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Rule

6

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Playing a Hole
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6.1
a
b
6.2
a
b
6.3
a
b
c
6.4
a
b
6.5
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Rule 5
Rule 7

Purpose: Rule 6 covers how to play a hole - such as the specific Rules for teeing off to start a hole, the requirement to use the same ball for an entire hole except when substitution is allowed, the order of play (which matters more in match play than stroke play) and completing a hole.

6.1
Starting Play of a Hole
a
When Hole Starts

You have started a hole when you make a stroke to begin the hole.

b
Ball Must Be Played from Inside Teeing Area

When starting a hole, if you play a ball from outside the teeing area (including from a wrong set of tee markers on the same hole or a different hole):

Match Play. There is no penalty and you play your ball as it lies, but your opponent may cancel the stroke in which case you must play from inside the teeing area.

See Full Rules For more information on an opponent cancelling your stroke.

Stroke Play. You get the general penalty (two penalty strokes) and must correct the mistake by playing a ball from inside the teeing area. If you do not correct the mistake, you are disqualified.

See Full Rules For more information on the status of strokes made from outside the teeing area and the disqualification penalty for failing to correct the mistake.

6.2
Playing Ball from Teeing Area
a
When Teeing Area Rules Apply

The teeing area Rules apply whenever you are required or allowed to play from the teeing area.

See Full Rules For more information on when the teeing area Rules apply.

b
Teeing Area Rules

Your ball is in the teeing area when any part of the ball touches or is above any part of the teeing area. You may stand outside the teeing area in making the stroke at a ball in the teeing area. You may play the ball from a tee placed on the ground or from the ground itself.

See Full Rules For more information on the teeing area, including certain conditions that can be improved, the restrictions on moving the tee-markers and the treatment of a ball at rest within the teeing area after a stroke.

6.3
Ball Used in Play of Hole

Purpose: A hole is played as a progression of strokes made from the teeing area to the putting green and into the hole. After teeing off, you are normally required to play the same ball until the hole is completed. You get a penalty for making a stroke at a wrong ball or a substituted ball when substitution is not allowed by the Rules.

a
Holing Out with Same Ball Played from Teeing Area

You may play any conforming ball when starting a hole from the teeing area and may change balls between two holes.

You must hole out with the same ball played from the teeing area, except when:

  • That ball is lost or comes to rest out of bounds, or
  • You substitute another ball (whether or not allowed to do so).

You should put an identifying mark on the ball to be played.

b
Substitution of Another Ball While Playing Hole

When taking relief by dropping or placing, you may use either the original ball or another ball.

When playing again from where a previous stroke was made, you may use either the original ball or another ball.

When replacing a ball on a spot, you are not allowed to substitute a ball and must use the original ball, with certain exceptions contained in Rule 14.2a.

If you make a stroke at an incorrectly substituted ball:

  • You get the general penalty.
  • In stroke play, you must then play out the hole with the incorrectly substituted ball.
c
Wrong Ball

You must not make a stroke at a wrong ball.

See Full Rules For information on the Exception for Ball Moving in Water.

Penalty for Playing Wrong Ball: General Penalty.

In match play:

  • If you and your opponent play each other's ball during the play of a hole, the first to make a stroke at a wrong ball gets the general penalty (loss of hole).
  • If it is not known which wrong ball was played first, there is no penalty and the hole must be played out with the balls exchanged.

In stroke play, you must correct the mistake by continuing play with the original ball by playing it as it lies or taking relief under the Rules:

  • The stroke made with the wrong ball and any more strokes before the mistake is corrected do not count.
  • If you do not correct the mistake before making a stroke to begin another hole or, for the final hole of the round, before returning your scorecard, you are disqualified.
6.4
Order of Play When Playing Hole

Purpose: Rule 6.4 covers the order of play throughout a hole. The order of play from the teeing area depends on who has the honour, and after that is based on which ball is farthest from the hole.

  • In match play, the order of play is fundamental; if you play out of turn, your opponent may cancel that stroke and make you play again.
  • In stroke play, there is no penalty for playing out of turn, and you are both allowed and encouraged to play "ready golf", that is to play out of turn in a safe and responsible way.
a
Match Play

Starting First Hole. The honour is decided by the order of the draw or, if there is no draw, by agreement or by using a random method (such as tossing a coin).

Starting All Other Holes. The player who wins a hole has the honour at the next teeing area. If the hole was tied, the player with the honour at the previous teeing area keeps it.

After Both Players Start a Hole. The ball that is farther from the hole is to be played first.

