The R&A - Working for Golf
Rule

23

Interpretations
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Four-Ball
Interpretations
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23.2
23.2a
23.2a/1
23.2b
23.2b/1
23.2b/2
23.4
23.4
23.4/1
23.5
23.5a
23.5a/1
23.6
23.6
23.6/1
23.6/2
23.6/3
23.7
23.7
23.7/1
23.8
23.8a
23.8a(2)/1
23.8a(2)/2
23.8a(2)/3

Purpose: Rule 23 covers Four-Ball (played either in match play or stroke play), where partners compete as a side with each playing a separate ball. The side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the partners on that hole.

23.2
Scoring in Four-Ball
23.2a
Side’s Score for Hole in Match Play and Stroke Play
23.2a/1
Result of Hole When No Ball Is Correctly Holed Out

In Four-Ball match play, if no player completes a hole, the side whose player is last to pick up or be disqualified from the hole wins the hole.

For example, side A-B are playing against side C-D in a Four-Ball match. On a given hole, by mistake Player A plays Player C's ball and then Player C plays Player A's ball and each hole out with that ball. Player B and Player D both play into penalty areas and pick up. During play of the next hole, Player A and Player C determine that both of them played a wrong ball on the prior hole.

The ruling is that Player A and Player C are disqualified for the prior hole. Therefore, if Player B picked up before Player D, side C-D won the hole and if Player D picked up before Player B, side A-B won the hole. If it cannot be determined which player picked up first, the Committee should rule that the hole was tied.

23.2b
Side’s Scorecard in Stroke Play
23.2b/1
Score for Hole Must Be Identified to the Correct Partner

In Four-Ball stroke play, partners are required to return a scorecard with correct hole scores that are identified to the correct partner. The following are examples of scoring in Four-Ball based on how the scorecard is completed and returned by side A-B:

  • In a handicap competition, Player A and Player B both holed out in 4 strokes on a hole where Player B received a handicap stroke and Player A did not. The marker recorded a gross score of 4 for Player A, no gross score for Player B, and a net score for the side of 3. The scorecard was returned to the Committee.
    The ruling is that Player A's score of 4 is the side's score for the hole. Only the Committee has the responsibility to apply any handicap strokes. The side's score is 4 as it is identified to Player A. The marker's recording of the net 3 is irrelevant.
  • On a hole, Player A picks up and Player B holes out in 5 strokes. The marker records a score of 6 for Player A and a score of 5 for Player B. The scorecard is returned with these scores recorded.
    There is no penalty because the partner's score that counts for the side on that hole is correctly recorded.
  • On a hole, Player A picked up and Player B holed out in 4 strokes. By mistake, the marker recorded a score of 4 for Player A and no score for Player B. The scorecard is returned in this way.
    The ruling is that the side is disqualified because the score for the side on that hole is identified to Player A, and Player A did not complete play of the hole.
23.2b/2
Application of Exception to Rule 3 .3b(3) for Returning Incorrect Scorecard

The following situations illustrate how Rule 3.3b(3) (Wrong Score for Hole) and Rule 23.2b are to be applied. In all cases, side A-B returns a scorecard with an incorrect score on a hole and the mistake is discovered after the scorecard is returned but before the competition has closed.

  • Player A returns a score of 4 and Player B returns a score of 5. Player A touches sand in a bunker with a club in making the backswing for a stroke and was aware of the penalty for a breach of Rule 12.2b(1) (Restrictions on Touching Sand in Bunker) before returning the scorecard but failed to include it in his or her score for the hole.
    The Exception to 3.3b(3) does not apply as Player A was aware of the penalty and the side is disqualified under Rule 23.2b.
  • Player A returns a score of 4 and Player B returns a score of 5. Player A was in breach of Rule 12.2b(1) for touching sand in making a practice swing in a bunker but neither partner was aware of the penalty before returning the scorecard. The Exception to Rule 3.3b(3) applies. As Player A's score was the score to count on the hole, the Committee must apply the general penalty to Player A's score on that hole for a breach of Rule 12.2b(1).
    Therefore, the side's score for the hole is 6. The Rules only allow the side to revert to Player B's score if both partners' scores were the same on the hole (Rule 23.2b(2)).
  • Player A returns a score of 4 and Player B returns a score of 6. Player A moved his or her ball while removing a loose impediment in breach of Rule 15.1b. Player A replaced the ball but was unaware of the one-stroke penalty. Player B witnessed the entire incident and was aware of the penalty. The scorecard is returned with a score of 4 for Player A and 6 for Player B. Player A's score should have been 5 with the one-stroke penalty included.
    The Exception under Rule 3.3b(3) does not apply given Player B's awareness of the incident and the resulting penalty that should have been applied to Player A. The side is disqualified under Rule 23.2b.
  • Player A and Player B each return scores of 4. Player A lifted his or her ball for identification in the general area but the lifting was not reasonably necessary to identify the ball. Neither Player A nor Player B was aware of the penalty for a breach of Rule 7.3 before returning the scorecard.
    Since both scores on the scorecard are the same, the Committee may count either score. If the Committee had counted Player A's score that was later found to be wrong, the Committee will count Player B's score, which is correct, and there is no penalty to the side.
23.4
One or Both Partners May Represent the Side
23.4/1
Determining Handicap Allowance in Match Play If One Player Unable to Compete

If, in a Four-Ball match played under handicap, the player with the lowest handicap is unable to play, the absent player is not disregarded given that he or she may start play for the side between the play of two holes, which in match play means only before any player on either side has started play of a hole.

