The first universally accepted Rules of Golf from the R&A Rules of Golf Committee, formed in Sept 1897.
Based on the then current R&A 1891 rules, with the definitions collected together at the start, the rules are basically the same, but more explanatory and wide ranging.
New section entitled Special Rules for Stroke Competitions.
Out of bounds introduced.
Issued 26 Sept 1899, adopted by USGA 28 Feb 1900 with, additional comments.
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RULES OF GOLF

AS APPROVED BY
THE ROYAL AND ANCIENT GOLF CLUB
OF ST. ANDREWS,

26 September 1899.

1. Definitions: (a)   The Game of Golf is played by sides, each playing its own ball. A side consists either of one or of two players. If one player play against another, the match is called ‘a single.’ If two play against two, it is called ‘a foursome.’ A single player may play against two, when the match is called ‘a threesome’, or three players may play against each other, each playing his own ball, when the match is called ‘a three-ball match.’

(b)   The game consists in each side playing a ball from a teeing-ground into a hole by successive strokes, and the hole is won by the side which holes its ball in fewer strokes than the opposing side, except as otherwise provided for in the Rules. If the sides hole out in the same number of strokes, the hole is halved.

(c)   The teeing-ground shall be indicated by two marks placed in a line, as nearly as possible at right angles to the course. The hole shall be 4 inches in diameter, and at least 4 inches deep.

(d)   The term ‘putting-green’ shall mean all ground within 20 yards of the hole, except hazards.

(e)   A ‘hazard’ shall be any bunker, water (except casual water), sand, path, road, railway, whin, bush, rushes, rabbit scrape, fence, or ditch. Sand blown on to the grass, or sprinkled on the course for its preservation, bare patches, snow, and ice are not hazards. Permanent grass within a hazard shall not be considered part of the hazard.

(f)   The term ‘through the green’ shall mean all parts of the course except ‘hazards’ and the putting green which is being played to.

(g)   The term ‘out of bounds’ shall mean any place outside the defined or recognised boundaries of the course.

(h)   ‘Casual water’ shall mean any temporary accumulation of water (whether caused by rainfall or otherwise) which is not one of the ordinary and recognised hazards of the course.

(i)   A ball shall be ‘in play’, as soon as the player has made a stroke at the teeing-ground in each hole, and shall remain in play until holed out, except when lifted in accordance with the Rules.

(j)   A ball shall be considered to have ‘moved’ only if it leave its original position in the least degree, and stop in another; but if it merely oscillate, without finally leaving its original position, it shall not be considered to have ‘moved.’

(k)   A ball shall be considered ‘lost’ if it be not found within five minutes after the search for it is begun.

(l)   A ‘match’ shall consist of one round of the Links, unless it be otherwise agreed.
A match is won by the side which is leading by a number of holes greater than the number of holes remaining to be played. If each side win the same number of holes, the match is halved.

(m)   A ‘stroke’ shall be any movement of the ball caused by the player, except as provided for in Rule 4, or any downward movement of the club made with the intention of striking the ball.

(n)   A ‘penalty stroke’ is a stroke added to the score of a side under certain rules, and shall not affect the rotation of play.

(o)   The privilege of playing first from a teeing-ground is called ‘the honour.’

(p)   ‘Addressing the ball’ shall mean that a player has taken up his position and grounded his club; or if in a hazard, that he has taken up his position preparatory to striking the ball.

(q)   The reckoning of strokes is kept by the terms ‘the odd,’ ‘two more,’ ‘three more,’ &c., and ‘one off three,’ ‘one off two,’ ‘the like.’ The reckoning of holes is kept by the terms-so many ‘holes up,’ or ‘all even,’ and so many ‘to play.’

2.  A match begins by each side playing a ball from the first teeing ground.

The player who shall play first on each side shall be named by his own side.

The option of taking the honour at the first teeing-ground shall be decided, if necessary, by lot.

A ball played from in front of, or outside of, or more than two club lengths behind the two marks indicating the teeing-ground, or played by a player when his opponent should have had the honour, may be at once recalled by the opposite side, and may be re-teed.

The side which wins a hole shall have the honour at the next teeing ground. If a hole has been halved, the side which had the honour at the last teeing-ground shall again have the honour.

On beginning a new match the winner of the long match in the previous round shall have the honour, or if the previous match was halved the side which last won a hole shall have the honour.

