Golf Rules and Definitions


The tee box or more formally, the “the teeing ground” is the starting place from which to play the hole. It is a rectangular area two club lengths in depth. The front and sides are defined by the outside limits of the tee markers. A ball is outside of the teeing ground when ALL OF IT lies outside the teeing ground.



THROUGH THE GREEN is the whole area of the course EXCEPT

a.      The teeing ground and putting green of the hole being played.

            b.    All hazards on the course



The putting green is the area of the hole specially prepared for putting. A ball is deemed to be on the green when ANY part of it touches the green. The “apron”, “collar”, or “fringe” is NOT considered part of the putting green.



This is the high grass surrounding the tee, fairway, and green. The rough is cut in zones of grass length that are known as first, second, or third cut.



A hazard is any bunker or water hazard.



A BUNKER OR TRAP is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground that is most often a hollow that is filled with sand. Grass area bordering OR WITHIN the bunker is NOT part of the bunker. A bunker is NOT a natural sandy area. A natural sandy area is referred to as a “WASTE AREA”.



A water hazard is any lake, pond, stream, drainage ditch, or ocean. The water hazard is marked by yellow stakes or a yellow line. ALL ground within the lines is part of the hazard.



A lateral water hazard is marked by red stakes or a red line, and is a hazard situated so that it is deemed neither practical nor possible to drop a ball behind the water hazard.



Before you play a stroke on a ball which is in or is touching a hazard you may not:

            1.  Test the condition of the hazard

2.     Touch the ground in the hazard or water in a water hazard.

                      3.  Touch or move a LOOSE IMPEDIMENT lying in or touching the hazard.



A ball is “lost” if::


1.  It is not found or identified by the player within FIVE MINUTES after beginning the search for the ball.


2.  The player puts in to play another ball under the rules, even though there is no search for the original ball.


3.  The player has played any stroke with a PROVISIONAL BALL. The first ball, therefore, is considered to be lost and the PROVISIONAL BALL becomes the BALL IN PLAY.



“OUT OF BOUNDS” is ground where play is prohibited. It is designated by WHITE STAKES, WHITE LINES OR A WHITE FENCE. A ball is out of bounds when ALL of it lies out of bounds which is done using the nearest inside points of the stakes. A player can stand out of bounds to play the ball lying within bounds.



If a ball is lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, the player must replay the shot from as close to the original spot as possible, whether it is from the tee, fairway, or rough WITH A ONE STROKE PENALTY (THIS IS THE STROKE AND DISTANCE PENALTY). It is the ONLY option.



A PROVISIONAL BALL is a ball played for the ball that may be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds. It is used to save time and is hit, UNDER PENALTY OF ONE STROKE, as nearly as possible from where the original ball was last played. When you

choose to hit a provisional ball, you must inform your opponent that you are doing so before you play the provisional ball. If the original ball is found within 5 minutes, the provisional ball is abandoned and the original ball remains the one in play.




The boundaries of a water hazard should be marked by yellow lines or stakes. When your ball comes to rest in a water hazard there are three options.

1.  Play the ball as it lies (As with all hazards you cannot “ground” your club. Meaning that once you enter the hazard boundaries your club cannot touch the ground or in this case even the water).


2.     Take the stroke and distance penalty. If the stroke is taken from the tee, it would be your third.


3.     Determine the point where the ball LAST crossed the margin of the hazard. Imagine a line in between THAT POINT AND THE HOLE. Drop the ball behind the hazard on an extension of that line. Take a one stroke penalty. When a ball goes beyond the water hazard and then bounces back in to the hazard, the line where the ball may be dropped is the FINAL POINT OF ENTRY.




There are FIVE options when a ball lies within a lateral water hazard.

1.  Play the ball as it lies


2.  Use the stroke and distance option by hitting again from the tee (ONE STROKE PENALTY)


3.  Drop behind the hazard on a line formed by the hole and the point where the ball entered the hazard (ONE STROKE PENALTY).


4.  You may drop within two club lengths of where the ball entered the hazard no nearer the hole with a one stroke penalty added.


5.  You may drop on the opposite side of the hazard EQUIDISTANT from the hole as the position in option one with a ONE STROKE PENALTY







When you are confronted with a situation where your ball has landed and remains on the cart path you have the option to drop your ball from THE NEAREST POINT OF RELIEF, or to play the ball from the path. If you choose nearest point of relief, YOU DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE AS TO WHICH SIDE OF THE PATH YOU WISH TO DROP FROM. You must drop from the nearest point of relief relative to the balls resting point. ALSO YOU CANNOT STAND ON THE PATH IF YOU TAKE RELIEF FROM IT. The nearest point MUST AVOID YOUR STANCE AS WELL AS YOUR SWING. Using any club in your bag, drop within one club length of that point NO NEARER THE HOLE THAN WHERE THE BALL LAY ON THE CART PATH. Note: if the nearest point means dropping the ball in to a worse situation you can play the ball where it lies on the path. BE CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH THE BALL UNTIL YOU ARE SURE THAT YOU WANT TO TAKE RELIEF AS TOUCHING THE BALL IS A COMMITMENT. A key point to remember when determining relief is that you do not get free relief because your situation could affect THE BALLS FLIGHT. You only get free relief when your area of INTENDED SWING, YOUR STANCE, OR THE LIE OF THE BALL is affected by an immovable obstruction.




A player can declare a ball unplayable at any time except when under the influence of the rules in a water hazard. Once a ball is declared unplayable, you have three options.


            1. Dropping the ball within two club lengths from the point of the unplayable lie no         nearer the hole except in a water hazard. Add one stroke to your score.


            2. Keeping the point of the unplayable lie between you and the hole and going back        as far as you want and dropping the ball. Add one stroke to your score.


            3. Return to the original point you hit the shot from and replay it. Add one stroke to        your score, but you are penalizing yourself distance. This is a basic stroke and    distance penalty.




The Rules of Golf are sincerely designed to help maintain the integrity and fairness of the game of golf.  Golf is one of the truly unique sports in which players of all abilities may compete on an even playing field.  A basic understanding of these rules will not only increase your enjoyment of the game, but will also maintain the traditions that hundreds of years and millions of golfers have set forth.