The Rules

USGA Rules of Golf

There are 24 rules (players edition) in the game of golf and players should know and understand these rules.

The USGA's rules of golf cover the following topics:

  • Fundamentals of the Game (Rules 1-4)

  • Playing the Round and Hole (Rules 5-6)

  • Playing the Ball (Rules 7-11)

  • Specific Rules for Bunkers and Putting Greens (Rules 12-13)

  • Lifting and Returning a Ball to Play (Rule 14)

  • Free Relief (Rules 15-16)

  • Penalty Relief (Rules 17-19)

  • Procedures for Players and Committee When Issues Arise in Applying the Rules (Rule 20)

  • Other Forms of Play (Rules 21-24)

You can become familiar with these rules by going to the USGA web site and reading the 2019 Rules and Interpretations or downloading the USGA's app on your phone.


Ball at Rest

    • No penalty for accidentally moving your ball during search

    • No penalty for accidentally moving your ball or ball marker on the putting green

Ball in Motion

    • No penalty if your ball in motion is accidentally deflected by you, your equipment, or your caddie

Taking Relief

    • New procedure for dropping a ball: Your ball must be let go from knee height and fall through the air without touching any part of your body or equipment

    • Your ball is lost if not found within 3 minutes (rather than the current 5 minutes)

    • You may always substitute a ball when taking relief

Areas of the Course

    • After your ball has been lifted and replaced on the putting green, you would always replace your ball on its original spot, even if it was blown by the wind or moved for no clear reason

    • Spike marks and other damage to the green may be repaired prior to putting No penalty for touching your line of play on the putting green so long as doing so does not improve the conditions for your stroke

    • No penalty for moving loose impediments, touching the ground, or grounding your club in a penalty area (water hazard)

    • A player may remove loose impediments from a bunker without penalty

    • A player has the option to remove their ball from the bunker and continue play from outside the bunker with a penalty of two strokes - Use the back on-the-line procedure (keep the point where the ball came to rest between the player and the hole)

    • Relief from a red penalty area is no longer allowed on the opposite side from where the ball last entered the penalty area

Playing a Ball

    • A caddie is not allowed to stand on a line behind you while you are taking a stance and until your stroke is made

    • Your caddie is allowed to lift and replace your ball on the putting green without your specific authorization to do so.

    • If your club accidentally strikes the ball more than once during the stroke, there will be no penalty and your ball will be played as it lies

    • You may putt and hole out with the flagstick in the hole