The handicap strokes are calculated as if all four players are present. If a wrong handicap is declared for the absent player, Rule 3.2c(1) (Declaring Handicaps) applies.

23.5
Player’s Actions Affecting Partner’s Play
23.5a
Player Allowed to Take Any Actions Concerning Partner’s Ball That Partner May Take
23.5a/1
Actions of Shared Caddie May Result in Penalty for Both Partners

When partners in Four-Ball share a caddie and the caddie's breach of a Rule cannot be assigned to one particular partner, both partners are penalized.

For example, side A-B is playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match. Partners A and B share a caddie and that caddie accidentally moves Player C's or Player D's ball other than during search without specific direction from either Player A or Player B. The caddie has breached Rule 9.5b (Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to Move), but there is no way to assign the penalty to one particular partner of the side. Therefore, both Player A and Player B get one penalty stroke.

23.6
Side’s Order of Play
23.6/1
Abandoning Right to Play in Any Order Side Determines Best

In a Four-Ball match, if a side states or implies that the player on that side whose ball is farthest from the hole will not complete the hole, that player has abandoned his or her right to complete the hole, and the side may not change that decision after an opponent has played.

For example, side A-B is playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match. All four balls are on the putting green with Player A, Player B and Player D lying two while Player C lies four. The balls of Player A and Player C are about 10 feet from the hole, Player B's ball is two feet away and Player D's ball is three feet away. Player C picks up. Player A suggests that Player B and Player D should play.

After Player D plays, Player A has abandoned the right to play and his or her score cannot count for the side (for example, if Player B missed his or her putt). The outcome would be different if Player B had been farther from the hole than Player D. If Player B putts first and misses, Player A would still have the right to complete the hole if he or she does so before Player D plays.

23.6/2
Partners Must Not Unreasonably Delay Play When Playing in Advantageous Order

Examples of situations where the partners of side A-B play in an order they determine is best but may get a penalty under Rule 5.6a for unreasonably delaying play include when:

  • Player A's tee shot on a par-3 that is played entirely over a penalty area comes to rest in the penalty area while Player B's tee shot comes to rest on the putting green. The side proceeds to the putting green without Player A playing a ball under the penalty area Rule. Player B takes four putts to complete the hole. Player A then decides to leave the putting green, go back to the tee and put another ball in play.
  • After their tee shots, Player A's ball is 220 yards from the hole and Player B's ball is 240 yards from the hole. Player A makes his or her second stroke before Player B plays. Player A's ball comes to rest 30 yards from the hole and the side decides to have Player A walk forward and make his or her third stroke.
23.6/3
When Side in Match Play May Have Stroke Cancelled by Opponent

When both players of a side play from outside the teeing area in a Four-Ball match, only the last stroke played may be cancelled under Rule 6.1b.

For example, in a Four-Ball match with side A-B playing side C-D, if Player A and Player B both play from outside the teeing area with Player A playing first followed by Player B, side C-D may cancel the stroke of Player B, but not Player A.

Rule 6.1b requires that cancelling the stroke must be done promptly. This also applies if Player A and Player B both played when it was either Player C's turn or Player D's turn to play during play of the hole.

23.7
Partners May Share Clubs
23.7/1
Partners May Continue to Give Advice and Share Clubs After Concurrent Match Ends

When concurrent Four-Ball and single matches are being played, the two players of a side are no longer partners after the Four-Ball match ends. However, the two players that were partners are still allowed to give each other advice and share clubs for the remainder of both single matches.

For example, side A-B is playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match with concurrent single matches of Player A playing Player C and Player B playing Player D, both matches of 18 holes. Player A and Player B are sharing clubs, all 14 of which Player A brought. If the Four-Ball match ends on the 16th hole, but both single matches are tied, Player A and Player B may continue to use the clubs they selected for play (the shared clubs) and give advice to each other, despite Player A and Player B no longer being partners.

23.8
When Penalty Applies to One Partner Only or Applies to Both Partners
23.8a
Penalties Other Than Disqualification
23.8a(2)/1
Examples of When Player’s Breach Helps Partner’s Play

In both Four-Ball match play and stroke play, when a player's breach of a Rule helps his or her partner, the partner gets the same penalty.

