RULES FOR THE GAME OF GOLF,
AS REVISED AND ADOPTED BY
THE ROYAL AND ANCIENT GOLF CLUB,ST. ANDREWS.
1. The Game of Golf is played by two or more sides, each playing its own
ball. A side may consist of one or more persons.
2. The game consists in each side playing a ball from a tee into a hole
by successive strokes, and the hole is won by the side holing its ball
in the fewest strokes, except as otherwise provided for in the rules. If
two sides hole out in the same number of strokes, the hole is halved.
3. The teeing-ground shall be indicated by two marks placed in a line at
right angles to the course, and the player shall not tee in front of,
nor on either side of, these marks, nor more than two club-lengths
behind them. A ball played from outside the limits of the teeing-ground,
as thus defined, may be recalled by the opposite side.
The hole shall be 4-1/4 inches in diameter, and at least four inches
4. The ball must be fairly struck at, and not pushed, scraped, or
spooned, under penalty of the loss of the hole. Any movement of the club
which is intended to strike the ball is a stroke.
5. The game commences by each side playing a ball from the first
teeing-ground. In a match with two or more on a side, the partners shall
strike off alternately from the tee, and shall strike alternately during
the play of the hole.
The players who are to strike against each other shall be named at
starting, and shall continue in the same order during the match.
The player who shall play first on each side shall be named by his own
In case of failure to agree, it shall be settled by lot or toss which
side shall have the option of leading.
6. If a player shall play when his partner should have done so, his side
shall lose the hole, except in the case of the tee shot, when the shot
may be recalled at the option of the opponents.
7. The side winning a hole shall lead in starting for the next hole, and
may recall the opponent's stroke should he play out of order. This
privilege is called the "honour." On starting for a new match, the
winner of the long match in the previous round is entitled to the
"honour." Should the first match have been halved, the winner of the
last hole gained is entitled to the "honour."
8. One round of the links—generally 18 holes—is a match, unless
otherwise agreed upon. The match is won by the side which gets more
holes ahead than there remain holes to be played, or by the side winning
the last hole when the match was all even at the second last hole. If
both sides have won the same number, it is a halved match.
9. After the balls are struck from the tee, the ball farthest from the
hole to which the parties are playing shall be played first, except as
otherwise provided for in the rules. Should the wrong side play first,
the opponent may recall the stroke before his side has played.
10. Unless with the opponent's consent, a ball struck from the tee shall
not be changed, touched, or moved before the hole is played out, under
the penalty of one stroke, except as otherwise provided for in the
11. In playing through the green, all loose impediments, within a
club-length of a ball which is not lying in or touching a hazard, may be
removed, but loose impediments which are more than a club-length from
the ball shall not be removed, under the penalty of one stroke.
12. Before striking at the ball, the player shall not move, bend, or
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,
and in soleing his club to address the ball, under the penalty of the
loss of the hole, except as provided for in Rule 18.
13. A ball stuck fast in wet ground or sand may be taken out and
replaced loosely in the hole which it has made.
14. When a ball lies in or touches a hazard, the club shall not touch
the ground, nor shall anything be touched or moved before the player
strikes at the ball, except that the player may place his feet firmly
on the ground for the purpose of addressing the ball, under the penalty
of the loss of the hole.
At the General Meeting of the Royal and Ancient, held in the spring of
1895, the following addition was made to Rule 14:—"But if, in the
backward or downward swing, any grass, bent, whin, or other growing
substance, or the side of a bunker, a wall, a paling, or other immovable
obstacle be touched, no penalty shall be incurred."
15. A "hazard" shall be any bunker of whatever nature—water, sand,
loose earth, mole-hills, paths, roads or railways, whins, bushes,
rushes, rabbit scrapes, fences, ditches, or anything which is not the
ordinary green of the course, except sand blown on to the grass by wind,
or sprinkled on grass for the preservation of the links, or snow or ice,
or bare patches on the course.
16. A player or a player's caddie shall not press down or remove any
irregularities of surface near the ball, except at the teeing-ground,
under the penalty of the loss of the hole.
17. If any vessel, wheel-barrow, tool, roller, grass-cutter, box, or
other similar obstruction has been placed upon the course, such
obstruction may be removed. A ball lying on or touching such
obstruction, or on clothes, or nets, or on ground under repair or
temporarily covered up or opened, may be lifted and dropped at the
nearest point of the course, but a ball lifted in a hazard shall be
dropped in the hazard. A ball lying in a golf hole or flag hole may be
lifted and dropped not more than a club-length behind such hole.
