Rule

1

Interpretations
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The Game, Player Conduct and the Rules
Interpretations
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1.2
1.2a
1.2a/1
1.3
1.3b
1.3b(1)/1
1.3b(1)/2
1.3b(2)
1.3c
1.3c(1)/1
1.3c(4)/1
1.3c(4)/2
1.3c(4)/3
1.3c(4)/4
1.3c/1
1.3c/2
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Interpretation 3

Purpose: Rule 1 introduces these central principles of the game for the player:

  • Play the course as you find it and play the ball as it lies.
  • Play by the Rules and in the spirit of the game.
  • You are responsible for applying your own penalties if you breach a Rule, so that you cannot gain any potential advantage over your opponent in match play or other players in stroke play.
1.2
Standards of Player Conduct
1.2a
Conduct Expected of All Players
1.2a/1
Meaning of Serious Misconduct

The phrase "serious misconduct" in Rule 1.2a is intended to cover player misconduct that is so far removed from the expected norm in golf that the most severe sanction of removing a player from the competition is justified. This includes dishonesty, deliberately interfering with another player's rights, or endangering the safety of others.

The Committee must determine if the misconduct is serious considering all the circumstances. Even if the Committee determines that the misconduct is serious, it may take the view that it is more appropriate to warn the player that a repeat of the misconduct or similar misconduct will result in disqualification, instead of disqualifying him or her in the first instance.

Examples of actions by a player that are likely to be considered serious misconduct include:

  • Deliberately causing serious damage to a putting green.
  • Disagreeing with the course setup and taking it on himself or herself to move tee-markers or boundary stakes.
  • Throwing a club towards another player or spectator.
  • Deliberately distracting other players while they are making strokes.
  • Removing loose impediments or movable obstructions to disadvantage another player after that other player has asked him or her to leave them in place.
  • Repeatedly refusing to lift a ball at rest when it interferes with another player in stroke play.
  • Deliberately playing away from the hole and then towards the hole to assist the player's partner (such as helping the player's partner learn the break on the putting green).
  • Deliberately not playing in accordance with the Rules and potentially gaining a significant advantage by doing so, despite incurring a penalty for a breach of the relevant Rule.
  • Repeatedly using vulgar or offensive language.
  • Using a handicap that has been established for the purpose of providing an unfair advantage or using the round being played to establish such a handicap.

Examples of actions by a player that, although involving misconduct, are unlikely to be considered serious misconduct include:

  • Slamming a club to the ground, damaging the club and causing minor damage to the turf.
  • Throwing a club towards a golf bag that unintentionally hits another person.
  • Carelessly distracting another player making a stroke.
1.3
Playing by the Rules
1.3b
Applying the Rules
1.3b(1)/1
Disqualifying Players Who Know a Rule but Deliberately Agree to Ignore it

If two or more players deliberately agree to ignore any Rule or penalty they know applies, they will be disqualified unless the agreement is made before the round and is cancelled before any player involved in the agreement begins his or her round.

For example, in stroke play, two players agree to consider putts within a club-length of the hole holed, when they know that they must hole out on each hole.

While on the first putting green, another player in the group learns of this agreement. That player insists the two players who made the agreement hole out, and they do so.

Even though neither player who made the agreement acted on it by failing to hole out, they are still disqualified because they deliberately agreed to ignore Rule 3.3c (Failure to Hole Out).

1.3b(1)/2
In Order to Agree to Ignore a Rule or Penalty, Players Must Be Aware the Rule Exists

Rule 1.3b(1) does not apply and there is no penalty if players agree to waive a Rule that they are not aware of or fail to apply a penalty that they do not know exists.

