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RULEBOOK
Dean Ryan, RCGA Governor/Rules Official
Play The Course As You Find It
Since the first written code of golf rules appeared in 1744, the rules have changed frequently.
But in spite of countless revisions, two fundamental principles have persevered. They are…
Play the ball as it lies & Play the course as you find it. These two principles are the backbone
of the game of golf. Simply put, you must accept the conditions you encounter and not alter
them to improve your ability to hit the ball.
Richard S. Tufts best summarized this in his book The Principles Behind the Rules of Golf:
“One of the great features of golf is that it tests the player’s ability to execute a great assortment
of strokes under a perplexing variety of conditions. Golf would cease to be a game of skill if
the player were permitted to get the best of the conditions which confront him through their
elimination rather than overcome them by the expert execution of his stroke.”
Today, these principles are contained in Rule 13. Rule 13-1 is short and sweet: The ball shall
be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules. What is meant by: except as
otherwise provided by the Rules? Let’s say your ball comes to rest on a cart path or in
casual water or perhaps in an area considered to be ground under repair; it would be
unreasonable to expect you to play from such a condition. In these circumstances, the Rules
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permit you to take relief by dropping your ball elsewhere. The same applies to penalty
situations, such as a water hazard.
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Rule 13-2 is more detailed; it prohibits you from improving your lie, the area of intended
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swing or line of play. It outlines what actions constitute a breach. Essentially, you are prohibited
from moving, breaking or even bending anything growing or attached. This includes immovable
obstructions and objects defining out of bounds. You are also prohibited from removing or
20,000 Golfers
pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots as well as removing frost, dew or water.
Rule 13-2 is frequently breached by players who press down grass behind their ball or
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move, break, hook or step on branches or weeds to get them out of the way.
However, there are exceptions to Rule 13-2. You would not incur a penalty if the action This Space Could Be
occurred while grounding your club lightly when addressing your ball, in fairly taking your
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stance or in making a stroke or the backward movement of your club for a stroke and the
stroke is made. You are also exempt from penalty if the action occurs on the teeing ground
$150 / month
surface. In addition, you are also permitted to remove sand and loose soil on a putting green
as well as repair ball marks.
Therefore, the next time you play golf, you need only remember this: Play the ball as it lies,
play the course as you find it, and if you can’t do either, do what is fair. However, to do what
is fair, you need to know the Rules of Golf!
For more information on this or any Rule of Golf, or to purchase a copy of The Rules of Golf
Call 613.821.0888
or The Decisions on the Rules of Golf, log on to the RCGA website at www.rcga.org.
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