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5
Playing the Round
Purpose: Rule 5 covers how to play a round – such as where and when a player may practise on the course before or during a round, when a round starts and ends and what happens when play has to stop or resume. Players are expected to:
  • Start each round on time, and
  • Play continuously and at a prompt pace during each hole until the round is completed.
When it is a player’s turn to play, it is recommended that he or she make the stroke in no more than 40 seconds, and usually more quickly than that.
5
Playing the Round
5.1

Meaning of Round

A “round” is 18 or fewer holes played in the order set by the Committee. When a round ends in a tie and play will go on until there is a winner:
  • Tied Match Extended One Hole at a Time. This is the continuation of the same round, not a new round.
  • Play-off in Stroke Play. This is a new round.
A player is playing his or her round from when it starts until it ends (see Rule 5.3), except while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a. When a Rule refers to actions taken “during a round,” that does not include while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a unless the Rule says otherwise.
5.2

Practising on Course Before or Between Rounds

For purposes of this Rule:
  • “Practising on the course” means playing a ball, or testing the surface of the putting green of any hole by rolling a ball or rubbing the surface, and
  • The limitations on practise on the course before or between rounds apply only to the player, not to the player’s caddie.
a

Match Play

A player may practise on the course before a round or between rounds of a match-play competition.
b

Stroke Play

On the day of a stroke-play competition:
  • A player must not practise on the course before a roundexcept that the player may practise putting or chipping on or near his or her first teeing area and practise on any practice area.
  • A player may practise on the course after completing play of his or her final round for that day.
See Committee Procedures, Section 8Model Local Rule I-1 (in either form of play, the  Committee  may adopt a Local Rule prohibiting, restricting or allowing practice on the course  before or between rounds). Penalty for Breach of Rule 5.2:
  • Penalty for first breach: General Penalty (applied to the player’s first hole).
  • Penalty for second breach: Disqualification.
[Clarification available:  First Breach Happens When First Stroke Made]
5.3

Starting and Ending Round

a

When to Start Round

A player’s round starts when the player makes a stroke to start his or her first hole (see Rule 6.1a). The player must start at (and not before) his or her starting time:
  • This means that the player must be ready to play at the starting time and starting point set by the Committee.
  • A starting time set by the Committee is treated as an exact time (for example, 9 am means 9:00:00 am, not any time until 9:01 am).
If the starting time is delayed for any reason (such as weather, slow play of other groups or the need for a ruling by a referee), there is no breach of this Rule if the player is present and ready to play when the player’s group is able to start. Penalty for Breach of Rule 5.3a: Disqualification, except in these three cases:
  • Exception 1 – Player Arrives at Starting Point, Ready to Play, No More Than Five Minutes Late: The player gets the general penalty applied to his or her first hole.
  • Exception 2 – Player Starts No More Than Five Minutes Early: The player gets the general penalty applied to his or her first hole.
  • Exception 3 – Committee Decides that Exceptional Circumstances Prevented Player from Starting on Time: There is no breach of this Rule and no penalty.
b

When Round Ends

A player’s round ends:
  • In match play, when the result of the match is decided under Rule 3.2a(3) or (4).
  • In stroke play, when the player holes out at the final hole (including correction of a mistake, such as under Rule 6.1 or 14.7b).
See Rules 21.1e, 21.2e, 21.3e and 23.3b (when a round starts and ends in other forms of stroke play and in Four-Ball).
5.4

Playing in Groups

a

Match Play

During a round, the player and opponent must play each hole in the same group.
b

Stroke Play

During a round, the player must remain in the group set by the Committee, unless the Committee approves a change either before or after it happens. Penalty for Breach of Rule 5.4: Disqualification.
5.5

Practising During Round or While Play Is Stopped

a

No Practice Strokes While Playing Hole

While playing a hole, a player must not make a practice stroke at any ball on or off the course. These are not practice strokes:
  • A practice swing made with no intent to strike a ball.
  • Hitting a ball back to a practice area or to another player, when done solely as a courtesy.
  • Strokes made by a player in playing out a hole whose result has been decided.
b