3.  A player shall not play while his ball is moving, under the penalty of the loss of the hole. But if the ball begin to move while the player is making his upward or downward swing, he shall incur no penalty, except as provided for in Rules 10, 18, and 27, and a stroke lost under Rule 27 shall not in these circumstances be counted as a stroke of the player.

4.  If the ball fall or be knocked off the tee in addressing it, no penalty shall be incurred, and it may be replaced, and if struck when moving no penalty shall be incurred.

5.  In a threesome or foursome the partners shall strike off alternately from the teeing-grounds, and shall strike alternately during the play of the hole.

If a player play when his partner should have done so, his side shall lose the hole.

6.  When the balls are in play, the ball farthest from the hole which the players are approaching shall be played first, except as otherwise provided for in the Rules. If a player play when his opponent should have done so, the opponent may at once recall the stroke. A ball so recalled shall be dropped as near as possible to the place where it lay, without penalty.

7.  The ball must be fairly struck at, not pushed, scraped, nor spooned, under penalty of the loss of the hole.

8.  A ball must be played wherever it lies or the hole be given up, except as otherwise provided for in the Rules.

9.  Unless with the opponent’s consent, a ball in play shall not be moved, nor touched before the hole is played out, under penalty of one stroke, except as otherwise provided for in the Rules. But the player may touch his ball with his club in the act of addressing it, without penalty.

If the player’s ball move the opponent’s ball through the green, the opponent, if he choose, may drop a ball (without penalty) as near as possible to the place where it lay, but this must be done before another stroke is played.

10.  Any loose impediment (not being in or touching a hazard) which is within a club length of the ball may be removed. If the player’s ball move after any such loose impediment has been touched by the player, his partner, or either of their caddies, the penalty shall be one stroke. If any loose impediment (not being on the putting-green) which is more than a club length from the ball be removed, the penalty shall be the loss of the hole.

11.  Any vessel, wheel-barrow, tool, roller, grass-cutter, box or similar obstruction, may be removed. If a ball be moved in so doing, it may be replaced without penalty. A ball lying on or touching such obstruction, or on clothes, nets, or ground under repair or covered up or opened for the purpose of the upkeep of the Links, may be lifted and dropped without penalty, as near as possible to the place where it lay, but not nearer the hole. A ball lifted in a hazard, under such circumstances, shall be dropped in the hazard.

A ball lying in a golf hole or flag hole, or in a hole made by the greenkeeper, may be lifted and dropped without penalty as near as possible to the place where it lay, but not nearer the hole.

12.  Before striking at a ball in play, the player shall not move, bend, nor break anything fixed or growing near the ball, except in the act of placing his feet on the ground for the purpose of addressing the ball, in soling his club to address the ball, and in his upward or downward swing, under penalty of the loss of the hole, except as otherwise provided for in the Rules.

13.  When a ball lies in or touches a hazard, nothing shall be done to improve its lie; the club shall not touch the ground, nor shall anything be touched or moved before the player strikes at the ball, subject to the following exceptions: (1) The player may place his feet firmly on the ground for the purpose of addressing the ball; (2) In addressing the ball, or in the upward or downward swing, any grass, bent, whin, or other growing substance, or the side of a bunker, wall, paling, or other immovable obstacle may be touched; (3) Steps or planks placed in a hazard by the Green Committee for access to or egress from such hazard may be removed, and if a ball be moved in so doing, it may be replaced without penalty; (4) Any loose impediments may be removed from the putting-green; (5) The player shall be entitled to find his ball as provided for by Rule 30. The penalty for a breach of this Rule shall be the loss of the hole.

14.  A player or caddie shall not press down nor remove any irregularities of surface near a ball in play. Dung, worm-casts, or mole-hills may be removed (but not pressed down) without penalty. The penalty for a breach of this Rule shall be the loss of the hole.

15.  If a ball lie or be lost in water, the player may drop a ball, under penalty of one stroke. But if a ball lie or be lost (1) in casual water through the green, a ball may be dropped without penalty; (2) in water in a hazard, or in casual water in a hazard, a ball may be dropped behind the hazard, under penalty of one stroke; (3) in casual water on a putting-green, a ball may be placed by hand behind the water, without penalty.

16.  When a ball has to be dropped, the player himself shall drop it. He shall face the hole, stand erect behind the hazard or casual water, keep the spot from which the ball was lifted (or in the case of water or casual water, the spot at which it entered) in a line between himself and the hole, and drop the ball behind him from his head, standing as far behind the hazard or casual water as he may please. If it be impossible to drop the ball behind the hazard or casual water, it shall be dropped as near as possible to the place where it lay, but not nearer the hole. If the ball so dropped touch the player dropping it, there shall be no further penalty, and if the ball roll into a hazard, it may be re-dropped without further penalty.

