To improve the enjoyment of players during general play there are many actions that a Committee can take to improve pace of play and to encourage a good standard of player conduct, such as:
Reducing group sizes, increasing starting intervals, introducing starter's gaps.
Considering fundamental changes to course set up such as widening fairways, reducing the thickness or length of rough, or reducing the speed of greens.
Encouraging players to play from tees that suit their ability.
Adopting a pace of play policy and a code of conduct.
The following sections give some of the considerations a Committee should take into account when adopting a pace of play policy or a code of conduct.
Pace of Play Policy
The nature of such a policy will often depend on the available resources of that course.
For example, a course with limited staff might simply state that each group is expected to keep up with the group in front or that each group is expected to play within a certain amount of time, while another course may be able to have one or more people on the course to monitor the pace of play and, when necessary, speak to groups that are falling behind.
The enforcement of such a policy is usually best handled through disciplinary measures. Such sanctions are separate from the Rules of Golf and it is a matter for the Committee to write and interpret any such sanctions.
Code of Conduct Policy
For general play, a Committee might post a notice in the clubhouse area stating what types of behaviour or attire are not acceptable at that course, including in certain areas.
Enforcement of this policy is usually best handled through disciplinary measures. Such sanctions are separate from the Rules of Golf and it is a matter for the Committee to write and interpret any such sanctions.
Each Committee should consider how it will suspend play if it is determined that weather conditions warrant. A suspension of play can be handled through a variety of methods, depending on the resources available to the course, such as signalling to players through an air horn or by personal notification of the players.
Providing Rules Support
Players may have questions on how to resolve Rules issues that have arisen during general play. Each course should identify a person or persons to handle such Rules questions. In many cases that person may be the professional or manager. If that person is unsure of the correct ruling, he or she may refer the question to the appropriate Rules organization for an answer.
The Rules of Golf define the Committee as the person or group in charge of a competition or the course. The Committee is essential to the proper playing of the game. Committees have the responsibility of running the course on a day-to-day basis or for a specific competition and they should always act in ways that support the Rules of Golf. This part of the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf provides guidance to Committees in fulfilling this role.While many of the duties of a Committee are specific to running organized competitions, an important part of the Committee's duties relates to its responsibility for the course during general or every day play.
Marking the course and refreshing those markings as needed is an ongoing task for which the Committee is responsible.A well-marked course allows a player to play by the Rules and helps to eliminate confusion for players. For example, a player may not know how to proceed if a pond (penalty area) is not marked or if he or she is unable to determine if a ball is in bounds or out of bounds.
A Local Rule is a modification of a Rule or an additional Rule that the Committee adopts for general play or a particular competition. The Committee is responsible for deciding whether to adopt any Local Rules and for making sure they are consistent with the principles found in Section 8. The Committee needs to make sure that any Local Rules are available for players to see, whether on the scorecard, a separate handout, a notice board or the course's website.Local Rules that may be adopted for general play fall into the following general categories:
Defining Course Boundaries and other Areas of the Course (Sections 8A-8D),
Defining Special or Required Relief Procedures (Section 8E), and
Defining Abnormal Course Conditions and Integral Objects (Section 8F).
The Committee should also take note of Section 8L - Unauthorized Local Rules.A full listing of Model Local Rules can be found at the start of Section 8.See Section 5C for other types of Local Rules that are more commonly adopted for competitions than for general play.
The resources available to a Committee will differ depending on the course or the level of competition being run and so a Committee may not be able to implement all of the suggested practices. Where this is the case, the Committee will need to decide its priorities for each competition.The period before the competition begins is arguably the most important in terms of preparation to ensure the smooth running of the competition. The Committee's duties during this period include:
Terms of the Competition determine the structure of each competition including who may enter, how to enter, what the schedule and format of the competition will be and how ties will be decided. It is the responsibility of the Committee to:
Set clear and concise terms for each competition.
Make these terms available to players in advance of the competition.
Interpret the terms should any questions arise.