Examples where two players are unaware of a Rule, or where they have failed to apply a penalty, and therefore are not disqualified under Rule 1.3b(1), include:

  • In a match, two players agree in advance to concede all putts within a specific length but are unaware that the Rules prohibit them from agreeing to concede putts in this way.
  • Before a 36-hole match, two players agree that they will play only 18 holes and whoever is behind at that point will concede the match, not knowing that this agreement does not comply with the Terms of the Competition.
    The match goes forward on that basis and the player behind after 18 holes concedes the match. Since the players do not know such an agreement is not allowed, the concession stands.
  • In a stroke-play competition, a player and his or her marker, who is also a player, are unsure if the relief area for ground under repair is one club-length or two. Unaware of the Rule, they agree that it is two club-lengths and the player takes relief by dropping a ball almost two club-lengths from the nearest point of complete relief. Later in the round the Committee becomes aware of this.
    Although neither player is disqualified under Rule 1.3b(1) because they were unaware of the Rule, the player has played from a wrong place and gets the penalty under Rule 14.7 (Playing from Wrong Place). There is no penalty for accidentally giving incorrect information on the Rules of Golf.
1.3b(2)
Interpretations Related to Rule 1.3b(2):
  • 6.1/1 – What to Do When One or More Tee-Markers Are Missing
  • 9.6/2 – Where to Replace Ball When It Was Moved from Unknown Location
  • 17.1a/2 – Ball Lost in Either Penalty Area or Abnormal Course Condition Adjacent to Penalty Area
  • 17.1d(3)/2 – Player Drops Ball Based on Estimate of Where the Ball Last Crossed Edge of Penalty Area That Turns Out to Be the Wrong Point
1.3c
Penalties
1.3c(1)/1
Action of Another Person Breaches a Rule For Player

A player is responsible when another person's action breaches a Rule with respect to the player if it is done at the player's request or if the player sees the action and allows it.

Examples of when a player gets the penalty because he or she requested or allowed the action include:

  • A player asks a spectator to move a loose impediment near his or her ball. If the ball moves the player gets one penalty stroke under Rule 9.4b (Penalty for Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to Move) and ball must be replaced.
  • A player's ball is being searched for in tall grass. A spectator finds the ball and presses the grass down around the ball, improving the conditions affecting the stroke. If the player, seeing that this is about to happen, does not take reasonable steps to try to stop the spectator, he or she gets the general penalty for a breach of Rule 8.1a (Player's Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting the Stroke).
1.3c(4)/1
Intervening Event Between Breaches Results in Multiple Penalties

When a player breaches multiple Rules or the same Rule multiple times, any relationship between the breaches is broken by an intervening event and the player will get multiple penalties.

The three types of intervening events where the player will get multiple penalties are:

  • Making a stroke. Example: In stroke play, a player's ball is near a bush. The player breaks branches and this improves the area of intended swing (a breach of Rule 8.1a). The player makes a stroke, misses the ball, and then breaks more branches (a breach of Rule 8.1a). In this case, the stroke that missed the ball is an intervening event between the two breaches. Therefore, the player gets two separate two-stroke penalties under Rule 8.1a, for four penalty strokes in total.
  • Putting a ball in play. Examples:
    • In stroke play, a player's ball is under a tree. The player breaks tree branches, improving the conditions affecting the stroke, but then decides the ball is unplayable. The player drops a ball within two club-lengths under Rule 19.2c (Unplayable Ball Relief) and then breaks more tree branches. In addition to the one penalty stroke under Rule 19.2, the player gets two separate two-stroke penalties under Rule 8.1a for improving conditions affecting the stroke, for five penalty strokes in total.
    • A player's ball lies in the fairway and he or she accidentally moves the ball at rest. As required by Rule 9.4 (Ball Lifted or Moved by Player), the player replaces the ball and adds one penalty stroke. Before making a stroke, the player accidentally moves the ball again. The player gets an additional penalty stroke and must again replace the ball, for two penalty strokes in total.
  • Becoming aware of the breach. Example: In stroke play, a player's ball lies in a bunker where the player takes several practice swings each time touching the sand. Another player advises the player that this is a breach of the Rules. The player disagrees and takes several more practice swings, again touching the sand before making a stroke. Correctly informing the player of the breach of the Rules is an intervening event and, therefore, the player gets two separate two-stroke penalties under Rule 12.2b (Restrictions on Touching Sand in Bunker), for four penalty strokes in total.
1.3c(4)/2
Multiple Breaches From a Single Act Result in a Single Penalty

A single act may breach two different Rules. In this situation, one penalty is applied. In the case of two Rules with different penalties, the higher-level penalty will apply.

