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Golf Rules and Decisions

The United States Golf Association Golf Rules

It is not surprising that the majority of golfers find the rules of golf difficult to get to know and even more difficult to understand.

There are 34 rules, over 100 sections, over 100 subsections and over 2000 explanatory decisions, probably giving golf the most complicated rules of any sport.

Golf is a game in which a ball is struck with a club from a prepared area, known as the “teeing ground”, across fairway and rough to a second prepared area, which has a hole in it, known as the “putting green”.
The object of the game is to complete what is known as a hole by playing a ball from the teeing ground into the hole on the putting green in the fewest possible number of strokes. A “round of golf’ consists of playing 18 such holes.

There are basically two forms of play, one which is decided by holes won and lost (match play) and the other which is decided by the total number of strokes taken to complete the round (stroke play).

1. The Game
2. Match Play
3. Stroke Play
4. Clubs
5. The Ball
6. The Player
7. Practice
8. Advice; Indicating Line of Play
9. Information as to strokes taken
10. Order of Play
11. Teeing Ground
12. Searching for and Identifying Ball
13. Ball Played as it Lies
14. Striking the Ball
15. Substituted Ball; Wrong Ball
16. The Putting Green
17. The Flagstick
18. Ball at Rest Moved
19. Ball in motion deflected or stopped
20. Lifting, dropping, and placing; playing from the wrong place
21. Cleaning the ball
22. Ball Assisting or Interfering with Play
23. Loose Impediments
24. Obstructions
25. Abnormal Ground Conditions, Embedded Ball, and Wrong Putting Green
26. Water Hazards (Including Lateral Water Hazards)
27. Ball Lost or Out of Bounds; Provisional Ball
28. Ball unplayable
29. Threesomes and foursomes
30. Three-Ball, Best-Ball and Four Ball Match Play
31. Four-Ball Stroke Play
32. Bogey, Par and Stableford Competitions
33. The Committee
34. Disputes and Decisions

Appendix I – Local Rules; Conditions of the Competition
Appendix II – Design of Clubs
Appendix III – The Ball
Handicaps