Examples of when both partners of side A-B get the same penalty include:

  • With side A-B playing side C-D, Player B's ball is near the hole and in a position to help Player A aim his or her putt. Player C requires Player B to mark and lift Player B's ball. Player B declines to lift the ball and Player A putts with Player B's ball helping him or her to aim.
    Player B gets the general penalty under Rule 15.3a (Ball on Putting Green Helping Play) for failing to lift the helping ball and, since this helped Player A, Player A also gets the general penalty.
  • Player B takes a stance for a putt and makes the stroke while Player A deliberately stands in a location on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason. Player B is in breach of Rule 10.2b(4) (Standing Behind Player) for taking a stance when Player A is in such a location and will get the general penalty.
    Further, when Player A's putt is on the same line as Player B's and Player B makes a stroke while Player A is on an extension of Player B's line of play, Player B's breach helped Player A so Player A also gets the same penalty as Player B.
  • Player A's ball is out of bounds and Player A decides not to complete the hole. Player B's ball is a similar distance from the hole. Player A drops a ball near Player B's ball and plays to the putting green and, by doing so, helps Player B.
    As the hole is not complete and the result has yet to be decided, Player A's further play is considered practice in breach of Rule 5.5a (Practice Strokes While Playing Hole). As Player A's practice helped Player B, Player B also gets the general penalty.
23.8a(2)/2
Example of When Player’s Breach Hurts Opponent’s Play

In Four-Ball match play, if a player's breach of a Rule hurts an opponent's play, the player's partner also gets the same penalty.

For example, side A-B are playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match. Player A provides the wrong number of strokes he or she has taken to either Player C or Player D while all four players are in contention during a hole. Side C-D bases its strategy on this information and one of them makes a stroke.

Player A gets the general penalty under Rule 3.2d(1) (Telling Opponent about Number of Strokes Taken) for not giving the right number of strokes taken. Player B gets the same penalty because the breach hurt an opponent's play. Side A-B therefore loses the hole.

23.8a(2)/3
Giving Wrong Number of Strokes Taken or Failing to Tell Opponent about Penalty Is Never Considered to Hurt Opponent When Player Is Out of Contention

When a player in a Four-Ball match is out of contention on a hole and he or she either gives the wrong number of strokes taken or fails to notify an opponent about a penalty, it is never considered to hurt the opponent's play since the player's score on the hole will not be relevant in the match.

For example, side A-B is playing side C-D in a Four-Ball match. Player A has taken 3 strokes, Player B 5 strokes, Player C 4 strokes, and Player D has already picked up. Player B causes his or her ball to move and gets one penalty stroke under Rule 9.4. Player B does not tell anyone that he or she got a penalty, replaces the ball and makes the stroke. Player A and Player C then both hole out for scores of 5. Since B failed to tell side C-D about the penalty, he or she is disqualified from the hole under Rule 3.2d. But, since Player B's score had no relevance in the outcome of that hole (on the basis that B scored more than 5, C holed his or her next stroke for a 5 and D had picked up), the breach did not hurt Player C or Player D. Therefore, Player A gets no penalty.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.

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.

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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

Holed

When a ball is at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green.

When the Rules refer to “holing outorhole out,” it means when the player’s ball is holed.

For the special case of a ball resting against the flagstick in the hole, see Rule 13.2c (ball is treated as holed if any part of the ball is below the surface of the putting green).

 

Interpretation Holed/1 - All of the Ball Must Be Below the Surface to Be Holed When Embedded in Side of Hole

When a ball is embedded in the side of the hole, and all of the ball is not below the surface of the putting green, the ball is not holed. This is the case even if the ball touches the flagstick.

Interpretation Holed/2 - Ball Is Considered Holed Even Though It Is Not "At Rest"

The words "at rest" in the definition of holed are used to make it clear that if a ball falls into the hole and bounces out, it is not holed.

However, if a player removes a ball from the hole that is still moving (such as circling or bouncing in the bottom of the hole), it is considered holed despite the ball not having come to rest in the hole.

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).

Wrong Ball

Any ball other than the player’s:

  • Ball in play (whether the original ball or a substituted ball),
  • Provisional ball (before it is abandoned under Rule 18.3c), or
  • Second ball in stroke play played under Rules 14.7b or 20.1c.

Examples of a wrong ball are:

  • Another player’s ball in play.
  • A stray ball.
  • The player’s own ball that is out of bounds, has become lost or has been lifted and not yet put back in play.

 

Interpretation Wrong Ball/1 - Part of Wrong Ball Is Still Wrong Ball

If a player makes a stroke at part of a stray ball that he or she mistakenly thought was the ball in play, he or she has made a stroke at a wrong ball and Rule 6.3c 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.

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.

Committee

The person or group in charge of the competition or the course.

See Committee Procedures, Section 1 (explaining the role of the Committee).

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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).

Partner

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

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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.

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.

Holed

When a ball is at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green.

When the Rules refer to “holing outorhole out,” it means when the player’s ball is holed.

For the special case of a ball resting against the flagstick in the hole, see Rule 13.2c (ball is treated as holed if any part of the ball is below the surface of the putting green).

 

Interpretation Holed/1 - All of the Ball Must Be Below the Surface to Be Holed When Embedded in Side of Hole

When a ball is embedded in the side of the hole, and all of the ball is not below the surface of the putting green, the ball is not holed. This is the case even if the ball touches the flagstick.

Interpretation Holed/2 - Ball Is Considered Holed Even Though It Is Not "At Rest"

The words "at rest" in the definition of holed are used to make it clear that if a ball falls into the hole and bounces out, it is not holed.

However, if a player removes a ball from the hole that is still moving (such as circling or bouncing in the bottom of the hole), it is considered holed despite the ball not having come to rest in the hole.

