Rules of Golf

Rules for Recreational Play

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Stroke-and-Distance Relief; Ball Lost or Out of Bounds; Provisional Ball (Rule 18)

  • At any time, a player may take stroke-and-distance relief by adding one penalty stroke and playing the original ball or another ball from where the previous stroke was made.
  • Once a player puts a ball in play using stroke-and-distance relief, his or her original ball is no longer in play.
  • However, this does not apply to a ball that is to be played from where the previous stroke was made when the player; announces they are playing a provisional or, is playing a second ball in stroke play under Rule 14.7b or 20.1c(3).
  • 18.2a When a Ball Is Lost – The player must promptly attempt to identify the ball (see rule 7.2) and is allowed a reasonable amount of time to do so (3 minutes).

Provisional Ball (Rule 18.3)

  • 18.3 Provisional Ball – If a ball might be lost outside a penalty area or be out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally under penalty of stroke and distance. A provisional stops being a provisional when it becomes the ball in play, is abandoned and becomes a wrong ball.

Unplayable Ball (Rule 19)

  • A player is the only person who can decide to treat his or her ball as unplayable by taking penalty relief under Rule 19.2 or 19.3. A penalty area is the only place on the course where an unplayable can not be played. If a players ball is unplayable in a penalty area their only option is stroke and distance. If you believe your ball is unplayable, you may under penalty of one stroke:
    1. Play a ball from where the last stroke was made, or
    2. Drop a ball any distance behind the point where the ball lay keeping a straight line between the hole, the point where the ball lay and the spot on which the ball is dropped, or
    3. Drop a ball within two club-lengths of where the ball lies not nearer the hole.
  • Note: If your ball is in a bunker and you proceed under option 2) or 3), you must drop in the bunker.

Penalty Areas (Rule 17)

  • If your ball is in a Yellow Penalty Area you may play the ball as it lies or, under penalty of one stroke:
    1. Play a ball from where you made your last stroke, or
    2. Drop behind the Yellow Penalty Area keeping a straight line between the hole, the point where the ball last crossed the edge of the Yellow Penalty Area and the spot on which the ball is dropped with no limit to how far back you may drop.
  • If your ball is in a Red Penalty Area, in addition to the options for a ball in a Yellow Penalty Area, under penalty of one stroke, you may drop within two club-lengths of, and not nearer the hole than:
    1. The point where the ball last crossed the edge of the Penalty Area or
    2. A point on the opposite side of the Penalty Area equidistant to the hole from the point where the ball last crossed the edge.

Procedures for Ball: Marking, Lifting and Cleaning; Replacing on Spot; Dropping in Relief Area (Rule 14)

  • When a lifted or moved ball is to be replaced, the same ball must be set down on its original spot. When taking free relief or penalty relief, a substituted ball or the original ball must be dropped in a particular relief area. The player must drop the ball in the correct way; meaning, the ball must be dropped by the player, must be dropped straight down from knee height when in a standing position and must be dropped without throwing, spinning or rolling it.

Relief from Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions (Rule 15)

  • Without penalty, a player may remove a loose impediment anywhere on or off the course, and may do so in any way. A player must not deliberately move a loose impediment that, if moved when the ball was at rest, would have been likely to have caused the ball to move, unless the ball is on the putting green. If the player does so, he or she gets one penalty stroke, but the removed loose impediments do not need to be replaced.
  • Without penalty, a player may remove a movable obstruction anywhere on the course and may do so in any way in order to make their stroke. The exceptions to this are; you are not able to move tee markers when playing from the teeing area, and you can not move obstructions while the ball is in motion unless the obstructions are on the putting green.

Relief from Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions) (Rule 16)

  • Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, or when the obstruction interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his or her intended swing.
  • Finding nearest point of relief: point on the course nearest to where the ball lies that
    1. is not nearer the hole
    2. avoids interference (lie, stance, and area of intended swing).
  • Note: In order to determine the nearest point of complete relief accurately, the player should use the club with which he or she would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke.