17 Golf Rules you Definitely need to know when

Playing in a Tournament

By Joel Beall

1Count your clubs

Oh come on. No one would ever have more than 14 sticks in their bag, right? Wrong.

Avoid the two-stroke penalty by double-checking your bag before teeing off.

2.  Ball falls off tee

There are players who aren’t 100 percent sure what to do when this happens. Simple: You get to re-tee without penalty. (Exception: You’ve already whiffed on the first shot. If the ball then falls off, you have to play it as it lies.)

3. Giving advice

On the weekend, you may ask your friend what iron they just hit, or, while on the green, point to a spot and say, “I think this is the line.” While such behavior is standard in a normal round, it’s deemed illegal in competitive play. The penalty is two strokes. (Exception: In a team match, you and your partner, as well as respective caddies, can discuss strategy.)

4.  The difference between water and lateral hazards

A water hazard is marked in yellow, lateral in red. If you aren’t going to attempt to play from the hazard — and unless you have a clean shot, we advise you don’t — you are facing a one-shot penalty.

For a water hazard (yellow), a player has three options:

  • Go to the designated drop area (not all hazards have this).
  • Identify where your ball last crossed the water hazard, then drop as far back as you want from that spot and the pin.
  • Play your next shot by dropping a ball nearest to the point where your last stroke was played. You can re-tee if it was your first shot.

A lateral hazard (red) is slightly different. Like with yellow stakes, you have to identify where the ball crossed into the hazard. However, you are given a two clubs length area to drop. You can also go on the other side of the hazard — assuming no closer to the hole — and drop there as well.


(to be continued in July)

Be aware some rules will change in January 2019