Royal Wimbledon were one of the foremost clubs in England that pressed hard for a unified rules code in the latter part of the 19th century.
Although generally in line with the recently published R&A code, it is sufficiently innovative to clearly not be just a copy.
First definition of a stroke.  First use of the term 'casual water.'  The concept of a wrong putting green.  A modern looking procedure for unplayable balls, in the Medal Play special rules
Five minutes for a lost ball search; penalty for striking ball twice reduced to one stroke.

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Rules Mode And Order Of Playing The Game

1. The game of golf is played by two persons, or by four (two of a side playing alternately). It may also be played by three or more persons, each playing his own ball.
The game commences by each side playing off a ball from the starting-point called the 'teeing-ground.' In a match of four, those who are to play off and 'strike against' each other shall be named at starting.
The reckoning of the strokes is kept by the terms 'odds,' 'like,' 'two more,' 'one off two,' etc., and the hole is won by the player holing in the fewest strokes.
The party gaining the hole 'has the honour,' i.e. leads off for the next hole, and may recall his opponent's stroke should he play out of order. On starting for a second match the winner of the previous match 'has the honour.' On starting for a second round the winner of the 'long match' in the previous round is entitled to the 'honour.' Should the first round have been halved, the winner of the last hole 'has the honour.'
No player may play his tee ball until the party in front have played their second strokes.
In match play, after the balls have been struck off, the ball furthest from the hole to which the parties are playing must be played first, or the opponent may recall the stroke.
In a three-ball match, should a ball in any degree interpose on the putting-green between the player's ball and the hole, it must be played first. One round of the links is reckoned a match, unless otherwise stipulated.
If in a double match a player play out of his turn his side loses the hole.

Place Of Teeing

2. The ball must be teed within the limits of the ground marked out for the purpose, and not more than two club-lengths behind the front line. In match play the penalty for the infringement of this rule shall he the recall of the stroke at the option of the opponent. In medal play the stroke must be recalled, the penalty being the loss of the stroke.

A Stroke

3. The ball must be fairly struck, and not 'pushed,' 'scraped,' or 'spooned,' and any movement of the club, made with the intention of striking at the ball, must be considered a stroke.

Club Breaking

4. If, in striking, the club break, it is a stroke, if the part of the club remaining in the player's hand either strike the ground, touch the ball, or pass it. Should the club, in striking, catch in anything, such as a whin-branch or portion of paling, and break, it must be considered a stroke, even if the part remaining in the player's hand do not strike the ground, touch the ball, or pass it.

Against Changing Ball

5. A ball struck off from the tee must not be changed, touched, or moved before the hole is played out, except in striking, and the cases specially provided for in the Rules. If the players are at a loss to know the one ball from the other, neither shall be lifted without the consent of both parties.

Balls Within Six Inches

6. Whenever the balls lie within six inches of each other (the six inches to be measured from the inner surfaces), the ball nearest the hole must be lifted till the other has been played, and then replaced as nearly as possible in its original position.

Ball In Water

7. If the ball lie in casual water on the course, the player may take it out, change the ball if he please, tee it, and play from behind the hazard, losing a stroke.
If the ball be in water in a hazard, or the water itself be a recognised hazard, it may be lifted and dropped behind the hazard, under the same penalty.
If the ball be seen to enter water from which it cannot be recovered, the penalty shall be the same as if recovered.

Dropping Ball

8. In all cases where a ball is to be dropped, the player shall front the hole to which he is playing, stand erect behind the hazard, and drop the ball behind him from his head, the spot at which the ball was found being kept between him and the hole.

Ball Lost

9. If the ball be lost, the player returns to the spot, as nearly as possible, from which the ball was struck, tees another ball, and loses a stroke.
If the ball be found before the party has struck the other ball, the first shall continue to be played.
Whenever the second ball is struck the first ball is out of play.
A player may not delay more than five minutes searching for a lost ball.

Ball Splitting

10. If a ball split into two or more pieces, a fresh ball may be put down where the largest portion of the ball was found; and if a ball be cracked the player may change it on intimating his intention of doing so to his opponent.

Bad-Lying Ball

11. No whins, bushes, ferns, rushes, grass, or moss shall be broken, bent, or trodden on, or adjusted in any way to enable the player to obtain a clearer view of his ball, or better swing, before playing; nor is it allowable to press down any irregularities of surface to improve the lie of the ball.
If the ball lie on sand, no impression may be made with the club, or otherwise, before striking.

