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A Guide to the Basic Rules of Golf

Gaynor Borade Nov 22, 2018
Today, the rules of golf are standardized by associations and clubs all over the world. While the main principle of this game remains fairness, there are strict regulations and official rules for the game.
The game plan, is to use different types of clubs, to hit a golf ball across a determined path on a golf course. The path is determined by a number of specially carved niches or holes and the winner is the one who manages to complete the path with the lowest number of swings or strokes.
This is a game of precision and focus. It demands adherence to rules and regulations that dictate moves on the green. It is one of the few ball games that is not restricted to a standardized playing area. The game plan is defined as 'striking a ball with a club, from the starting point or teeing ground into the preset holes, via successive strokes'.

Rules and Regulations

Each course flaunts a unique design and layout. It typically comprises either 9 or 18 holes. 'Stroke Play' competitions involve calculations of the lowest number of strokes played, while the 'Match Play' games calculate the lowest score on maximum individual holes, by an individual or team.
Every game follows a predetermined path, according to the placement of the number of holes in a given order. The game commences when the ball is struck from a tee on the teeing box. The ball can only be stuck again when it rests. Sinking the ball in the holes, with as few strokes as possible, could be impeded by a number of hazards.
Hazards, refer to sand bunkers, rough patches of land, or water bodies. Players may drive in motorized carts or walk across the course, along with caddies. Caddies usually carry the gear around for the player and also offer advice.
The basic rules of Golf are now internationally standardized, and are jointly governed by the USGA or United States Golf Association, and the R&A or the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
Golfers are expected to abide by the etiquette guidelines, that specify the standards of safety, pace of play, fairness, and the golfer's obligation to care for the course. Penalties are incurred if a player uses an extra swing or rule infractions, cheating, and signing in acceptance of a lower score.


Penalties are assessed if the ball is subjected to:
  • A hit into an unplayable position.
  • An out-of-bound position.
  • Equipment triggered acceleration.
  • Removal of a loose impediment.
  • A parallel strike at the wrong ball.


  • Golf clubs, with a lance on the top and club-head at the bottom, to hit a golf ball
  • Woods, for 'fairway' shots at a distance
  • Irons, for a variety of shots
  • Putters, to strike the ball into the cup
  • Balls with 'dents' or 'dimples', to decrease aerodynamic drag
  • Tee, to rest the ball on top, only for the first stroke being played for each hole
  • Shoes with spikes, to increase traction
  • Bag, to transport clubs, tees, gloves, and balls

Stroke Techniques

  • A golfer should always begin the game facing the target from the non-dominant side of the body. This is to ensure that the body and club are parallel to the target. A closed stance for long distance shots and a more open stance for shorter distances.
  • In case of short irons and putters, the ball should be positioned in the center, a little forward for middle irons and even further for long irons and woods.
  • When playing with middle irons and putters, the feet should be shoulder width apart. In the case of short irons the feet should be closer together, while remaining wider for long irons and woods.
  • The golfer needs to choose a 'stroke' according to the distance being played. A 'drive' is used in long distance shots, while an 'approach' is used in mid distance shots. A 'chip' has to be chosen to play short distance shots, to land the ball on the green with minimal strikes. A 'putt' is used to play short distance shots.
  • The body-weight should be more on the front foot when playing short irons and middle irons and putters, and equally on both feet in the case of long irons and woods.
The other rules and regulations specify the 'scoring' and 'handicapping' basics, while defining the basic rules of golf that are all integral parts of the game plan as specified. The game takes more than proficiency in technical and physical ability. It is a combination of mental visualization, physical conditioning, and on-course play.