Marker

In stroke play, the person responsible for entering a player’s score on the player’s scorecard and for certifying that scorecard. The marker may be another player, but not a partner.

The Committee may identify who will be the player’s marker or tell the players how they may choose a marker.

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.

Committee

The person or group in charge of the competition or the course.

See Committee Procedures, Section 1 (explaining the role of the Committee).

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.

Committee

The person or group in charge of the competition or the course.

See Committee Procedures, Section 1 (explaining the role of the Committee).

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.

Marker

In stroke play, the person responsible for entering a player’s score on the player’s scorecard and for certifying that scorecard. The marker may be another player, but not a partner.

The Committee may identify who will be the player’s marker or tell the players how they may choose a marker.

Holed

When a ball is at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green.

When the Rules refer to “holing outorhole out,” it means when the player’s ball is holed.

For the special case of a ball resting against the flagstick in the hole, see Rule 13.2c (ball is treated as holed if any part of the ball is below the surface of the putting green).

 

Interpretation Holed/1 - All of the Ball Must Be Below the Surface to Be Holed When Embedded in Side of Hole

When a ball is embedded in the side of the hole, and all of the ball is not below the surface of the putting green, the ball is not holed. This is the case even if the ball touches the flagstick.

Interpretation Holed/2 - Ball Is Considered Holed Even Though It Is Not "At Rest"

The words "at rest" in the definition of holed are used to make it clear that if a ball falls into the hole and bounces out, it is not holed.

However, if a player removes a ball from the hole that is still moving (such as circling or bouncing in the bottom of the hole), it is considered holed despite the ball not having come to rest in the hole.

Marker

In stroke play, the person responsible for entering a player’s score on the player’s scorecard and for certifying that scorecard. The marker may be another player, but not a partner.

The Committee may identify who will be the player’s marker or tell the players how they may choose a marker.

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.

Holed

When a ball is at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green.

When the Rules refer to “holing outorhole out,” it means when the player’s ball is holed.

For the special case of a ball resting against the flagstick in the hole, see Rule 13.2c (ball is treated as holed if any part of the ball is below the surface of the putting green).

 

Interpretation Holed/1 - All of the Ball Must Be Below the Surface to Be Holed When Embedded in Side of Hole

When a ball is embedded in the side of the hole, and all of the ball is not below the surface of the putting green, the ball is not holed. This is the case even if the ball touches the flagstick.

Interpretation Holed/2 - Ball Is Considered Holed Even Though It Is Not "At Rest"

The words "at rest" in the definition of holed are used to make it clear that if a ball falls into the hole and bounces out, it is not holed.

However, if a player removes a ball from the hole that is still moving (such as circling or bouncing in the bottom of the hole), it is considered holed despite the ball not having come to rest in the hole.

Marker

In stroke play, the person responsible for entering a player’s score on the player’s scorecard and for certifying that scorecard. The marker may be another player, but not a partner.

The Committee may identify who will be the player’s marker or tell the players how they may choose a marker.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bunker

A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.

These are not part of a bunker:

  • A lip, wall or face at the edge of a prepared area and consisting of soil, grass, stacked turf or artificial materials,
  • Soil or any growing or attached natural object inside the edge of a prepared area (such as grass, bushes or trees),
  • Sand that has spilled over or is outside the edge of a prepared area, and
  • All other areas of sand on the course that are not inside the edge of a prepared area (such as deserts and other natural sand areas or areas sometimes referred to as waste areas).

Bunkers are one of the five defined areas of the course.

A Committee may define a prepared area of sand as part of the general area (which means it is not a bunker) or may define a non-prepared area of sand as a bunker.

When a bunker is being repaired and the Committee defines the entire bunker as ground under repair, it is treated as part of the general area (which means it is not a bunker).

The word “sand” as used in this Definition and Rule 12 includes any material similar to sand that is used as bunker material (such as crushed shells), as well as any soil that is mixed in with the sand.

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.
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.

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.

Bunker

A specially prepared area of sand, which is often a hollow from which turf or soil was removed.

These are not part of a bunker:

  • A lip, wall or face at the edge of a prepared area and consisting of soil, grass, stacked turf or artificial materials,
  • Soil or any growing or attached natural object inside the edge of a prepared area (such as grass, bushes or trees),
  • Sand that has spilled over or is outside the edge of a prepared area, and
  • All other areas of sand on the course that are not inside the edge of a prepared area (such as deserts and other natural sand areas or areas sometimes referred to as waste areas).

Bunkers are one of the five defined areas of the course.

A Committee may define a prepared area of sand as part of the general area (which means it is not a bunker) or may define a non-prepared area of sand as a bunker.

When a bunker is being repaired and the Committee defines the entire bunker as ground under repair, it is treated as part of the general area (which means it is not a bunker).

The word “sand” as used in this Definition and Rule 12 includes any material similar to sand that is used as bunker material (such as crushed shells), as well as any soil that is mixed in with the sand.

Partner

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

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.

Committee

The person or group in charge of the competition or the course.

See Committee Procedures, Section 1 (explaining the role of the Committee).

General Penalty

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

Partner

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

Moved

When a ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so).