Other than in exceptional circumstances, the Committee should avoid altering the Terms of the Competition once the competition has started .It is the responsibility of each player to know and follow the Terms of the Competition.Sample wording of Terms of the Competition can be found at RandA.org.
When preparing for a competition, the Committee should make sure that the course is properly marked and refresh any markings that might be used for general play, or change them if necessary. While there typically is no one "right" way to mark a course, failing to mark it properly or at all can lead to situations where a player is unable to proceed under the Rules or the Committee will be forced to make decisions while play is ongoing that might result in players being treated differently.Section 2 provides detailed guidance and recommendations on how to mark the course for general play, but it also applies equally to competitions and should be referenced by the Committee when preparing for competitions.Where changes are made to the course's marking for a competition, the Committee should ensure these are clearly communicated to any players who regularly play the course so that they are not confused and inadvertently proceed incorrectly.In addition to the information in Section 2, the Committee may wish to consider the following items:
The Committee is responsible for deciding whether to adopt any Local Rules and for making sure they are consistent with the principles found in Section 8. A Local Rule is a modification of a Rule or an additional Rule that the Committee adopts for general play or a particular competition. The Committee needs to make sure that any Local Rules are available for players to see, whether on the scorecard, a separate handout, a notice board or the course's website.When considering adopting a Local Rule, the Committee should keep in mind the following:
Local Rules have the same status as a Rule of Golf for that competition or course, and
The use of Local Rules should be limited as much as possible and be used only to deal with the types of situations and policies covered in Section 8.
A full list of authorized of Model Local Rules can be found at the start of Section 8.Local Rules that may be adopted for competitions fall into the following general categories:
Defining Course Boundaries and other Areas of the Course (Sections 8A-8D),
The Committee should also take note of Section 8L - Unauthorized Local Rules.Modified Rules of Golf for Players with DisabilitiesA set of Modified Rules is available for players with disabilities. The Modified Rules only apply if adopted by the Committee and they do not automatically apply to every competition involving players with disabilities.It is up to each Committee to decide whether to adopt any of the Modified Rules for players with disabilities who are taking part in a competition.The goal of the Modified Rules is to allow a player with a disability to play fairly with players who have no disabilities, the same disability or different types of disabilities.See the Modified Rules for Players with Disabilities for further information and guidance.
Many courses have specific practice areas, such as a practice range and practice greens for putting, bunker play and chipping. Players are permitted to practise in these areas, whether they are inside or outside the boundaries of the course. It is recommended that practice areas that are located on the course be specified in the Local Rules to clarify whether players may practise on those areas before and after their rounds. The Committee may need to define the edges of these areas to limit where players may practise.The Committee may also change the permissions in relation to when and where practice is allowed as follows:
A Local Rule may allow practice on limited and defined parts of the course, for example where there is no permanent practice ground. But, where this applies, it is recommended that players not be allowed to practise on any putting greens or from any bunkers on the course.
A Local Rule may allow practice on the course in general, for example:
If the competition starts late in the day and the Committee does not want to restrict players from playing the course earlier in the day, or
If there has been a suspension of play and it would be more efficient to allow players to hit a few shots from somewhere on the course as opposed to bringing them back to the practice range.
Rule 5.2 covers when practice is allowed or prohibited before or between rounds in a competition, but the Committee may adopt a Local Rule to modify those provisions (see Model Local Rule I-1).
Rule 5.5 gives the Committee the option to adopt a Local Rule to prohibit practice on or around the putting green of the hole just completed (see Model Local Rule I-2).
The Committee can set its own Pace of Play Policy adopted as a Local Rule (see Rule 5.6b). In practice the nature of such a Policy will be dependent on the number of Committee members available to implement it (see Section 8K).Pace of Play Policies may contain:
A maximum time to complete a round, a hole or series of holes or a stroke.
A definition of when the first group is out of position and when each other group is out of position in relation to the group playing ahead of it.
