Golf Rules for Beginners

by Bill Winters

Golf is one of the most complicated sports of all time. Learning how to play golf is not as easy as learning how to play other sports like cricket, soccer, or tennis. Plus, only knowing how to play golf is not enough. It is like playing a game of catching the ball with your kid. There are no rules to follow, no penalties, and no way to determine who actually won the game. It is all about the fun only.

Though golf may seem like a complicated game, with a set of rules that can be difficult to understand, it doesn't have to be. If you're just starting out in golf, here are the basics of the game that will help you get started. Golf is played on a course made up of 18 holes, and each player takes turns hitting balls from one end of the course to the other. The goal is to hit the ball into each hole in as few strokes as possible. There are certain things you can do while playing golf called 'golfing penalties' that will add strokes to your score, and there are also some basic equipment requirements, such as clubs and balls. So if you're ready to start playing this fun and challenging

Therefore, if you wish to learn golf and take it seriously, there is a set of rules and regulations that every golfer needs to be well-acquainted with before they are capable of playing a real match on the golf course. Trust me, the game is a lot more fun when you play by the rules. And, it makes you feel good when you win as if you have accomplished something.

Golf Rules for Beginners
Golf Rules for Beginners

So, are you in for learning the golf rules for beginners? You are at the right place if you want to know about these rules. This article will tell you all that you need to know about golf and its rules for beginners and it is all the information that you will need before setting a foot in the golf course for the first time.

Let's get right into it and make you a golf expert in no time!

Purpose of Golf:

What you have to do in a game of golf is shoot your ball from its initial point all the way into the hole as marked by the flag. The better the player, the lesser the attempts needed at getting your ball into the hall. Sounds simple, right? But it is not a piece of cake. Following are the golf rules that make this game more fun, competitive, and interesting. Although before we get into that, let me just quickly list down a few things needed to play a game of golf at the golf course!

Things Needed to Play Golf:

  • Golf Balls,
  • Golf Clubs,
  • Wooden Ts,
  • Gloves,
  • And, a golf kit or bag.

Now that you know the purpose of the game and the equipment you need to possess to be able to play a game, let's talk about the rules:

Golf Rules for Beginners:

Rule #1: The Ball Should Be Hit With the Standard Clubs Beginning With the Starting Point of the Hole to the Green and Eventually Into the Hole

This rule states that the ball should be hit with the standard clubs beginning with the starting point of the hole to the green and eventually into the hole. Nothing too complicated about this, right? But when you are playing with multiple golfers, who gets to decide which one of you will go first?

Well, in this situation, the player with the greatest distance from the hole is supposed to strike first. However, this rule applies to the first round only. From there onwards, the player that required the least shots to send the ball into the previous hole gets to hit first.

Next question: what if you miss the ball? First of all, it is important to understand what is meant by 'missing the ball'? If you hit the ball and it goes out of the bounds or if it comes in contact with water hazards, the ball is said to be missed or lost. The players are allotted a time of 5 minutes to find it and if they fail, they have to bear a penalty to make up for it. One stroke and going back to your original initial position is the penalty for it.

Rule #2: The 14 Club Rule

Golf Rules for Beginners:
Golf Rules for Beginners:

This rule is also called the 14 club rule. It states that players can only carry a maximum of 14 clubs in their golf bag or golf kit. You can carry less than that but carrying even a single more than 14 can lead to a penalty. This is why golf pros emphasize so much on choosing the perfect and the most suitable clubs for the game because you cannot pick all of them!

The key is to examine your golf course before the game and choose your clubs wisely. Unload those that you are not going to need. It is absolutely unnecessary to carry golf clubs that will not benefit you on the course.

So do yourself a favor and only carry the most suitable ones. Make sure to check the contents of your kit once more before leaving, you don't want to risk the chances of getting a penalty!

Rule #3: No Seeking Advice From Their Opponents

Golf Rules for Beginners:
Golf Rules for Beginners:

As sociable as golf is, the game still strictly prohibits the players from seeking advice from their opponents. Neither can the players offer their opponents any sort of suggestions during the game. Besides your partner or the Caddy, it is not permissible to ask for advice from anyone else. Although, it is allowed to discuss the rules, positions, or distances. Anything but help- that you cannot offer!

Rule #4: No Change the Position of the Ball

The next rule says that you cannot change the position of the ball. If you don't play it the way it lies, you may get yourself a penalty. The ball should be hit from the point it stopped after it came to rest from the previous shot.

However, if the ball was moved by wind or due to any other natural causes, it is fine to play the shot from the new position. But if one of the players picked up the ball and put it in a different position, even with the difference of a few inches, it should be restored to its original place before the next shot is played.