18. When a ball is completely covered with fog, bent, whins, etc., only
so much thereof shall be set aside as that the player shall have a view
of his ball before he plays, whether in a line with the hole or
19. When a ball is to be dropped, the player shall drop it. He shall
front the hole, stand erect behind the hazard, keep the spot from which
the ball was lifted (or, in the case of running water, the spot at which
it entered) in a line between him and the hole, and drop the ball behind
him from his head, standing as far behind the hazard as he may please.
20. When the balls in play lie within six inches of each other, measured
from their nearest points, the ball nearer the hole shall be lifted
until the other is played, and shall then be replaced as nearly as
possible in its original position. Should the ball farther from the hole
be accidentally moved in so doing, it shall be replaced. Should the lie
of the lifted ball be altered by the opponent in playing, it may be
placed in a lie near to, and as nearly as possible similar to that from
which it was lifted.
21. If the ball lie or be lost in water, the player may drop a ball,
under the penalty of one stroke.
22. Whatever happens by accident to a ball in motion, such as its
being deflected or stopped by any agency outside the match, or by the
fore-caddie, is a "rub of the green," and the ball shall be played from
where it lies. Should a ball lodge in anything moving, such ball, or, if
it cannot be recovered, another ball, shall be dropped as nearly as
possible at the spot where the object was when the ball lodged in it.
But if a ball at rest be displaced by any agency outside the match,
the player shall drop it or another ball as nearly as possible at the
spot where it lay. On the putting-green the ball may be replaced by
23. If the player's ball strike, or be accidentally moved by, an
opponent or an opponent's caddie or clubs, the opponent loses the hole.
24. If the player's ball strike, or be stopped by, himself or partner,
or either of their caddies or clubs, or if, while in the act of playing,
the player strike the ball twice, his side loses the hole.
25. If the player, when not making a stroke, or his partner or either of
their caddies touch their side's ball, except at the tee, so as to move
it, or by touching anything cause it to move, the penalty is one stroke.
26. A ball is considered to have been moved if it leave its original
position in the least degree and stop in another; but if a player touch
his ball and thereby cause it to oscillate, without causing it to leave
its original position, it is not moved in the sense of Rule 25.
27. A player's side loses a stroke if he play the opponent's ball,
unless (l) 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, in which case the mistake, if discovered before the
opponent has played, must be rectified by placing a ball as nearly as
possible where the opponent's ball lay.
If it be discovered before either side has struck off at the tee that
one side has played out the previous hole with the ball of a party not
engaged in the match, that side loses that hole.
28. If a ball be lost, the player's side loses the hole. A ball shall be
held as lost if it be not found within five minutes after the search is
29. A ball must be played wherever it lies, or the hole be given up,
except as otherwise provided for in the rules.
30. The term "putting-green" shall mean the ground within 20 yards of
the hole, excepting hazards.
31. All loose impediments may be removed from the putting-green, except
the opponent's ball when at a greater distance from the player's than
32. In a match of three or more sides, a ball in any degree lying
between the player and the hole must be lifted, or, if on the
putting-green, holed out.
33. When the ball is on the putting-green, no mark shall be placed, nor
line drawn as a guide. The line to the hole may be pointed out, but the
person doing so may not touch the ground with the hand or club.
The player may have his own or his partner's caddie to stand at the
hole, but none of the players or their caddies may move so as to shield
the ball from, or expose it to, the wind.
The penalty for any breach of this rule is the loss of the hole.
34. The player or his caddie may remove (but not press down) sand,
earth, worm casts, or snow lying around the hole or on 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 to a side by an iron
club, but the club must not be laid with more than its own weight upon
the ground. The putting line must not be touched by club, hand, or foot,
except as above authorised, or immediately in front of the ball in the
act of addressing it, under the penalty of the loss of the hole.
35. 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 considered as holed out in the previous
36. A player shall not play until the opponent's ball shall have ceased
to roll, under the penalty of one stroke. Should the player's ball knock
in the opponent's ball, the latter shall be counted as holed out in the
previous stroke. If in playing the player's ball displace the opponent's
ball, the opponent shall have the option of replacing it.
37. A player shall not ask for advice, nor be knowingly advised about
the game by word, look, or gesture from any one except his own caddie,
or his partner or partner's caddie, under the penalty of the loss of the
38. 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 unplayable, the player may change it,
on intimating to his opponent his intention to do so.
39. A penalty stroke shall not be counted the stroke of a player, and
shall not affect the rotation of play.
40. Should any dispute arise on any point, the players have the right of
determining the party or parties to whom the dispute shall be referred;
but, should they not agree, either party may refer it to the Green
Committee of the green where the dispute occurs, and their decision
shall be final. Should the dispute not be covered by the Rules of Golf,
the arbiters must decide it by equity.
SPECIAL RULES FOR MEDAL PLAY.