Liftable Ball

12. In match or medal play, a ball may, under a penalty of two strokes, be lifted out of a difficulty of any description, and teed behind the hazard, the spot at which the ball was found being kept between the player and the hole. The hazard, in the case of whins or bushes, may be considered as the entire group.
When the ball lies on clothes, or in any of the holes made for golfing, flag-holes, rabbit-scrapes, or on ground under repair by the conservator of the course, it may be lifted, dropped behind the hazard, and played without a penalty. Should such a lie occur in a recognised hazard, the penalty for lifting shall be as in the previous paragraph.

Liftable Impediments

13. All loose impediments, within a club-length of the ball when it lies on grass, either on or off the course, may be removed previous to playing, provided always that nothing be removed which would cause the ball to move out of its place.

Impediments Not Liftable

14. Nothing fixed or growing may be removed. A ball being in a hazard, nothing may be lifted.

'Rub Of The Green,' Etc.

15. Whatever happens by accident to a ball in motion, such as striking anything, must be reckoned 'a rub of the green,' and submitted to; but a ball displaced by any agency outside the match must be replaced, or another ball dropped, as near the spot as possible, without a penalty.

Playing Wrong Ball

16. If a player play his opponent's ball he loses the hole.
If this occur from wrong information given by the opponent, the penalty cannot be claimed; and should the mistake be discovered before the opponent has played the other ball, it must be rectified by the ball being replaced as nearly as possible where it lay.
If it be discovered, before either side has struck off for the next hole, that one of them has played out with a ball of a third party, he loses the hole.

Balls Exchanged

17. If each side play the other's ball, the hole must be played out with the balls thus exchanged.

Striking Opponent's Ball

18. If a player strike his opponent's ball with his foot, club, or otherwise, he loses the hole (except see Rules 16 and 17).

Ball Striking Opponent, Etc.

19. If the player's ball strike his opponent or his opponent's caddie or clubs, the opponent loses the hole.

Ball Striking Player, Etc.

20. If, by accident, the player's ball strike himself or his caddie, or clubs, he loses a stroke.

Striking Ball Twice

21. If, in the act of striking, the player strike the ball twice with his club, he loses a stroke.

Touching Or Displacing Ball

22. If, after it has been played from the tee, the player, by accident, touch his ball with his foot, or any part of his body, or displace it with his club, he loses a stroke.

Approaching The Putting-Green

23. Players approaching a putting-green must wait until the party in front have holed out before playing on to the putting-green. Either side is entitled to have the flag-stick removed.

Clearing The Putting-Green

24. All loose impediments, of whatever kind, may be removed from the putting-green if desired by the player, provided always that nothing be removed which would cause the ball to move out of its place. The putting-green includes all ground within twenty yards of the hole, with the exception of any portion which may be a hazard.

Holing Out The Ball

25. No mark shall be placed or line drawn, either with the club or otherwise, to direct the ball to the hole.
A player or his caddie may remove sand, worm-earths, or such like, lying about the hole, but this must be done lightly with the hand. Except as above mentioned, or in the act of the player addressing himself to his ball, the putting-line must not be touched by the club, hand, or foot. If the player desire the line to the hole, it may be pointed out by a club shaft only.
If the ball rest against the flag-stick in the hole, the player shall be entitled to have the stick removed, and if the ball fall in, it shall be considered as holed out.

Parties Passing Each Other

26. A party, whether of two or four players, playing two balls, may pass parties playing three or more balls.
Players for medals and important prizes shall have precedence, both in starting and through the green, over parties playing ordinary matches.

Care Of The Links

27. The person appointed to take charge of the course shall make new holes when required, and in such places as to preserve the green in proper order. He shall mark out the teeing grounds, carefully obliterating old marks, and shall carry out such instructions as he shall from time to time receive from the Green Committee.

Players having complaints to make regarding the state of the green, or suggestions thereon, should address them to the Committee, and not to the conservator of the links.

It is the duty of every player to replace, or see replaced, any portion of turf which may have been cut out in the act of playing; to have stones and other break-clubs cast off the course; and generally to conduce to the good preservation of the golfing-course and putting-green.

Asking Advice

28. A player must not receive advice about the game, by word, look, or gesture, from any one except his own caddie, his partner's caddie, or his partner.
In medal play, a player may receive advice from his caddie alone.


