5 Golf Rules You NEED To Know


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Jeremy Ellwood explains the 5 Rules of Golf you need to know, including those around a provisional ball, unplayable lie and what you can and can’t do in bunkers.

Related: New golf rules 2019 – all you need to know

Here are the 5 golf rules you NEED to know…

1. The Scorecard

A few things on the scorecard – firstly, you don’t record your own score. The marker records your score and at the end, if the marker makes a mistake and you don’t spot it before you sign – tough luck.

If you sign for a score lower than what you took, you will be disqualified.

All you have to do on a scorecard is write the gross score on each hole. You don’t have to add up stableford points or anything like that, ALL you have to do is record and sign for the correct gross scores per hole.

You must get your scorecard posted in good time. That doesn’t mean after a few beers in the clubhouse, that is against the rules.

Why you SHOULD mark your golf ball

2. Unplayable ball

You, as the player, are the sole judge as to whether your ball is unplayable. You could, if you wanted, declare your ball unplayable from the middle of the fairway but obviously you don’t want to do that.

If it’s unplayable you have three options. Firstly, you can go back to where you played from under penalty of one stroke. The second option is to drop within two club lengths from your ball but no nearer to the hole. Your third option is to drop the ball back as far as you like as long as you drop in line with your original ball position and the flag.

3. Provisional

The idea is that if you hit your ball somewhere you may not find it, as long as it’s not in a water hazard, you can hit a provisional to save you from walking back. You HAVE to make it clear that you are playing a provisional ball before you hit – you can say, “I’m going to hit another just in case” but our advice would be to use the words ‘provisional ball’ to avoid any potentially damaging confusion. If you find your original ball then your provisional ball is immediately out of play. You cannot play your provisional if you find your original ball. The point of a provisional is to save time. If you’re in any doubt, hit a provisional and remember to declare it.

4. Definitions – Nearest point of complete relief

The nearest point of complete relief doesn’t mean ‘nicest’ point of relief. Sometimes the nearest point of relief may be in a bush so it is better playing your ball from where it lies like a cart path. If you are taking a drop away from an immovable obstruction or abnormal course condition, you have to take complete relief. That means you can drop the ball in a position where you are still standing on the thing you are taking relief from.

5. Various bunker rules

Some key things you can and can’t do in bunkers:

Obviously you cannot ground your club in the sand, the only time you can hit the sand is at impact. If you do ground your club then you will be penalised. If the ball is unplayable you have a few dropping options – all will cost you penalty shots – here is everything you need when faced with an unplayable ball in a bunker.

The rules of golf can, at times, seem complicated and intimidating. Hopefully, this piece illustrates what to do in these common scenarios.