Common Violations of Golfing Rules When Playing Golf

Golfing Rules

It is very helpful to know which are the most frequent Basic Golf Rules violated in everyday playing of the game of golf, so as to avoid violating these rules, but understanding the penalties if you do.

We will only refer to Golfing Rules pertaining to Stroke Play in this article, as it is the most predominant form of play.

Please refer to the Official Rules of Golf for detailed information regarding any of these situations encountered if there is any question concerning U.S.G.A. Rules.

Following are violations of some of the more common Golfing Rules with their associated golf penalties:

Carrying To Many Clubs in Your Golf Bag

Golfing Rules prohibit carrying more than fourteen golf clubs in your golf bag at any one time during a stipulated round of golf.

Rule 4-4: Maximum of 14 Clubs

  • The player must not start a stipulated round with more than 14 clubs. He is limited to the clubs thus selected for that round, except that if he started with fewer than 14 clubs, he may add any number, provided his total number does not exceed 14

[Penalty - Stroke Play: 2 Strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred; maximum penalty per round: Four Strokes]

Wrong Score Recorded on Your Golf Score Card

Golfing Rules stipulate that keeping an accurate score card is essential. Violation of this stipulation is severe as noted below. Make sure your score for each hole is correct and sign your card before returning it. It is important to adhere to Golf Rules!

Rule 6-6: Scoring in Stroke Play

  • d. The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified. If he returns a score for any hole higher than actually taken, the score as returned stands.

[Penalty - Stroke Play: Disqualification]

Improving the Lie of the Ball

According to the U.S.G.A. Rules of Golf, players must play the golf course as they find it. This means not attempting to improve the lie of the ball, the line of play, or the intended area of play. Intentionally improving the lie of the ball is not permitted.

Rule 13-1: General

  • The ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules.

[Penalty - Stroke Play: 2 Strokes]

Grounding the Golf Club in a Hazard

Bunker and Water Hazards can subject golf players to a penalty if they are not careful. Within the Rules of Golf, placing the golf club head down in a bunker, unless it is in the act of striking the ball, is not permitted.

Rule 13-4: Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions

  • Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:
  • a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;
    b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club; or
    c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.

Grounding the club in a hazard is not allowed.

[Penalty - Stroke Play: 2 Strokes]

Hitting an Unattended Flag Stick with a Putt

Your ball must not strike the flagstick when it is attended, removed or held up according to Basic Golfing Rules.

Rule 17-3: Ball Striking Flag Stick or Attendant

  • The player's ball must not strike:
    a. The Flagstick when it is attended, removed or held up;
    b. The person attending or holding up the Flagstick or anything carried by him; or
    c. The Flagstick in the Hole, unattended, when the stroke has been made on the putting green.

[Penalty - Stroke Play: 2 Strokes and the ball must be played as it lies.]

Proper Dropping of the Ball

A ball to be dropped under the Basic Golfing Rules must be dropped by you only. When a ball is to be dropped as near as possible to a specific spot, it must be dropped not nearer the Hole than the specific spot which, if it is not precisely known to you, must be estimated.

To drop a ball, stand erect and hold the ball at shoulder height and at arm's length, then drop it. If the ball when dropped touches any person or the equipment of any players before or after it strikes a part of the course and before it comes to rest, the ball must be re-dropped.

As you can see, the Rules for Golf are very detailed and specific.

Rule 20-2: Dropping and Re-Dropping

a. By Whom and How

  • A ball to be dropped under the rules must be dropped by the player himself. He must stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm's length and drop it. (If this is not done properly and not re-dropped correctly a one stroke penalty is assessed.

b. Where to Drop

  • When a ball is to be dropped as near as possible to a specific spot, it must be dropped not nearer the Hole than the specific spot which, if it is not precisely known to the player, must be estimated.

c. When to Re-Drop

  • A dropped ball must be re-dropped, without penalty, if it rolls in any manner other than stipulated by the rules, it must be placed as near as possible to the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped.

[Penalty - Stroke Play: 1 Stroke if not dropped properly]

Ball Moves after Loose Impediment is Removed

23-1: According to Golfing Rules, except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard, any loose impediment may be removed without penalty.

If the ball lies anywhere other than on the putting green and the removal of a loose impediment by you causes the ball to move, you will incur a one stroke penalty.

Rule 23-1: Relief

  • On the Putting Green, if the ball is accidentally moved in the process of removing a loose impediment, the ball must be replaced to its original position. Through the Green, if the ball moves when any loose impediment within one club length of the ball is removed, it is a one stroke penalty under Rule 18-2c.

[Penalty - Stroke Play: 2 Strokes]

Ball Lost or Out of Bounds

According to Golfing Rules, your ball is considered lost if it is not found within five minutes after the search for it has begun, or you have elected to put another ball in play.

Your ball is considered out of bounds if all of it lies beyond the inside line of objects such as walls, fences and white stakes that mark the boundary of the golf course. If your ball is lost or out of bounds, add one penalty stroke and play another ball from where you played your last ball.

Rule 27-1: Ball Out of Bounds

  • If a ball is out of bounds, the player must play a ball, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (See Rule 20-5 in the Golf Rule Book)

[Penalty - Stroke Play: 1 Stroke]

We hope this article on the Basic Rules of Golf and the more common violations has been helpful to you as well as informative!

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