Golf's Basic Rules:
A Simple Explanation for Beginners
If you are confused on what the basic rules of golf are, here is a breakdown that anyone can understand.
Before we begin with the rules, let's talk about the terminology associated with golf. Here is a list of common terms used in golf, and what they mean:
Ace: This means hole in one.
Par: This is a predetermined number of strokes that a scratch golfer should require to complete a hole.
Birdie: This refers to one stroke under par on a hole.
Bogey: This is defined as one stroke over par on a hole.
Double Bogey: This refers to two strokes over par on a hole.
Eagle: This refers to two strokes under par on a hole.
Albatross/Double Eagle: This can be defined as three strokes under par on a hole.
Caddie: A designated person who can carry your golf clubs, stock your golf balls and tees, and can also repair divots in the golf course, and rake the sand traps. They can also instruct you on what golf clubs to use.
What is the Object of Golf?
The main objective for playing golf is to get your golf ball from the starting point, to the green, and then into the physical hole that’s marked with a flag on the golf course.
Your goal should be to get the ball in the hole with as few shots as possible. The lower your score the better.
The hole can also refer to the entire area from your starting point with the tee, to the green where the physical hole is.
What is the Order of Play?
Whomever is furthest from the hole is supposed to go first. However, some golfers play ‘ready golf’ which means whoever is ready to swing next can play.
Just make sure everyone you golf with is on board with playing ‘ready golf’ to avoid conflict.
The Tee Box/Teeing Ground Rules
Teeing the ball is vital to the start of the golf game.
You must tee the ball behind the tee marker lines. There is quite a bit of room where you can strategically place your tee between the markers, and you can go as far back as the length of two drivers.
No points will be counted against you if the ball falls off of your tee, simply pick it up and place it back on the tee. However, if you swing and miss and the ball falls off the tee that does count as a shot and you will have to play it from the position it fell.
How Should I Hit the Golf Ball?
The basic golf rules for hitting a ball is you should only hit the ball with one strike. You should not scoop the ball, or hit moving golf balls. Doing so makes it hard to count how many shots or penalties someone gets.
Make sure you clearly mark which golf ball is yours, if you hit someone else's it will result in a two stroke penalty. To avoid this penalty you can ask the owner of the golf ball to mark it’s spot on the golf course. This is done by placing a placeholder behind the golf ball and removing it from the golf course. Once you’ve taken your turn the other player's golf ball can be placed in the original position it was in.
Which Golf Club Should I Use?
With a variety of golf clubs to choose from it can get a little confusing for new golfers. There are many different golf clubs you can use.
Here is a list of a few clubs you could possibly use throughout your golf game:
Driver Club: It’s purpose is to get the golf ball as far to the green as possible.
Hybrid Club: It’s goal is getting shots of 150 yards or more soaring through the air.
2- To 9-Iron: When hitting towards the green from about 120-190 yards away you’ll want to use the lower numbered iron clubs for longer shots. For shorter shots, you’ll want to use higher numbered iron clubs.
Wedges: Use this club if you are hitting short high shots near the green or trying to get out of a sand bunker.
Putter: Use this club if you are rolling the ball into the hole near the flag after it's on the green. Sometimes it may be used from just off the green.
You are allowed to carry a maximum of 14 clubs during a game, anymore and you will have some complications. You can choose the variety of golf clubs you feel you will need for that particular golf game.
Can I Ask for Advice?
If you’re curious about how someone hit a golf ball, what club they used or any other golfing questions you have, save it for a social round.
In a normal competitive game you can only ask your caddy for advice on how to play the hole. Although your caddie can give advice on where to hit the ball, which club to use etc., a caddie is not allowed to line up your shot up for you. However, you can ask questions such as where the water hazards are, and the distances of the sprinklers.
Ask all the questions you can before a golf game starts so there's no confusion while playing on the golf course.
Can I Pick Up the Golf Ball to Adjust for a Better Swing?
The simple rules of golf are that you must play the golf ball as it is positioned, meaning you aren’t allowed to move it to a better spot, and if you choose to invest in a caddie they can’t move the golf ball either.
If your golf ball goes into a sand bunker you are not allowed to rake or test the consistency of the sand before taking your shot. However, you can remove leaves and stones from the sand bunker.
If your golf ball lands in a water hazard inside the red or yellow lines of hazard the same rules apply. You are also not allowed to place anything in front of you that will allow you to aim your swing, that includes asking someone to stand far away so you can aim at them.
If you receive a penalty you will need to do a penalty drop. To do so properly you must stand straight up and drop the ball from knee height, and the golf ball can’t touch you or any of your equipment. If you drop the ball and it rolls into the hazard area twice, you will simply place the ball where the ball dropped last.
How is the Score Recorded?
A stroke play is the most common type of scoring method in golf. The total number of shots taken to get the ball into the hole is taken and added together. The score is recorded as either under or over par (refer to the terminology section above).
You will want to set a goal to be under par because it means you took less shots than was expected. For an amateur golfer the average golf game is 18 holes.
How Do I Win A Golf Game?
After playing 18 holes the scores are added up and whomever has the lowest number of strokes (or shots) wins!
Now that you know some basic golf rules for beginners go out and put your skills to the test!