Golf Rules and Etiquettes

Rules of Golf Changes 2012-2015

On October 24th, 2011, following an exhaustive, four-year review of golf's 34 playing Rules, The R&A and the USGA announced that nine principal Rules have been amended to improve clarity and ensure penalties are proportionate. The principal changes are outlined in this section, with supporting decisions to help explain how the Rules changes will be applied in various situations.

Addressing the Ball

Definition Change

The Definition is amended so that a player has addressed the ball simply by grounding his club immediately in front of or behind the ball, regardless of whether or not he has taken his stance. Therefore, the Rules generally no longer provide for a player addressing the ball in a hazard. (See also related change to Rule 18-2b).

  • E.g. D13-4/7 & D13-4/12 (Revised). These and other decisions under R13-4 have been re-worded, replacing the words 'when addressing the ball' with 'prior to making the stroke' or 'in preparing to make the stroke'.
  • E.g. D18-2b/2 - Ball Addressed in Hazard (New).
  • As a result of the definition change, generally the player cannot address his ball in a hazard without incurring the general penalty under R13-4.
  • E.g. D 18-2b/3 - Ball Moves After Player Has Taken Stance in Bunker (Revised).

If a player's approach to the ball or the act of taking his stance causes his ball to move, the player incurs a penalty stroke under R18-2a and the ball must be replaced. Otherwise no penalty is incurred.

Rule 1-2

Exerting Influence on Movement of Ball or Altering Physical Conditions

The Rule is amended to establish more clearly that, if a player intentionally takes an action to influence the movement of a ball or to alter physical conditions affecting the playing of a hole in a way that is not permitted by the Rules, R1-2 applies only when the action is not already covered in another Rule. For example, a player improving the lie of his ball is in breach of R13-2 and therefore that Rule would apply, whereas a player intentionally improving the lie of a fellow-competitor's ball is not a situation covered by R13-2 and, therefore, is governed by R 1-2.

  • E.g. D1-2/0.7 - Meaning of "Sole Purpose of Caring for the Course" (New). The provisions of R1-2 do not prevent a player from taking acts that conform with the Etiquette Section, provided it is done for the sole purpose of caring for the course and without intentionally influencing the movement of a ball or the physical conditions affecting play of a player in the player's group or match. E.g. a player may generally smooth the ragged edge of a hole or tap down spike marks as a courtesy to other players in following groups or matches, or for care of the course but not if this is done to in order to influence the movement of a ball of an opponent, fellow competitor or partner or to alter physical conditions with the intent of affecting the playing of the hole.
  • E.g. D16-1a/10 - Loose Impediments Brushed Along Line of Putt Rather Than To Side (Revised). The casual act of moving a putter along the line of putt would not be a breach of the Rules unless in the process the player improved his line of putt (e.g. pressed down a raised tuft of grass) in which case he would be in breach of R13-2.
  • E.g. D1-2/9 - Player presses ball into surface of putting green (Re-numbered from D18-2a/6). By firmly pressing the ball into the surface of the putting green, the surface on the green was altered and R1-2 was breached by intentionally taking action to influence the movement of a ball in play and to alter physical conditions that affect the playing of the hole. Loss of hole in match play, two stroke penalty in stroke play and ball must be played as it lies.
  • E.g. D1-2/3 - Breaking bush in area into which ball may roll after drop (New). A player breaks off and removes part of a bush outside the dropping area but near to where his dropped ball may roll. R13-2 does not apply as he has not improved the area in which a ball is to be dropped, however he is in breach of R1-2 for taking an action with the intent to affect the playing of the hole by altering the physical conditions.

Rule 6-3a

Time of Starting

Rule 6-3a is amended to provide that the penalty for starting late, but within five minutes of the starting time, is reduced from disqualification to loss of the first hole in match play or two strokes at the first hole in stroke play. Previously this penalty reduction could be introduced as a condition of competition.

  • E.g. D6-3a/5 - Players start early (New). In stroke play, A, B and C were scheduled to start at 9:00am. Player A started at 8:58am, B started at 8:59am and C at 9:00am. Generally, A and B are subject to a penalty of DQ for failing to start at the scheduled time. However, in view of the fact that starting within five minutes after the time of starting results in a penalty of two strokes in stroke play under R6-3a, the penalty for starting early, but within five minutes of the starting time, should be the same.

Rule 12-1

Seeing Ball; Searching for Ball

Rule 12-1 is reformatted for clarity. In addition, it is amended to (i) permit a player to search for his ball anywhere on the course when it may be covered by sand and to clarify that there is no penalty if the ball is moved in these circumstances, and (ii) apply a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a if a player moves his ball in a hazard when searching for it when it is believed to be covered by loose impediments. This change means that the same Rules apply wherever a player is on the course when searching for a ball.

  • E.g. D13-4/16 - Removal of Loose Impediment in Water Hazard Covering Wrong Ball(Revised). Under R12-1b, the player is permitted to touch or remove loose impediments in a hazard in order to find or identify his ball that is believed to be covered by loose impediments, even if the identified ball proves not to be the player's ball. No penalty is incurred in this instance.

Rule 13-4

Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions

Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 is amended to permit a player to smooth sand or soil in a hazard at any time, including before playing from that hazard, provided it is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and Rule 13-2 is not breached.