For example, a player presses down the grass behind his or her ball in play and improves the lie in the rough, accidentally moving the ball as well. This single act (that is, pressing down the grass) breached two Rules, Rule 8.1a (Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting the Stroke) and Rule 9.4b (Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to Move) and only one penalty applies.

In this case, the penalty under Rule 8.1a is the general penalty and the penalty under Rule 9.4b is one penalty stroke. Therefore, the higher-level penalty applies and the player loses the hole in match play or must add a total penalty of two strokes in stroke play under Rule 8.1a and the ball must be replaced.

1.3c(4)/3
Meaning of Unrelated Acts

Unrelated acts in the context of Rule 1.3c(4) are acts of a player that are of a different type or associated with a different process.

Examples of unrelated acts where multiple penalties apply include:

  • Making a practice swing that touches sand in a bunker and bending an overhanging tree branch that interferes with the player's swing.
  • Moving an immovable obstruction that improves the area of the player's swing and pressing down grass behind the ball.

Examples of related acts where only one penalty applies include:

  • Making several practice swings that touch sand in a bunker.
  • Asking for two different pieces of advice, such as what club the player used and what the wind direction is, both related to the process of selecting what club to use for the next stroke.
1.3c(4)/4
Not Replacing the Ball May Be Considered a Separate and Unrelated Act

In the example given in 1.3c(4)/2, a single act of pressing down grass and moving the ball breached two Rules (Rule 8.1a and Rule 9.4b) and resulted in a single penalty being applied under Rule 8.1a (Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting the Stroke).

However, Rule 9.4b (Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to Move) requires that the moved ball be replaced and, if it is not replaced before the stroke, the player will get an additional penalty of two strokes under Rule 9.4b. The failure to replace the ball is considered a separate and unrelated act.

1.3c/1
Player Is Not Disqualified from a Competition When That Round Does Not Count

In competitions where not all rounds count, a player is not disqualified from the competition for being disqualified from a single round.

Examples of when a player is not disqualified from the competition:

  • In a handicap competition where the two best of four rounds count, a player mistakenly returns his or her scorecard with a higher handicap that affects how many strokes are received in the first round.
    Since the higher handicap affected the number of handicap strokes received, the player is disqualified from the first round of the competition and now has three rounds in which to determine his or her two best net scores.
  • In a team competition with four-player teams, where the three best scores for each round are added up to make the team's score for each round, a player is disqualified from the second round for not correcting the play of a wrong ball. That player's score does not count for the team score in the second round but the player's score would count for any other round of the competition.
1.3c/2
Applying Disqualification Penalties, Concessions and Wrong Number of Strokes in a Stroke-Play Play-Off

During a play-off in a stroke-play competition the Rules are applied as follows:

  • If a player is disqualified (such as for making a stroke with a non-conforming club), the player is disqualified from the play-off only and the player is entitled to any prize that may have been won in the competition itself.
  • If two players are in the play-off, one player is allowed to concede the play-off to the other player.
  • If Player A mistakenly gives the wrong number of strokes to Player B and that mistake results in Player B lifting his or her ball (such as when Player B thinks he or she has lost the play-off to Player A), Player B is allowed to replace the ball without penalty and complete the hole. There is no penalty to Player A.
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).

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.

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.
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.

Movable Obstruction

An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.

If part of an immovable obstruction or integral object (such as a gate or door or part of an attached cable) meets these two standards, that part is treated as a movable obstruction.

But this does not apply if the movable part of an immovable obstruction or integral object is not meant to be moved (such as a loose stone that is part of a stone wall).

Even when an obstruction is movable, the Committee may define it to be an immovable obstruction.

 

Interpretation Movable Obstruction/1 - Abandoned Ball Is a Movable Obstruction

An abandoned ball is a movable obstruction.

