Third Edition.
Very little change from 1902; re-worded rule 14, containing a little more detail about dropping.
Some slight wording changes elsewhere.

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RULES OF GOLF

AS APPROVED BY
THE ROYAL AND ANCIENT GOLF CLUB
OF ST. ANDREWS,
September 1902, and amended September, 1904.

1. Definitions

(a)   The Game of Golf is played by two 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.’ One player may play against two playing one ball between them, when the match is called ‘a threesome’. Matches constituted as above shall have precedence of and be entitled to pass any other kind of 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 opposite 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’ is the starting point for a hole and 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 ‘putting-green’ is 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, sheep tracks, snow, and ice are not hazards. Permanent grass within a hazard shall not be considered part of the hazard.

(f)  ‘Through the green’ is any part of the course except hazards and the putting green which is being played to.

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

(h)  ‘Casual water’ is 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 remains in play until holed out, except when lifted in accordance with the Rules.

(j)  A ball has ‘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 has not ‘moved.’

(k)  A ball is ‘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’ is any movement of the ball caused by the player, except as provided for in Rule 3, 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 does not affect the rotation of play.

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

(p)  A player has ‘addressed the ball’ when he has taken up his position and grounded his club, or if in a hazard, when 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,’ etc., 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 without penalty.

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 previous teeing ground shall retain 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.   If a 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.

4.  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.

5.  When the balls are in play, the ball further 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 in the manner prescribed in Rule 15, as near as possible to the place where it lay, without penalty.

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

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

8.  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, provided he does not move 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.

9.  In playing through the green 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.

10.  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.

11.  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.

12.  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 31. The penalty for a breach of this Rule shall be the loss of the hole.

13.  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.

14.  If a ball lie or be lost in water or casual water in a hazard, a ball may be dropped in or as far behind the hazard as the player may please, under penalty of one stroke; but if it be impossible from want of space in which to play, or from any other cause, to drop a ball behind the hazard, the player may drop a ball at the side of the hazard as near as possible to where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole, under penalty of one stroke.
(2) If a ball lie or be lost in casual water through the green, or if casual water through the green interfere with the player’s stance, the player may drop a ball without penalty within two club lengths from the margin directly behind the place where the ball lay, or from the margin nearest to where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole. If the ball when dropped roll into the water or rest so that the water interferes with the player’s stance, it may be re-dropped without penalty as near to the margin as the nature of the ground permits, but not nearer the hole.
(3) In dropping a ball behind the spot from which the ball was lifted, the player shall keep that spot, or in the case of water the spot at which the ball entered, in a line between himself and the hole. Wherever it is possible to drop a ball as prescribed in section (1) and (2), it shall be dropped as near as possible to the place where it lay, but not nearer to the hole.
(4) In casual water on a putting-green, a ball may be placed by hand behind the water, without penalty.

15.  A ball shall be dropped in the following manner: The player himself shall drop it. He shall face the hole, stand erect, and drop the ball behind him from his head. If the ball when dropped touch the player he shall incur no penalty and if it roll into a hazard it may be re-dropped without penalty.

The penalty for a breach of this Rule shall be the loss of the hole.

If it be impossible to drop the ball behind the hazard, it shall be dropped as near as possible to the place where it lay, but not nearer the hole.

16.  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 further 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.

17.  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.

18.  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.

19.  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 player’s 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.

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

21.  Either side is entitled to have the flag-stick removed when approaching the hole but if a player’s ball strike the flag-stick which has been so removed by himself, or his partner, or either of their caddies, his side shall lose 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.

22.  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

23.  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

24.  When a player has holed out and his opponent has been left with a putt for the half, nothing that the player can do shall deprive him of the half which he has already gained

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 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 stand to play it, he shall be deemed to have caused it to move, and the movement shall be counted as his stroke.

27.  Except from the tee a player shall not play while his ball is moving under penalty of the loss of the hole. If a ball only begin to move while the player is making his upward or downward swing he shall incur no penalty for playing while it is moving, but is not exempted from the penalty stroke which he may have incurred under rules 9, 17, or 26, and in a foursome a stroke lost under rule 26 shall not, in these circumstances, be counted as the stroke of the player so as to render him liable for having played when his partner should have done so.

28.  If the player, when making a stroke, strike the ball twice, the penalty shall be one stroke, and he shall incur no further penalty by reason of his having played while his ball is moving

29.  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 a player play a stroke with the ball of a party not engaged in the match, and the mistake be discovered and intimated to his opponent before his opponent has played his next stroke, there shall be no penalty, but if the mistake be not discovered and so intimated until after the opponent has played his next stroke, the player’s side shall lose the hole.

