Golf Monthly's rules expert, Jezz Ellwood, picks out 10 rules that many golfers are unaware of. 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 it's on your line. So, for example, if you are on the fringe and fancy putting it, but there is a deep pitch mark on your line in the fringe, 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 a pitch mark on your line in the fringe 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 commonly broken rule.
The key here is in relation to the penalty because this is something golfers frequently get wrong.
There is a two-stroke penalty in stroke play, 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 match play, however, there is no penalty and it is entirely up to your opponent as to whether or not they ask you to cancel the stroke and play again. This may depend on how good or otherwise the original shot was!
Related: Rules of Golf - The Teeing Area
3. Provisional ball
Many golfers think that once they hit a provisional ball, then their first act should be to look for the first ball, but that's 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 where you believe your original ball is likely to be.
Once you reach that area, though, you have to then stop playing the provisional. If you play the provisional ball beyond that point it will then become the ball in play.
4. Temporary water
This rule is broken a lot.
When the weather turns nasty and temporary water accumulates on the putting green, you are only entitled to relief on your line of play if your ball is also the green.
If your ball lies off the green, you are not entitled to relief from temporary water on the green and will have to either chip over it or hope for the best playing through it.
5. Playing from a wrong green
The rule here is basically that you are not allowed to play your ball from a wrong green in golf.
A wrong green is defined as any putting green other than the one on the hole you are playing.
Some golf courses do have greens very close to one another but, despite it being convenient and possibly easier to perhaps putt from one green to another, you are not allowed to do it.
There is no problem though if it is a double or shared green.
6. Distance information
Many golfers know they are not allowed to give or receive advice on the golf course relating to what club to hit, what kind of stroke to play and so on.
However, distance information is not considered advice - it is actually considered public information along with other things like where the pin is, what shape the fairway is, where the bunkers are and so on.
So asking for distance information from another player is not breaking the Rules and there is no penalty.
7. Out of bounds
Many golfers simply wander up to where their ball has crossed the out of bounds line and drop a ball there.
While this may be fine in friendly play, there is no such provision to drop back in bounds under the Rules of Golf and you have no option but to play again under stroke and distance, or play the provisional ball you will have hopefully played.
Related: 10 Golf Rules Myths
8. Sand and loose soil
Sand and loose soil can only be moved on the putting green and not elsewhere on the golf course if it would improve the conditions affecting your next stroke.
For example, if you are on the fringe next to a bunker and there is sand on your line on the fringe, do not be tempted to remove it because this is not allowed.
You may always remove any sand on your line on the putting green, though, regardless of whether or not your ball lies on the putting green.
9. Nearest point of complete relief from abnormal course condition
The point here is that you have to take complete relief, with 'complete' being the keyword.
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 your stance off the path.
Abnormal course conditions include ground under repair, temporary water, animal holes and immovable obstructions like cart paths.
10. Unplayable ball relief
The word 'unplayable' may suggest the ball has to be physically unplayable, but it doesn't.
The decision as to whether you wish to take an unplayable lie is entirely down to you as the player.
For more rules content check out the Golf Monthly website.
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A golfer for most of his life, Sam is a Senior Staff Writer for Golf Monthly.
Working with golf gear and equipment over the last six years, Sam has quickly built outstanding knowledge and expertise on golf products ranging from drivers, to balls, to shoes.
He combines this knowledge with a passion for helping golfers get the best gear for them, and as such Sam manages a team of writers that look to deliver the most accurate and informative reviews and buying advice. This is so the reader can find exactly what they are looking for.
Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website, whilst he is also responsible for all content related to golf apparel.
He also oversees all Tour player content as well so if you need to know what clubs Tiger or Rory has in play, Sam is the person to ask.
Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a handicap of five.
Sam's What's In The Bag:
Driver: Titleist TS3 (9 degrees)
Fairway Wood: Callaway Paradym (15 degrees), Nike Covert Tour 2.0 (19 degrees)
Irons (4-PW): Titleist AP2
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 54˚, 58˚
Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5
Ball: Srixon Z-Star Diamond
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