17.  When the balls lie within six inches of each other on a putting-green, or within a club length of each other through the green or in a hazard (the distance to be measured from their nearest points), the ball nearer the hole may, at the option of either the player or the opponent, be lifted until the other is p1ayed, and shall then be replaced as near as possible to the place where it lay. If the ball farther from the hole be moved in so doing, or in measuring the distance, it shall be replaced without penalty. If the lie of the lifted ball be altered by the player in playing, the ball may be placed in a lie as nearly as possible similar to that from which it was lifted, but not nearer the hole.

18.  Any loose impediments may be removed from the putting-green, irrespective of the position of the player’s ball. The opponent’s ball may not be moved except as provided for by the immediately preceding Rule. If the player’s ball move after any loose impediment lying within six inches of it has been touched by the player, his partner, or either of their caddies, the penalty shall be one stroke.

19.  When the ball is on the putting-green the player or his caddie may remove (but not press down) sand, earth, dung, worm casts, mole-hills, snow, or ice lying round the hole or in the line of his putt. This shall be done by brushing lightly with the hand only across the putt and not along it. Dung may be removed by a club, but the club must not be laid with more than its own weight upon the ground. The line of the putt must not be touched, except with the club immediately in front of the ball, in the act of addressing it, or as above authorised. The penalty for a breach of this Rule is the loss of the hole.

20.  When the ball is on the putting-green, no mark shall be placed, nor line drawn as a guide. The line of the putt may be pointed out by the players caddie, his partner, or his partner’s caddie, but the person doing so must not touch the ground.

The player’s caddie, his partner, or his partner’s caddie, may stand at the hole, but no player nor caddie shall endeavour, by moving or otherwise, to influence the action of the wind upon the ball.

The penalty for a breach of this rule is the loss of the hole.

21.  When on the putting-green, a player shall not play until the opponent’s ball is at rest, under penalty of one stroke.

22.  Either side is entitled to have the flag-stick removed when approaching the hole. If the ball rest against the flag-stick when in the hole, the player shall be entitled to remove the stick, and, if the ball fall in, it shall be deemed as having been holed out at the last stroke. If the player’s ball knock in the opponent’s ball, the latter shall be deemed as having been holed out at the last stroke. If the player’s ball move the opponent’s ball, the opponent, if he choose, may replace it, but this must be done before another stroke is played. If the player’s ball stop on the spot formerly occupied by the opponent’s ball, and the opponent declare his intention to replace, the player shall first play another stroke, after which the opponent shall replace and play his ball. If the opponent’s ball lie on the edge of the hole, the player, after holing out, may knock it away, claiming the hole if holing at the like, and the half if holing at the odd, provided that the player’s ball does not strike the opponent’s ball and set it in motion. If after the player’s ball is in the hole, the player neglect to knock away the opponent’s ball, and it fall in also, the opponent shall be deemed to have holed out at his last stroke

23.  If a ball in motion be stopped or deflected by any agency outside the match, or by the forecaddie, the ball must be played from where it lies, and the occurrence submitted to as a ‘rub of the green.’ If a ball lodge in anything moving, a ball shall be dropped as near as possible to the place where the object was when the ball lodged in it, without penalty. If a ball at rest be displaced by any agency outside the match, excepting wind, the player shall drop a ball as near as possible to the place where it lay, without penalty. On the putting-green the ball shall be replaced by hand, without penalty.

24.  If the player’s ball strike, or be moved by an opponent or an opponent’s caddie or clubs, the opponent shall lose the hole.

25.  If the player’s ball strike, or be stopped by, himself or his partner, or either of their caddies or clubs, his side shall lose the hole.

26.  If the player, when making a stroke, strike the ball twice, the penalty shall be one stroke.

27. If the player, when not intending to make a stroke, or his partner or either of their caddies, move his or their ball, or by touching anything cause it to move, when it is in play, the penalty shall be one stroke. If a ball in play move, after the player has grounded his club in the act of addressing it, or, when in a hazard, if he has taken up his stance to play it, he shall be deemed to have caused it to be moved, and shall lose a stroke, which shall be counted as a stroke of the player, except as provided in Rule 3.