30.  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.

31.  If a ball lie 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, but if a ball lie in sand, the sand shall not be touched. The penalty for a breach of this Rule shall be the loss of the hole.

32.  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. A ball played out of bounds need not be found.

If it be doubtful whether a ball has been played out of bounds another may be dropped and played, but if it be discovered that the first ball is not out of bounds, it shall continue in play without penalty.

A player may stand out of bounds to play ball lying within bounds.

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.  Where no penalty for breach of a rule is stated, the penalty shall be the loss of the hole.

36.  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.

37.  An umpire or referee, when appointed, shall take cognisance of any breach of rule that he may observe, whether he be appealed to on the point or not.

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 before starting no competitor shall play on any of the putting-greens, nor shall he intentionally play at any of the holes nor onto any of the putting-greens, under penalty of disqualification.

4.  The scores for each hole shall be kept by a special marker or by the competitors noting each other’s scores. The scores marked ought to be called out after each hole, and on completion of the round, the cards shall be signed by the marker, under penalty of disqualification, and handed in. Competitors must satisfy themselves before the cards are handed in that their scores for each hole are correctly marked, as no alteration can be made on any card after it has been returned. If it be found that a score returned is below that actually played, the competitor shall be disqualified. For the addition of the scores marked the Secretary or his deputy shall be responsible.

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 penalty stroke. The lost ball shall continue in play, if it be found before the player has struck another ball. The penalty for a breach of this Rule shall be disqualification.

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 in his card, 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 from any place under penalty of two strokes. A ball so lifted shall be teed if possible behind the place where it lay. If it be impossible to tee the ball behind the place where it lay, it shall be teed as near as possible thereto but not nearer the hole. The penalty for a breach of this Rule shall be disqualification.

11.  All balls shall be holed out, under penalty of disqualification. When a competitor’s ball is within twenty yards of the hole, the competitor shall not play until the flag has been removed, under penalty of one stroke. When both balls are on the putting green, if the player’s ball strike the opponent’s ball the player shall lose a stroke. The ball nearer the hole shall, on request of the player, be either lifted or holed out, at the option of the owner under penalty of disqualification. 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 anyone but his caddie, in any way whatever, under penalty of disqualification.
A forecaddie may be employed.

13.  Competitors shall not discontinue play nor delay to start on account of bad weather, nor for any other reason whatever, except such as is satisfactory to the Committee of the Club in charge of the competition. The penalty for a breach of this Rule is 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.

RULES FOR THREE-BALL MATCHES

In matches in which three players play against each other, each playing his own ball (hereinafter referred to as a ‘three-ball match’), or in which one player plays his own ball against the best ball of two players ball (hereinafter referred to as a ‘best ball match’), the rules of Golf shall apply, subject to the following modifications:

1.  Where, in a three-ball match, at any teeing-ground no player is entitled to claim the honour from both opponents, the same order of striking shall be followed as at the previous teeing-ground.

2.  Except as hereinafter provided, the side whose ball is furthest from the hole shall play first, but a ball lying nearer the hole and belonging to one of that side may, at their option, be played before the ball lying furthest from the hole. If a player play when his opponent should have done so he shall incur no penalty.

3.  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 to hole out his ball, at the opponent’s discretion.

4.  If an opponent consider that the ball of another opponent might be of assistance to the player, he may require that it be either lifted or holed out at the opponent’s discretion.

5.  If an opponent consider that his own ball might be of assistance to the player, he is entitled to lift it or hole out at his discretion.

6. If an opponent consider that the player’s partner’s ball might be of assistance to the player, he may require that it be either lifted or holed out at the player’s partner’s discretion.

7.  In a three ball match, a ball on the putting green, which is moved by another ball, must be replaced as nearly as possible where it lay

8.  In a best ball match, if a player’s ball move his partner’s ball or an opponent’s ball, the opponent shall in either case decide whether the moved ball shall be replaced or not.

9.  If in a three-ball match a player’s ball strike or be moved by an opponent or an opponent’s caddie or clubs, that opponent shall lose the hole to the player. As regards the other opponent the occurrence is ‘a rub of the green.’

10.  In a best ball match if a player’s ball strike or be moved by an opponent or an opponent’s caddie or clubs, the opponent’s side shall lose the hole.

11.  In a best ball match if a player’s ball (the player being one of a side) strike or be stopped by himself or his partner or either of their caddies or clubs that player only shall be disqualified for that hole.

12.  In all other cases where a player would by the Rules of Golf incur the loss of the hole he shall be disqualified for that hole, but the disqualification shall not apply to his partner.

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.


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