Restriction on Practice Strokes Between Two Holes

Between two holes, a player must not make a practice stroke. Exception – Where Player Allowed to Practise Putting or Chipping: The player may practise putting or chipping on or near:
  • The putting green of the hole just completed and any practice green (see Rule 13.1e), and
  • The teeing area of the next hole.
But such practice strokes must not be made from a bunker and must not unreasonably delay play (see Rule 5.6a). See Committee Procedures, Section 8; Model Local Rule I-2 (the Committee may adopt a Local Rule prohibiting practice putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole just completed).
c

Practice While Play Is Suspended or Otherwise Stopped

While play is suspended or otherwise stopped under Rule 5.7a, a player must not make a practice stroke except:
  • As allowed in Rule 5.5b,
  • Anywhere outside the course, and
  • Anywhere on the course the Committee allows.
If a match is stopped by agreement of the players and will not be resumed on the same day, the players may practise on the course without restriction before the match is resumed. Penalty for Breach of Rule 5.5:General Penalty. If the breach happens between two holes, the penalty applies to the next hole.
5.6

Unreasonable Delay; Prompt Pace of Play

a

Unreasonable Delay of Play

A player must not unreasonably delay play, either when playing a hole or between two holes. A player may be allowed a short delay for certain reasons, such as:
  • When the player seeks help from a referee or the Committee,
  • When the player becomes injured or ill, or
  • When there is another good reason.
Penalty for Breach of Rule 5.6a:
  • Penalty for first breach: One penalty stroke.
  • Penalty for second breach: General Penalty.
  • Penalty for third breach: Disqualification.
If the player unreasonably delays play between two holes, the penalty applies to the next hole.
b

Prompt Pace of Play

A round of golf is meant to be played at a prompt pace. Each player should recognize that his or her pace of play is likely to affect how long it will take other players to play their rounds, including both those in the player’s own group and those in following groups. Players are encouraged to allow faster groups to play through. (1) Pace of Play Recommendations. The player should play at a prompt pace throughout the round, including the time taken to:
  • Prepare for and make each stroke,
  • Move from one place to another between strokes, and
  • Move to the next teeing area after completing a hole.
A player should prepare in advance for the next stroke and be ready to play when it is his or her turn. When it is the player’s turn to play:
  • It is recommended that the player make the stroke in no more than 40 seconds after he or she is (or should be) able to play without interference or distraction, and
  • The player should usually be able to play more quickly than that and is encouraged to do so.
(2) Playing Out of Turn to Help Pace of Play. Depending on the form of play, there are times when players may play out of turn to help the pace of play:
  • In match play, the players may agree that one of them will play out of turn to save time (see Rule 6.4a).
  • In stroke play, players may play “ready golf” in a safe and responsible way (see Rule 6.4b Exception).
(3) Committee Pace of Play Policy. To encourage and enforce prompt play, the Committee should adopt a Local Rule setting a Pace of Play Policy. This Policy may set a maximum time to complete a round, a hole or series of holes and a stroke, and it may set penalties for not following the Policy.
See Committee Procedures, Section 5G (recommendations on contents of Pace of Play Policy).
5.7

Stopping Play; Resuming Play

a

When Players May or Must Stop Play

During a round, a player must not stop play except in these cases:
  • Suspension by Committee. All players must stop play if the Committee suspends play (see Rule 5.7b).
  • Stopping Play by Agreement in Match Play. Players in a match may agree to stop play for any reason, except if doing so delays the competition. If they agree to stop play and then one player wants to resume play, the agreement has ended and the other player must resume play.
  • Individual Player Stopping Play Because of Lightning. A player may stop play if he or she reasonably believes there is danger from lightning, but must report to the Committee as soon as possible.
Leaving the course is not, by itself, stopping play. A player’s delay of play is covered by Rule 5.6a, not by this Rule. If a player stops play for any reason not allowed under this Rule or fails to report to the Committee when required to do so, the player is disqualified.
b

