10 Rules Golfers Still Get Wrong

Golf Monthly’s rules expert Jezz Ellwood picks 10 rules that many golfers don’t know exist. In competition, some of these could lead to penalty shots or even disqualification.

In some cases, these rules are there to help you so they are well worth knowing. So if you are planning to play any competitive golf in the hope of getting your handicap down, take a look at the 10 rules golfers still get wrong to make sure simple mistakes don’t end up costing you!

10 Rules Golfers Still Get Wrong

1. Repairing ball marks

You can repair ball marks on the green at any time but you cannot repair a ball mark on the fringe if its on your line. So for example if you are on the fringe, fancied putting it, but there is a deep pitch mark on your line, then you cannot repair that.

You can repair them if they are not on your line and not interfering with your line of play though.

The only instance where you could repair it would be if that ball mark was created after your ball had come to rest. For example if somebody hits a shot and leaves a pitch mark after your ball has come to rest, then you can repair that. That scenario is rather rare however.

2. Playing from outside teeing area

A very common broken rule, the key here is in relation to the penalty because this is something golfers frequently get wrong.

There is a penalty in stroke-play which is a two-shot penalty, and you must correct the error before you tee off on the next hole. If you do not do that then you get disqualified.

In matchplay it is entirely up to your opponent as to whether they get you to play the shot again.

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3. Provisional Balls

Many golfers think that once they hit a provisional, then their first act would be to look for the first ball but thats not necessarily the case.

If for example you top the provisional ball 20-yards or so, you can continue to play that ball until you get to the area of where your first shot could be.

Once you get to the area of your first shot, you then have to stop playing the provisional otherwise that will become the ball in play.

4. Standing water

This rule is broken a lot. When the weather turns nasty and there is standing water on the green, you are only entitled to relief if your ball is on the green too.

If your ball is off the green, you are not entitled to relief.

5. Playing from a different green

The rule here is basically that you are not allowed to play your ball from a wrong green in golf, and a wrong green is defined as any other green than the one of the hole you are playing at the time.

Of course some golf courses have greens very close to one another and despite it being convenient and possibly easier to play from one green to another, you are not allowed to do it.

Also if it is a double green then that is no problem at all.

6. Distance information

When gathering information in regards to distance there are some things you can and cannot do.

A lot of golfers know they are not allowed to give or receive advice on the golf course in terms of helping you on what club to hit, what kind of stroke to play and so on.

However distance information is not considered advice, it is actually considered as public information with other things like where the pin is, what shape the fairway is, where bunkers are and so on. Therefore if you were giving or receiving information in relation to these things, you would not be penalised.

7. Out of Bounds

In a lot of cases, many golfers simply wander up to where their ball has crossed the out of bounds line, and simply dropped a ball there. But this is not allowed because you are not allowed to drop back in from out of bounds.

Regardless of how much more convenient and simple it is, it is not allowed.

8. Sand and loose soil

Sand and loose soil can only be moved on the putting green, not elsewhere on the golf course if it would improve the conditions of your next stroke.

For example if you are on the fringe next to a bunker and there is plenty of sand in front of you, do not be tempted to remove it because this is not allowed.

9. Nearest complete relief from abnormal course condition

The point here is that you have to take complete relief, with ‘complete’ being the keyword there. You cannot take relief off a cart path and drop it on a nice lush bit of grass if your feet are still on the path. That would not be complete relief as you have to have the ball and the stance off the path for example.

An abnormal course condition would be GUR, temporary water, animal holes and immovable obstructions like cart paths.

10. Unplayable ball relief

The word unplayable suggests the ball has to be completely unplayable but it doesn’t.

How the rule is defined, unplayable is entirely up to you. The decision as to whether something is unplayable is entirely up to the player.


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