Understanding Golf Rules for Beginners


14 club rule

The maximum number of clubs you can carry in your bag is 14. These can be a combination of any clubs you require, any more than 14, and you could receive a two-stroke penalty. But don’t worry, you don’t have to have 14 – there is no minimum requirement. 


Play behind tee markers – up to 2 full club lengths behind.

You must tee off from behind the lines created by the tee markers; you can tee it up anywhere within these lines and as far back as two lengths of two drivers, but never in front! Being in front, even just by an inch, will result in a penalty. It doesn’t count as a shot if the ball rolls off the tee before you swing.


Play the ball from where you find it.

You must play the ball as it lies; you can’t move it into a better spot. You also can’t use a tee on the fairway – this is limited to the tee box only. As well as not moving the ball, any attempt to try and make the shot easier to take is also against the rules, such as trying to flatten the ground with your club or pressing behind the ball with your foot. You can only stamp your foot behind the ball on the tee for your first shot. You also can’t bend or break branches to get a better swing when taking a shot.


Hitting out of bounds is a 2-point penalty, and you must retake your previous shot.

Out of bounds (OB) is when your ball lands outside the course of play; hitting out of bounds results in a two-shot penalty and having to retake the previous shot.

If you hit a shot you believe to be out of bounds instead of waiting to check; you can play a provisional ball (a backup ball) to prevent the game from being slowed down. 

Hazards on the Course

The main hazards on most courses are water hazards; if you are unlucky enough to hit your ball into a hazard, it’s important to understand your options. You will come across two types of hazards marked by either a red or yellow stake. 


Yellow stakes

            For yellow areas, you have two relief options: 

  1. Drop into a relief area if there is one
  2. Go back to the line that it crossed the water and in line with the flag (line of sight) 

Red stakes

           For red areas, you only have three options, including the same as about as well as:

  1. Literally, within two club lengths of where the ball went into the water 


Lost ball rules

If a ball is lost, it must be played the same as an ‘out of bounds’ shot, meaning you must replay the shot and use a provisional ball to speed up play.


Unplayable lies


If your ball happens to land in an area that is classed as unplayable, you can take a drop following certain rules, but you will receive a one-shot penalty. There are three ways you could consider taking your next shot: 

  1. You can take the shot from two club lengths away from where the ball landed, but this can’t be to position yourself closer to the hole.
  2. You could also take a line-of-sight shot, where it would be in line with the flag without getting closer to it. 
  3. If neither option is possible, you can always retake the shot from the previous position, although this sacrifices distance. 


Order of Play

The simplest way to play as a beginner is to play it as the player furthest away from the hole goes first; this is generally assumed unless said otherwise. 


Protecting the Course

As a golfer, taking care of the fairways, tees and greens when playing on any course is important. Tees are one of the most essential surfaces to protect; therefore, no trolleys or buggies should be brought onto this area. When teeing off, it’s important to do your best to replace divots so that the site can be maintained. It’s near impossible not to take a divot with some of our shots on the fairways, but it’s expected to put the divots back in the ground when possible. When taking a shot out of a bunker, it’s expected that you rake it as thoroughly as possible after using it. The greens are another well cared for area of the course; therefore, never take a trolly or golf buggy onto the greens or put your golf bag down. 


What to wear

It’s important to stick to the dress code when playing golf; each club will have slight variations on the rules, but if you want a breakdown of the do’s and don’ts of golfing attire, check out our blog on golf dress code here. 


New rules for golf 2023


  1. There are no penalties for failing to put your handicap on your scorecard 
  2. You can now replace a damaged club
  3. You can replace a ball moved by natural force
  4. You can’t replay your stroke if your ball hits a loose object on the green

We hope you have found this blog useful and leaves you feeling more confident when playing the game. Remember if you are unsure about anything fellow golfers will be more than happy to help or speak to our professional coach.

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