5 Golf Rules You Should Know


5 Golf Rules You Should Know

The rules of golf are complicated. I get that – trust me. I found the rules so overwhelming when I first began playing golf. So many little details… you can do this but you can’t do that….  It’s enough to drive any golfer a little batty. 

Many players find it helpful to watch videos about the rules of golf, especially when they’re quick and to-the-point.  So I’m sharing 5 golf rules you should know – a few little gems that should help you on your quest to digest the rules golf. 

Let's Make Sure We Know The Defined Areas Of The Course

Before we jump in to the 5 golf rules you should know, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page about some terminology.

In 2019 the USGA, along with the R & A, renamed the defined areas of the course. The general area covers the entire course except for the four specific areas, which include:

  • The teeing area
  • Penalty areas
  • Bunkers
  • Putting green

Players often refer to ares of the course using the wrong terms, it’s important to be sure we know these terms. 

And by the way…. “the junk” is not one of the defined areas of the course! 

Can You Lift And Clean Your Ball On The Green?

In this video Karen asks if she can lift and clean her ball when it is right next to the putting green. Rule 13.1b states “A ball on the putting green may be lifted and cleaned. The spot of the ball must be marked before it is lifted and the ball must be replaced on its original spot.” 

And Rule 13.1a states that a ball is on the putting green when any part of the ball:

  • Touches the putting green, or
  • Lies on or in anything (such as a loose impediment or an obstruction) and is inside the edge of the putting green. 

So clearly Karen’s ball is not on the putting green, so she may not lift and clean her ball. 

See more details about marking your ball on the green here. 

Accidentally Move Your Ball On The Green

Fortunately, there is no  penalty if you accidentally move your all on the putting green. Rule 13.1d says there’s no penalty if the player or his fellow competitor or opponent (a match play term) accidentally casuses the ball to move on the putting green. 

Can I Share Clubs With My Partner?

Scrambles, shambles and best ball formats are quite popular, and many players think if they have a partner in that type of a format they can share clubs with their partner. Watch this videos to learn the details on the number of clubs in your bag. 

Removing Loose Impediments In a Bunker

We have heard this one quite a bit as 2019 began with all the new rules in affect. You get to remove pebbles or leaves (known as loose impediments) from a bunker now. Sounds great, but there’s a catch! If doing so causes your ball to move, you’ll incur a one-stroke penalty. Check out Rule 12.2 for more details on this one. 

Ball Wedged Against The Flagstick

Now that you are able to leave the flagstick in while putting on the green (one of the many great changes that came about in 2019) some issues can arise with the ball getting wedged against the flagstick. 

When your ball is wedged against the flagstick and you’re not sure it is considered “holed” consider Rule 13.2c. 

“If the player’s ball comes to rest against the flagstick left in the hole, 

  • If any part of the ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green, the ball is treated as holed even if the entire ball is not below the surface.

  • If no part of the ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green:  

The ball is not holed and must be played as it lies.

  • If the flagstickis removed and the ball moves (whether it falls into the hole or moves away from the hole), there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced on the lip of the hole (see Rule 14.2).”

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? If you’re ready, check out unplayable lie in a bunker.

Repairing Spike Marks On Putting Green 2019 Golf Rules

Repairing Spike Marks On Putting Green in 2019

In 2019 you’ll be happy to know that you’ll be able to repair spike marks on the green before you putt.  

Rule 13 states you’ll be able to repair any damage to the green, which would include pitch marks, spike marks, damage from the flagstick being dragged on the green, and any other damage.

However, you will not be able to repair greens that have been aerated/punched, vertical mowing, or regular wear and tear. 

The Nitty Gritty:

Rule 13.C2 (USGA)

Repair of Damage. A player may repair damage on the putting green without penalty by taking reasonable actions to restore the putting green as nearly as possible to its original condition, but only:

  • By using his or her hand, foot or other part of the body or a normal ball-mark repair tool, tee, club or similar item of normal equipment, and
  • Without unreasonably delaying play (see Rule 5.6a).

But if the player improves the putting green by taking actions that exceed what is reasonable to restore the putting green to its original condition (such as by creating a pathway to the hole or by using an object that is not allowed), the player gets the general penalty for breach of Rule 8.1a.

“Damage on the putting green ” means any damage caused by a person or outside influence, such as:

  • Ball marks, shoe damage (such as spike marks) and scrapes or indentations caused by equipment or a flagstick,
  • Old hole plugs, turf plugs, seams of cut turf and scrapes or indentations from maintenance tools or vehicles,
  • Animal tracks or hoof indentations, and
  • Embedded objects (such as a stone, acorn or tee).

But “damage on the putting green” does not include any damage or conditions that result from:

  • Normal practices for maintaining the overall condition of the putting green (such as aeration holes and grooves from vertical mowing),
  • Irrigation or rain or other natural forces,
  • Natural surface imperfections (such as weeds or areas of bare, diseased or uneven growth), or
  • Natural wear of the hole.

Check out USGA’s site for exceptions and further details, but we can breathe a sigh of relief here.

Check out How to Mark Your Ball on the Green.

How To Tend The Flagstick On The Green

How to tend the flagstick on the green

How To Tend The Flagstick On The Green

I’m all about golf etiquette and especially pace-of-play, so knowing where you should stand,  what you should say, and how to tend the flagstick on the green is important!

We’ve played with people who don’t pay attention and walk away without even considering where everyone lies on the green. You’ll need to think about where each player’s ball is on the green (so you don’t walk on their line), and who is furthest away (which means they will putt first) and may need you to attend the flag for them.

Yes, the rules will change in 2019 and there will no longer be a penalty when your ball hits the flagstick, but that doesn’t mean every player is going to want it left in the hole.

Remember, pace-of-play is the single most important part of golf (right after the cute outfits) so when you are not keeping up with the players ahead of you and/or the foursome behind you is breathing down your neck, picking up! 

How To Tend The Flagstick On The Green

Watch my buddy David Blake, rules official, explain how to tend the flagstick. 

You may think this is too basic and remedial, but seriously guys, knowing how to tend the flagstick is important! No one wants stress or confusion when they’re about to sink a long putt for birdie!

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