Basic Golf Rules

basic golf rules

Learn how to play golf with a few basic golf rules, and you'll be ready to try your hand at a very fun and challenging sport.

A word of warning, though: This game is addicting!

Golf is truly a sport for all ages, and there's not a better way to step out of the rat race for a few hours and spend some quality time with your kids!

If you've never tried it, let me encourage you to get a working knowledge of the basic rules of golf, spend some time at a local driving range to learn the basic strokes and how to swing the different clubs, and then head out to the course. 

Basic Golf Rules

The object of golf is to hit a ball with a golf club into a hole in as few strokes as possible.

Basic Golf Rules
Golf Course

golf course

A standard golf course consists of 18 holes. Holes vary in length from about 100 yards to 600 yards in length, and each hole has some, if not all, of the following features:

Tee box - Smooth level area at the beginning of each hole where play begins. Most courses have tee boxes at different distances from the hole for professionals, men, women, and juniors.

Fairway - Closely-mowed strip of grass usually extending from the tee box to the green. Players try to keep the ball on the fairway as they hit toward the green.

Rough - Un-mowed areas along the sides of the fairway. Players want to avoid hitting the ball in the rough.

Hazards - Bodies of water or bunkers (also known as "sand traps") between the tee box and the green.

Putting green - Smooth, very closely mowed area of grass on which the hole is located.

  • flagstick is centered in the hole to show its position. On many courses, the flag is a different color (white, blue, or red) to signify whether the hole is in the front, center, or back of the green. A player may have the flagstick removed before taking his shot. If the flagstick remains in the hole, it's possible to hit the ball so that it comes to a stop against the stick. If this happens, remove the flag. If the ball falls into the hole, the ball is counting as going in.
golf flag stick
  • The holes are actually cups placed into the ground that are 4 1/4 inches in diameter and at least 4 inches deep. The groundskeepers move the cups around the green on occasion.
golf cup

Basic Golf Rules

Each player needs his own golf balls and set of golf clubs. (Sharing clubs is poor golf course etiquette because it really slows the pace of the game down.)

golf clubs

Adult golf clubs

Junior golf clubs

Kids golf clubs

golf ball

Golf balls


A set of golf clubs can consist of up to 14 clubs. There are basically 3 different types of clubs that players may choose from:

Woods - A "wood" is a club that has a relatively wide head on it. It's usually made of wood, plastic, or a light metal. Woods are numbered from 1 to 7 according to their shape, and they are used for long drives. Most tee shots are taken with a wood known as a "driver." (The woods are the top clubs in the picture above.)

Irons - An "iron" has a head that's narrow from the front to the back, and it's usually made of some type of metal. They are numbered from 1 to 10 according to the angle of their head, and they're used for shorter shots. Typically, the higher the number on the iron, the higher loft the ball will have when it's hit. Sometimes, the woods and irons can be used interchangeably. For example, a 4 wood is equivalent to a 3 iron in terms of the distance they can both hit the ball. (The irons are the middle clubs in the picture above.)

Putter - The "putter" is a light metal club with a flat face used for playing the ball when it's on the green. (The putter is the bottom club in the picture above.)

Read more...  Part 2, Part 3

rules of golf

For youngsters just staring out, let me recommend a fantastic program sponsored by the PGA & others. The First Tee introduces kids to the basic golf rules, golf course etiquette, how to score, and the basic strokes.

But what makes their program unique is that in addition to teaching players how to putt, chip, and drive students are taught character, leadership and life skills.

My daughter participated in the program for a couple years, and I was so pleased with what she learned. I was able to take her out on the golf course with me in a short period of time.

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