This applies whether the ball has gone up, down or horizontally in any direction away from its original spot.

If the ball only wobbles (sometimes referred to as oscillating) and stays on or returns to its original spot, the ball has not moved.

 

Interpretation Moved/1 - When Ball Resting on Object Has Moved

For the purpose of deciding whether a ball must be replaced or whether a player gets a penalty, a ball is treated as having moved only if it has moved in relation to a specific part of the larger condition or object it is resting on, unless the entire object the ball is resting on has moved in relation to the ground.

An example of when a ball has not moved includes when:

  • A ball is resting in the fork of a tree branch and the tree branch moves, but the ball's spot in the branch does not change.

Examples of when a ball has moved include when:

  • A ball is resting in a stationary plastic cup and the cup itself moves in relation to the ground because it is being blown by the wind.
  • A ball is resting in or on a stationary motorized cart that starts to move.

Interpretation Moved/2 - Television Evidence Shows Ball at Rest Changed Position but by Amount Not Reasonably Discernible to Naked Eye

When determining whether or not a ball at rest has moved, a player must make that judgment based on all the information reasonably available to him or her at the time, so that he or she can determine whether the ball must be replaced under the Rules. When the player's ball has left its original position and come to rest in another place by an amount that was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time, a player's determination that the ball has not moved is conclusive, even if that determination is later shown to be incorrect through the use of sophisticated technology.

On the other hand, if the Committee determines, based on all of the evidence it has available, that the ball changed its position by an amount that was reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time, the ball will be determined to have moved even though no-one actually saw it move.

Loose Impediment

Any unattached natural object such as:

  • Stones, loose grass, leaves, branches and sticks,
  • Dead animals and animal waste,
  • Worms, insects and similar animals that can be removed easily, and the mounds or webs they build (such as worm casts and ant hills), and
  • Clumps of compacted soil (including aeration plugs).

Such natural objects are not loose if they are:

  • Attached or growing,
  • Solidly embedded in the ground (that is, cannot be picked out easily), or
  • Sticking to the ball.

Special cases:

  • Sand and Loose Soil are not loose impediments.
  • Dew, Frost and Water are not loose impediments.
  • Snow and Natural Ice (other than frost) are either loose impediments or, when on the ground, temporary water, at the player's option.
  • Spider Webs are loose impediments even though they are attached to another object.

 

Interpretation Loose Impediment/1 - Status of Fruit

Fruit that is detached from its tree or bush is a loose impediment, even if the fruit is from a bush or tree not found on the course.

For example, fruit that has been partially eaten or cut into pieces, and the skin that has been peeled from a piece of fruit are loose impediments. But, when being carried by a player, it is his or her equipment.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/2 - When Loose Impediment Becomes Obstruction

Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through the processes of construction or manufacturing.

For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction).

Interpretation Loose Impediment/3 - Status of Saliva

Saliva may be treated as either temporary water or a loose impediment, at the option of the player.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/4 - Loose Impediments Used to Surface a Road

Gravel is a loose impediment and a player may remove loose impediments under Rule 15.1a. This right is not affected by the fact that, when a road is covered with gravel, it becomes an artificially surfaced road, making it an immovable obstruction. The same principle applies to roads or paths constructed with stone, crushed shell, wood chips or the like.

In such a situation, the player may:

  • Play the ball as it lies on the obstruction and remove gravel (loose impediment) from the road (Rule 15.1a).
  • Take relief without penalty from the abnormal course condition (immovable obstruction) (Rule 16.1b).

The player may also remove some gravel from the road to determine the possibility of playing the ball as it lies before choosing to take free relief.

Interpretation Loose Impediment/5 - Living Insect Is Never Sticking to a Ball

Although dead insects may be considered to be sticking to a ball, living insects are never considered to be sticking to a ball, whether they are stationary or moving. Therefore, live insects on a ball are loose impediments.

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

If the player sets a ball down without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been replaced and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Whenever a Rule requires a ball to be replaced, the Rule identifies a specific spot where the ball must be replaced.

 

Interpretation Replace/1 - Ball May Not Be Replaced with a Club

For a ball to be replaced in a right way, it must be set down and let go. This means the player must use his or her hand to put the ball back in play on the spot it was lifted or moved from.

For example, if a player lifts his or her ball from the putting green and sets it aside, the player must not replace the ball by rolling it to the required spot with a club. If he or she does so, the ball is not replaced in the right way and the player gets one penalty stroke under Rule 14.2b(2) (How Ball Must Be Replaced) if the mistake is not corrected before the stroke is made.

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.

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 Area

The area of the course that covers all of the course except for the other four defined areas: (1) the teeing area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing, (2) all penalty areas, (3) all bunkers, and (4) the putting green of the hole the player is playing.

The general area includes:

  • All teeing locations on the course other than the teeing area, and
  • All wrong greens.
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.

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.

Committee

The person or group in charge of the competition or the course.

See Committee Procedures, Section 1 (explaining the role of the Committee).

Committee

The person or group in charge of the competition or the course.

See Committee Procedures, Section 1 (explaining the role of the Committee).

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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.

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.

