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Rules of Golf

The USGA, in conjunction with The R&A in St. Andrews, Scotland, writes, interprets and maintains the Rules of Golf to guard the tradition and integrity of the game.The two organizations are joint authors and owners of The Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf.Through an agreement with The R&A, the Rules jurisdiction of the USGA includes only the United States, its possessions and Mexico.The latest version went into effect Jan. 1, 2012, with the next revision taking effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Golf Rule 1 - The Game

A player is to play according to the rules. No player or caddie is allowed to take any action that may influence the position or movement of a ball. For instance, a player moving the flagstick laying on the green while a ball is in motion to prevent the ball from striking it. The Penalty for taking action is loss of hole in match play, and two-strokes in stroke play. If a serious breach occurs, the player or players may be disqualified.

Players are not permitted to agree to waive rules. For instance, agreeing not to putt anyball within two feet of the hole. The penalty to agree to waive rules is disqualification.

If a dispute occurs that is not covered by the rules, a decision will be made based on equity. For instance, a ball sticks to the face of the club when the player plays a shot out of wet sand. In equity, the player should drop the ball as near as possible to the spot where the ball stuck to the club. Note, in this case the player would lose the hole in match play, or receive a two stroke penalty in stroke play for stopping his ball while in motion.