Golf for Beginners: Basic Rules of Golf

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by Wigwam Golf |

basic golf rules

Basic Rules on the Golf Course

Although it may seem simple, golf can be a confusing game to master. With lingo, equipment, techniques, and rules of many different sorts, learning the basics prior to playing can definitely make the game easier! Listed below are some basic rules of golf according to USGA 2012-2015 rules.


Golf Equipment

The first rule to golf equipment is every golf need their own golf bag with a maximum of fourteen golf clubs. As a beginner, fourteen clubs is more than necessary. Begin by carrying a driver, a putter, a sand wedge and a few numbered clubs like a 6 or 9-iron. As you learn more about the game and different shots and clubs, you can introduce a pitching wedge, a fairway wood, or hybrid to your golf game. Be sure to test out the clubs and do additional research before purchasing an expensive set of golf clubs. Additionally, many rules officials do bag checks prior to a golf tournament.


Teeing Off

The basic rule of teeing off, is to place the golf ball between the tee markers. The player can place the ball in line with the markers or up to two club-lengths behind the tee markers, depending on preference. The ball must be played from the ground or off of a tee.

Finally, if a golf ball that is not in play falls off a tee or is knocked off a tee by the player, it may be re-teed with no added stroke increase. Whether successful or not, when an attempt is made at the ball while it is on the tee, a stroke is counted.


Tee Boxes

Every golf course you visit is likely to have multiple sets of tees designated by markers. At the Wigwam Golf Resort near Phoenix, Arizona, our three championship golf courses has 3 to 6 different tee boxes – forward tees, middle tees, back tees, and championship tees.

How do you know which tees to use? Each set of tees correspond to different yardage and difficulty. Over time, knowing which set of tees to use will become self-evident. But, as a beginning golfer, you probably don’t have a grasp on your golf game and how far you can hit the ball. We recommend playing from the forward tees until graduating to the next level in your game.


Order of Play (Match Play)

Honors is a term used to describe the team or individual who will tee off first. Honor is determined by a draw or lot. After the first hole is complete, the team or individual who wins the hole takes honor at the following hole.

During play, the player with the ball furthest from the hole plays first. Depending on the type of game being played, there are exceptions to this rule.

If a ball is hit out of turn, there is no penalty. However, if the opponent requests the stroke can be canceled.


Play It as It Lies

According to the USGA 2012-2015 rules of golf, the golfer must play that ball as it lies to avoid penalty. A player is not allowed to improve the lay of the ball before or after a stroke, the area of the stance or swing, the line of play, or the area in which a ball would be dropped. Methods of improving any of the above positions by pressing a golf club on the ground; moving, bending, or breaking fixed or growing obstructions; creating different surfaces; or removing sand, soil, dew or water.

A player is not penalized if any of the above situations occur during a stroke, while the player takes a stance, on the teeing ground, or on the putting green.


Out of Bounds & Lost Balls

During a round of golf, if a ball is lost or hit out of bounds, another ball must be played from the place the lost ball was hit with a one-stroke penalty. Players are allowed five minutes to search for the ball before it is considered lost.


Hazard or Bunker

If a ball is hit into a hazard or bunker, it is against the rules to touch the water or ground with a hand or club before hitting the ball. Additionally, if a ball is hit into a bunker or hazard, under the penalty of one stroke, the ball must be dropped outside the bunker keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped. There is a limit as to how far behind the bunker the ball may be dropped.


Water Hazards

When a ball is hit into a water hazard, the player has three options:

  • Add a stroke, treat the ball as lost and play a new ball from the spot where the previous ball was hit.
  • Drop a new ball behind the water hazard.
  • In the case of a lateral water hazard, drop a ball within two club-lengths of the hazard, not nearer the hole than originally hit. It may also be played from a point on the opposite margin of the hazard as the hole.

For a more thorough explanation of USGA 2012-2015 rules, visit

Comments are closed.