When and how a group or individual players may be monitored or timed.
If and when players may be warned that they are being timed or have had a bad time.
The penalty structure for breaches of the Policy.
The Committee is responsible for making sure that a competition is played at a prompt pace of play. What is considered a prompt pace can be different based on the course, size of the entry and number of players in each group. To do this:
The Committee should adopt a Local Rule setting a Pace of Play Policy (see Rule 5.6b).
Such a Policy should at least set a maximum time for completing the round or parts of the round.
The Policy should stipulate any penalties for a player’s failure to comply with the Policy.
The Committee should also be aware of other actions that they can take to have a positive impact on pace of play. These include:
Management practices such as reducing group sizes, increasing starting intervals and introducing starter’s gaps.
Considering fundamental changes to course set up such as widening fairways, reducing the thickness or length of rough, or reducing the speed of greens. When changes such as these are made to the course, the Committee should consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction to assess the impact on the issued Course Rating and follow the procedures to make any necessary adjustments.
The Committee may set its own standards of player conduct in a Code of Conduct adopted as a Local Rule (see Rule 1.2b). If the Committee does not set a Code of Conduct, it is restricted in penalizing players for inappropriate conduct to using Rule 1.2a. The only penalty available for an act that is contrary to the spirit of the game under that Rule is disqualification (see Section 5H(4) for more information).
Before starting the round, players should be provided with all the information they need to be able to play the course under the Rules.In stroke play, each player should be given a scorecard and, in net competitions such as Stableford, Maximum Score or Four-Ball, this should include the handicap stroke index allocation as set by the Committee.When the Committee has prepared additional documents, it should make them available to players before the round, and if possible before players arrive at the first tee so that they have a reasonable amount of time to read them. These could include:
Pace of Play Policy.
Code of Conduct.
Depending on the resources available to them, the Committee may choose to make the documents available in a single location for players to read, for example on a notice board or website. Otherwise they may be provided as hand-outs to players before they start their round.When resources allow, the Committee should have a starter at the starting tee to ensure the players have all the information they require and that they start on time.When the time comes for starting the group, the starter should start the first player at the time assigned. If this is not possible due to the location of the group in front (such as when they are delayed by a ball search), the actual time of starting should be noted so that the Committee can use that information when applying a pace of play policy.The Committee should adopt a consistent method for handling situations when players may be late in arriving at their first tee. This may include having Committee members or others attempt to locate the missing players or having a countdown in front of other players who are present so that it is clear to all when the player is late. It is good practice to have a clock set to the official time close to the tee and for all officials to set their watches to the same time.
Where a Pace of Play policy is in place for a competition, it is important the Committee understands and actively enforces the policy to ensure that players adhere to the policy and play proceeds in an orderly manner.For more information and example polices, see Model Local Rule Section 8K.
This section lists authorized Model Local Rules that may be used by a Committee:
These can either be adopted in their entirety or can serve as an example of how to write a particular type of Local Rule.
Local Rules are authorized only if they are consistent with the policies established in this section.
A Committee is encouraged to use the recommended text if it fits the local situation to minimize the number of times a player will find different versions of the same Local Rule at different courses or in different competitions.
The Committee should ensure that the Local Rules are made available to the players whether on the scorecard, through a Notice to Players or in some other way.
Where a shorthand version of the full text of the Model Local Rule is provided, for example on the back of the scorecard, the Committee should ensure that the full text is available, for example on a noticeboard or on a website.
Unless otherwise stated the penalty for a breach of a Local Rule should be the general penalty.
Principles for establishing Local Rules:
Local Rules have the same status as a Rule of Golf for that competition or course.
Committees are encouraged to use Local Rules only to deal with the types of situations and policies covered in this section and in Section 5.
If a Local Rule is introduced because of a temporary situation, it should be removed as soon as the situation no longer requires the use of the Local Rule.
If a Committee changes the wording of a Model Local Rule to fit the particular needs of the course or competition, it needs to ensure that the changes are within the parameters allowed by the Model Local Rule and consistent with the stated purpose.
