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:
If a player has accidentally moved their ball on the putting green, identify the key words in the question, such as “ball moved” or “putting green”.
The relevant Rules (Rule 9.4 and Rule 13.1d) can be found under the headings “Ball Moved” and “Putting Green” in the Index.
A reading of these Rules will confirm the correct answer.
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:
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.
To answer any question on the Rules you must consider the facts of the case in some detail. You should identify:
The form of play (is it match play or stroke play, single, foursome, four-ball, etc.).
Who is involved (is it the player, partner or caddie, the opponent or their caddie, or an outside influence).
What area of the course did the incident occur (was it on the teeing area, in a bunker, in a penalty area, on the putting green, etc.).
What actually happened.
What were the player’s intentions (what was the player doing and what did they want to do).
The timing of the incident (is the player still on the course, has the player now returned their scorecard, has the competition closed, etc.).
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.