Basic Rules of Golf Explained for Beginners in Plain English

Golfers love rules and some guys can be real sticklers for them. By that, I mean they ​have arguments and carry a pocket rule book to prove they’re right over the tiniest of innocent infringements. That’s a minority of guys but generally we all like to play by the book as best we can.

The official rule book is 100 pages long and a bit boring to sift through and know which are the most essential. So we’ve summarized the most important ones to ensure you don’t commit any mortal sins on the course. You may even get invited back to play again!

​Note that we’re covering the rules for strokeplay here. That means you count all your shots and must put the ball in the hole to complete the hole.

Rules: Equipment

Clubs and balls

  • Clubs: You can carry a maximum of 14 clubs. If you have a 15th, leave it in the car to avoid complications. The 14 clubs can be a combination of anything you like.
  • Ball: You must finish a hole with the ball you started it with. You can change a ball between holes but not during a hole. However, if you lose a ball during a hole, you can use any other ball as the new ball in play.

Rules: Tee box/teeing ground

  • You must tee the ball up behind the line created by the tee markers. You can tee it up anywhere between the two markers and you can tee it as far back a​s the length of two drivers. So if your driver is 45 inches, you can tee up to 90 inches behind the imaginary line. Never in front of the tee markers.
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