What Players Must Do When Committee Suspends Play

There are two types of Committee suspensions of play, each with different requirements for when players must stop play. (1) Immediate Suspension (Such as When There Is Imminent Danger). If the Committee declares an immediate suspension of play, all players must stop play at once and must not make another stroke until the Committee resumes play. The Committee should use a distinct method of telling players about an immediate suspension. (2) Normal Suspension (Such as for Darkness or Unplayable Course). If the Committee suspends play for normal reasons, what happens next depends on where each playing group is:
  • Between Two Holes. If all players in the group are between two holes, they must stop play and must not make a stroke to begin another hole until the Committee resumes play.
  • While Playing Hole. If any player in the group has started a hole, the players may choose either to stop play or to play out the hole.
    • The players are allowed a brief amount of time (which normally should be no more than two minutes) to decide whether to stop play or play out the hole.
    • If the players continue play of the hole, they may go on to complete the hole or may stop before completing the hole.
    • Once the players complete the hole or stop before completing the hole, they must not make another stroke until the Committee resumes play under Rule 5.7c.
If the players do not agree on what to do:
    • Match Play. If the opponent stops play, the player must also stop play and both players must not play again until the Committee resumes play. If the player does not stop play, the player gets the general penalty (loss of hole).
    • Stroke Play. Any player in the group may choose to stop play or go on to continue the hole, no matter what the others in the group decide to do, except that the player may continue play only if, the player’s marker stays to keep the player’s score.
Penalty for Breach of Rule 5.7b: Disqualification. Exception – No Penalty If Committee Decides That Failure to Stop Was Justified: There is no breach of this Rule and no penalty if the Committee decides that circumstances justified the player’s failure to stop play when required to do so. See Committee Procedures, Section 8Model Local Rule J-1 (recommended ways for Committee to indicate immediate and normal suspensions to players).
c

What Players Must Do When Play Resumes

(1) Where to Resume Play. A player must resume play from where he or she stopped play on a hole or, if between two holes, at the next teeing area, even if play is resumed on a later day. (2) When to Resume Play. The player must be present at the location identified in (1) and ready to play:
  • At the time set by the Committee for play to resume, and
  • The player must resume play at (and not before) that time.
If the ability to resume play is delayed for any reason (such as when players in the group ahead need to play first and move out of the way), there is no breach of this Rule if the player is present and ready to play when the player’s group is able to resume play. Penalty for Breach of Rule 5.7c: Disqualification. Exceptions to Disqualification for Failure to Resume on Time: Exceptions 1, 2 and 3 in Rule 5.3a and the Exception to Rule 5.7b apply here as well.
d

Lifting Ball When Play Stops; Replacing and Substituting Ball When Play Resumes

(1) Lifting Ball When Play Stops or Before Play Resumes. When stopping play of a hole under this Rule, the player may mark the spot of his or her ball and lift the ball (see Rule 14.1). Either before or when play is resumed:
  • When Player’s Ball Was Lifted When Play Stopped. The player must replace the original ball or another ball on the original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).
  • When Player’s Ball Was Not Lifted When Play Stopped. The player may play the ball as it lies, or may mark the spot of the ball, lift the ball (see Rule 14.1) and replace that ball or another ball on the original spot (see Rule 14.2).
In either case:
  • If the lie of the ball is altered as a result of lifting the ball, the player must replace that ball or another ball as required under Rule 14.2d.
  • If the lie of the ball is altered after the ball was lifted and before a ball is replaced, Rule 14.2d does not apply:
    • The original ball or another ball must be replaced on the original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).
    • If the lie or other conditions affecting the stroke were worsened during this time, Rule 8.1d applies.
(2) What to Do If Ball or Ball-Marker Is Moved While Play Stopped. If the player’s ball or ball-marker is moved in any way before play resumes (including by natural forces), the player must either:
  • Replace the original ball or another ball on the original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2), or
  • Place a ball-marker to mark that original spot, and then replace the original ball or another ball on that spot (see Rules 14.1 and 14.2).
If the player’s conditions affecting the stroke were worsened while play was stopped, see Rule 8.1d. Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 5.7d: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a. If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).
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