Do You Know These Six Rules of Golf?

Golf rules expert and author of “999 Questions on the Rules of Golf” Barry Rhodes answers six questions on the rules of golf below.


I wonder if you would be able to solve a problem we are having within the club in regard to the Rules of Golf. The rule which is causing concern and some discussion is regarding ‘using the back of a club to hit a ball’. Whilst it states that a club may only have one hitting surface except in the case of a Putter which is so designed to have two parallel surfaces, I am unable to find a specific rule that states it is illegal to use the back of a club to hit a ball. Others differ and interpret the ‘one hitting surface’ as a rule in this regard. I would appreciate clarification in this regard, advising which particular rule applies and the appropriate penalty.


I can confirm that it is within the Rules to make a stroke with the back, toe, or heel of any club, including the putter. However, it is not permitted to make a stroke with the grip end of the club. Decision 14-1 confirms this;

“Q. May a player play a left-handed stroke with the back of the head of a right-handed club?
A. Yes. A player may play a stroke with any part of the clubhead, provided the ball is fairly struck at (Rule 14-1) and the club conforms with Rule 4-1.”


What happens if you accidentally mark your ball on the apron of the green but do not clean it and then realise that it was not on the green and replace it? In stroke play and in match play with the Rule no. please.


In either stroke play or match play there is a penalty of one stroke for touching your ball while it is in play, Rule 18-2a(i). There is no further penalty, even if the player does clean their ball, Decision 18-2a/13.


I have been using a distance measuring device for the past few monthly games as it was granted a go ahead since the USGA allows such device. However, during the last game, the Tournament Director announced over the loud hailer before the shot gun start that this device is not allowed; unfortunately I was busy and never hear the announcement. So, my questions are as follows;
a. Does breach of rules for stroke play in above situation is 2 strokes penalty (by default) or immediate DQ?
b. Does the Committee have the right to over-rule the decision of the Tournament Director?


You are correct in saying that the USGA permits the use of distance measuring devices, but only if the Committee makes a Local Rule allowing players to use them (Rule 14-3). The penalty for breaching this Rule is disqualification. I assume that the Tournament Director knew that the Committee had not introduced the Local Rule before he made the announcement.


Wind is an outside agency and the ball must be played where it ends up, but what if a ball at rest on the green moves due to gravity (from being on a slight slope) or due to falling into a small indentation in the green underneath the ball – and before the player has addressed it?


No, wind is not an Outside Agency. Part of the Definition states,
“Neither wind nor water is an outside agency.”

So, if a player’s ball moves before they have addressed it, but they did not cause it to move, there is no penalty and it has to be played from where it comes to rest, whether this is nearer or further away from the hole. It does not matter whether the ball moved due to wind, gravity or some other natural source.

You may find these two blogs of mine on similar subjects interesting;


Please inform me of what the following ruling would be. I thought I knew but somehow this eludes me. My ball is beside the green (in the fairway or rough) I have not addressed the ball, but make a practice swing and accidentally hit my ball. What do I do? Next, my ball is on the green and moves in the same manner. I am taking a practice putt and accidentally hit my ball. What do I do?

I know of instances of replacing the ball on the green and need clarification as when this happens.


In both your scenarios when a player’s ball is in play, if he causes it to move, except as permitted by a Rule, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced, (Rule 18-2a).


I really want to know what is the Rule of play for two scenarios below concerning order of play;
1. When two players are at different locations, one 20m from the hole but on the green and the other is 5m from the hole but off the green. What is the order of play?

2. Two players playing a par-5, index 2 in a stableford competition, one player, with a handicap of 1, holes out with 5 strokes resulting in 2 points and the other player, with a handicap of 20, holes out with 6 getting 3 points. Who will get the honour on the next tee? Does the honour depend on the points or strokes made for that particular hole?


In answer to your first question, Rule 10-2b states that in stroke play,
“The ball farthest from the hole is played first. If two or more balls are equidistant from the hole or their positions relative to the hole are not determinable, the ball to be played first should be decided by lot.”

Therefore, the player whose ball is 20m from the hole plays first.

In answer to your second question, in a Stableford competition the person who scored the most points on the hole has the honour on the next teeing ground. Part of Rule 32-1 states;

“In handicap bogey, par and Stableford competitions, the competitor with the lowest net score at a hole takes the honour at the next teeing ground.”

So, in any competition where handicaps are taken into account on each hole the honour is determined by the net score for the hole. In a pure strokes competition, where the handicap is deducted at the end of the stipulated round, it is the gross score that determines the honour.

I hope that I can encourage you to visit my blog on the Rules of Golf at If you are interested in Rules situations I think that you will find it informative and will learn from it. You can ensure that you are notified of any new posting on this blog by subscribing at the top right corner of the home page. I promise that your email address will remain confidential and will never be shared with anyone else.” – Miscellaneous content on the Rules of Golf.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this information on the Rules of Golf I am human and have been known to be wrong! Neither I, nor anyone connected with, shall be held responsible for any losses caused by reliance upon the accuracy or reliability of such information. Readers should refer to the full text of the rules and decisions as published in the official publications of the R&A and the USGA, The Rules of Golf 2008-2011 and Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2008-2009.

3 Responses to “Do You Know These Six Rules of Golf?”

  1. Dennis Rule says:

    My ball is droped under rule 28 unplayable lie but rolls outside 2 club lengths not closer to the hole is my ball now in play or do I have to redrop to remain in side 2 club lengths. I have been told the if i touch my ball at this point it is a penalty of 1 stroke.

  2. Reg Shanhan says:

    Good to fresh up on Rules of Golf !

    There are quite a few Golfers out there who should read these as they do not have much idea about this Subject.


  3. T Guidera says:

    Could you please confirm for me, the rule for rideing in a buggy in club competition where their is no local rule.

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