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).

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).

 

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.

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.

Round

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

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.
Round

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

Round

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

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).

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).

 

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.

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.

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).

 

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

Relief Area

The area where a player must drop a ball when taking relief under a Rule. Each relief Rule requires the player to use a specific relief area whose size and location are based on these three factors:

  • Reference Point: The point from which the size of relief area is measured.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: The relief area is either one or two club-lengths from the reference point, but with certain limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area: The location of the relief area may be limited in one or more ways so that, for example:
    • It is only in certain defined areas of the course, such as only in the general area, or not in a bunker or a penalty area,
    • It is not nearer the hole than the reference point or must be outside a penalty area or a bunker from which relief is being taken, or
    • It is where there is no interference (as defined in the particular Rule) from the condition from which relief is being taken.

In using club-lengths to determine the size of a relief area, the player may measure directly across a ditch, hole or similar thing, and directly across or through an object (such as a tree, fence, wall, tunnel, drain or sprinkler head), but is not allowed to measure through ground that naturally slopes up and down.

See Committee Procedures, Section 2I (Committee may choose to allow or require the player to use a dropping zone as a relief area when taking certain relief).

Ground Under Repair

Any part of the course the Committee defines to be ground under repair (whether by marking it or otherwise). Any defined ground under repair includes both:

  • All ground inside the edge of the defined area, and
  • Any grass, bush, tree or other growing or attached natural object rooted in the defined area, including any part of those objects that extends up above the ground outside the edge of the defined area, but not any part (such as a tree root) that is attached to or below the ground outside the edge of the defined area.

Ground under repair also includes the following things, even if the Committee does not define them as such:

  • Any hole made by the Committee or the maintenance staff in:
    • Setting up the course (such as a hole where a stake has been removed or the hole on a double green being used for the play of another hole), or
    • Maintaining the course (such as a hole made in removing turf or a tree stump or laying pipelines, but not including aeration holes).
  • Grass cuttings, leaves and any other material piled for later removal. But:
    • Any natural materials that are piled for removal are also loose impediments, and
    • Any materials left on the course that are not intended to be removed are not ground under repair unless the Committee has defined them as such.
  • Any animal habitat (such as a bird’s nest) that is so near a player’s ball that the player’s stroke or stance might damage it, except when the habitat has been made by animals that are defined as loose impediments (such as worms or insects).

The edge of ground under repair should be defined by stakes, lines or physical features:

  • Stakes: When defined by stakes, the edge of the ground under repair is defined by the line between the outside points of the stakes at ground level, and the stakes are inside the ground under repair.
  • Lines: When defined by a painted line on the ground, the edge of the ground under repair is the outside edge of the line, and the line itself is in the ground under repair.
  • Physical Features: When defined by physical features (such as a flower bed or a turf nursery), the Committee should say how the edge of the ground under repair is defined.

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

 

Interpretation Ground Under Repair/1 - Damage Caused by Committee or Maintenance Staff Is Not Always Ground Under Repair

A hole made by maintenance staff is ground under repair even when not marked as ground under repair. However, not all damage caused by maintenance staff is ground under repair by default.

Examples of damage that is not ground under repair by default include:

  • A rut made by a tractor (but the Committee is justified in declaring a deep rut to be ground under repair).
  • An old hole plug that is sunk below the putting green surface, but see Rule 13.1c (Improvements Allowed on Putting Green).

Interpretation Ground Under Repair/2 - Ball in Tree Rooted in Ground Under Repair Is in Ground Under Repair

If a tree is rooted in ground under repair and a player's ball is in a branch of that tree, the ball is in ground under repair even if the branch extends outside the defined area.

If the player decides to take free relief under Rule 16.1 and the spot on the ground directly under where the ball lies in the tree is outside the ground under repair, the reference point for determining the relief area and taking relief is that spot on the ground.

