7 Most Important Golf Rules

These 7 most important golf rules will come up in nearly every round you play so you need to know them...

(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

These 7 most important golf rules will come up in nearly every round you play so you need to know them...

7 Most Important Golf Rules

Below we pick out 7 Rules all golfers need to know.

These are the basic rules that will help you get around the golf course stress-and-penalty-free.

WATCH: 7 Most Important Golf Rules -

7) Clubs

The maximum number of clubs you can carry is 14, with the penalties for going over that number harsh, so be careful an extra wedge or putter you've been practising with doesn't slip in.

The penalty for carrying more than 14 clubs is two strokes per hole with a maximum penalty of four strokes.

You can pretty much carry whatever make-up of clubs you like, left-handed/right-handed, two drivers, two putters etc. just make sure your clubs are conforming, ie some older drivers are now illegal.

Related: Rules of Golf - Equipment Rules

6) Teeing area

Don't tee off in front of the markers

The teeing area is the front and side extremes of the tee markers and two club-lengths back.

You can stand anywhere on the tee as long as the ball is within the teeing area.

Related: Rules of Golf - The Teeing Area

5) Search time

Search time has been reduced from five minutes to three since 2019.

You only have three minutes to search for golf balls

That three minutes starts when you or your caddie gets to the search area where the ball is believed to be.

If a playing partner is searching for the ball before you that doesn't matter, call it 'bonus time' if you will, the three minutes only relates to you being there.

4) Dropping procedure

You can declare an unplayable lie from anywhere inside the general area.

Taking a drop? You have three options

The first option you have is to go back to where you originally played the shot from via stroke and distance, so if your tee shot found an unplayable lie you could go back and play three off the tee.

The second option is to drop two club lengths from where the ball is, no nearer to the hole.

The third option is to drop back in line with the ball and flag, as far back as you like.

Once you've found the point where you wish to drop, you can then drop anywhere (no closer to the hole) within a club length arc from the side to the back.

3) Play it as it lies

You don't get relief from bare lies

You must play the ball as it lies even if you have found a bare lie or a divot.

You can only get a free drop from things like pathways (if a local Rule), drains, other greens and areas specifically marked as Ground Under Repair.

2) Impediments and obstructions

If your stance is impeded you can take a drop

Things like drainage covers allow for free drops when your ball is on one, your stance is impeded by one or the line of your swing is affected.

If your ball is surrounded by loose impediments, you can move all of them (things like tree branches, twigs, leaves etc.) but the key is if you think moving one will move your ball, it cannot be moved.

1) Lost ball

If you think you may have lost your ball, the first thing you should do is play a provisional.

You can't just play another one, you have to use the word provisional when stating that you are playing one.

If you don't declare it a provisional, that ball is now in play as your three off the tee even if you find your first one.

If you haven't played a provisional but lose your original tee shot, you have to walk back to the tee and play another.

Related: Golf Rules - Lost Ball

For more rules content check the Golf Monthly website.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5