Rules of Golf Made Easy

As you get ready to head out to golf course, whether it’s your first round or you’ve been playing for years, there are a handful of rules that are good to know to make your round more enjoyable.  The following list you might be familiar with, but for some this will be news to their ears.

    • Dress Code – Most golf courses have a strict dress code policy that is expected to be adhered to by all the golfers.  It is best to check with the golf shop at the course you want to play before you go.  There is nothing worse than getting to the first tee only to be told that you are not wearing the appropriate clothing.  Collared shirts and khaki pants or shorts are the most common items on a golf course’s dress code.  It’s not wise to assume that denim of any kind is allowed, as this is most definitely not the case.  A good general rule of thumb to follow is to wear a collared shirt and khakis.  In this case it’s best to overdress the part.


    • Tee Times – It’s wise to take the time to call ahead and book a tee time at your favorite golf course for you or your group.  Most often golf courses have a busy tee sheet and cannot accommodate the “walk-on” group, so to avoid the hassle of not getting on the golf course, plan ahead and book a tee time.  Once your time has been booked, it’s “golfer’s etiquette” to be on time to the golf course and first tee.


    • Equipment – In the rules of golf it states that one must not carry any more than 14 clubs in their bag for any round of golf.  There is no limit to how few clubs you carry and in certain circumstances it is permissible to borrow clubs from your playing partner, but one should not rely on this exception.  It’s wise to make sure you have enough golf tee, markers and golf balls before heading onto the course.  After all, if you are new to golf you will most likely be losing a lot of golf balls!


    • The Teeing Ground – When you get to the first tee there are a few things to keep in mind that are both rules of the game and etiquette.  First and foremost, a good way to determine who hits first is to throw a handful of tees in the air and when they land decide which tee is pointing to someone in the group.  That person would then tee off first.  As the rules state, each golfer must tee their golf ball between the two teeing markers.  You cannot tee the ball in front of the markers, but you can go back up to two clubs lengths behind the markers as long as you don’t go outside of the markers.


    • Play as it Lies – One of the most basic concepts described repeatedly in the Rules of Golf is the notion of playing the ball as it lies.  What this means is that you should not pick the ball up, move it or alter that state that your ball is in when you come upon it to play your next shot.  It’s a very basic concept, and one that has kept the integrity of the game for so many years.  The one exception to this that never changes occurs when your ball is on the putting surface/green.  In this instance you are allowed to mark your ball to clean it and then place it directly in front of your marker to resume play.


    • Out of Bounds – One of the most common rules is that of out of bounds and/or lost ball.  Out of bounds is defined by a white line or stake and is usually only on the perimeter of the golf course.  In some cases you might encounter out of bounds that is on the interior of the course, either way the penalty is the same.  If you hit your golf ball out of bounds, or OB, the penalty is stroke and distance.  This means if you hit your tee shot OB, you would count your tee shot and then add one stroke and go back to the spot of your original shot (that being the distance).  You would then be hitting three (3).  If you think you’ve hit your shot OB, it is best to play a provisional ball from original spot to save time.  Your provisional ball would be the “ball in play” only if you actually did hit your original ball OB.  It’s best to remember that the entire golf ball must be OB for it to be OB.  If any part of the golf ball is in bounds, then your golf ball is inbounds.


    • Pace of Play – If you go out to the golf course for a friendly game of golf make sure you find out if the course has a policy on slow play.  Keeping the pace of play with both the group ahead and behind you is considered good golf etiquette.  If you are playing in a tournament, then pace of play is vital if you don’t want to be penalized for slow play.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can see the group ahead and behind you at all times.  Generally you should be able to play each hole in around 12 minutes.


  1. Water Hazards – Lateral water hazards are defined by red stakes around the perimeter and usually follow the perimeter of the golf hole.  Water hazards are defined by yellow stakes and usually go across the hole being played.  In either case, the penalty for hitting into a water hazard is one (1) stroke.  You can hit your golf ball out of a water hazard, but that is not always the wisest move.  It’s best to take your drop keeping your spot between you and the hole.

Take to know these eight rules and etiquette your next time to the golf course and you will find that your time spent playing this “leisurely” game is just that: leisurely!