28.  If a player play the opponent’s ball, his side shall lose the hole, unless (1) the opponent then play the player’s ball, whereby the penalty is cancelled, and the hole must be played out with the balls thus exchanged, or (2) the mistake occur through wrong information given by the opponent or his caddie, in which case there shall be no penalty, but the mistake, if discovered before the opponent has played, must be rectified by placing a ball as near as possible to the place where the opponent’s ball lay.

If it be discovered before either side has struck off from the next teeing-ground (or, after playing the last hole in the match, before any of the players have left the green) that one side has played out the hole with the ball of a party not engaged in the match, that side shall lose that hole.

29.  If a ball be lost, except as otherwise provided for in the Rules, the player’s side shall lose the hole; but if both balls be lost, the hole shall be considered halved.

30.  If a ball be lost in fog, bent, whins, long grass, or the like, only so much thereof shall be touched as will enable the player to find his ball. The penalty for a breach of this Rule shall be the loss of the hole.

31.  If a ball be driven out of bounds, a ball shall be dropped at the spot from which the stroke was played, under penalty of loss of the distance.

32.  In a three-ball match, if a player consider that an opponent’s ball on the putting-green might interfere with his stroke, he may require the opponent either to lift or hole out his ball at the opponent’s discretion.

If an opponent consider (1) that his own ball, if left, might be of assistance to the player, he is entitled to lift it, or hole out at his discretion; or (2) that the ball of the other opponent might be of such assistance, he may require that it be either lifted or holed out at the other opponent’s discretion.

33.  A player shall not ask for advice from any one except his own caddie, his partner, or his partner’s caddie, nor shall he willingly be otherwise advised in any way whatever, under penalty of the loss of the hole.

34.  If a ball split into separate pieces, another ball may be put down where the largest portion lies, or if two pieces are apparently of equal size, it may be put where either piece lies, at the option of the player. If a ball crack or become unfit for play, the player may change it, on intimating to his opponent his intention to do so. Mud adhering to a ball shall not be considered as making it unfit for play.

35.  If a dispute arise on any point, the players have the right of determining the party or parties to whom it shall be referred; but should they not agree, either side may refer it to the Rules of Golf Committee, whose decision shall be final. If the point in dispute be not covered by the Rules of Golf; the arbiters must decide it by equity.


SPECIAL RULES FOR STROKE COMPETITIONS.

1.  In stroke competitions, the competitor who holes the stipulated course in fewest strokes shall be the winner.

2.   If the lowest scores be made by two or more competitors, the tie or ties shall be decided by another round to be played on the same day. But if the Green Committee determine that to be inexpedient or impossible, they shall then appoint the following or some subsequent day whereon the tie or ties shall be decided.

3.  New holes shall be made for stroke Competitions, and thereafter no competitor, before starting, shall play any stroke on putting-green, under penalty of disqualification.

4.  The scores shall be kept by a special marker or by the competitors noting each other’s scores. The scores marked shall be checked after each hole. On completion of the round, the score of the competitor shall be signed by the marker, counter-signed by the competitor, and handed to the Secretary or his deputy, after which, unless it be found that a card returned shows a score below that actually played (in which case the competitor shall be disqualified), no correction or alteration can be made.

5.  If a competitor play from outside the limits of the teeing-ground, the penalty shall be disqualification.

6.  If a ball be lost (except as otherwise provided for in the Rules of Golf), the competitor shall return as near as possible to the spot from which the lost ball was struck, tee a ball, and lose a stroke. The lost ball shall continue in play, if it be found before the player has struck another ball.

7.  If a competitor’s ball strike himself, his clubs or caddie, the penalty shall be one stroke.

8.  If a competitor’s ball strike another competitor, or his clubs or caddie, it is a ‘rub of the green,’ and the ball shall be played from where it lies. If a competitor’s ball which is at rest be moved by another competitor or his caddie or his club or his ball, or by any outside agency excepting wind, it shall be replaced as near as possible to the place where it lay, without penalty.

9.  A competitor shall hole out with his own ball at every hole, under penalty of disqualification. But if it be discovered, before he has struck off from the next teeing-ground or, if the mistake occur at the last hole, before he has handed his card to the Secretary or his deputy, that he has not holed out with his own ball, he shall be at liberty to return and hole out with his own ball, without penalty.

10.   A ball may be lifted out of a difficulty of any description, and teed, if possible, behind it, under penalty of two strokes. If it be impossible to tee the ball behind the difficulty, it shall be teed as near as possible to the place where it lay, but not nearer the hole.

