10 golf rules that every beginner should know.

Brush up on those golf Rules.

My Top 10 Beginner Golf Rules

Golf is a timeless game. There have been various rules that golfers have been following for ages. I have been on my own golf journey over the years and have gathered several useful tips from my knowledge, a few fellow golfers and the professionals. Here are the top 10 of those tips or rules that can help any beginner get the hang of the game and set a solid foundation for a bright journey ahead. These rules can be incorporated in your game to make a transition from amateur golfer to someone who knows and respects the game. 

Reading Time: 22 Mins

Know your clubs well!

Your Clubs are Your Friends.

You should know which clubs are essential in the game. If it is a competitive game, you would be penalized for carrying more than the allowed limit of clubs. You can carry a maximum of 14 clubs or less. Carrying one club extra can be a huge blunder, especially in tournaments according to rule 4-4. This was a small mistake that cost Ian Woosnam a penalty in one of his games, as he carried 15 clubs accidentally, instead of 14. Make this a habit even during your practice sessions to avoid confusion when you take part in a competitive game.

My Old Putting Machine

There are different markers placed for different types of golfers. Red markers are for women; yellow is for men, and medal tees are marked with white ones. In the stress of getting your first tee off right do not get the wrong marker. In the case of stroke play, according to rule 11, you would be penalized by two shots if you happen to tee up the ball outside your relevant markers. Therefore, find the right markers and aim for teeing behind them.

Respect the Markers.

Red Golf Marker

Marking your Ball is very Important

Don't forget to Mark it!

The ball you pick might be from the most popular ones in the market. So, there is a high likelihood that another player on the field might also have a very similar ball. Make sure that you make distinct markings on your ball to easily identify it and avoid wrong ball shots. It matters in stroke play as you might end up with a two-shot penalty. Even when you are playing singles, you would be losing a hole in hitting the wrong ball. Picking balls in the rough might be difficult sometimes. You can examine the ball you find to verify whether it is your ball and place it back in the same place if it isn’t. You can also intimate your partners about the ball. You can also use a tee-peg for marking the ball you found. Do not perform the mistake of cleaning the ball without being sure that it is yours. This is the crux of rule 15-1.

The rules that you have to follow on the greens are significant ones given as a rule 17. These are also directly related to your next strike. Once your ball has landed on the putting surface, you are allowed to mark the position of the ball and then lift it to clean it before taking your putt. You can use plastic disks or coins to tag the spot where your ball landed but make sure that you do not alter the position when you place the ball back. You can alter pitch marks and even spike marks on the field even if they are not yours. You can do this before you complete your hole, or before you take your next shot. When you are going to take a stroke from any position you can leave the flagstick attended or hold it up or even remove it. For shorter putting greens, my recommendation is not to avoid asking for the flagstick to be attended.

Rules to follow at the greens.

Dont Break the Rules!

Rule 13-1 in golf states ‘ball played as it lies’. Once you are ready to take the shot, you should hit the ball from where it lies. You are not allowed to move the ball except under special conditions. You would have to take the strike from the spot where it lies. There are situations where there could be leaves or other debris caught under the ball or even obstructions in which case you can get free relief. This is where you get to make a free drop of the ball from the spot where it was lying earlier. The closest point of relief is chosen, and you can drop the ball at one club length away.

The ball lies where it falls.

Dont Move that Ball!

There could be positions where the ball is unplayable.

Unplayable Positions are Important

Rule number 28 gives the golfer the full freedom to judge his ball and to gauge its lie. If he feels that the lie is unplayable, he can declare so. This is allowed in different positions of the game except where the ball reaches a water hazard. There is a penalty stroke added when you call a lie unplayable for whatever reason. After this, you get to choose from 3 things to do-
· You can attempt the same shot from your previous position but with a different ball this time.
· You can drop another ball behind the current lie that you deem unplayable.
· You can also drop the ball at the side, at a distance of two club-lengths from the unplayable lie.

Out of bounds.

Don't get out of Bounds!

According to rule 27-1b, there are stringent rules defined for what the player should do when the ball goes out of bounds. One stroke penalty comes along with the OB shot automatically. You then get to strike another ball from where you took your previous hit. You can use a provisional ball and also clearly declare it. To do this and to make sure that your ball has gone OB check whether the limits are explicitly given in your scorecard. There should be details about the boundaries for you to refer to. The time than given to the player for finding the lost ball is a maximum of 5 minutes. If you find that lost ball, you can continue playing with the same one. Beyond this time if you still do not find the ball, the only option is to go with a provisional ball.

Who can you discuss the game with?

Two old golfers discussing the game

When you are out there in the game, you cannot discuss much with the other players. There are many situations where you might yearn for advice or recommendations. Do not be tempted actually to ask the other players in the game. You can, of course, discuss the choice of clubs with your caddie and this will not affect your game. If you are playing a foursome, then there is one other golfer in your team. You can certainly discuss it with your partner and choose a suitable club during the game. In all other cases, you should function and think independently. Besides not asking for advice, keep yourself from giving any to your fellow players. Essential information like the details about the flagstick or even the rule clarifications or position of obstructions can be discussed even when you are in the middle of the game.

Wrong impact methods can cost you penalties up to 2 shots during the game. The way you hit the ball is significant. You are supposed to take a solid strike and not spoon the ball or simply shove it out of the position. When you swing the club backward if there is an obstruction that stops the impact, then it would be a stroke. If the club swings fully without hitting the ball, it would not be a stroke. If you do make an impact despite trying to stop the club, then it would be considered a stroke. Your club head should make a substantial impact with the ball for the shot to be called a ‘stroke.’

Striking the ball.

Aim and Shoot, but don't miss the Ball

Getting your scorecard right.

Get those Scores on that Card

Wrong marking of the scores for each hole can lead to disqualifications in the game. Before the game begins, you might exchange the cards with your competitor ahead of the round. This helps you compare the scores of the competitor records. Compare both the cards and then come to a consensus. After this, you and your game partner would both sign the scorecards as verified by both the participants. There might be slight variations in the markings. Aim for getting the hole-based scores right. Not signing the card as well as giving lower scores than actuals might lead to disqualifications. In the Benson and Hedges International Open, Padraig Harrington received a disqualification in the game as he did not sign the scorecard. Such tiny nuances of the rules can lead to severe results in the game. Even the professionals tend to miss them at times. This is why it is essential to know and understand the rules of the game and the implications of each of them.


If you start following the rules for all your games, including your practice matches, you will find it easier to remember them for the fair game. As with everything in life practice makes perfect. So you have to put the work in to see the results. I hope youve enjoyed my tips and will be able to incorporate them into your game. 


Warren Belmore

Warren Belmore

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