How to Use the Rules of Golf

The Rules of Golf are intended to be comprehensive and provide answers to the many issues that arise in a game that is played worldwide on many different types of courses by players of all abilities.

This Rules of Golf book is intended for those who administer the game, and who need to answer the variety of questions that can arise in relation to golf competitions.

When looking to answer a question or resolve a Rules issue on the course, the Contents page (at the front of the book) can be a helpful tool to enable you to find the Rule that is relevant to the situation.

The Index (at the back of the book) can also help you to identify quickly the Rule that is relevant to the situation. For example:

In addition to using the Contents and the Index in the Rules of Golf, the following points will assist you in using this Rule book efficiently and accurately:

Know the Definitions

There are over 70 defined terms (for example, abnormal course condition, general area, etc.) and these form the foundation around which the Rules are written. A good knowledge of the defined terms (which are italicized throughout the book and contained in one section near the back of the book) is very important to the correct application of the Rules.

The Facts of the Case

To answer any question on the Rules you must consider the facts of the case in some detail. You should identify:

Refer to the Book

As stated above, reference to the Rule book should provide the answer to the majority of questions that can arise on the course. But to assist referees, Committees and others wanting greater detail, we also publish the Official Guide, which contains Clarifications on the Rules of Golf and Committee Procedures with recommendations on how to organize general play and competitions.