29. Any disputes respecting the play shall be referred to a party or parties mutually agreed upon, or to the Committee of the Club, either of whose decision shall be final.

Breach Of Rules

30. In match play, where no special penalty for the infringement of a rule is mentioned, the loss of the hole shall be the penalty.
In medal play the penalty shall be two strokes or disqualification, as determined by the Committee of the Club.

Medal Play - Special Rules

31. New holes shall always be made on the day the medal is played for, and no competitor may play at those holes before he starts for the prize, under the penalty of being disqualified for competing.
Before starting, each competitor must obtain from the Secretary a scoring-card, and, in the absence of a special marker, the players will note each other's score. They must satisfy themselves at the finish of each hole that their strokes have been accurately marked; and on completion of the round hand the card to the Secretary or his deputy.
All balls must be holed out.
No stymies are allowed.
The player nearest the hole must play first, or lift his ball, if it be in such a position that it might, if left, give an advantage to his partner.
If a player's ball be displaced by any agency except himself, or his caddie, it must be replaced as exactly as possible, without a penalty.
No competitor may play with a professional.

The ordinary rules of the game, so far as they are not at variance with these special rules, shall also be applicable on medal days.


1. Balls lying on the tent rings or bare patches throughout the course, not being roads, paths, or recognised hazards, may be treated as balls lying on grass.
2. A ball may, under a penalty of a stroke, be lifted (a) from a whin, or grass among whins, and dropped; (b) from the gardens, butts, enclosures, and new plantations, and dropped at a distance of two club-lengths from the enclosure, but so that it shall not settle nearer the hole than the spot from which it was lifted; should it do so it must be dropped again; (c) in the ravines, and dropped in the ravine behind the immediate hazard, or from ravines if played from tee and teed again on teeing-ground.
3. Any party having holed out at the green opposite either club-house, shall take precedence of any party waiting to strike off, such party waiting to follow next and so on alternately. No party having completed the round shall be entitled to benefit by this rule.
4. During the Autumn Competitions, between 1 p.m. and 2.30 p.m., only those members playing for, or with a member playing for, the medals or other prizes shall be allowed to start, and the professional, or his deputy, shall be at the tee during this time to see that this bye-law is carried out.
5. On medal days no player shall start before the party in front have finished playing the first hole.
6. Players who have competed are bound, if necessary, to allow the use of their caddies to others who intend to compete.


Ground enclosed by wire or other fencing at the third and fourteenth holes is out of play, and the ball must be lifted therefrom under penalty of one stroke, and dropped at a distance of two club-lengths from the side nearest the course, but not nearer the hole than the spot from which it is lifted. From all other enclosures for the preservation of the whins the ball must be lifted and dropped behind the hazard under penalty of one stroke (see Rule 8). If played from the tee into the old curling-pond, the ball may be teed again on teeing-ground under same penalty.

Ball On Putting-Greens

Except on medal days, a ball driven on to a putting-green (other than the one being played to) must be lifted and dropped off the green, but not nearer the hole, without penalty.

Note. - Members are urgently requested to refrain from driving a ball when passers-by are within range, and to recollect that the ordinary custom of calling 'Fore!' adopted on most greens is not deemed sufficient at Wimbledon. The player must wait until passers-by have moved out of danger.

By Order

(signed) N. R FOSTER. Hon. Sec.
The Club House, Wimbledon.

Recognised hazards where the ball may be lifted and teed behind under penalty of two strokes, and where the club may not be grounded, nor impediments lifted: -
2nd Hole. Main road and roads to cottages.
3rd Hole. Cart track from large butt.
6th Hole. Carriage road, and ditch on other side of road.
7th & 9th Hole. Paths in ravine, and on north and south sides of pond.
10th Hole. Grassy road close to putting-green and trees.
15th Hole. Sandy pot bunker.
16th Hole. Carriage road.
17th Hole. Sandy gravel before whins, and cart road.
18th Hole. Main road to left, and cart road.
N.B. - Fifteenth hole: the water across main road is a hazard from which the ball may be lilted and dropped under penalty of one stroke.
Rushes all over course to be treated as whins (ball may be lifted and dropped behind under penalty of one stroke).
From iron drain gratings (except on putting-green of sixth hole) the ball may be lifted and dropped behind without penalty.

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