Interpretation Ground Under Repair/3 - Fallen Tree or Tree Stump Is Not Always Ground Under Repair

A fallen tree or tree stump that the Committee intends to remove, but is not in the process of being removed, is not automatically ground under repair. However, if the tree and the tree stump are in the process of being unearthed or cut up for later removal, they are "material piled for later removal" and therefore ground under repair.

For example, a tree that has fallen in the general area and is still attached to the stump is not ground under repair. However, a player could request relief from the Committee and the Committee would be justified in declaring the area covered by the fallen tree to be ground under repair.

Club-Length

The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.

For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule.

 

Interpretation Club-Length/1 - Meaning of "Club-Length" When Measuring

For the purposes of measuring when determining a relief area, the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip is used. However, if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure.

Interpretation Club-Length/2 - How to Measure When Longest Club Breaks

If the longest club a player has during a round breaks, that broken club continues to be used for determining the size of his or her relief areas. However, if the longest club breaks and the player is allowed to replace it with another club (Exception to Rule 4.1b(3)) and he or she does so, the broken club is no longer considered his or her longest club.

If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs and decides to add another club that is longer than the clubs he or she started with, the added club is used for measuring so long as it is not a putter.

Club-Length

The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.

For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule.

 

Interpretation Club-Length/1 - Meaning of "Club-Length" When Measuring

For the purposes of measuring when determining a relief area, the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip is used. However, if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure.

Interpretation Club-Length/2 - How to Measure When Longest Club Breaks

If the longest club a player has during a round breaks, that broken club continues to be used for determining the size of his or her relief areas. However, if the longest club breaks and the player is allowed to replace it with another club (Exception to Rule 4.1b(3)) and he or she does so, the broken club is no longer considered his or her longest club.

If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs and decides to add another club that is longer than the clubs he or she started with, the added club is used for measuring so long as it is not a putter.

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).
Club-Length

The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.

For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule.

 

Interpretation Club-Length/1 - Meaning of "Club-Length" When Measuring

For the purposes of measuring when determining a relief area, the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip is used. However, if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure.

Interpretation Club-Length/2 - How to Measure When Longest Club Breaks

If the longest club a player has during a round breaks, that broken club continues to be used for determining the size of his or her relief areas. However, if the longest club breaks and the player is allowed to replace it with another club (Exception to Rule 4.1b(3)) and he or she does so, the broken club is no longer considered his or her longest club.

If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs and decides to add another club that is longer than the clubs he or she started with, the added club is used for measuring so long as it is not a putter.

Nearest Point of Complete Relief

The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1), dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), wrong green (Rule 13.1f) or no play zone (Rules 16.1f and 17.1e), or in taking relief under certain Local Rules.

It is the estimated point where the ball would lie that is:

  • Nearest to the ball’s original spot, but not nearer the hole than that spot,
  • In the required area of the course, and
  • Where the condition does not interfere with the stroke the player would have made from the original spot if the condition was not there.

Estimating this reference point requires the player to identify the choice of club, stance, swing and line of play he or she would have used for that stroke.

The player does not need to simulate that stroke by taking an actual stance and swinging with the chosen club (but it is recommended that the player normally do this to help in making an accurate estimate).

The nearest point of complete relief relates solely to the particular condition from which relief is being taken and may be in a location where there is interference by something else:

  • If the player takes relief and then has interference by another condition from which relief is allowed, the player may take relief again by determining a new nearest point of complete relief from the new condition.
  • Relief must be taken separately for each condition, except that the player may take relief from both conditions at the same time (based on determining the nearest point of complete relief from both) when, having already taken relief separately from each condition, it becomes reasonable to conclude that continuing to do so will result in continued interference by one or the other.

 

Interpretation Nearest Point of Complete Relief/1 - Diagrams Illustrating Nearest Point of Complete Relief

In the diagrams, the term "nearest point of complete relief" in Rule 16.1 (Abnormal Course Conditions) for relief from interference by ground under repair is illustrated in the case of both a right-handed and a left-handed player.

