Golf Rules Guru

Helping the ordinary golfer understand and apply the Rules of Golf

Most of the posts on this site are from what I have seen on the golf course as a player, referee, spectator, or TV viewer. A few are derived from the presentation material we used to introduce the 2019 rules to golfers and golf clubs across the county. I’ve also started challenging you to be the referee with some video scenarios – do have a look at the video section and leave me your feedback.

NB I’m not claiming to be a “Golf Rules Guru”, but it does make a nice site name!

Knowing the Rules Will Save You Strokes

Helping the ordinary golfer understand and apply the Rules of Golf

Golf is a unique sport in that all abilities can compete together and we all play by the same set of rules. Knowing these rules will help you not to waste strokes, or incur unnecessary penalties, when you can’t play the course as you find it and the ball as it lies. Knowing the rules, and keeping a clear head, can make a huge difference in critical situations – think of Jordan Spieth on the 13th at Birkdale in the 2017 Open.

A Little Bit About Me

I started playing golf as a Junior with an unofficial handicap of 54. It didn’t take long to get down to the highest official handicap allowed (24 at the time) and eventually to a low of 6 before it has crept inevitably upwards over the last few years.

My experience with the Rules comes from refereeing at county level, presenting rules education sessions for golfers and golf clubs, and passing the Level 2 and 3 exams on the 2019 rules. I can’t claim to give definitive rulings (you will need to contact the R&A or USGA for that), but I do have a good network of other county referees for the difficult questions / scenarios so don’t hold back on any question you may have.

I hope that you find something on the site that saves you a shot in a future competition or stops the horrible “DQ” appearing next to your name

Recent Posts


  • Back-on-the-Line Change for 2023
    There has been a slight change to the back-on-the-line procedure from 1st January 2023 and it is probably more in line with what golfers actually did, rather than what they were meant to do, following the 2019 rule changes. This procedure for getting a ball in play is relevant for a few situations: From 1st January 2023, You must now drop … Continue reading Back-on-the-Line Change for 2023
  • Main Rules Changes for 2023
    The revised rule book for 2023 and beyond is now published. As expected not many changes to get our heads around – here is the R&A/USGA’s “infographic” on the main changes. I’ll go through each one in turn over the next few days and pick out any others of interest as well. Make sure you update the App on the phone … Continue reading Main Rules Changes for 2023
  • Look What’s Arrived!!
    The new rules for 2019 seems like only a few months ago, but we are having an update and a new set go live on 1st January 2023. There won’t be the wholesale changes that we had for 2019 – just a few tweaks, incorporation of some of the clarifications, and perhaps some of the recommended local rules becoming part of … Continue reading Look What’s Arrived!!

8 thoughts on “Home

  1. Hi I have 2 questions, under the new rules of golf does a fresh air shot or a whiff count as a shot weather it’s on the tee box or the fairways.
    And if you accidentally hit your ball on the fairway whilst taking a practice swing does it count as a shot or do you just place it back on the original spot thanks


    1. HI Clayton
      Yes, a fresh air shot does count as a stroke. A stroke is defined as “the forward movement of the club made to strike the ball”. So if you swing at the ball with the intent to hit it you have made a stroke whether or not you hit it.
      If you accidentally cause your ball to move anywhere on the course except the Putting Green it does not in itself count as a stroke BUT you will get one penalty stroke and you must replace the ball on its original spot.


      1. Hi sir thanks for your response, but I’m a bit confused now, the old rules clearly states it’s a penalty, but under the new rules it says it’s not a penalty, this is from Google, especially on the tee box, even if it was move with the ground it says you can place your ball back and play it again without incurring a penalty shot.

        The one on the fairway I understand thanks


  2. Hi Clayton
    Your ball is not in play until you have made a stroke at it to start the hole. If you are having a practice swing before your first stroke on the hole and you accidently knock your ball then as your ball is not in play there is no penalty and you can re-tee it. However if you intend to hit it and miss the ball then you have made a stroke and your ball is now in play. Separately to this, whenever your ball lies within the Teeing Area you may now re-tee it without penalty.

    Maybe the following, hopefully unlikely, chain of events might help:
    -You tee the ball up and have a practice swing, accidently knocking the ball off its tee. You then put the ball back on its tee, before deciding to move it and re-tee it somewhere else in the Teeing Area. All this is allowed and with no penalties and the ball is still not in play – no strokes have been taken.
    – You now try to take your tee shot, fully intending to hit the ball, but completely miss it. This counts as a stroke and the ball is now in play.
    – You pick the ball up and re-tee it somewhere else in the Teeing Area. Allowed with no penalty as the ball was still in the teeing area.
    – You now take another practice swing and accidently knock the ball off the tee. This time there is 1 penalty stroke as the ball is in play (previously it was not in play). While in other areas of the course you must replace the ball on its original spot, because you are in the Teeing Area, you can choose to move the ball anywhere inside the teeing area and re-tee it if you want.
    – You now hit a beautiful drive down the middle of the fairway. You are lying 3 – the first air shot, the penalty stroke for accidently moving the ball which was in play, and then your beautiful drive.

    A very long answer – but I hope it clears things up for you.



  3. Can u drop away from cart path by saying u intend to hit it left handed 4 no reason other than to get a drop,and then hit it right handed.


    1. Hi Paul
      The stroke to be attempted needs to be “reasonable” in the absence of the interfering condition. If the only reason for attempting a left handed stroke is to get relief from the cart path then that is not a reasonable stroke.
      Kind regards


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