Some Rules-related Stuff


At first glance ...and probably for several more glances!... the rules of golf can seem very complicated. However, they really are not as bad as they appear. They have evolved over almost three hundred years, adapting to changes in the game, the courses we play on, and to take account of practically every circumstance you can imagine, so they're bound to look a bit cumbersome. If we look closely, though, we will find certain consistencies throughout the rules that can help us to remember the correct things we should do. For example, there are many different circumstances when we might lift our golf ball and drop it (in accordance with the rules!) and these can be grouped into two general situations: free drops and penalty drops. Understanding which you get, and the process you should follow in either case​, will keep you straight most of the time.

There were some relatively major revisions to the rules introduced in 2019. Be aware of these!

Waiving Rules

One of my favourite rules of golf is "Thou shalt not waive any rule". (Yes, I've paraphrased that!) What it means is that if you agree to ignore ("waive") any of the rules, you are in breach of the rules! I've never seen this in any other sport's rules and I think it's utterly brilliant in its concept. You simply are not allowed to tinker with the rules. Full stop! (Of course, I'm quite sure each one of us has done so in social games with friends - nothing wrong with that so long as you don't develop bad habits and forget to abide by all the rules when playing in a competition.)

Combining strokeplay and matchplay

The rules of golf do not allow strokeplay and matchplay competitions to be played together, though there are some formats of competition that bring elements of these two forms of golf closer together. The problem is that the rules and penalties differ for each, making them incompatible if played at the same time.



It is worth mentioning that golf has a proud tradition of players being scrupulously honest. On the rare occasion that a golfer is found to have deliberately cheated, it is always treated very seriously and usually severely, with amateurs sometimes thrown out of their clubs, or professionals banned from the game. Golf is proud of its tradition of honesty, and good examples are often seen. For example, we recently had a player phone the club the morning after a competition. Reflecting on his round while lying in bed the next morning he suddenly realised he might have forgotten to include a penalty stroke. He phoned the club to disqualify himself if it turned out he had forgotten - very honest and laudable, and a completely true story!

David McH (Webmaster)