Rule #5: Not Allowed to Move, Break, or Bend Anything That Is either Fixed to Its Position or Is Growing

Golf Rules for Beginners:
Golf Rules for Beginners:

Another restriction for the golfers during the game is that they are not allowed to move, break, or bend anything that is either fixed to its position or is growing. Examples of such things would be fingernails (weird, right?), bottle caps, hair gel, any sort of lotion, or a balm.

This rule does sound a bit ridiculous, I will give you that! But once you find out the reason behind this, you will realize it is not as unreasonable as it sounds. This rule was made to prevent the players from making any changes that could enhance their vision or change the lie of the ball. We want to keep the game fair, don't we?

Rule #6: The Green Rulings

Next up on the list is the rule of the green rulings. According to this rule, once the ball has come to rest the player is allowed to lift it in order to mark it, clean it, or even disk it. However, it can be done without getting a penalty on one condition only. It is restored to its exact same position once you are done with it. Not an inch towards the right or the left. Sounds impossible at first, I know! But, the hack to follow this rule is to mark the ground where the ball had originally stopped before lifting it. This way you can place it back in its exact position without any risk of forgetting its original place and definitely without a penalty!

Rule #7: You Can Only Play With Your Own Ball

Golf Rules for Beginners:
Golf Rules for Beginners:

This rule says that you can only play with your own ball. This means you cannot mix up or confuse your ball with the ball of the opponents. Hence, it is important to mark your ball in a manner that you can easily and immediately differentiate it from the balls of your opponents.

Furthermore, even though it is not allowed to pick up the ball yourself and can cause you a penalty, you can do it for identification purposes. However, there is a correct method to do that as well. You cannot just head over to the ball and lift it, you have to announce it beforehand. Check if the ball is yours or not, then place it back to its original position!

Rule #8: What Happens Next if the Ball Goes Out of Bounds

This golf rule for beginners clarifies what happens next if the ball goes out of bounds. Beginners usually have a hard time making a decision on this one so let's make it easier for you. If you believe the ball has gone out of the bounds, the wise thing to do is to immediately declare it and play the provisional.

You will be given a time limit of 3 minutes during which you are supposed to find the ball. If you are able to spot it dry and within the boundaries of the course before the time is up, you can play your next shot from your original position but at the cost of an added stroke. But if you don't find it, you will play your shot with the provisional ball. However, the penalty of an added stroke will be borne in both conditions.

1. The basic golf rules are pretty simple - hit the ball into the hole with the fewest strokes possible

The basic golf rules are pretty simple - hit the ball into the hole with the fewest strokes possible
The basic golf rules are pretty simple - hit the ball into the hole with the fewest strokes possible

Don't touch your golf clubs when you know you will be swinging them at something, people and objects included. Keep safety in mind and avoid things like spectators, players on other holes and so forth. Don't ask for yourself or anyone else to be given a free stroke or penalty because you touched your club.

Don't touch another player's clubs or anything that belongs to them. In the event of an accident where a club does get broken, check for damage before continuing play and make sure no one is hurt. Offer to pay for damages if they occurred during the accident. If it was not an accident, make sure the club gets returned to the owner as quickly as possible.

Don't expect everything on the course to be perfect. If you're having a bad day, it's best just leave your clubs in your bag and go home. How you play on any given day has nothing to do with anyone but yourself. Don't blame your playing partner - they didn't do anything.

Don't slow down play by taking too much time to hit, you'll lose what patience the group may have had for you. This also includes having an acceptable pace on the green or taking penalties. If you need more time than most people expect to hit your shot, don't bother. You'll just slow everyone down more.

Don't forget that golf is a social sport, so you should always talk to the other people in your group if you have a good idea for their game - they might listen and learn something from it. If they don't, who cares? It's not your responsibility to make sure they play well; it's theirs. Don't tell them what to do - just give them a suggestion, whether they're playing well or not.

Don't talk about yourself unless you have something positive to say and don't expect other people to bring up the subject of golf. If you ask how their game is going and they say, "Terrible," it's probably best not to follow up the conversation. If you're having an especially good day, don't mention it unless asked.

Don't think everyone is trying to get in your way when someone else is playing through. They are just playing through. Sometimes this will mean that you have to wait longer than usual for a tee or green, but that's all part of golf. Remember, you're expecting the same courtesy when it's your turn to play through, hopefully.

Don't think everyone is against you if they aren't giving you verbal congratulations on every good shot or complimenting your playing ability every time you make a mistake, they are most likely not thinking about you at all.

