Below is a summary detailing the most ‘unintentionally’ broken rules on the golf course and the options available. Some include easy to follow diagrams and further details can be found in The Rules of Golf book.
Penalties and Free Drops
Dropping a Ball.
A penalty drop is two club lengths, and a free drop is one club length, using the length of longest club in your bag, except the putter.
When dropping the ball, it must be dropped in the Relief Area and come to rest in the Relief Area. Generally, once the ball is dropped and comes to rest in the relief area it then becomes the ball in play.
The ball must be dropped from knee height.
In all instances the player has the option to play the ball as it lies, rather than take a penalty drop.
Penalty Areas and Out 0f Bounds.
The following shows the difference in the colour of the stakes and what they mean.
White stakes signify Out of Bounds
Red stakes signify a Red Penalty Area, usually along the side of the hole being played.
Yellow stakes signify a Yellow Penalty Area, usually crossing the General Area.
In a Penalty Are once the ball has been correctly dropped and comes to rest in the Relief Area it becomes the ball in play and must be played as it lies. This is irrespective as to whether you are standing in the Penalty Area, or not.
Red Penalty Area
Note: In all options, if after having dropped the ball and it lands in the Relief Area it is now “in play” and you must play the ball as it lies, or deem the ball Unplayable, with the applicable penalty.
Yellow Penalty Area
The options like a Red Penalty Area, but the Lateral Relief option in not available.
In all options, if after having dropped the ball and it lands in the Relief Area it is now “in play” and you must play the ball as it lies, or deem the ball Unplayable, with the applicable penalty.
A player may decide to take Unplayable ball relief anywhere on the course except in a Penalty Area. There are two different options for taking an Unplayable lie, as follows.
1. General Area
The main point to note is that if taking relief out of the Bunker it is a two stroke penalty.
Abnormal Course Condition
The most common area being cart paths.
Lost Ball or Out of Bounds
A ball is Lost if it is not found in three minutes after you or your caddy begins to search for it.
A ball is Out of Bounds when all the ball is outside the boundary edge of the course.
- For a ball that is Lost or Out of Bounds there is a one stroke penalty, and you must play a ball from where the last stroke was made.
- If, after hitting the ball, there is any doubt whether the ball is in a Penalty Area, the player may play a Provisional Ball.
- If the original ball is found outside the Penalty Area, within three minutes of looking for it the player must continue play with this original ball.
- If the original ball is known or virtually certain to be in the Penalty Area, this is the ball in play, and the Penalty Area rules apply.
- If the ball is not in the Penalty Area and cannot be found, then the Provisional ball becomes the ball in play.
- You cannot go back and play a Provisional Ball whilst your playing partners continue to look for the ball. If you do go back and play a second ball that is now the Ball in Play, even if you or your playing partners find your original ball.
- A ball may be cleaned on the Putting Green providing the position of the ball is marked before it is lifted.
- There are only two places where a ball may be marked, they are behind or right next to the ball, using a marker or golf club.
- You can repair any damage made by the impact of a ball, spike marks or footprints on the Putting Green at any time, before or after you play your shot.
- If your ball lands on a bridge over a Penalty Area, you do not get a free drop unless it is a local rule of the course. You must play the ball as it lies or take a penalty drop, according to the colour of the Penalty Area.
- Tree basins do not allow for a free drop unless it is a local rule of the course.