Partner

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

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

Caddie

Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:

  • Carrying, Transporting or Handling Clubs: A person who carries, transports (such as by cart or trolley) or handles a player’s clubs during play is the player’s caddie even if not named as a caddie by the player, except when done to move the player’s clubs, bag or cart out of the way or as a courtesy (such as getting a club the player left behind).
  • Giving Advice: A player’s caddie is the only person (other than a partner or partner’s caddie) a player may ask for advice.

A caddie may also help the player in other ways allowed by the Rules (see Rule 10.3b).

Caddie

Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:

  • Carrying, Transporting or Handling Clubs: A person who carries, transports (such as by cart or trolley) or handles a player’s clubs during play is the player’s caddie even if not named as a caddie by the player, except when done to move the player’s clubs, bag or cart out of the way or as a courtesy (such as getting a club the player left behind).
  • Giving Advice: A player’s caddie is the only person (other than a partner or partner’s caddie) a player may ask for advice.

A caddie may also help the player in other ways allowed by the Rules (see Rule 10.3b).

Partner

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

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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

Caddie

Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:

  • Carrying, Transporting or Handling Clubs: A person who carries, transports (such as by cart or trolley) or handles a player’s clubs during play is the player’s caddie even if not named as a caddie by the player, except when done to move the player’s clubs, bag or cart out of the way or as a courtesy (such as getting a club the player left behind).
  • Giving Advice: A player’s caddie is the only person (other than a partner or partner’s caddie) a player may ask for advice.

A caddie may also help the player in other ways allowed by the Rules (see Rule 10.3b).

Caddie

Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:

  • Carrying, Transporting or Handling Clubs: A person who carries, transports (such as by cart or trolley) or handles a player’s clubs during play is the player’s caddie even if not named as a caddie by the player, except when done to move the player’s clubs, bag or cart out of the way or as a courtesy (such as getting a club the player left behind).
  • Giving Advice: A player’s caddie is the only person (other than a partner or partner’s caddie) a player may ask for advice.

A caddie may also help the player in other ways allowed by the Rules (see Rule 10.3b).

Caddie

Someone who helps a player during a round, including in these ways:

  • Carrying, Transporting or Handling Clubs: A person who carries, transports (such as by cart or trolley) or handles a player’s clubs during play is the player’s caddie even if not named as a caddie by the player, except when done to move the player’s clubs, bag or cart out of the way or as a courtesy (such as getting a club the player left behind).
  • Giving Advice: A player’s caddie is the only person (other than a partner or partner’s caddie) a player may ask for advice.

A caddie may also help the player in other ways allowed by the Rules (see Rule 10.3b).

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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

Opponent

The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match 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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

Putting Green

The area on the hole the player is playing that:

  • Is specially prepared for putting, or
  • The Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

The putting green for a hole contains the hole into which the player tries to play a ball. The putting green is one of the five defined areas of the course. The putting greens for all other holes (which the player is not playing at the time) are wrong greens and part of the general area.

The edge of a putting green is defined by where it can be seen that the specially prepared area starts (such as where the grass has been distinctly cut to show the edge), unless the Committee defines the edge in a different way (such as by using a line or dots).

If a double green is used for two different holes:

  • The entire prepared area containing both holes is treated as the putting green when playing each hole.

But the Committee may define an edge that divides the double green into two different putting greens, so that when a player is playing one of the holes, the part of the double green for the other hole is a wrong green.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

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.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

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.

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).

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).

Putting Green

The area on the hole the player is playing that:

  • Is specially prepared for putting, or
  • The Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

The putting green for a hole contains the hole into which the player tries to play a ball. The putting green is one of the five defined areas of the course. The putting greens for all other holes (which the player is not playing at the time) are wrong greens and part of the general area.

The edge of a putting green is defined by where it can be seen that the specially prepared area starts (such as where the grass has been distinctly cut to show the edge), unless the Committee defines the edge in a different way (such as by using a line or dots).

If a double green is used for two different holes:

  • The entire prepared area containing both holes is treated as the putting green when playing each hole.

But the Committee may define an edge that divides the double green into two different putting greens, so that when a player is playing one of the holes, the part of the double green for the other hole is a wrong green.

Putting Green

The area on the hole the player is playing that:

  • Is specially prepared for putting, or
  • The Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

The putting green for a hole contains the hole into which the player tries to play a ball. The putting green is one of the five defined areas of the course. The putting greens for all other holes (which the player is not playing at the time) are wrong greens and part of the general area.

The edge of a putting green is defined by where it can be seen that the specially prepared area starts (such as where the grass has been distinctly cut to show the edge), unless the Committee defines the edge in a different way (such as by using a line or dots).

If a double green is used for two different holes:

  • The entire prepared area containing both holes is treated as the putting green when playing each hole.

But the Committee may define an edge that divides the double green into two different putting greens, so that when a player is playing one of the holes, the part of the double green for the other hole is a wrong green.

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).

Putting Green

The area on the hole the player is playing that:

  • Is specially prepared for putting, or
  • The Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

The putting green for a hole contains the hole into which the player tries to play a ball. The putting green is one of the five defined areas of the course. The putting greens for all other holes (which the player is not playing at the time) are wrong greens and part of the general area.