Don't be afraid of the game, just go out and play it. If you hit a bad shot or miss a short putt, don't get angry. A loss of temper will only make things worse for you. Learn to accept your mistakes, learn from them if possible and move on. You'll never become a great golfer if you can't accept that you made a mistake and move on.

Don't spend the whole day at the golf course unless you're there to play all day. Socialize as much as possible without disrupting those who are playing, always keeping safety in mind.

Don't stand directly behind someone swinging, you'll only get hit by errant balls or clubs. Also, avoid standing on someone else's line when they're about to hit the ball.

Don't swear at your golf clubs or throw them around in anger if something goes wrong. They didn't do it on purpose and it won't help anything if you lose your temper.

2. Not moving your ball or touching it when you're not allowed to

The thing is, when you're allowed to move your ball when you hit into another guy's line, then when they take the action of moving your ball against you, that's just wrong. Here are some examples of when this can happen:

  • 1. While playing a match, you play a shot from the rough. Your ball moves when it's still in motion.
  • 2. You hit your tee shot on the par 3 12th hole and it goes into a divot hole behind one of those big mounds by the green. In order to get your ball out of there, you need to move it and not tee-up.
  • 3. You're practicing your swing in the bunker with a few balls, without hitting anyone of them. Suddenly, one of those balls goes flying into another player's line of flight who is about to take his shot from the fairway.
  • 4. In a scramble format, you walk up to your ball on the green, but it's not on your line. As you're about to tee off, another scramble player who is still off of his shot walks up behind you and moves your ball back into its original spot.
  • 5. You've just realized that there was a group ahead of you playing through, and now they are coming towards your ball.

3. Get penalized for doing something wrong, like hitting your ball out of bounds

The most important things to remember about the golf rules is that you are penalized for not following them. The severity of the penalty dictates how bad the offense was. If you accidentally hit your ball with your club on purpose (known as "intentional interference"), there will be a penalty depending on the situation. If you hit your ball out of bounds, there will be a penalty depending on the situation. Etc., etc., etc.

By now, you are probably asking why this important? After all, it's just a game of golf! Well, not really… It is imperative to follow the rules in order for our sport to have credibility. The United States Golf Association (USGA) is the governing body of golf in America, and it's important that they are taken seriously.

What are the basic rules about getting penalized for doing something wrong? Whenever you do something that is against the rules, you incur a penalty depending on who was affected by your actions. If your actions affected only yourself, then there is no penalty. For instance, if you hit into the woods while playing a round of golf by yourself and you can't find your ball? No penalty because no one was hurt or disadvantaged by your lack of skill!

4. Read up on all the golf rules before playing so you don't end up getting penalized!

The severity of the penalty does not necessarily correlate with the seriousness of violating the rules. In some cases, a more severe penalty is given for doing something that wasn't as bad as another situation. For instance, if you hit your ball out of bounds and it lands in the parking lot near the green? Well, we call that a lateral hazard so you will be penalized 2 strokes and drop your ball in the same spot. However, if you hit your ball into a body of water? That's considered a water hazard so you will be penalized 1 stroke and drop your ball as close to where it entered the water as possible.


Getting familiar with these 8 golf rules for beginners is more than enough for an amateur for now. You will eventually learn about the further complications and rules and regulations of this game. But right now, you need not get too overwhelmed with all the extra information. Remember, even the most expert golf players were amateur once. Practice makes a man perfect! Both practice and knowledge will pave your way to a bright and fun future in golf!

The rules of golf are not always easy to understand, but we hope this article has made some things clearer. If you have any questions about the information in our blog post, let us know and we will be happy to answer them for you. We also offer a variety of different services that can help make your time on the course more enjoyable and successful. Whether it is lessons with one of our certified PGA professionals or equipment rentals from a reputable company like Titleist or Ping, Golf Etc., Inc. is here to ensure that every golfer's experience at their facility leaves them feeling satisfied and looking forward to coming back soon!

About Bill Winters

Those who have not yet tried the sport just can’t imagine what is driving these golfers to brave the sun’s heat and go around a course bigger than several football fields combined. It seems like an awful lot of work considering that the ball is quite small that is must be hard to hit, the ground of the course is not flat and, most annoying of all, there are sand traps lying around seemingly bent on preventing a player from finishing the course.

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Thoughts on "Golf Rules for Beginners"

About the Author

The game of golf may seem like an awful lot to take on when one considers that the ball is quite small, must be hard to hit and carry through windy conditions with little chance for error. The ground course has hillsides which make it challenging enough without adding sand traps who seem bent on preventing players from completing their round!

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