11.  All balls shall be holed out, under penalty of disqualification. When a competitor’s ball is within 20 yards of the hole, the competitor shall not play until the flag has been removed, under penalty of one stroke. If the ball nearer the hole might either interfere with the competitor’s stroke, or in any way assist the competitor, such ball must be holed out or lifted, at the owner’s option. Through the green a competitor may have any other competitor’s ball lifted, if he find that it interferes with his stroke.

12.  A competitor, unless specially authorised by the Green Committee, shall not play with a professional, and he may not willingly receive advice from any one but his caddie, in any way whatever, under penalty of disqualification.

A forecaddie may be employed.

13.  Competitors shall not discontinue play on account of bad weather, under penalty of disqualification.

14.  Where, in the ‘Rules of Golf,’ the penalty for the breach of any rule is the loss of the hole, in Stroke Competitions the penalty shall be the loss of two strokes, except where otherwise provided for in these Special Rules.

15.  Any dispute regarding the play shall be determined by the Rules of Golf Committee.

16.  The Rules of Golf, as far as they are not at variance with these Special Rules, shall apply to Stroke Competitions.


ETIQUETTE OF GOLF.

1.  A single player has no standing, and must always give way to a properly constituted match.

2.  No player, caddie, or onlooker should move or talk during a stroke.

3.  No player should play from the tee until the party in front have played their second strokes, and are out of range, nor play up to the putting-green till the party in front have holed out and moved away.

4.  The player who has the honour should be allowed to play before his opponent tees his ball.

5.  Players who have holed out should not try their putts over again when other players are following them.

6.  Players looking for a lost ball must allow other matches coming up to pass them.

7.  On request being made, a three-ball match must allow a single, threesome, or foursome to pass. Any match playing a whole round may claim the right to pass a match playing a shorter round.

8.  If a match fail to keep its place on the green, and lose in distance more than one clear hole on those in front, it may be passed, on request being made.

9.  Turf cut or displaced by a stroke should be at once replaced.

10.  A player should carefully fill up all holes made by himself in a bunker.

11.  It is the duty of an umpire or referee to take cognisance of any breach of rule that he may observe, whether he be appealed to on the point or not.





LOCAL RULES FOR ST. ANDREWS LINKS.

1.  When the Green Committee consider it necessary, a Telegraph Board shall be used to give the numbers for starting.

2.  If a ball lie in the Swilcan Burn, whether in water or not, the player may drop a ball on the line where the ball entered the burn, and on the side of it other than that upon which the hole is placed, under penalty of one stroke.

3.  If a ball be driven into the water of the Eden, or into the sea, a ball may be teed a club length in front of either river or sea, near the spot where the ball entered, under penalty of one stroke.

4.  The ground over the bank of the River Eden and the cart road in the whins between the Old and New Courses shall be considered hazards.

5.  If a ball be driven into the enclosure known as the Station-master’s Garden, or over any part of the wall running from the gate at the Corner of the Dyke Hole to the Old Station, a ball shall be dropped at the spot from which the stroke was played, under penalty, both in match and medal play, of loss of the distance.

6.  If a ball lie within two yards of a fixed seat, boundary stone, or notice board, it may be lifted and dropped at any spot within two club lengths thereof, but not nearer the hole, without penalty.

7.  The grass within the railway fence, the grass bounding the roads at the Corner of the Dyke and at the seventeenth hole, shall not be considered hazards.

8.  If a ball be driven into a house, or any part thereof, or garden, or on the road on the south side of Gibson Place, a ball shall be dropped at the spot from which the stroke was played, under penalty, both in match and medal play, of loss of the distance.

9.  All private matches shall be delayed till the last medal competitors have holed out at the first hole.

10.  Competitions for the Spring and Autumn Medals of the Club (with the exception of the George Glennie Medal) shall be decided by playing one round of the Links and the competitor doing it in fewest strokes shall be the winner.

11.  The order of starting for the Spring and Autumn Medals will be balloted for on the previous evening, and intending competitors must give in their names to the Secretary not later than five o’clock on the previous evening. Any competitor not at the teeing-ground when his number is called shall be disqualified, unless it be proved to the satisfaction of the Green Committee or Secretary that he has a valid excuse, in which case he may be allowed to compete, and, if allowed, shall be placed at the bottom of the list. The absent competitor’s partner may start in his proper turn, if he find a substitute (to be approved by the Green Committee) with whom to play.

Competitors for medals or prizes shall not delay starting on account of bad weather, but must strike off immediately after the preceding party has crossed the burn. In cases of stoppage by accident, or severe temporary illness, the Green Committee may allow a competitor to resume play.

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