The edge of a putting green is defined by where it can be seen that the specially prepared area starts (such as where the grass has been distinctly cut to show the edge), unless the Committee defines the edge in a different way (such as by using a line or dots).

If a double green is used for two different holes:

  • The entire prepared area containing both holes is treated as the putting green when playing each hole.

But the Committee may define an edge that divides the double green into two different putting greens, so that when a player is playing one of the holes, the part of the double green for the other hole is a wrong green.

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.
Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

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.
Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

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.

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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.
Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.

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.

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.
Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.

Partner

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

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

Advice

Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:

  • Choosing a club,
  • Making a stroke, or
  • Deciding how to play during a hole or round.

But advice does not include public information, such as:

  • The location of things on the course such as the hole, the putting green, the fairway, penalty areas, bunkers, or another player’s ball,
  • The distance from one point to another, or
  • The Rules.

 

Interpretation Advice/1 - Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Advice

Examples of when comments or actions are considered advice and are not allowed include:

  • A player makes a statement regarding club selection that was intended to be overheard by another player who had a similar stroke.
  • In individual stroke play, Player A, who has just holed out on the 7th hole, demonstrates to Player B, whose ball was just off the putting green, how to make the next stroke. Because Player B has not completed the hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 7th hole. But, if both Player A and Player B had completed the 7th hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 8th hole.
  • A player's ball is lying badly and the player is deliberating what action to take. Another player comments, "You have no shot at all. If I were you, I would decide to take unplayable ball relief." This comment is advice because it could have influenced the player in deciding how to play during a hole.
  • While a player is setting up to hit his or her shot over a large penalty area filled with water, another player in the group comments, "You know the wind is in your face and it's 250 yards to carry that water?"

Interpretation Advice/2 - Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Not Advice

Examples of comments or actions that are not advice include:

  • During play of the 6th hole, a player asks another player what club he or she used on the 4th hole that is a par-3 of similar length.
  • A player makes a second stroke that lands on the putting green. Another player does likewise. The first player then asks the second player what club was used for the second stroke.
  • After making a stroke, a player says, "I should have used a 5-iron" to another player in the group that has yet to play onto the green, but not intending to influence his or her play.
  • A player looks into another player's bag to determine which club he or she used for the last stroke without touching or moving anything.
  • While lining up a putt, a player mistakenly seeks advice from another player's caddie, believing that caddie to be the player's caddie. The player immediately realizes the mistake and tells the other caddie not to answer.
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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

Advice

Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:

  • Choosing a club,
  • Making a stroke, or
  • Deciding how to play during a hole or round.

But advice does not include public information, such as:

  • The location of things on the course such as the hole, the putting green, the fairway, penalty areas, bunkers, or another player’s ball,
  • The distance from one point to another, or
  • The Rules.

 

Interpretation Advice/1 - Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Advice

Examples of when comments or actions are considered advice and are not allowed include:

  • A player makes a statement regarding club selection that was intended to be overheard by another player who had a similar stroke.
  • In individual stroke play, Player A, who has just holed out on the 7th hole, demonstrates to Player B, whose ball was just off the putting green, how to make the next stroke. Because Player B has not completed the hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 7th hole. But, if both Player A and Player B had completed the 7th hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 8th hole.
  • A player's ball is lying badly and the player is deliberating what action to take. Another player comments, "You have no shot at all. If I were you, I would decide to take unplayable ball relief." This comment is advice because it could have influenced the player in deciding how to play during a hole.
  • While a player is setting up to hit his or her shot over a large penalty area filled with water, another player in the group comments, "You know the wind is in your face and it's 250 yards to carry that water?"

Interpretation Advice/2 - Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Not Advice

Examples of comments or actions that are not advice include:

  • During play of the 6th hole, a player asks another player what club he or she used on the 4th hole that is a par-3 of similar length.
  • A player makes a second stroke that lands on the putting green. Another player does likewise. The first player then asks the second player what club was used for the second stroke.
  • After making a stroke, a player says, "I should have used a 5-iron" to another player in the group that has yet to play onto the green, but not intending to influence his or her play.
  • A player looks into another player's bag to determine which club he or she used for the last stroke without touching or moving anything.
  • While lining up a putt, a player mistakenly seeks advice from another player's caddie, believing that caddie to be the player's caddie. The player immediately realizes the mistake and tells the other caddie not to answer.
Partner

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

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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).

Partner

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

Partner

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

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.

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.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

General Penalty

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

General Penalty

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

Stance

The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.

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.
Line of Play

The line where the player intends his or her ball to go after a stroke, including the area on that line that is a reasonable distance up above the ground and on either side of that line.

The line of play is not necessarily a straight line between two points (for example, it may be a curved line based on where the player intends the ball to go).

Stance

The position of a player’s feet and body in preparing for and making a stroke.

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.
Line of Play

The line where the player intends his or her ball to go after a stroke, including the area on that line that is a reasonable distance up above the ground and on either side of that line.

The line of play is not necessarily a straight line between two points (for example, it may be a curved line based on where the player intends the ball to go).

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.

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole being played:

  • The hole must be 4 ¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep.
  • If a lining is used, its outer diameter must not exceed 4 ¼ inches (108 mm). The lining must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface, unless the nature of the soil requires that it be closer to the surface.

