Rule 6 - Playing a Hole

Purpose of Rule: Rule 6 covers how to play a hole – such as the specific Rules for teeing off to start a hole, the requirement to use the same ball for an entire hole except when substitution is allowed, the order of play (which matters more in match play than stroke play) and completing a hole.

6.1  Starting Play of a Hole

a. When Hole Starts

A player has started a hole when he or she makes a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. to begin the hole.

The hole has started even if the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. was made from outside the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. (see Rule 6.1b) or the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. was cancelled under a Rule.

b. Ball Must Be Played from Inside Teeing Area

A player must start each hole by playing a ball from anywhere inside the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. under Rule 6.2b.

If a player who is starting a hole plays a ball from outside the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. (including from a wrong set of tee markers for a different teeing location on the same hole or a different hole):

(1) Match Play. There is no penalty, but the opponentOpponent: The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. may cancel the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.:

(2) Stroke Play. The player gets the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. (two penalty strokes) and must correct the mistake by playing a ball from inside the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.:

6.2  Playing Ball from Teeing Area

a. When Teeing Area Rules Apply

The teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. Rules in Rule 6.2b apply whenever a player is required or allowed to play a ball from the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing.. This includes when:

This Rule applies only to the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing, not to any other teeing locations on the courseCourse: The entire area of play within the edge of any boundaries set by the Committee: (whether on the same hole or a different hole).

b. Teeing Area Rules

(1) When Ball Is in Teeing Area.

(2) Ball May Be Teed or Played from Ground. The ball must be played from either:

For purposes of this Rule, the “ground” includes sand or other natural materials put in place to set the teeTee: An object used to raise a ball above the ground to play it from the teeing area. It must be no longer than 4 inches (101.6 mm) and conform with the Equipment Rules. or ball on.

The player must not make a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. at a ball on a non-conforming teeTee: An object used to raise a ball above the ground to play it from the teeing area. It must be no longer than 4 inches (101.6 mm) and conform with the Equipment Rules. or a ball teed in a way not allowed by this Rule.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 6.2b(2):

(3) Certain Conditions in Teeing Area May Be Improved. Before making a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball., the player may take these actions in the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. to improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. (see Rule 8.1b(8)):

But the player gets the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. if he or she takes any other action to improveImprove: To alter one or more of the conditions affecting the stroke or other physical conditions affecting play so that a player gains a potential advantage for a stroke. the conditions affecting the strokeConditions Affecting the Stroke: The lie of the player’s ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play and the relief area where the player will drop or place a ball. in breach of Rule 8.1a.

(4) Restriction on Moving Tee-Markers When Playing from Teeing Area.

In all other situations, the tee-markers are treated as regular movable obstructionsMovable Obstruction: An obstruction that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course. that may be removed as allowed in Rule 15.2.

(5) Ball Is Not in Play Until Stroke Is Made. Whether the ball is teed or on the ground, when starting a hole or playing again from the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. under a Rule:

If a teed ball falls off the teeTee: An object used to raise a ball above the ground to play it from the teeing area. It must be no longer than 4 inches (101.6 mm) and conform with the Equipment Rules. or is knocked off the teeTee: An object used to raise a ball above the ground to play it from the teeing area. It must be no longer than 4 inches (101.6 mm) and conform with the Equipment Rules. by the player before the player has made a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. at it, it may be re-teed anywhere in the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. without penalty.

But if the player makes a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. at that ball while it is falling or after it has fallen off, there is no penalty, the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. counts and the ball is in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:.

(6) When Ball in Play Lies in Teeing Area. If the player’s ball in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole: is in the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. after a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. (such as a teed ball after a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. that missed the ball) or after taking relief, the player may:

6.3  Ball Used in Play of Hole

Purpose of Rule: A hole is played as a progression of strokes made from the teeing area to the putting green and into the hole. After teeing off, the player is normally required to play the same ball until the hole is completed. The player gets a penalty for making a stroke at a wrong ball or a substituted ball when substitution is not allowed by the Rules.

a. Holing Out with Same Ball Played from Teeing Area

A player may play any conforming ball when starting a hole from the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing. and may change balls between two holes.

The player must hole outHoled: When a ball is at rest in the hole after a stroke and the entire ball is below the surface of the putting green. with the same ball played from the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing., except when:

The player should put an identifying mark on the ball to be played (see Rule 7.2).

b. Substitution of Another Ball While Playing Hole

(1) When Player Is Allowed and Not Allowed to Substitute Another Ball. Certain Rules allow a player to change the ball he or she is using to play a hole by substitutingSubstitute: To change the ball the player is using to play a hole by having another ball become the ball in play. another ball as the ball in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole:, and others do not:

(2) Substituted Ball Becomes Ball in Play. When a player substitutesSubstitute: To change the ball the player is using to play a hole by having another ball become the ball in play. another ball as the ball in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole: (see Rule 14.4):

