The R&A - Working for Golf

Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf

This guide provides a simple explanation of common Rules situations. It is not a substitute for the Rules of Golf, which should be consulted whenever any doubts arises. For more information on the points covered, please refer to the relevant Rule.

The basic Rules are not as hard to learn as you may think. They would include, for example, where play of a hole commences; what to do when your ball is in water hazard, lost or out of bounds' interference from immovable obstructions such as cart paths; and playing a provisional ball.

Watch: Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf

Getting Started

Relief Situations and Procedures

When playing golf, you must play the ball as it lies, whether your ball is in a good lie or a bad lie, unless the Rules allow you to do otherwise. For example, the Rules allow you to move natural objects like leaves and twigs – the Rules call these “loose impediments”.

The Rules also permit you to lift and move your ball if you have interference from certain conditions. Sometimes you can move your ball without penalty, e.g. when you have interference due to a man-made object – called “obstructions” - such as a road or path, or when you have interference by an abnormal ground condition, such as casual water and ground under repair. At other times, you may incur a penalty if you wish to move your ball, e.g. when your ball is in a water hazard.

Have a look at the sections below to learn more: 

Lost, Provisional & Unplayable Balls

Rules Academy

The information included in the Quick Guide is also available in an on-line course, the Rules Academy. This course is based on the Etiquette Section and Quick Guide to the Rules of Golf and features video, images and diagrams of Rules situations and includes revision questions after each section.

It covers the essentials that all golfers should know such as sportsmanship, integrity and respect. It adopts a tee to green approach and tells you what you need to know at each point; from where to tee your ball, to taking relief from various conditions, to holing out and returning the score card

At the end of the course, you can take a Level 1 Rules Exam and receive a certificate signed by their guiding player.

Visit the Rules Academy