Rules (2019 rules revision)
Rules Frequently Asked Questions
If you need a quick answer about a rule, you can get it here
- Relief from a Red or Yellow Penalty Area
- Removing Loose Impediments in Penalty Area
- Club Touching Ground in Penalty Area
- No Play Zones
- Ball Still in Penalty Area after Stroke from Penalty Area
- Removing Penalty Area Stake
- Relief from Immovable Obstruction When Ball in Penalty Area
- Provisional Ball for Ball Likely in Penalty Area
- Unplayable Ball in Penalty Area
- Interference from Boundary Objects
- Removing an Out of Bounds Stake
- Relief for Embedded Ball
- Can’t Find Ball You Think is Embedded
- Ball in Temporary Water in General Area
- Lost Ball
- Relief for Ball in Ground Under Repair
- Another Ball Interferes With Your Play
- Relief Options for Unplayable Ball
- Interference from Immovable Obstructions
- Putting with Flagstick in the Hole
- Accidental Movement of Ball on Putting Green
- Wind Moves Ball on Putting Green
- Ball-Marker Accidentally Moved
- When Ball is Considered Holed
- Fixing Damage to Hole
- Repairing Damage on the Putting Green
- Removing Sand or Loose Soil on Putting Green
- Kneeling or Lying on Putting Green to Read Putt
- Ball Overhanging the Hole
- Restrictions on Items Used as Ball-Markers
- Illegal Hole Location
- Maximum Number of Clubs Allowed
- Club Broken in Anger
- Club Broke During a Stroke
- Carrying Clubs in Same Bag as Another Player
- Sharing Clubs with Another Player or Partner
- Adding a Club to Bag During Round
- Tightening Clubhead or Shaft During Round
- Changing Settings on Adjustable Driver During Round
- Losing a Club During Round
- Right-Handed Player Using Left-Handed Club
- This has been discussed by Council. The alternative will NOT be implemented as CONGU do not allow it to be used in competitive medal play.
- Members can of course decide to play this in bounce games if they agree between them as it is designed to increase pace of play.
Some video links to help bring the rules to life.
Penalty areas expanded beyond water hazards: Allowing committees to designate “penalty areas” (currently called water hazards) for areas that don’t contain water and to mark all penalty areas as red (so that lateral relief is always allowed) if they choose to do so.
Expanded use of red penalty areas: Committees are given the discretion to mark all penalty areas as red so that lateral relief is always allowed (but they may still mark penalty areas as yellow where they consider it appropriate).
Elimination of opposite side relief option: You are no longer allowed to take relief from a red penalty area on the opposite side from where the ball last entered the penalty area (unless a Committee adopts a Local Rule allowing it).
Touching or removing loose impediments or touching ground in a penalty area: There is no longer a penalty if you touch or move loose impediments (such as leaves, stones and sticks) or touch the ground or water with your hand or your club in a penalty area. You can also make practice swings that touch the ground.
Touching Loose Impediments or Ground in a Penalty Area
Ball at Rest
Accidentally moving your ball while searching for it: There is no longer a penalty. Replace the ball in the original / estimated spot and condition.
Standard for deciding if you caused your ball to move: You will be found to have caused your ball to move only if that is known or virtually certain that it is at least 95% likely that you were the cause – and you will incur a 1 stoke penalty. Otherwise simply play the ball from the new location. (except on green)
Replacing Ball When Original Spot is Not Known: You must replace the ball on its estimated original spot (rather than drop the ball at that spot); and if the estimated spot was on, under or against growing, attached or fixed objects (such as grass), you must replace the ball on, under or against those objects.
Ball in Motion Accidentally Deflected
Your ball in motion accidentally hits you, your equipment, your caddie, someone attending the flagstick for you or a removed or attended flagstick: There is no longer a penalty such as when your ball bounces off a bunker face and hits you. But you can’t deliberately use equipment as a back stop or to deflect the ball.
Ball is Struck More Than Once
Accidentally hitting your ball more than once during a stroke: There will be no penalty and the ball will be played as it lies.
Insisting on High Standards of Conduct and Trusting Player Integrity
Playing in the spirit of the game: New provisions are added to reinforce the high standards of conduct expected from all players on the course and the Committee’s discretion to disqualify players for serious misconduct.
Code of player conduct: Committees are given authority to adopt their own code of player conduct and to set penalties for the breach of standards in that code.
Elimination of need to announce intent to lift ball: When you have good reason to lift your ball to identify it, to see if it is cut or cracked or to see if you are entitled to relief (such as to see if the ball is embedded), you are no longer required first to announce to another player or your marker that you intend to do so or to give that person an opportunity to observe the process.
Reasonable judgment standard: When you need to estimate or measure a spot, point, line, area or other location under a Rule, your reasonable judgment will not be second-guessed based on later evidence (such as video review) if you did all that could reasonably be expected under the circumstances to estimate or measure accurately.
Reduced time for ball search: A ball is lost if not found in three minutes (rather than the current five minutes) after you begin searching for it.
Where a dropped ball must come to rest: Your ball must come to rest in the relief area, within 1 club length of the drop point (think of half circle) where it was dropped, or else it must be redropped.
New dropping procedure: Likely you will only need 1 drop. Your ball must be let go from knee height and fall through the air without touching any part of your body or equipment. If you forget and drop from shoulder height, simply drop again.
Longest club is used to measure the relief area: You use the longest club in your bag, other than a putter, to measure the relief area.
Taking relief in Red penalty areas: In taking lateral relief, you will drop within two club-lengths of where your ball entered the penalty area
Taking Back-on-the-Line Reliefdropping procedure will be on a specific “relief area”
Relief for embedded ball in the general area: You may take relief if your ball is embedded anywhere (except in sand) in the general area (which is the new term for “through the green”), except where a Local Rule restricts relief to the fairway or similar areas (this reverses the default position in the current Rules).
Substituting another ball for a cut or cracked ball: You may substitute another ball if your ball in play on a hole has become cut or cracked while playing that hole; but you are no longer allowed to change balls solely because the ball has become “out of shape.”
DMDs allowed: You may use DMDs to measure distance, except when prohibited by Local Rule (this reverses the default position in the current Rules).
Putting with flagstick left in the hole: There is no longer a penalty if you play a ball from the putting green and it hits the unattended flagstick in the hole.
Repairing damage on the putting green: You may repair almost all damage (including spike marks and animal damage) on the putting green (rather than being limited to repairing only ball-marks or old hole plugs). You must not improve your line of play other than damage.
Touching your line of putt or touching the putting green in pointing out target: There is no longer a penalty if you or your caddie does either of these things, so long as doing so does not improve the conditions affecting your stroke.
Accidentally moving your ball or ball-marker when it is on the putting green: There is no longer a penalty. Whether you moved it accidentally with your club or foot or ball marker. Simply replace the ball in original spot or estimated spot.
Replacing your ball if it moves after you had already marked, lifted and replaced it: Anytime this happens on the putting green, you replace the ball on its spot – even if it was blown by the wind or moved for no clear reason. No penalty
Your caddie marks and lifts your ball on the putting green: There is no longer a penalty if your caddie does this without your specific authorisation to do so.
Alignment for a Stroke
Expanded restriction on caddie help with alignment: Your caddie or your partner are not allowed to stand on a line behind you from the time you begin taking your stance until you have made your stroke.
Promoting Faster Pace of Play
Encouraging you to play promptly: It is recommended that you make each stroke in no more than 40 seconds – and usually more quickly than that. Prepare in advance for each stroke. Move at a good pace between strokes and holes
Playing out of turn in stroke play (“ready golf”) This has always been allowed without penalty, and now you are affirmatively encouraged to do so in a safe and responsible way for convenience or to save time.
Removal of special restrictions on moving loose impediments: There is no longer a penalty if you touch or move loose impediments in a bunker.
Relaxed restrictions on touching the sand with your hand or club when your ball is in a bunker: You are now prohibited only from touching the sand (1) with your hand or club to test the condition of the bunker, (2) with your club in the area right behind or in front of the ball or (3) when making a practice swing or the backswing for your stroke.
Unplayable ball in a bunker – relief option: Extra option – for two penalty strokes, you may take relief outside the bunker by dropping a ball back on the line from the hole through where your ball was at rest in the bunker.