Principal Changes Introduced in the 2016 Code
Rules of Golf
Rule 3-3. Doubt as to Procedure
The Rule has been amended to provide further guidance on:
1. The procedure for a competitor who is uncertain of how to
proceed and decides to play two balls; and
2. How the Committee should determine which ball is to count in
such situations.
In addition, the Rule has been expanded to provide guidance on
which ball counts when the Rules do not permit the procedure used
for either ball.
Exception to Rule 6-6d. Wrong Score for Hole
This new Exception provides that a competitor is not disqualified
for returning a score for any hole lower than actually taken when
this is due to failure to include one or more penalty strokes that,
before returning his score card, the competitor did not know he had
incurred. Instead, the competitor incurs the penalty prescribed by the
applicable Rule and an additional penalty of two strokes for each hole
at which the competitor has committed a breach of Rule 6-6d.
Rule 14-1b. Anchoring the Club
A new Rule is introduced to prohibit anchoring the club, either
“directly” or by use of an “anchor point”, during the making of a
Rule 14-3. Artificial Devices and Unusual Equipment;
Abnormal Use of Equipment
Several amendments have been made to Rule 14-3, including:
1. A statement of principle has been introduced to confirm what
guides the governing bodies in determining whether use of any
Principal Changes 13
One Standard.
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item is a breach of Rule 14-3;
2. For clarity, the previous reference to “unusual use of equipment”
has been changed to “abnormal use of equipment”; and
3. The penalty for a player’s first breach of Rule 14-3 during a
stipulated round has been modified from disqualification to
loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play, with
disqualification applied as the penalty for a subsequent breach of
the Rule.
Rule 18-2. Ball at Rest Moved By Player, Partner, Caddie or
Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving After Address) has been withdrawn. This
means that when a ball moves after a player has addressed it, the
application of a penalty under Rule 18-2 will be based purely on
whether the player caused the ball to move.
Rule 25-2. Embedded Ball
Notes have been introduced to:
1. clarify when a ball is embedded; and
2. confirm that a Committee may introduce a Local Rule allowing
relief without penalty for a ball embedded anywhere through the
Rule 26-2. Ball Played Within Water Hazard
The Rule has been reformatted solely for clarity. There has been no
substantive change.
Appendix I. Local Rules; Conditions of the Competition
Former Parts A and B of Appendix I relating to Local Rules are
consolidated to provide all of the pertinent information on specific
Local Rules in a single location.
Appendix IV. Devices and Other Equipment
Part 5 relating to distance-measuring devices is amended so that, when
a Local Rule permitting the use of distance-measuring devices is in
effect, there is a breach of Rule 14-3 only if a player uses the device
for some other purpose that is prohibited by that Rule. Previously,
when the Local Rule was in force, a player was in breach of Rule
14-3 if he used a distance-measuring device that also contained other
features whose use would breach Rule 14-3, regardless of whether
such other features were actually used by the player.
Appendices II, III and IV
Statements on equipment conformance and product submission
processes were removed from Rules 4, 5 and 14-3 to eliminate
redundancy with Appendices II, III and IV. The revision to consolidate
these statements in the appendices is non-substantive and done solely
for efficiency.
Rules of Amateur Status
Rule 3-1b. Prize Money to Charity
New Rule 3-1b is introduced to enable an amateur golfer to
participate in an event where prize money or its equivalent is donated
to a recognised charity, provided the approval of the Governing Body
is first obtained in advance by the organiser.
Rule 4-3. Golf-Related Expenses
New Rule 4-3 is introduced to clarify that an amateur golfer may
receive reasonable expenses, not exceeding actual expenses incurred,
for non-competition golf-related activities.
Rule 9-2b(i). Period Awaiting Reinstatement; Professionalism
The recommended guidelines on periods awaiting reinstatement
are amended to provide that a period in breach of the Rules of six
years or more (previously five years or more) should result in a
period awaiting reinstatement of two years. In addition, the Rule
is amended to provide that, if an applicant for reinstatement has
played extensively for prize money, consideration should be given to
the level of competitions and the applicant’s performance in those
competitions in determining whether the applicant’s period awaiting
reinstatement should be extended.
14 Principal Changes Principal Changes 15
How to Use the Rule Book
It is understood that not everyone who has a copy of the Rules of
Golf will read it from cover to cover. Most golfers only consult the
Rule book when they have a Rules issue on the course that needs to
be resolved. However, to ensure that you have a basic understanding
of the Rules and that you play golf in a reasonable manner, it is
recommended that you at least read the Quick Guide to the Rules of
Golf and the Etiquette Section contained within this publication.
In terms of ascertaining the correct answer to Rules issues that
arise on the course, use of the Rule book’s Index should help you to
identify the relevant Rule. For example, if a player accidentally moves
his ball-marker in the process of lifting his ball on the putting green,
identify the key words in the question, such as “ball-marker”, “lifting
ball” and “putting green” and look in the Index for these headings.
The relevant Rule (Rule 20-1) is found under the headings “ballmarker”
and “lifted ball” and a reading of this Rule will confirm the
correct answer.
In addition to identifying key words and using the Index in the Rules
of Golf, the following points will assist you in using the Rule book
efficiently and accurately:
Understand the Words
The Rule book is written in a very precise and deliberate fashion. You
should be aware of and understand the following differences in word
• may = optional
• should = recommendation
• must = instruction (and penalty if not carried out)
• a ball = you may substitute another ball (e.g. Rules 26, 27 and 28)
• the ball = you must not substitute another ball (e.g. Rules 24-2 and
Know the Definitions
There are over fifty defined terms (e.g. abnormal ground condition,
through the green, etc.) and these form the foundation around which
the Rules of Play are written. A good knowledge of the defined terms
(which are italicised throughout the book) is very important to the
correct application of the Rules.
The Facts of the Case
To answer any question on the Rules you must consider the facts of
the case in some detail. You should identify:
• The form of play (e.g. match play or stroke play, single, foursome
or four-ball)
• Who is involved (e.g. the player, his partner or caddie, an outside
• Where the incident occurred (e.g. on the teeing ground, in a
bunker or water hazard, on the putting green)
• What actually happened
• The player’s intentions (e.g. what was he doing and what does he
want to do)
• The timing of the incident (e.g. has the player now returned his
score card, has the competition closed)
Refer to the Book
As stated above, reference to the Rule book Index and the relevant
Rule should provide the answer to the majority of questions that can
arise on the course. If in doubt, play the course as you find it and play
the ball as it lies. On returning to the Clubhouse, refer the matter to
the Committee and it may be that reference to the “Decisions on the
Rules of Golf” will assist in resolving any queries that are not entirely
clear from the Rule book itself.
16 How to Use the Rule Book How to Use the Rule