The nearest point of complete relief must be strictly interpreted. A player is not allowed to choose on which side of the ground under repair the ball will be dropped, unless there are two equidistant nearest points of complete relief. Even if one side of the ground under repair is fairway and the other is bushes, if the nearest point of complete relief is in the bushes, then that is the player's nearest point of complete relief.

Interpretation Nearest Point of Complete Relief/2 – Player Does Not Follow Recommended Procedure in Determining Nearest Point of Complete Relief

Although there is a recommended procedure for determining the nearest point of complete relief, the Rules do not require a player to determine this point when taking relief under a relevant Rule (such as when taking relief from an abnormal course condition under Rule 16.1b (Relief for Ball in General Area)). If a player does not determine a nearest point of complete relief accurately or identifies an incorrect nearest point of complete relief, the player only gets a penalty if this results in him or her dropping a ball into a relief area that does not satisfy the requirements of the Rule and the ball is then played.

Interpretation Nearest Point of Complete Relief/3 – Whether Player Has Taken Relief Incorrectly If Condition Still Interferes for Stroke with Club Not Used to Determine Nearest Point of Complete Relief

When a player is taking relief from an abnormal course condition, he or she is taking relief only for interference that he or she had with the club, stance, swing and line of play that would have been used to play the ball from that spot. After the player has taken relief and there is no longer interference for the stroke the player would have made, any further interference is a new situation.

For example, the player's ball lies in heavy rough in the general area approximately 230 yards from the green. The player selects a wedge to make the next stroke and finds that his or her stance touches a line defining an area of ground under repair. The player determines the nearest point of complete relief and drops a ball in the prescribed relief area according to Rule 14.3b(3) (Ball Must Be Dropped in Relief Area) and Rule 16.1 (Relief from Abnormal Course Conditions).

The ball rolls into a good lie within the relief area from where the player believes that the next stroke could be played with a 3-wood. If the player used a wedge for the next stroke there would be no interference from the ground under repair. However, using the 3-wood, the player again touches the line defining the ground under repair with his or her foot. This is a new situation and the player may play the ball as it lies or take relief for the new situation.

Interpretation Nearest Point of Complete Relief/4 - Player Determines Nearest Point of Complete Relief but Is Physically Unable to Make Intended Stroke

The purpose of determining the nearest point of complete relief is to find a reference point in a location that is as near as possible to where the interfering condition no longer interferes. In determining the nearest point of complete relief, the player is not guaranteed a good or playable lie.

For example, if a player is unable to make a stroke from what appears to be the required relief area as measured from the nearest point of complete relief because either the direction of play is blocked by a tree, or the player is unable to take the backswing for the intended stroke due to a bush, this does not change the fact that the identified point is the nearest point of complete relief.

After the ball is in play, the player must then decide what type of stroke he or she will make. This stroke, which includes the choice of club, may be different than the one that would have been made from the ball's original spot had the condition not been there.

If it is not physically possible to drop the ball in any part of the identified relief area, the player is not allowed relief from the condition.

Interpretation Nearest Point of Complete Relief/5 - Player Physically Unable to Determine Nearest Point of Complete Relief

If a player is physically unable to determine his or her nearest point of complete relief, it must be estimated, and the relief area is then based on the estimated point.

For example, in taking relief under Rule 16.1, a player is physically unable to determine the nearest point of complete relief because that point is within the trunk of a tree or a boundary fence prevents the player from adopting the required stance.

The player must estimate the nearest point of complete relief and drop a ball in the identified relief area.

If it is not physically possible to drop the ball in the identified relief area, the player is not allowed relief under Rule 16.1.

Round

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

Wrong Place

Any place on the course other than where the player is required or allowed to play his or her ball under the Rules.

Examples of playing from a wrong place are:

  • Playing a ball after replacing it on the wrong spot or without replacing it when required by the Rules.
  • Playing a dropped ball from outside the required relief area.
  • Taking relief under a wrong Rule, so that the ball is dropped in and played from a place not allowed under the Rules.
  • Playing a ball from a no play zone or when a no play zone interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or swing.

