Rules School: Questions.

Below please find the 25 questions and answers to “Oswald’s Golf Rules School”.


Question 1 (Teeing area).
Is it OK not to tee the ball, when you play from the teeing area?

Answer: Yes, it is perfectly OK!


Question 2 (Order of Play).
Your ball is on the putting green 30 feet from the hole. Your fellow player’s ball lies 20 feet from the hole, in a bunker. You are both ready to play. Who is going to play first?

Answer: You are. It is always the ball farthest from the hole that is going to be played first, no matter where the balls lie.


Question 3 (Searching).
Your stroke from the teeing area heads towards heavy rough. You are fairly certain that you won’t find it and would prefer to make use of your club’s local rule (Mod-E-5) and so go directly to the fairway and drop a ball in the fairway for two penalty strokes. 

Is this correct or are you obligated to search for three minutes before being allowed to proceed under this Local Rule?

Answer: You are allowed to proceed under the Local Rule without having searched. The Local Rule was invented for you to save time, so therefore it is completely OK not to search!


Question 4 (Player conduct).
What does “FORE!” mean, and when should you yell it?

Answer: It means to “watch out”. You should shout “FORE!” if your ball is heading in a direction where it might strike someone. If you are in doubt whether or not to shout “Fore”… then do it!


Question 5 (Dropping).
Do you incur any penalty, if you don’t drop from knee height?

Answer: Yes, you incur a one stroke penalty, unless you correct the error before playing a stroke to the ball (in which case you don’t incur any penalty).


Question 6 (Provisional).
Your first stroke from the teeing area is bad and the ball is heading for some bushes. Therefore, you announce to the person you are playing with: “Wow that was bad! I will play another one!”.

Then you tee another ball and strike it. Is that ball a provisional ball… or the ball in play?

Answer: It is the ball in play (with a one stroke penalty), since you did not use the word “provisional” and did not in another way make it clear, that it was a provisional.


Question 7 (Penalty areas).
How many relief options do you have, if your ball is in a yellow penalty area?

Answer: Two. 1) Back-on-the-line-relief and 2) stroke-and-distance-relief.


Question 8 (The Flagstick).
Your ball is on the putting green. Unfortunately your putt is way too long and therefore your ball accidentally strikes the flagstick (which you had removed from the hole and placed 10 feet behind the hole). You know, that there is no penalty, but do you have to play the ball as it lies, cancel the stroke…or…?

Answer: You must play the ball as it lies.


Question 9 (Unplayable ball).
Your ball lies next to a tree, and therefore you choose to take unplayable-ball-relief with a one stroke penalty. How many relief options do you have?

Answer: You have three relief options:

  1. Back-on-the-line relief.
  2. Stroke-and-distance relief.
  3. Lateral relief (“Two club-lengths”).


Question 10 (Loose Impediments).
Your ball lies in the middle of a bunker, and there is a big, loose stone right behind the ball. You don’t want to damage your club by striking the stone, and therefore you would really like to remove the stone, before your stroke.

Are you allowed to do that?

Answer: Yes, you are!


Question 11 (Obstructions).
Your ball lies (in bounds) under a chair. The chair is not at all heavy and is easily movable. Are you allowed to take relief without penalty under the Rule about immovable obstructions?

Answer: No you are not, since it is a movable obstruction (not an immovable). You are, however, allowed to remove the chair out of the way without penalty.


Question 12 (Wrong Place).
What is the penalty for playing your ball in play from a wrong place  in match play?

Answer: You lose the hole. Be aware that the Rules are different when playing your ball (which is not yet in play) from outside the teeing area – see Pre-K (you don’t lose the hole).


Question 13 (Out of bounds).
How do you determine whether or not your ball is out of bounds?

Answer: You find the nearest white stake on each side of the ball, and then imagine a straight line between these two stakes (the part of the stakes closest to the ground and the part closest to the course). All the ball must then be over this line to be out of bounds.


Question 14 (Practice swings).
Are you allowed to take practice swings in a penalty area?

Answer: Yes, you are!


Question 15 (Clubs).
Are you allowed to bring two putters?

Answer: Yes, you are. There are no restrictions as to which (legal) clubs you are allowed to bring – as long as you do not exceed the maximum number (14 clubs).


Question 16 (Abnormal Course Conditions.
Your ball lies in an area marked as “ground under repair.” You decide to play it, as it lies. Would that be OK?

Answer. Yes, unless there is a playing prohibition (if so, the stakes have green tops).


Question 17 (Wrong Green).
Your ball lies 10 feet outside a wrong green, and you would like to putt the ball over the wrong green (since this is the best way towards the correct putting green). Is that OK?

Answer: Yes, it is perfectly OK!


Question 18 (Wrong Ball).
Your ball heads towards an area with a lot of bushes. After two minutes of searching you find a ball and play it onto the fairway.

On the fairway you realize, that it is not your ball.

Did you incur any penalty?

Answer: Yes, you incurred two penalty strokes in stroke play (lost hole in match play) for playing a wrong ball.


Question 19 (Bunkers).
Is it OK to take a practice swing in a bunker?

Answer: Yes. But if your ball lies in the bunker you are not allowed to touch the sand with your club in the practice swing. So my recommendation would be NOT to take practice swings in bunkers.


Question 20 (Practice Strokes).
Is a practice swing the same as a practice stroke?

Answer: No. As a starting point you are allowed to make practice swings anywhere on the course and at any time. Please see 12th grade about practice swings.


Question 21 (Substitute ball).
Are you allowed to substitute your ball with another ball when taking unplayable-ball relief?

Answer: Yes. You are always allowed to substitute your ball when taking relief, no matter if it is with penalty or without penalty.


Question 22 (Stroke).
If you strike your ball in a practice swing, does it count as a stroke?

Answer: No, it does not. It is only a stroke, if your intention was to make a stroke.


Question 23 (Putting Green).
Are you allowed to repair old hole plugs on the putting green?

Answer: Yes!


Question 24 (Cleaning the ball).
Are you allowed to clean your ball when proceeding under the unplayable-ball-Rule?

Answer. Yes! In fact you are also allowed to substitute the ball with another ball, if you want to.


Question 25 (Ball at rest and in play moved).
You move your ball at rest (in play) during a practice swing on the fairway. It was accidental, and you say “Sorry” to the other player. Do you incur any penalty for moving the ball in this situation?

Answer: Yes, unfortunately, you incur a one-stroke penalty. And you don’t avoid this penalty by apologizing :-)!