The R&A - Working for Golf
Rule

20

Player's Edition
See Rules Of Golf
Resolving Rules Issues During Round; Rulings by Referee and Committee
Player's Edition
See Rules Of Golf
Jump To Section
20.1
a
b
c
20.2
20.3
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Rule 19
Rule 21

Purpose: Rule 20 covers what you should do when you have questions about the Rules during a round, including the procedures (which differ in match play and stroke play) allowing you to protect the right to get a ruling at a later time.

The Rule also covers the role of referees who are authorized to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules. Rulings from a referee or the Committee are binding on all players.

20.1
Resolving Rules Issues During Round
a
You Must Avoid Unreasonable Delay

You must not unreasonably delay play when seeking help with the Rules during a round. If a referee or the Committee is not available in a reasonable time to help with a Rules issue, you must decide what to do and play on.

You may protect your rights by asking for a ruling in match play or by playing two balls in stroke play.

b
Rules Issues in Match Play

Deciding Issues by Agreement. During a round without a referee assigned to your match, you and your opponent may agree how to decide a Rules issue.

The agreed outcome stands provided you and your opponent did not deliberately agree to ignore any Rule or penalty you both knew applied.

Ruling Request Made Before Result of Match Is Final. When you want a referee or the Committee to decide how to apply the Rules but neither is available in a reasonable time, you may make the request for a ruling by notifying your opponent that a later ruling will be sought when a referee or the Committee becomes available.

See Full Rules For information on making a request in time and how your ruling request will be handled by the referee or Committee.

c
Rules Issues in Stroke Play

No Right to Decide Rules Issues by Agreement. If a referee or the Committee is not available in a reasonable time to help with a Rules issue you have no right to decide a Rules issue by agreement and any such agreement you may reach is not binding on any player, a referee or the Committee.

You should raise any Rules issues with the Committee before returning your scorecard.

You Should Protect Other Players in the Competition. If you know or believe that another player has breached the Rules and does not recognize or is ignoring this, you should tell that player, the player's marker, a referee or the Committee. You should do this promptly, and certainly before the player returns his or her scorecard. Your failure to do so could be serious misconduct resulting in disqualification.

Playing Two Balls. If you are uncertain about the right procedure while playing a hole, you may complete the hole with two balls without penalty:

  • You must decide to play two balls after the uncertain situation arises and before making a stroke.
  • You should choose which ball will count if the Rules allow the procedure used for that ball, by announcing that choice to your marker or to another player before making a stroke.
  • If you do not choose in time, the ball played first is treated as the ball chosen by default.
  • You must report the facts of the situation to the Committee before returning your scorecard, even if you score the same with both balls. You are disqualified if you fail to do so.

See Full Rules For more information on playing two balls in stroke play, including how the Committee will determine your score for the hole.

20.2
Rulings on Issues under the Rules

See Full Rules For information on rulings by referees, Committees, the use of the "naked eye" standard, the correction of wrong rulings and disqualification after result of the match or competition is final.

20.3
Situations Not Covered by the Rules

Any situation not covered by the Rules should be decided by the Committee.

Round

18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee.

Referee

An official named by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules.

Committee

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

Match Play

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

Stroke Play

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

Round

18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee.

Referee

An official named by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules.

Opponent

The person you compete against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play.

Opponent

The person you compete against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play.

Referee

An official named by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules.

Committee

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

Opponent

The person you compete against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play.

Referee

An official named by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules.

Committee

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

Referee

An official named by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules.

Committee

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

Referee

An official named by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules.

Committee

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

Committee

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

Scorecard

The document where your score for each hole is entered in stroke play.

Marker

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

Referee

An official named by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules.

Committee

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

Scorecard

The document where your score for each hole is entered in stroke play.

Stroke

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

Marker

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

Stroke

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

Committee

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

Scorecard

The document where your score for each hole is entered in stroke play.

Committee

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