In order to ensure that play is conducted in accordance with the Rules of Golf, a Committee must not use a Local Rule to waive or modify the Rules of Golf simply because it might prefer a Rule to be different.
As a general principle, when a player is playing a round that is to be posted for handicapping purposes, he or she is required to play it under the Rules of Golf. If the Committee authorizes players to play in ways that differ significantly from the Rules of Golf, the player may not be permitted to post the score for handicap purposes. For allowable exceptions, consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.
If the Committee believes that a Local Rule not covered by these principles may be needed because of local abnormal conditions that interfere with fair play, it should:
Consult RandA.org to check if any additional Model Local Rule is available to cover such a condition, or
Consult The R&A directly.
The Model Local Rules in each category are numbered in order – for example, A-1, A-2, etc.A statement of purpose is given with each Model Local Rule. If a Committee changes the wording of a Model Local Rule to fit the particular needs of the course or competition, it should make sure that such changes are consistent with the stated purpose.These Model Local Rules are organized in the following categories:A. Out of Bounds and Course BoundariesB. Penalty AreasC. BunkersD. Putting GreensE. Special or Required Relief ProceduresF. Abnormal Course Conditions and Integral ObjectsG. Restrictions on Use of Specific EquipmentH. Defining Who May Help or Give Advice to PlayersI. Defining When and Where Players May PractiseJ. Procedures for Bad Weather and Suspensions of PlayK. Pace of Play PoliciesThese Model Local Rules cover those situations or issues that arise often enough to justify having a model form. For all other situations where a Local Rule is allowed but model language is not provided, the Committee should write the Local Rule in clear and simple terms. But the Committee is not authorized to write Local Rules which go against the principles in the Rules of Golf. Section 8L gives more information regarding the use of unauthorized Local Rules.Where a Local Rule is written using the language of the Model Local Rules in this section, the Committee may seek assistance in interpreting the Local Rule from The R&A.
The following Model Local Rules give some examples of how the Committee can choose to address the issue of Pace of Play. The Committee can adopt other Local Rules to suit the resources available to them and so these are not an exhaustive list.Other sample policies are available at RandA.org.
While a Committee has significant authority under the Rules of Golf to adopt Local Rules to fit the particular needs of a course or competition, any Local Rules that it chooses to put in place must be consistent with the policies established in Section 8, Model Local Rules.Rule 1.3c(3) states that the Committee does not have the authority to apply penalties in a different way than stated in the Rules of Golf. Therefore, it is inappropriate for a Committee to write an unauthorized Local Rule that waives a penalty or changes a penalty. For example, a Committee cannot change the penalty for using a non-conforming club from disqualification to the general penalty or change the general penalty for failing to replace a ball which was moved to a single stroke. The Committee must not impose penalties when the Rules do not impose them, for example, penalizing a player who failed to total his or her score on the scorecard in stroke play.In addition, Committees must not write a Local Rule that goes beyond the authorized Local Rules in ways which compromise the basic principles of the Rules of Golf. As examples, allowing players to use preferred lies throughout the general area or giving free relief from divot holes in the fairway compromise the basic principle under Rule 1.1 of playing the ball as it lies.As a general principle, when a player is playing a round that is to be posted for handicapping purposes, he or she is required to play that round under the Rules of Golf. If the Committee authorizes players to play under Local Rules that differ significantly from the Rules of Golf, the player may not be permitted to post the score for handicapping purposes. For allowable exceptions, consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.If the Committee believes that a Local Rule not covered by the policies established in Section 8 may be needed because of local abnormal conditions that interfere with fair play, it should:
Consult RandA.org to check if any additional Model Local Rule is available to cover such a condition or situation, or
The most established forms of match play, stroke play and partner and team play are detailed in Rules 1–24. This section outlines various alternative forms of play. Detailed modifications to Rules 1–24 that are required for these formats are detailed at RandA.org.