  • E.g. D13-4/9 - Player creates and smooths footprints in bunker prior to making stroke (New). Player's ball lies in a bunker and a rake is lying in another part of the bunker. The player retrieves the rake and rakes the footprints he has just created and some others in the process. There is no penalty provided the smoothing was done for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing was done to breach Rule 13-2 in relation to the player's next stroke. If the player regularly smooths his footprints close to his ball prior to making his stroke, the smoothing might be for the purpose of gaining knowledge of the condition of the bunker rather than for the sole purpose of caring for the course (breach of Rule 13-4a).
  • E.g. D13-4/11 - Smoothing footprints made in search for ball in bunker before playing stroke from bunker (Revised). Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 allows a player to smooth footprints prior to making a stroke provided it is done for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to improve the area covered by Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. Any footprints made that have worsened any area covered by Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke must not be smoothed.
  • E.g. D13-4/19 - Condition of bunker altered by first player to play from it (Revised). Player B plays his ball from a bunker and comes to rest nearer the hole than A's ball. A is then entitled to restore the bunker to its original condition under Exception 2 of R13-4 and under equity (R1-4), by raking or other means even if this involves an area covered by R13-2 with respect to his next stroke.
  • E.g. D13-2/29 - Worsening and then Restoring Line of Play (Revised). If a bunker lies between a player's ball and the hole and the player walks through the bunker (e.g. to remove a rake on his line of play or to determine the distance to the hole) he may not smooth the sand or soil in the hazard if it would breach R13-2 with respect to his next stroke, despite the exception to R13-4 which permits the player to smooth sand or soil in a hazard for the sole purpose of caring for the course.

Rule 18-2b

Ball Moving After Address

A new Exception is added that exonerates the player from penalty if his ball moves after it has been addressed when it is known or virtually certain that he did not cause the ball to move. For example, if it is a gust of wind that moves the ball after it has been addressed, there is no penalty and the ball is played from its new position.

  • E.g. 18-2b/4 - Ball Moves After Player Grounds Club Short Distance Behind Ball But Before Grounding Club Immediately Behind Ball (Revised). A player has not addressed the ball until he has placed the club head immediately in front of or behind the ball. It is a question of fact to be resolved whether the player caused the ball at rest to move. If he did in this instance he would incur a one stroke penalty under R18-2a and must replace his ball, otherwise the ball must be played from its new position without penalty (unless another Rule applies).
  • E.g. 18-2b/5 - Ball Moves When Club Rested on Grass Immediately Behind Ball (New). A club is considered grounded if the grass has been compressed to the point where it would support the weight of the club. If the ball moves, the player incurs a one stroke penalty and must replace his ball unless it is known or virtually certain that some other agency (e.g. a dog or wind) caused the ball to move.
  • E.g. 18-2b/7 -Ball Moves After Player Addresses It and Then Steps Away (Revised). A player addresses his ball, and realising it might move he steps away from the ball and starts again. This time he does not address the ball, but before he strikes the ball, it moves. The player will incur a penalty stroke under R18-2b and the ball must be replaced unless it is known or virtually certain that something else (e.g. wind) caused the ball to move.

Rule 19-1

Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped; By Outside Agency

The note is expanded to prescribe the various outcomes when a ball in motion has been deliberately deflected or stopped by an outside agency.

  • E.g. 19-1/5 - Ball Deliberately Deflected or Stopped on Putting Green by Fellow-Competitor (Revised). Under R19-1, if Player B deliberately deflects Player A's ball as it rolled towards the hole, A must replay his stroke without penalty. Under R1-2, Player B should be DQ'd as the act of deliberately deflecting his fellow competitor's ball placed A at a significant disadvantage.

Rule 20-7c

Playing from Wrong Place; Stroke Play

Note 3 is amended so that if a player is to be penalized for playing from a wrong place, in most cases the penalty will be limited to two strokes, even if another Rule has been breached prior to his making the stroke.

Appendix IV

A new Appendix is added to prescribe general regulations for the design of devices and other equipment, such as tees, gloves and distance measuring devices.

  • Appendix IV should be read in conjunction with Rule 11-1 (Teeing) and Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment).
    E.g. Tees (R11), Gloves (R14-3), Shoes (R14-3), Clothing (R14-3), Distance Measuring Devices (R14-3)


  1. OUT OF BOUNDS (Rule 27-­â€1)
    Beyond estate wall on Holes # 4, 6, 14 & 16
  2. WATER HAZARDS (Rule 26)
    Those parts of the course marked by YELLOW STAKES are water hazards.
    Relief from interference by an immovable obstruction may be obtained under

    Rule 24-2.
    All structures, sprinkler heads, drainage covers, yardage markers Including Old tunnel on Holes 1, 3, 11 & 13 marked by white stakes.
    Two-club length Drop permitted not nearer the hole from the point of entry
    Unplayable ball on the right side bushes can be played from outside the vegetation with one stroke penalty
  5. OVERHEAD WIRES (Rule 33-­â€8/16)
    Mandatory re-hit, if ball strikes any wire
    Play is prohibited within a G.U.R demarcated area
  7. DROP ZONES (Marked by White Stakes)
    Ball near the white marbles structures on Holes # 1 & 11
    Beyond Holes # 3, 10, 13 & 18 for players over shooting the green
    If ball OB on Holes # 4 / 14, player to play 4th stroke from designated Drop Zone.
    Ball on road or beyond on Holes # 7,9 & 17
    Ball on all roads & paths will be permitted 2 club length free drop but not nearer the hole.
    All saplings have been marked with white paint.
    Relief permitted

Penalty for breach of Local Rule 7:

Match Play - loss of hole; Stroke Play - two stroke penalty

Yardages are to the centre of the Green

Pace Of Play:We ask that all golfers show consideration to others and play at an appropriate pace. This means keeping up with the group in front and, if you are delayed, allowing the following group to play through.

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