If the player’s original ball has not been found and the player put another ball in playIn Play: The status of a player’s ball when it lies on the course and is being used in the play of a hole: to take stroke-and-distance reliefStroke and Distance: The procedure and penalty when a player takes relief under Rules 17, 18 or 19 by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6). (see Rules 17.1d, 18.1, 18.2b and 19.2a) or as allowed under a Rule that applies when it is known or virtually certainKnown or Virtually Certain: The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move. what happened to the ball (see Rules 6.3c, 9.6, 11.2c, 15.2b, 16.1e and 17.1c):

(3) Making Stroke at Incorrectly Substituted Ball. If a player makes a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. at an incorrectly substitutedSubstitute: To change the ball the player is using to play a hole by having another ball become the ball in play. ball:

If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).

c. Wrong Ball

(1) Making Stroke at Wrong Ball. A player must not make a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. at a wrong ballWrong Ball: Any ball other than the player’s:.

Exception – Ball Moving in Water: There is no penalty if a player makes a strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. at a wrong ballWrong Ball: Any ball other than the player’s: that is moving in water in a penalty areaPenalty Area: An area from which relief with a one-stroke penalty is allowed if the player’s ball comes to rest there. or in temporary waterTemporary Water: Any temporary accumulation of water on the surface of the ground (such as puddles from rain or irrigation or an overflow from a body of water) that::

Penalty for Playing Wrong BallWrong Ball: Any ball other than the player’s: in Breach of Rule 6.3c(1): General PenaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play..

In match playMatch Play: A form of play where a player or side plays directly against an opponent or opposing side in a head-to-head match of one or more rounds::

In stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition., the player must correct the mistake by continuing play with the original ball by playing it as it lies or taking relief under the Rules:

(2) What to Do When Player’s Ball Was Played by Another Player as Wrong Ball. If it is known or virtually certainKnown or Virtually Certain: The standard for deciding what happened to a player’s ball – for example, whether the ball came to rest in a penalty area, whether it moved or what caused it to move. that the player’s ball was played by another player as a wrong ballWrong Ball: Any ball other than the player’s:, the player must replaceReplace: To place a ball by setting it down and letting it go, with the intent for it to be in play. the original ball or another ball on the original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).

This applies whether or not the original ball has been found.

d. When Player May Play More Than One Ball at a Time

A player may play more than one ball at a time on a hole only when:

6.4  Order of Play When Playing Hole

Purpose of Rule: Rule 6.4 covers the order of play throughout a hole. The order of play from the teeing area depends on who has the honour, and after that is based on which ball is farthest from the hole.

a. Match Play

(1) Order of Play. The player and opponentOpponent: The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. must play in this order:

(2) Opponent May Cancel Player’s Stroke Made Out of Turn. If the player plays when it was the opponent’sOpponent: The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. turn to play, there is no penalty but the opponentOpponent: The person a player competes against in a match. The term opponent applies only in match play. may cancel the strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.:

Exception – Playing Out of Turn by Agreement to Save Time: To save time:

See Rule 23.6 (order of play in Four-BallFour-Ball: A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.).

b. Stroke Play

(1) Normal Order of Play.

There is no penalty if a player plays out of turn, except that if two or more players agree to play out of turn to give one of them an advantage, each of them gets the general penaltyGeneral Penalty: Loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. (two penalty strokes).

(2) Playing Out of Turn in a Safe and Responsible Way (“Ready Golf”). Players are both allowed and encouraged to play out of turn in a safe and responsible way, such as when:

But if the player whose turn it is to play under (1) is ready and able to play and indicates that he or she wants to play first, other players should generally wait until that player has played.

A player should not play out of turn to gain an advantage over other players.

c. When Player Will Play Provisional Ball or Another Ball from Teeing Area

The order of play in this case is for all other players in the group to make their first strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. on the hole before the player plays the provisional ballProvisional Ball: Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be: or another ball from the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing..

If more than one player will play a provisional ballProvisional Ball: Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be: or another ball from the teeing areaTeeing Area: The area the player must play from in starting the hole he or she is playing., the order of play is the same order as before.

For a provisional ballProvisional Ball: Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be: or another ball played out of turn, see Rules 6.4a(2) and 6.4b.

d. When Player Takes Relief or Will Play Provisional Ball from Anywhere Except Teeing Area

The order of play under Rules 6.4a(1) and 6.4b(1) in these two cases is:

(1) Taking Relief to Play Ball from a Different Place Than Where It Lies.

(2) Playing Provisional Ball. The order of play is for the player to play the provisional ballProvisional Ball: Another ball played in case the ball just played by the player may be: right after making the previous strokeStroke: The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball. and before anyone else plays a ball, except:

6.5  Completing Play of a Hole

A player has completed a hole:

See Rules 21.1b(1), 21.2b(1), 21.3b(1) and 23.3c (when a player has completed a hole in other forms of stroke playStroke Play: A form of play where a player or side competes against all other players or sides in the competition. or in Four-BallFour-Ball: A form of play where sides of two partners compete, with each player playing his or her own ball. A side’s score for a hole is the lower score of the two partners on that hole.).