Golf is played over a round consisting of 18 holes. Well, if you’re pressed for time or money or just slothful, there is always a convenient 9-hole round waiting for you. The point of the game is to get that little white ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible. You start off by placing your ball on a tee in the tee box and hitting it as far and as accurately as you can. Once the ball comes to rest, you hit it again and again until you get it onto the green, always avoiding those nasty water hazards and sand traps.
From there, you putt the ball into the hole. After you have triumphantly knocked your ball into the hole, you mark down the number of strokes it took to achieve this daunting task on your scorecard. Then, you get to do it all over again on the next hole. Sounds simple, right? If that statement were true, we would all be making millions of dollars annually. The reality is it’s quite difficult, and all the little rules here and there can make it that much more complicated and confusing. There are a lot of standards out on the golf course, but they are all be easily deciphered. Always remember that whenever you cheat and break the rules, you are only cheating yourself. Do your best to adhere to the following rules, and I guarantee you will get more out of your golf game then you could ever imagine.
As simple as it may sound, holes must be played in order. No jumping from the 1st to the 4th or playing only even holes. And of course, you must always play by the rules.
Clubs and the Ball
If you thought you could play with as many clubs as you wanted in your bag, guess again. You are only allowed up to fourteen clubs in your bag at once. Never change your ball during play of the current hole. The only exception to this is if your ball is damaged and you get permission from your playing partners to do so.
Things a Player Should Do
Always use your proper handicap, which is if you can compute it, but we will cover that later. Remember your tee time and always use your own ball. If you are playing a ball that is identical to a playing partner’s ball, mark it, so there will be no confusion.
I know you would love it if you could take practice shots while playing during a round, but you can’t. Practice shots are against the rules. However, nothing is stopping you from taking as many practice swings as you want.
When to Play Shot
If you get the lowest score on the last hole out of everyone in your foursome, you have the “honor” of teeing off first on the next hole. Once everyone tees off, the owner of the ball farthest from the hole gets to go first. This continues throughout the playing of the hole.
When getting ready to tee off, place your ball between the tee markers or if you like, you can put it within two club lengths behind the tee markers. I can’t see why anyone would want to do that but to each his own. If it’s a windy day and the wind knocks your ball off the tee or if you just did a lousy job of placing your ball on the tee and it falls off, you can replace the ball onto the tee with no penalty.
Finding Ball in Hazard-Identifying Ball
Just in case you didn’t know, a hazard is defined as any bunker or water hazard. If sand or leaves are covering your ball, you may remove just enough of the sand or the leaves to see part of your ball, strikebut you can’t remove all of it. You may also lift your ball to identify it anywhere on the course, except when your ball is lying in a hazard. If you are going to do this, you must tell your playing partners first.
Playing the Ball as It Lies on the Course
Just like they say in the movie Happy Gilmore, you got to play your ball as it lies. You may not improve your lie by pressing down the ground behind the ball, although your club may be grounded lightly behind the ball. You also may not improve the area of your intended swing or line of play by bending or breaking anything growing, such as plants and trees. While you are in a hazard, you may not remove loose natural items, but you may remove artificial items, such as old stogies and empty beer bottles. You also may not touch sand, ground, or water with your club before or during your back swing.
Striking the Ball
Always remember, hit the ball passably with the head of the club. As much as you might want to, there will be no pushing, scraping, or raking of the ball with your club. And of course, never hit the ball while it is moving. I don’t know why you’d want to break that rule, anyway. It would put you at quite the disadvantage.
The Putting Green
When you are on the green, you may brush away leaves and other loose impediments within the line of your putt with your hand or with your club, but you can’t use anything else, such as your hat or your golf towel. You should always repair ball marks or old hole plugs if they are within the line of your putt, but you can’t repair marks made by spikes or shoes. I don’t understand that one, but they must have some good reason for making a rule like that, right? As tempting as it is, you may not test the surface of the green by rolling a ball or scraping the surface. And of course, always remember to mark your ball by placing a small coin or other markers behind it when you want to clean or move it.
The Flag Stick
If your ball is in the green, there is no penalty if you shoot your ball and it strikes the flagstick, as long as no one is holding the flagstick. Also, if your ball is on the green, do not putt with the flagstick in the hole. Either take the flagstick out or ask another player to hold it and take it out when you putt your ball.
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