Playing a ball from outside the teeing area in starting play of a hole or in trying to correct that mistake is not playing from a wrong place (see Rule 6.1b).

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.

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.

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke.

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball.

  •  The “area of intended stance” includes both where the player will place his or her feet and the entire area that might reasonably affect how and where the player’s body is positioned in preparing for and making the intended stroke.
  • The “area of intended swing” includes the entire area that might reasonably affect any part of the backswing, the downswing or the completion of the swing for the intended stroke.
  • Each of the terms “lie,” “line of play” and “relief area” has its own Definition.
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.
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).

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for 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.
Stroke

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

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

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

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

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

 

Interpretation Stroke/1 - Determining If a Stroke Was Made

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke.

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball.

  •  The “area of intended stance” includes both where the player will place his or her feet and the entire area that might reasonably affect how and where the player’s body is positioned in preparing for and making the intended stroke.
  • The “area of intended swing” includes the entire area that might reasonably affect any part of the backswing, the downswing or the completion of the swing for the intended stroke.
  • Each of the terms “lie,” “line of play” and “relief area” has its own Definition.
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).
Club-Length

The length of the longest club of the 14 (or fewer) clubs the player has during the round (as allowed by Rule 4.1b(1)), other than a putter.

For example, if the longest club (other than a putter) a player has during a round is a 43-inch (109.22 cm) driver, a club-length is 43 inches for that player for that round.

Club-lengths are used in defining the player’s teeing area on each hole and in determining the size of the player’s relief area when taking relief under a Rule.

 

Interpretation Club-Length/1 - Meaning of "Club-Length" When Measuring

For the purposes of measuring when determining a relief area, the length of the entire club, starting at the toe of the club and ending at the butt end of the grip is used. However, if the club has a headcover on it or has an attachment to the end of the grip, neither is allowed to be used as part of the club when using it to measure.

Interpretation Club-Length/2 - How to Measure When Longest Club Breaks

If the longest club a player has during a round breaks, that broken club continues to be used for determining the size of his or her relief areas. However, if the longest club breaks and the player is allowed to replace it with another club (Exception to Rule 4.1b(3)) and he or she does so, the broken club is no longer considered his or her longest club.

If the player starts a round with fewer than 14 clubs and decides to add another club that is longer than the clubs he or she started with, the added club is used for measuring so long as it is not a putter.

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke.

Conditions Affecting the Stroke

The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball.

  •  The “area of intended stance” includes both where the player will place his or her feet and the entire area that might reasonably affect how and where the player’s body is positioned in preparing for and making the intended stroke.
  • The “area of intended swing” includes the entire area that might reasonably affect any part of the backswing, the downswing or the completion of the swing for the intended stroke.
  • Each of the terms “lie,” “line of play” and “relief area” has its own Definition.
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.
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 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).

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.
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.
Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke.

Lie

The spot on which a ball is at rest and any growing or attached natural object, immovable obstruction, integral object, or boundary object touching the ball or right next to it.

Loose impediments and movable obstructions are not part of the lie of a ball.

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.

General Penalty

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

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).

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.

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.

Immovable Obstruction

Any obstruction that:

  • Cannot be moved without unreasonable effort or without damaging the obstruction or the course, and
  • Otherwise does not meet the definition of a movable obstruction.

The Committee may define any obstruction to be an immovable obstruction, even if it meets the definition of movable obstruction.

 

Interpretation Immovable Obstruction/1 - Turf Around Obstruction Is Not Part of Obstruction

Any turf that is leading to an immovable obstruction or covering an immovable obstruction, is not part of the obstruction.

For example, a water pipe is partly underground and partly above ground. If the pipe that is underground causes the turf to be raised, the raised turf is not part of the immovable obstruction.

Improve

To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke.

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.

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.
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.

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.

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.
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.

Round

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

Round

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

Round

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

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.

Round

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

Round

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

Round

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

Round

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

Round

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

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.

Round

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

Round

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

Stroke Play

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

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

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

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

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

Stroke

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.
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.