There's no shame in admitting that a lot about the Rules of Golf is confusing. Even after the big revision to the rules in 2019, which was supposed to make things simpler, and the latest update in 2023, it's easy to forget what to do in unusual situations. That said, there are some basic rules every golfer should know. Whether you enforce them during casual rounds with your friends is your business.
So what are the basics? Take this 10-question quiz and see if you would know what to do in these common rules scenarios.
1. Your ball has come to rest on the putting green. Before you mark it, the ball starts rolling and moves closer to the hole. Where do you play your next stroke from—the new location or old location?
2. You mistakenly hit a shot with the wrong ball in a match against your buddy. You realize it before hitting a second shot, and the hole has yet to be completed. Do you lose the hole? Or can you correct the error, take a penalty, and still have a chance to win it?
3. As you address your ball on the tee, you accidentally bump it and it falls off the tee. Can you re-tee without penalty or did that cost you a stroke?
4. There's a sprinkler head between your ball and the green about five yards away on your line of play. You were thinking about putting, but the head would be in the way. Can you take free relief since you're dealing with an immovable obstruction?
5. True of false—You can remove a stone that is behind your ball in a bunker before hitting a shot without penalty?
6. Your ball is playable in a penalty area, but you're not sure how the vegetation will affect your swing. Can you stand in the penalty area, several yards from your ball, and make "test swings" through the vegetation to get a feel for the shot?
7. Your opponent in a match hits an approach shot that appears to be blown off course by the wind. Can you ask your opponent what direction the wind was coming from?
8. Facing an unnerving situation around the green, your accidentally hit your ball twice with the same abrupt swing. Does this count as one stroke or two?
9. Your ball is in bounds, but barely, and you can't hit it unless you stand out of bounds on the other side of a fence that borders the course. Can you do that?
10. You mark your ball on the putting green, replace it, then a gust of wind moves it closer to the hole. Where do you play your next stroke from—the new location or the old location?
1. If you have not marked and replaced your ball on the green and it moves, play it from its new location. Rule 13.1d
2. You lose the hole. In stroke play, you would take a two-stroke penalty and go back to correct your mistake. Rule 6.3c
3. No penalty. You can re-tee so long as you weren't making a stroke. You also can replace the ball (if you now feel it has bad mojo). Rule 6.2(5)
4. No relief without penalty. Your course can enact a local rule to allow for relief if your ball is in a closley mown area and a sprinkler, no more than two clublengths from the green and two clublengths from the ball, is on the line of play and you intended to putt. Otherwise, you better grab a chipping club. Rule 16.1/Model Local Rule F-5
5. True. If your ball should move as a result of removing the stone, it's a one-stroke penalty and you have to replace your ball. Rule 12.2a
7. Yes, you can ask about wind direction, distances to objects, even locations of things on the course. Advice: Definitions.
8. It's one stroke. Lucky you, this rule was changed in 2019. It used to be that it counted as a stroke, plus an additional one-stroke penalty. Rule 10.1a
9. You sure can. If it was a chain-link fence, you can even hit the fence instead of the ball to get out of trouble. Rule 18.2a
10. If you were paying attention to question No. 1, you'd know that once you mark your ball on a putting green and it moves, you have to replace it. Rule 13.1d
How'd you do?