Golf Rules You Should Know

There are many rules of golf out there. The “Rules of Golf” book is around 180 pages long. We have made it simple for you. We broke the most important basic golf rules down to three main categories: general, equipment and area rules. In each category you can find some important rules. This article contains the 18 regulations you should know. But first (if you want) watch the video below:

Table of Contents

General Golf Rules

In this piece of content we start off our list of 18 rules of golf you should know. We have selected five general rules of golf here for you to read. These general rules are important for you to know.

Rule 1. Taking Practice Shots

If you are doing practice shots before you start, then make sure you really don’t hit the golf ball. When you hit the golf ball accidentally it doesn’t count as a stroke. Practice your swing at fresh air, ground or a stone, but try not hit the golf ball when practicing.

Rule 2. Play by the Order

The order of the game is very simple, but important. The player furthest from the hole has to play first. That’s it. And I will recommend you play like that either. This is most common order in golf, but there are people that play “ready golf”. “Ready golf” means that when the player is ready to play, he or she can play. Make sure if you do play “ready golf”: don’t play while someone who is further from the hole is playing.

golf order

Rule 3. Hitting the Ball

When you play golf you want to hit the ball with one strike. Stop scooping the clubhead, because scooping isn’t allowed. The golf ball is not a hockey puck, so don’t push the ball with extended contact. You can only swing at your ball when the ball is standing still. Focus on your own ball and don’t hit another player’s ball. That mistake will cost you a hole.

Rule 4. Talking with Others

For social rounds with partners/friends this regulation doesn’t really apply and talking is not a really big problem. Whitin the golf tournament rules, talking with other players during the play of the hole is a no-go on the course. Don’t ask advice from the other golf players.

golf talking

Don’t have your caddie lined up with you before you take a stroke. They can’t stand behind you and tell you that you’re lined up well or not. Your caddy only can give you advice about how to take the shot, but when you’re about to hit the ball you have to do it yourself.

Don’t give advice to anyone. But if you are in betterball competitions, you can share advice with your partner.

Rule 5. Moving Obstructions

While you’re on the course, you may find your ball in a position with objects around it. Objects like bottles, rakes, cans etc. are immovable obstructions. That means you can move them, but your ball has to stay in the same position as before, don’t move it. Is the immovable obstruction hindering the stand or swing? Then you can pick up the ball, mark the ball’s position and drop it away so the swing is unimpeded at the nearest point.

Equipment Rules

We’ve selected two regulations here for you. These are easy to remember and they are important for your golf game. Equipment is one of the most important things in the sport, so you should know these two regulations.

Rule 6. Maximum Clubs

The maximum amount of golf clubs you can have is 14. Avoid complications and just bring 14 clubs with you instead of having more than that. Which club combination you use can be anything you want to have. If you’re a beginner I strongly recommend you to read “How to Golf: The Beginner Guide” and look for the clubs section in that article.

golf rules equipment

Rule 7. Your Ball

You start and finish the hole you are playing with one ball. During the hole you can’t change your ball, but between holes you can. Did you lose your ball while playing a hole on a golf course? Then you have to use any other ball as the new ball.

Tee Rules

This is the first article section with area rules. We have selected three areas with their rules for you, starting off with the tee area rules. The tee area is the first you have to face when playing a hole. Here are three golf rules for the tee area:

Rule 8. Positioning

There is a line made up by tee markers. Tee the ball up behind this line. You can tee the ball up where you want, if the ball is in between the two tee markers. Tee it as far back as two drivers in length. Never tee in front of the tee markers.

Rule 9. While Shooting

Does the ball fall off the tee? Then it doesn’t count as a stroke. Just put back your ball on the tee. Did you swing at the ball and you missed? You now have one stroke, because that counts. Did the ball fall off the tee by the wind you did produce while swinging? You have a stroke and you have to play the ball from the position it has now.

Rule 10. When to Tee

The player with the lowest score in the previous hole starts off. In order of lowest to highest score until everyone has done their shot. The exception to this order is “ready golf” like mentioned before.

Hazard Rules

Not every course has one or more hazard(s), but when a course has one, there are rules within the hazard area. Here are three hazard regulations for you:

Rule 11. Bunker

The two biggest mistakes you can make in a bunker:

1. Move naturally occuring objects out of the bunker.
2. Grounding your club into the sand behind the ball.

Both of these actions are not allowed to do.

Rule 12. Rake

If the ball lies next to a rake, you are allowed to move the rake from its spot to give you the space you need for your shot. Why? Because the USGA defines the tool as a “movable obstruction”.

Rule 13. Water Hazard

A lateral hazard is marked in red, but a standard water hazard is marked in yellow. If you decide not to play from the hazard, you’ll get a one-shot penalty.

Green Rules

The last three area regulations are for the green. This is the last area category. We have selected the most important rules for the green. Here are the three regulations:

Rule 14. Putting

You can wait 10 seconds to see if your ball goes in the hole, if your putt stops on the edge of the hole. But does it take longer than 10 seconds? Then you can count the drop into the hole as a shot.

Rule 15. Touching

You are allowed to move gravel, stones, leaves etc. on the green. Without delaying the play of the hole, you can make your perfect putting line with a spike mark etc. Don’t test the surface of the green bij touching, scraping or rubbing it with your hands or with the club.

To mark your ball on the green: try a small coin. Sometimes other golf players can ask you to move your marker because it’s in their way. You can move the marker by placing the heel of the putter next to the marker and move it to the toe of the putter. Replace the marker before you play.

golf rules green

Rule 16. Flag

If no one is touching the flag, there is no problem for hitting the pin when you’re off the green. You can put and leave the flag, that’s no problem since January 2019. You would not get a stroke penalty for leaving the flag anymore.

Extra Ball Rules

There are some extra ball regulations in golf that we have selected here for you to know. I recommend you to know them. Here they are:

Rule 17. Ball Drops

Here is what USGA said about ball dropping: “When taking relief, whether with penalty or without, you must drop a ball. The ball must be dropped straight down from knee height, must be dropped by you (or your partner), must first strike the ground within your relief area, and must remain within that relief. Your caddie is not allowed to drop your ball”.

You will get a free drop (no penalty) when dropping away from:
Water that is not marked as a hazard.
– Areas where the ground is under repair.
– Burrowing animal holes.
– The wrong putting green (one club length).

Rule 18. Marking the Ball

There comes a time when a ball from someone else is in your way or it’s interfering with your swing. Ask the other player to mark and lift the ball. Also do this to other players if your ball is hindering them.


This is the moment you can say: I know the 18 rules I should know for playing golf. These are the most important rules of golf in our opinion, but there are more to discover. Discover these regulations on trustful sources, like official golf sites or your golf teacher. Stay away from a stroke penalty!


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