Rules of the Game of Golf

By Sharon Penn
Golfers should know the rules of golf to play the game and the specific course they are playing.
Golfers should know the rules of golf to play the game and the specific course they are playing.

The United States Golf Association rules of golf cover topics from etiquette to equipment. There are so many rules, even the pros sometimes pause to ask a question. As an amateur golfer, you should familiarize yourself with some of the common rules of the game, so that you are fair and courteous to your fellow golfers. For tournament play, especially in the case of where a monetary prize may be at stake, you will have to read over the rules of the game so that you don’t hamper an opponent’s game, and also to be sure your opponents are correct when they quote a rule to you.


Golf clubs must meet certain standards set forth by the USGA. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to submit a sample club for a ruling as to whether or not it meets specifications. In general, a club must be in keeping with the traditional form of golf clubs. There are guidelines for length, dimensions, shape and alignment. Golf balls also must meet specifications. The weight of the ball cannot be more than 1.62 oz. and it must be perfectly round with a diameter of 1.68 inches or more. There are standards for the initial velocity, and for overall distance.

Golf Etiquette

For the safety of players and for consideration of others on the course, golfers are relied upon to practice golf etiquette. Players must be sure no one is close enough to be hit by the golf club or ball, so they must wait to hit until the players in front are out of range. If the ball should go in the direction of another player, a warning such as “fore” must be shouted as a warning. Golfers must show consideration by refraining from movement, talking or using electronic devices, such as a cell phone while others are hitting. They must be ready to play, and keep up the pace with the group in front. The course must be cared for by repairing divots and ball marks, raking bunkers and preventing damage from golf carts.

Playing the Ball

An important rule in golf is to play the ball as it lies, without moving it. If the ball is lifted, it must be marked and replaced. If the ball lands in a “spot not determinable,” a ball must be dropped as near as possible to the place where it is thought to lie, but not in a hazard or on the green. To drop a ball, the player stands straight and holds the ball at shoulder height, and arm’s length. If a dropped ball rolls out of bounds or comes to rest in a hazard, it can be dropped again.

Home ×