The word “hole” (when not used as a Definition in italics) is used throughout the Rules to mean the part of the course associated with a particular teeing area, putting green and hole. Play of a hole begins from the teeing area and ends when the ball is holed on the putting green (or when the Rules otherwise say the hole is completed).

 

Drop

To hold the ball and let go of it so that it falls through the air, with the intent for the ball to be in play.

If the player lets go of a ball without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been dropped and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Each relief Rule identifies a specific relief area where the ball must be dropped and come to rest.

In taking relief, the player must let go of the ball from a location at knee height so that the ball:

  • Falls straight down, without the player throwing, spinning or rolling it or using any other motion that might affect where the ball will come to rest, and
  • Does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Putting Green

The area on the hole the player is playing that:

  • Is specially prepared for putting, or
  • The Committee has defined as the putting green (such as when a temporary green is used).

The putting green for a hole contains the hole into which the player tries to play a ball. The putting green is one of the five defined areas of the course. The putting greens for all other holes (which the player is not playing at the time) are wrong greens and part of the general area.

The edge of a putting green is defined by where it can be seen that the specially prepared area starts (such as where the grass has been distinctly cut to show the edge), unless the Committee defines the edge in a different way (such as by using a line or dots).

If a double green is used for two different holes:

  • The entire prepared area containing both holes is treated as the putting green when playing each hole.

But the Committee may define an edge that divides the double green into two different putting greens, so that when a player is playing one of the holes, the part of the double green for the other hole is a wrong green.

General Penalty

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

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.

Opponent

The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play.

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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.

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.
General Penalty

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

Opponent

The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match 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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

Opponent

The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play.

Opponent

The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match 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.

Four-Ball

A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.

Four-Ball 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.

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.
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.
Moved

When a ball at rest has left its original spot and come to rest on any other spot, and this can be seen by the naked eye (whether or not anyone actually sees it do so).

This applies whether the ball has gone up, down or horizontally in any direction away from its original spot.

If the ball only wobbles (sometimes referred to as oscillating) and stays on or returns to its original spot, the ball has not moved.

 

Interpretation Moved/1 - When Ball Resting on Object Has Moved

For the purpose of deciding whether a ball must be replaced or whether a player gets a penalty, a ball is treated as having moved only if it has moved in relation to a specific part of the larger condition or object it is resting on, unless the entire object the ball is resting on has moved in relation to the ground.

An example of when a ball has not moved includes when:

  • A ball is resting in the fork of a tree branch and the tree branch moves, but the ball's spot in the branch does not change.

Examples of when a ball has moved include when:

  • A ball is resting in a stationary plastic cup and the cup itself moves in relation to the ground because it is being blown by the wind.
  • A ball is resting in or on a stationary motorized cart that starts to move.

Interpretation Moved/2 - Television Evidence Shows Ball at Rest Changed Position but by Amount Not Reasonably Discernible to Naked Eye

When determining whether or not a ball at rest has moved, a player must make that judgment based on all the information reasonably available to him or her at the time, so that he or she can determine whether the ball must be replaced under the Rules. When the player's ball has left its original position and come to rest in another place by an amount that was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time, a player's determination that the ball has not moved is conclusive, even if that determination is later shown to be incorrect through the use of sophisticated technology.

On the other hand, if the Committee determines, based on all of the evidence it has available, that the ball changed its position by an amount that was reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time, the ball will be determined to have moved even though no-one actually saw it move.

Replace

To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play.

If the player sets a ball down without intending it to be in play, the ball has not been replaced and is not in play (see Rule 14.4).

Whenever a Rule requires a ball to be replaced, the Rule identifies a specific spot where the ball must be replaced.

 

Interpretation Replace/1 - Ball May Not Be Replaced with a Club

For a ball to be replaced in a right way, it must be set down and let go. This means the player must use his or her hand to put the ball back in play on the spot it was lifted or moved from.

For example, if a player lifts his or her ball from the putting green and sets it aside, the player must not replace the ball by rolling it to the required spot with a club. If he or she does so, the ball is not replaced in the right way and the player gets one penalty stroke under Rule 14.2b(2) (How Ball Must Be Replaced) if the mistake is not corrected before the stroke is made.

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.
Holed

When a ball is at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green.

When the Rules refer to “holing outorhole out,” it means when the player’s ball is holed.

For the special case of a ball resting against the flagstick in the hole, see Rule 13.2c (ball is treated as holed if any part of the ball is below the surface of the putting green).

 

Interpretation Holed/1 - All of the Ball Must Be Below the Surface to Be Holed When Embedded in Side of Hole

When a ball is embedded in the side of the hole, and all of the ball is not below the surface of the putting green, the ball is not holed. This is the case even if the ball touches the flagstick.

Interpretation Holed/2 - Ball Is Considered Holed Even Though It Is Not "At Rest"

The words "at rest" in the definition of holed are used to make it clear that if a ball falls into the hole and bounces out, it is not holed.

However, if a player removes a ball from the hole that is still moving (such as circling or bouncing in the bottom of the hole), it is considered holed despite the ball not having come to rest in the hole.

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.