1. In Club competitions, the competitor doing the stipulated course in
fewest strokes shall be the winner.
2. If the lowest score be made by two or more competitors, the ties
shall be decided by another round, to be played on the same or any other
day, as the Captain, or, in his absence, the Secretary shall direct.
3. New holes shall be made for the Medal Round, and thereafter no member
shall play any stroke on a putting-green before competing.
4. The score shall be kept by a special marker, or by the competitors
noting each other's scores. The scores marked shall be checked at the
finish of each hole. On completion of the course, the score of the
player shall be signed by the person keeping the score and handed to the
5. If a ball be lost, the player shall return as nearly as possible to
the spot where the ball was struck, tee another ball, and lose a stroke.
If the lost ball be found before he has struck the other ball, the first
shall continue in play.
6. If the player's ball strike himself, or his clubs, or caddie, or if,
in the act of playing, the player strike the ball twice, the penalty
shall be one stroke.
7. If a competitor's ball strike the other player, or his clubs, or
caddie, it is a "rub of the green," and the ball shall be played from
where it lies.
8. A ball may, under a penalty of two strokes, be lifted out of a
difficulty of any description, and be teed behind same.
9. All balls shall be holed out, and when play is on the putting-green,
the flag shall be removed, and the competitor whose ball is nearest the
hole shall have the option of holing out first, or of lifting his ball,
if it be in such a position that it might, if left, give an advantage to
the other competitor. Throughout the green a competitor can have the
other competitor's ball lifted, if he find that it interferes with his
10. A competitor may not play with a professional, and he may not
receive advice from any one but his caddie. A fore-caddie may be
11. Competitors may not discontinue play because of bad weather.
12. The penalty for a breach of any rule shall be disqualification.
13. Any dispute regarding the play shall be determined by the Green
14. The ordinary Rules of Golf, so far as they are not at variance with
the special rules, shall apply to medal play.
GLOSSARY OF TECHNICAL TERMS USED IN THE GAME OF GOLF.
Addressing the Ball: When the player puts himself in position to
strike the ball.
Approach: When the player is sufficiently near the hole to be able to
drive the ball to the putting-green his stroke is called the "approach
Baff: To strike the ground with the "sole" of the club-head in
playing. This sends ball high in air and causes it to fall "dead."
Baffy: A wooden club much lofted in the face.
Bent: Rough, coarse grass on seaside greens.
Bogey, Colonel: A score, usually par play, fixed for each hole.
Bone: A piece of ram's horn or other substance inserted in the sole of
the club to prevent it from splitting.
Borrow: When the player, on a sloping putting-green, plays the ball up
the slope a little way.
Bottom: Putting back-spin on a ball.
Brassey: A wooden club with a brass sole.
Break-club: An obstacle lying near a ball of such a nature as might
injure the club when played.
Bulger: A wooden club with a convex face.
Bunker: A sand-pit.
Bye: Any hole or holes that remain to be played after the match is
Caddie: A person who carries the golfer's clubs.
Carry: The distance the ball is driven before it touches the ground.
Cleek: Iron-headed club used for driving.
Club: The implement with which the ball is struck. The heads are of
various kinds—wood, aluminium, wood with a brass sole, and iron, steel,
Course: That portion of the links on which the game ought to be
Cup: A small hole in the course, frequently one made by the stroke of
some previous player.
Dead: A ball is said to be "dead" when it lies so near the hole that
the "putt" is a dead certainty. A ball is said to fall "dead" when it
does not run after alighting.
Divot: A piece of turf cut out by club. Replace carefully.
Dormy: A player is said to be "dormy" when he is as many holes ahead
as there remain holes to play.
Draw: To drive widely to the left hand. (Synonymous with "hook,"
"screw" and "pull.")
Driver or Play-Club: A wooden-headed club with a full-length shaft,
and with which the ball can be driven the farthest distance.
Duff: To hit the ground behind a ball.
Face: First, the slope of a bunker or hillock; second, the part of the
club-head which strikes the ball.
Flat: A club is said to be "flat" when its head is at a very obtuse
angle to the shaft.
Fog: Moss, rank grass.
Foozle: A bungling stroke.
Fore! The warning cry to any person in the way of the stroke.
(Contracted from "before.")
Fore-Caddie: A caddie employed to go in advance of the players and
locate the balls.
Foursome: A match in which four persons play: two on each side.
Gobble: A rapid, straight "putt" into the hole, such that, had the
ball not gone in, it would have gone some distance beyond.
Grassed: This is said of a wooden club whose face is slightly
"spooned" or sloped backward.
Green: First the whole links; second, the putting-green around the
Grip: First, the part of the handle covered with leather by which the
club is grasped; second, the grasp itself.
Gutty: A gutta-percha golf ball.
