Basic Golf Rules: Part 2 of 3

golf flag

After learning the basic golf rules in Part 1 about the golf course and equipment, it's time to learn about scoring and playing the ball.

Basic Golf Rules

The player who completes the entire course with the least number of strokes wins the game.

basic golf rules

Par - the number of strokes that a "perfect player" is expected to need to hit the ball in the hole. It ranges from 3 strokes to 6 strokes depending on the distance to the hole. Par for a typical 18-hole course is 72.

Birdie - hitting the ball in the hole with 1 stroke under par. For example, if the hole is a par 5, and the golfer hits the ball in the hole on his 4th shot, he has "birdied" the hole.

Eagle - hitting the ball in the hole with 2 strokes under par. For example, if the hole is a par 4, and she hits it in on her 2nd shot, she scores an "eagle."

Hole-in-One - hitting the ball in the hole with one shot from the tee box.

Bogey - if a player takes 1 shot above par to get the ball in the hole, he has "bogied" the hole. On a par 3 hole, if a player needs 4 strokes to sink the ball, he scores a bogey. If it takes him 5 strokes, he scores a "double bogey;" 6 strokes equals a "triple bogey," and so on.

It's not uncommon (for beginners especially) to struggle on a hole. After a few bad shots and hunting for your ball in the trees, tall grass, water hazards, etc. it's easy to lose track of the number of shots you've taken. When you finally sink the putt and try to recall every stroke you took it's easy to miscount. A score counter can help you keep track. From a fashionable bracelet you can wear on your wrist to a basic click counter to stick in your pocket, there are a variety of counters to choose from. 

Basic Golf Rules
Starting Play

tee shot

Each player plays their ball from the tee box. They may place the ball on the ground or set it on a tee.

A draw decides who tees off on the first hole, but after that, the first person to tee off is the winner of the previous hole (the golfer who took the fewest strokes to get the ball in the hole.)

golf tee shot

Basic Golf Rules
Playing the Ball

The ball must be played where it lies; it can't be moved in any way to make it easier to hit. Players are not allowed to move tree limbs or anything that's fixed or growing, but they can move loose obstructions like leaves or twigs that have fallen.

Stroke - The ball must be hit with the head of the club; it can't be pushed or scooped. Players may not hit a moving ball.

Order – After every player has hit their tee shot, the ball furthest from the hole is played first. Even if the same golfer takes multiple turns in a row, the ball furthest from the hole is played until every ball is put in the hole. 


water hazard

Water - Water hazards include lakes, ponds, streams, ditches, etc. They may not even have any water in them. If a ball goes into the water, the player can search for it and take it out if he finds it. If a ball lies in the water or is lost, the player may drop a ball within 2 club lengths of the edge of the hazard. A one-stroke penalty is incurred if this happens.  A player may hit a ball that lies in the water without penalty.

Tall grass and bushes - These may only be moved in an attempt to locate the ball.

hitting out of sand trap

Bunker or sand trap - If a ball goes into a sand trap, the golfer enters the bunker and tries to hit the ball out without moving it to gain a better angle or advantage.

Other obstructions - A movable obstruction may be removed without any penalty. If the ball is in or near an immovable obstruction, like a temporary puddle of water, ground that's under repair, or a hole made by an animal, the player has the choice of playing the ball where it lies or dropping it to a new position without penalty. The drop can't position the ball closer to the hole, though.

Lost or unplayable ball - If a ball is lost, out-of-bounds, or unplayable the golfer may play her next stroke as near as possible to the spot from where she originally played the ball with a one-stroke penalty. She may also drop the ball within 2 club lengths of where it is with a one-stroke penalty.

Basic Golf Rules
Ball on Green

how to putt

If a player's ball might interfere with a putter's shot, the ball may be removed and a marker put in its place until the shot is over.

If a player's ball knocks his opponent's ball, the ball is played from its new position. If the opponent's ball is actually knocked into the hole, the opponent is credited with holing the shot on his last attempt. 

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There's an awesome golf instruction program for kids sponsored by the PGA called the First Tee. I highly recommend you check it out. They not only teach basic golf rules, skills, and course etiquette, but they teach character and leadership skills as well.

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