5 Golf Rules Mistakes To Avoid

Jeremy Ellwood and Neil Tappin discuss 5 golf Rules mistakes to avoid, homing in on the simple but costly errors that golfers sometimes make..

5 golf Rules mistakes to avoid
Photo: Kenny Smith
(Image credit: Kenny Smith 07809 450119)

Jeremy Ellwood and Neil Tappin discuss 5 golf Rules mistakes to avoid, homing in on the simple but costly errors that golfers sometimes make..

5 Golf Rules Mistakes to Avoid

Golf is a hard enough game without making unnecessary Rules mistakes that can cost you dearly.

In this video and article, Jeremy Ellwood and Neil Tappin highlight 5 golf Rules mistakes that crop up quite often. Any one of them can cost you big-time, perhaps even leading to disqualification.

Related video: 8 Stupid Ways To Get Disqualified

1 Rangefinder slope functionality

Many rangefinders now offer what is known as slope functionality to factor in elevation changes. This is great for providing you with slope-adjusted yardages to assist with club selection.

All well and good in practice or friendly games with your mates. But getting measured information about elevation changes is one of the things expressly forbidden under Rule 4.3a.

Thankfully, most rangefinders do allow you to turn the slope functionality off. This means they can still be competition-legal when required.

5 golf Rules mistakes to avoid

Make sure any slope functionality is turned off on your rangefinder (Photo: Dan Gould)

What happens if you forget and leave it on? Well, it will cost you two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play for the first breach. And if you do it a second time in the same round, you will be disqualified.

So take an extra moment to make sure slope functionality is turned off before starting a competition round.

2 Striking ball on putting green with stroke played from putting green

Take extra care in stroke play when you are playing from the putting green and there is a possibility you could strike another ball at rest on the putting green.

This might be because someone is raking a bunker and hasn't yet got there to mark their ball.

5 golf Rules mistakes to avoid

Best to ask for any ball potentially in play on the putting green to be marked to avoid the risk of penalty in stroke play (Photo: Kenny Smith)
(Image credit: Kenny Smith)

If you're playing from the putting green and your ball strikes this other ball, you will incur a two-stroke penalty in stroke play under an Exception to Rule 11.1a.

Your ball is then played as it lies. The ball that was moved is replaced where it was originally lying.

Interestingly, in match play, there is no penalty for the same scenario. Again, the moved ball must be replaced.

Related video: 10 Rules Golfers Still Get Wrong

3 Playing a wrong ball

Spotting the right make of ball where you think yours should be can sometimes lead to complacency about checking thoroughly that it is definitely yours, perhaps through a sense of relief at finding it.

But take care. If you play a wrong ball, it will cost you the general penalty, so two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

5 golf Rules mistakes to avoid

Always make doubly sure it's your ball before playing it to avoid penalty (Photo: Kenny Smith)
(Image credit: Kenny Smith)

And in stroke play, you must also go back and correct the error by playing the correct ball.

You must do this before playing your tee shot on your next hole, or before handing in your card if it was your final hole. If you don't correct the error in time, the penalty escalates to disqualification.

4 Causing your ball to move

From emails we receive, some golfers do now believe that there is no penalty if you accidentally move your ball anywhere on the course.

Yes, you won’t be penalised if you move your ball accidentally on the putting green or when searching for it. Nor will you if you nudge it off a tee peg in the teeing area because it is not yet in play on that hole.

5 golf Rules mistakes to avoid

If you move your ball on a practice swing in the general area, you will be penalised (Photo: Kenny Smith)
(Image credit: Kenny Smith 07809 450119)

But in most other circumstances, you will be penalised one stroke under Rule 9.4b for moving your own ball when it is in play in the general area, a bunker or a penalty area, even accidentally.

You must also remember to replace the ball on its original spot before continuing.

5 Signing your scorecard

When it comes to the scorecard, your responsibilities as a player under Rule 3.3b are quite limited. But the repercussions of any mistakes can still be significant.

Here, we are stressing the need to ensure that you have signed your card before returning it.

It can be all to easy to overlook this, especially if the last hole has gone badly and you're not quite thinking straight, or someone distracts you at the wrong moment.

5 golf Rules mistakes to avoid

Make sure you've signed your scorecard before handing it in (Photo: Kenny Smith)
(Image credit: Kenny Smith)

Sadly, if you do return a scorecard without your signature (or your marker's signature) on it, you will be disqualified.

Beyond that, it's a matter of making sure the gross scores for each individual hole are correct and that your handicap is correct in a handicap competition. But you are not responsible for the maths or working out the points in a Stableford.

Forgetting to sign the scorecard is almost certainly the most common cause of disqualification.

With a little extra concentration and awareness at the right time, you shouldn't fall foul of our 5 golf Rules mistakes to avoid.









Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response