In all cases, if you play when it was your opponent's turn to play, there is no penalty and you play your ball as it lies, but your opponent may cancel the stroke.

Exception - Playing Out of Turn by Agreement to Save Time: To save time, you and your opponent may agree to play out of turn.

See Full Rules For more information on an opponent cancelling your stroke. 

b
Stroke Play

Starting First Hole. The honour is decided by the order of the draw or, if there is no draw, by agreement or by using a random method (such as tossing a coin).

Starting All Other Holes.

  • The player in the group with the lowest gross score at a hole has the honour at the next teeing area; the player with the second lowest gross score should play next; and so on.
  • If two or more players have the same score at a hole, they should play in the same order as at the previous teeing area.
  • The honour is based on gross scores, even in a handicap competition.

After All Players Start a Hole. The ball that is farthest from the hole should be played first.

In all cases, there is no penalty if you play out of turn, except that if you and another player agree to play out of turn to give one of you an advantage, you both get the general penalty (two penalty strokes).

"Ready Golf". In stroke play, you are both allowed and encouraged to play out of turn in a safe and responsible way, such as when:

  • You agree with another player to do so for convenience or to save time,
  • Your ball comes to rest a very short distance from the hole and you wish to hole out, or
  • You are ready and able to play before another player whose turn it is to play under the normal order of play, so long as in playing out of turn you do not endanger, distract or interfere with any other player.

But if the player whose turn it is to play is ready and able to play and indicates that he or she wants to play first, other players should generally wait until that player has played.

See Full Rules For information on order of play when playing another ball from the teeing area, a provisional ball or when taking relief.

6.5
Completing Play of a Hole

See Full Rules For information on when a hole has been completed.

Stroke

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

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Stroke

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

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
General Penalty

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

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Stroke

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

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Tee

An object used to raise your ball above the ground to play it from the teeing area. It must be no longer than four inches (101.6 mm) and conform with the Equipment Rules.

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Holed

When your ball is at rest in the hole after your stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green. When the Rules refer to "holing out"or "hole out", it means when your ball is holed.

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

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Lost

The status of a ball that is not found in three minutes after you or your caddie (or your partner or partner's caddie) begins to search for it.

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.

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.
Substitute

To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play.

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

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

  • Falls straight down, without you 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 your body or equipment before it hits the ground (see Rule 14.3b).
Stroke

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

Replace

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

Substitute

To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play.

Stroke

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

Substitute

To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play.

General Penalty

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

Stroke Play

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

Substitute

To change the ball you are using to play a hole by having another ball become your ball in play.

Stroke

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

Wrong Ball

Any ball other than your:

  • Ball in play (whether your original ball or a substituted ball),
  • Provisional ball (before you abandon it 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, and your own ball that is out of bounds, has become lost or has been lifted and not yet put back in play.

Wrong Ball

Any ball other than your:

  • Ball in play (whether your original ball or a substituted ball),
  • Provisional ball (before you abandon it 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, and your own ball that is out of bounds, has become lost or has been lifted and not yet put back in play.

General Penalty

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

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.

Opponent

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

Stroke

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

Wrong Ball

Any ball other than your:

  • Ball in play (whether your original ball or a substituted ball),
  • Provisional ball (before you abandon it 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, and your own ball that is out of bounds, has become lost or has been lifted and not yet put back in play.

General Penalty

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

Wrong Ball

Any ball other than your:

  • Ball in play (whether your original ball or a substituted ball),
  • Provisional ball (before you abandon it 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, and your own ball that is out of bounds, has become lost or has been lifted and not yet put back in play.

Stroke Play

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

Stroke

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

Wrong Ball

Any ball other than your:

  • Ball in play (whether your original ball or a substituted ball),
  • Provisional ball (before you abandon it 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, and your own ball that is out of bounds, has become lost or has been lifted and not yet put back in play.

Stroke

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

Round

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

Scorecard

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

Honour

Your right to play first from the teeing area (see Rule 6.4).

Honour

Your right to play first from the teeing area (see Rule 6.4).

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Honour

Your right to play first from the teeing area (see Rule 6.4).

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
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.

Stroke

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

Opponent

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

Honour

Your right to play first from the teeing area (see Rule 6.4).

Honour

Your right to play first from the teeing area (see Rule 6.4).

Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Teeing Area

The area you must play from in starting the hole you are 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.
Honour

Your right to play first from the teeing area (see Rule 6.4).

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing.

General Penalty

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

Hole

The finishing point on the putting green for the hole you are playing.

Holed

When your ball is at rest in the hole after your stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green. When the Rules refer to "holing out"or "hole out", it means when your ball is holed.

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