Half-one: A handicap of a stroke deducted every second hole.
Half-shot: Less than a full or a three-quarter shot.
Halved: A hole is said to be "halved" when each side takes the same
number of strokes. A "halved match" is a "drawn game"—that is, the
players have proved to be equal.
Hanging ball: A "hanging" ball is one which lies on a downward slope
in the direction in which the hole lies.
Hazard: A general term for bunkers, long grass, roads, water, sand,
whin, mole-hill, or other bad ground. (Rule 15).
Head: A head is the lowest part of a club and possesses, among other
mysterious characteristics, a sole, a heel, a toe or nose, a
neck, and a face!
Heel: First, the part of the head nearest the shaft; second, to hit
from this part, thus sending the ball to the right hand.
Hole: First, the hole lined with iron; second, the whole space between
any teeing-ground and the hole in connection therewith.
Honour: The right to play off first from the tee.
Hook: See "Draw." A hooked club has the face lying in to the ball.
Horn: See "Bone."
Hose: The socket of iron-headed clubs into which the shaft is fitted.
Iron: A club with an iron head, more or less laid back to loft a ball.
Jerk: In "Jerking," the club should strike with a quick cut behind the
Lie: First, the inclination of a club when held on the ground in a
natural position for striking; second, the situation of a ball, good or
Lift: To take a ball out of a hazard and drop it behind or tee it.
Like: See under "Odds."
Like-as-we-lie: When both sides have played the same number of
Links: The ground on which golf is played.
Loft: To send the ball into the air.
Long odds: When a player has to play a stroke more than his adversary,
who is much farther on—that is, nearer the hole.
Long game: Driving from the tee and playing through the green.
Mashie: An iron club with a deep, short blade.
Match: First, the sides playing against each other: second, the game
itself. Match play reckoning the score by holes.
Medal play: Reckoning the score by strokes.
Miss the globe: To fail to strike the ball is counted a stroke.
Neck: The bent part of the head where it joins the shaft.
Niblick: A small narrow-headed heavy iron club, used when the ball has
a bad lie.
Nose: The point or front portion of the club head.
Odds: First, means the handicap given by a strong player to a weaker
in a single match, consisting of either one, two, three, or more holes
to start with, or one stroke per hole, or every alternate hole, or at
every third hole, etc.; second, to have played "the odds" is to have
played one stroke more than your adversary.
One-off-two, one-off-three, etc.: When your opponent has played two
strokes more your next stroke is one-off-two, and so on.
Play-club: See "Driver."
Press: To strive to hit the ball harder than usual.
Putt: To play close to the hole. (Pronounce u as in but.)
Putter: An upright, stiff-shafted, wooden, iron, or gun-metal headed
club, used when the ball is on the putting-green.
Putting-green: The prepared ground round the holes.
Rind: A strip of cloth under the leather to thicken the grip.
Rub of the green: A favourable or unfavourable knock to the ball.
Run: Running the ball along the ground instead of lofting it; and also
the run of a drive is the distance the ball runs after reaching the
Scare: The narrow part of the club head by which it is glued to the
shaft, and which is spliced over.
Screw: See "Draw."
Sclaff: Hitting the ground behind the ball first, thus not getting a
Scruff: Slightly razing the grass in striking.
Set: A full complement of clubs.
Shaft: The stick or handle of the club.
Slice: To draw the face of the club across the ball, sending it with a
curve towards the right.
Socket: That part of the head of iron clubs into which the shaft is
Sole: The flat bottom of the club head.
Spoons: Wooden-headed clubs of three lengths—long, middle, and short:
the head is scooped or grassed so as to loft the ball.
Spring: The degree of suppleness in the shaft.
Square: When the game stands level, neither party being any holes
Stance: The position of the player's feet when addressing himself to
Steal: To hole a long unlikely "putt" from a distance, not by a
"gobble," but by a stroke which just succeeds in getting the ball as far
as the hole.
Stroke: Any movement of the club which is intended to strike the
Stymie: When your opponent's ball lies in the line of your "putt";
from an old Scotch word, meaning "obscuring."
Swing: The sweep of the club in driving.
Tee: The pinch of sand on which the ball is placed at the
Teeing-ground: A space marked out within the limits of which the
ground must be teed.
Third: A handicap of a stroke deducted every third hole.
Toe: Another name for the nose of the club.
Top: To top the ball is to hit it above the centre.
Two-more, three-more, etc.: See under "Odds."
Upright: A club is said to be "upright" when its head is not at a very
obtuse angle to the shaft.
Whins, furze, or gorse.
Whipping: The pitched twine uniting the head and handle.
Wrist-shot: Less than a half-shot, generally played with an iron
club—the old saying was "played from the knee."