  • Out of bounds, or
  • Lost outside a penalty area.

A provisional ball is not the player’s ball in play, unless it becomes the ball in play under Rule 18.3c.

In Play

The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

A ball that is not in play is a wrong ball.

The player cannot have more than one ball in play at any time. (See Rule 6.3d for the limited cases when a player may play more than one ball at the same time on a hole.)

When the Rules refer to a ball at rest or in motion, this means a ball that is in play.

When a ball-marker is in place to mark the spot of a ball in play:

  • If the ball has not been lifted, it is still in play, and
  • If the ball has been lifted and replaced, it is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed.
Lost

The status of a ball that is not found in three minutes after the player or his or her caddie (or the player’s partner or partner’s caddie) begins to search for it.

If the search begins and is then temporarily interrupted for a good reason (such as when the player stops searching when play is suspended or needs to stand aside to wait for another player to play) or when the player has mistakenly identified a wrong ball:

  • The time between the interruption and when the search resumes does not count, and
  • The time allowed for search is three minutes in total, counting the search time both before the interruption and after the search resumes.

 

Interpretation Lost/1 - Ball May Not Be Declared Lost

A player may not make a ball lost by a declaration. A ball is lost only when it has not been found within three minutes after the player or his or her caddie or partner begins to search for it.

For example, a player searches for his or her ball for two minutes, declares it lost and walks back to play another ball. Before the player puts another ball in play, the original ball is found within the three-minute search time. Since the player may not declare his or her ball lost, the original ball remains in play.

Interpretation Lost/2 - Player May Not Delay the Start of Search to Gain an Advantage

The three-minute search time for a ball starts when the player or his or her caddie (or the player's partner or partner's caddie) starts to search for it. The player may not delay the start of the search in order to gain an advantage by allowing other people to search on his or her behalf.

For example, if a player is walking towards his or her ball and spectators are already looking for the ball, the player cannot deliberately delay getting to the area to keep the three-minute search time from starting. In such circumstances, the search time starts when the player would have been in a position to search had he or she not deliberately delayed getting to the area.

Interpretation Lost/3 - Search Time Continues When Player Returns to Play a Provisional Ball

If a player has started to search for his or her ball and is returning to the spot of the previous stroke to play a provisional ball, the three-minute search time continues whether or not anyone continues to search for the player's ball.

Interpretation Lost/4 - Search Time When Searching for Two Balls

When a player has played two balls (such as the ball in play and a provisional ball) and is searching for both, whether the player is allowed two separate three-minute search times depends how close the balls are to each other.

If the balls are in the same area where they can be searched for at the same time, the player is allowed only three minutes to search for both balls. However, if the balls are in different areas (such as opposite sides of the fairway) the player is allowed a three-minute search time for each ball.

Provisional Ball

Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be:

  • Out of bounds, or
  • Lost outside a penalty area.

A provisional ball is not the player’s ball in play, unless it becomes the ball in play under Rule 18.3c.

In Play

The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

A ball that is not in play is a wrong ball.

The player cannot have more than one ball in play at any time. (See Rule 6.3d for the limited cases when a player may play more than one ball at the same time on a hole.)

When the Rules refer to a ball at rest or in motion, this means a ball that is in play.

When a ball-marker is in place to mark the spot of a ball in play:

  • If the ball has not been lifted, it is still in play, and
  • If the ball has been lifted and replaced, it is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed.
Provisional Ball

Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be:

  • Out of bounds, or
  • Lost outside a penalty area.

A provisional ball is not the player’s ball in play, unless it becomes the ball in play under Rule 18.3c.

Side

Two or more partners competing as a single unit in a round in match play or stroke play.

Each set of partners is a side, whether each partner plays his or her own ball (Four-Ball) or the partners play one ball (Foursomes).

A side is not the same as a team. In a team competition, each team consists of players competing as individuals or as sides.

Match Play

A form of play where a player or side plays directly against an opponent or opposing side in a head-to-head match of one or more rounds:

  • A player or side wins a hole in the match by completing the hole in fewer strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes), and
  • The match is won when a player or side leads the opponent or opposing side by more holes than remain to be played.

Match play can be played as a singles match (where one player plays directly against one opponent), a Three-Ball match or a Foursomes or Four-Ball match between sides of two partners.

Stroke Play

A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.

In the regular form of stroke play (see Rule 3.3):

  • A player’s or side’s score for a round is the total number of strokes (including strokes made and any penalty strokes) to hole out on each hole, and
  • The winner is the player or side who completes all rounds in the fewest total strokes.

Other forms of stroke play with different scoring methods are Stableford, Maximum Score and Par/Bogey (see Rule 21).

All forms of stroke play  can be played either in individual competitions (each player competing on his or her own) or in competitions involving sides of partners (Foursomes or Four-Ball).

Stroke Play

A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition.

In the regular form of stroke play (see Rule 3.3):

  • A player’s or side’s score for a round is the total number of strokes (including strokes made and any penalty strokes) to hole out on each hole, and
  • The winner is the player or side who completes all rounds in the fewest total strokes.

Other forms of stroke play with different scoring methods are Stableford, Maximum Score and Par/Bogey (see Rule 21).

All forms of stroke play  can be played either in individual competitions (each player competing on his or her own) or in competitions involving sides of partners (Foursomes or Four-Ball).

Provisional Ball

Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be:

  • Out of bounds, or
  • Lost outside a penalty area.

A provisional ball is not the player’s ball in play, unless it becomes the ball in play under Rule 18.3c.

Stroke

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

When the Rules refer to "playing a ball," it means the same as making a stroke.

The player's score for a hole or a round is described as a number of "strokes" or "strokes taken," which means both all strokes made and any penalty strokes (see Rule 3.1c).

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

If a player starts the downswing with a club intending to strike the ball, his or her action counts as a stroke when:

  • The clubhead is deflected or stopped by an outside influence (such as the branch of a tree) whether or not the ball is struck.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, whether or not the ball is struck with the shaft.
  • The clubhead separates from the shaft during the downswing and the player continues the downswing with the shaft alone, with the clubhead falling and striking the ball.

The player's action does not count as a stroke in each of following situations:

  • During the downswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player stops the downswing short of the ball, but the clubhead falls and strikes and moves the ball.
  • During the backswing, a player's clubhead separates from the shaft. The player completes the downswing with the shaft but does not strike the ball.
  • A ball is lodged in a tree branch beyond the reach of a club. If the player moves the ball by striking a lower part of the branch instead of the ball, Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player) applies.
In Play

The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

A ball that is not in play is a wrong ball.

The player cannot have more than one ball in play at any time. (See Rule 6.3d for the limited cases when a player may play more than one ball at the same time on a hole.)

When the Rules refer to a ball at rest or in motion, this means a ball that is in play.

When a ball-marker is in place to mark the spot of a ball in play:

  • If the ball has not been lifted, it is still in play, and
  • If the ball has been lifted and replaced, it is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed.