Welcome to the Historical Rules of Golf Pages

These pages, I hope, will be of use to students of the Rules of Golf and anyone interested in the history of the game.   You can find the full Rules that were in force for a particular year, or follow a Rule’s development and change over the years by selecting a topic.

All the Rules issued since the formation of the first R&A Rules of Golf Committee in 1897 are here, as issued by the R&A.  While trying to be as trustworthy as possible for users, this site will inevitably have some small errors or omissions here and there. That is my fault alone. 

Also included are copies of some notable Rules prior to 1897 as issued by prominent Golf Clubs of the era, to help show how a universal code of play developed.

Each copy of a Rules code has a 'headlines' box, where significant or interesting changes or additions have been made.   The box is not intended to be a complete list of all changes from a previous Rules code.

The current Rules of Golf, available to view on the websites of the R&A and the USGA, are not included.

2019 Rules added. Topics and background story updated. A few small errors and typos corrected; outdated links restored.

It was always the intention of this site to build up copies of previous USGA versions of the Rule books, however the USGA site itself now provides a copy of all these from its online Seagle Golf Library link here. Saves me a lot of work!

Choose a period:

Or choose a topic:

Some browsers may not be able to handle the
above selectors, so you can use this link
for the contents page:

Go to Contents Page

I try to be as accurate as possible in building up these rules references and topic pages, but there are some amendments and codes that I do not yet have.  If you have any reliable information, documents or anything of interest that can help make this site more accurate and enjoyable, please let me know.  I will give acknowledgment to your contribution.

For now, the site concentrates on the R&A version of the Rules.  There has been some differences from the USGA versions, gradually growing through the century until the late 1940s.  From 1952 the R&A and the USGA produced the Rules jointly, with variations being only in the appendices and local rules.

Your comments, suggestions or messages are most welcome.
You can use the
feedback form, or me at mail@ruleshistory.com

This site gratefully acknowledges the contribution to the content and accuracy of these pages by:
Ken Chapman, Finland
Richard Groff, USA
Nick Hocking, Australia
Paul Best, Austraila
Janet Homer, England
Alan Horne, Australia
Aleid Kemper, Holland
Neil Millar, England
Nancy Stulack, USGA
Malcolm Wadsworth, England
Dr. K.O. Lau, Malaysia


"A man must love a thing very much if he not only practises it without any hope of fame and money,
but even practises it without any hope of doing it well." - G. K. Chesterton

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