Helpful Tips

Golf Rules Made Easy: A Guide for Beginners

ball on grass

Before you play a round of golf, whether it’s for business or for fun, make sure you’re familiar with basic golf rules and etiquette. But if you’re a beginner, then learning the ins and outs of golf may be confusing in the beginning. So, if you’re having a hard time learning the ropes, read our guide to golf rules made easy and learn everything you need to know about this exciting game.

This guide on golf rules made easy covers many of the basic rules you’ll find on every course in the country ranging from rules surrounding proper tournament etiquette, the rules of the green, playing pace, playing through and so much more. Golf is a fun, exciting sport, but considering there are so many rules, it can be overwhelming to learn how to correctly play this game without becoming confused or frustrated. Fortunately, we’ve included the most important rules that can help you focus on the game and avoid making any embarrassing mistakes when you’re out on the green.

Keep on reading to learn about the different rules that apply to basic rounds of golf, business rounds, tournaments, and much more.

The Basics of Golf

Your ability to grasp the dos and don’ts of golf can take some time. But below, you’ll find many of the common mistakes many beginners make and what you should and shouldn’t do. These tips will make you feel more comfortable on the course so you can finally relax and enjoy learning this exciting new game.

On the course make sure you:

  • Have a reasonable pace of play. This means you must be considerate of others on the course. Be mindful of how long you’re taking per hole. While it’s understandable that you want to perfect your swing or focus on using the right form, if you’re holding up several people at each hole, it can be a real disaster for everyone.
  • Make sure at each hole that you also rake bunkers, replace divots, and repair ball marks.
  • You must also pay close attention to any rules each golf course may have, in addition to the rules administered by the USGA.
  • Make sure that the player who is the farthest away from the pin takes the first shot
  • Allows the winner of the previous hole to hit first at the next hole
  • For handicap purposes, turn in every score
  • Use a caddie if possible

Golf Club - Aerial view - Green & Bunker


  • Speak when someone in your party is about to hit the ball
  • Ask an opponent what club they hit
  • Hit a shot when there are still people from the group in front of you in range
  • Take too long at a hole if you’re playing on a busy course

Rules for Spectators

Golf course rules don’t just apply to players, they also apply to spectators as well. If you find yourself attending a competition, then the club will expect you to behave in a certain way in order to avoid disturbing the other players.

If you’re a spectator, make sure you:

  • Remain quiet when a player is preparing to take a shot
  • Remain as still as possible and keep movements to a minimum
  • Wait for each player to putt out before you leave the green
  • Always follow the etiquette guidelines
  • Cheer for every player at a reasonable volume
  • Wear spikeless shoes or sneakers when you’re on the course. Doing so can help to prevent unnecessary wear and tear.


  • Run on the course during a competition
  • Speak on the phone
  • Take pictures
  • Talk to players when they’re preparing for a shot
  • Ask for an autograph
  • Heckle other golfers

A Business Golf Outing

In the business world, a round of golf is a popular way to conduct business, learn more about a client, and all while having fun. However, sometimes the people who are invited to this type of outing are not familiar with the rules of golf and tend to conduct themselves inappropriately. In order to avoid embarrassing yourself, or acting in a manner that may offend your new client, make sure you’re familiar with the rules of a business golf outing:


  • Respect the rules of the course
  • Act like a guest and stick to a club’s specific rules
  • Purchase something from the pro shop to show your support
  • Thank staff
  • Refrain from using bad language


  • Use a handicap that’s out of date
  • Spend too much time at a hole
  • Make it to the course late
  • Drink too much alcohol

Golf Club - Aerial view - Green & Bunker

Rules for Equipment

  • On the course, when it comes to your clubs, you can carry a maximum of fourteen.
  • You have to finish a hole using the same ball. Ball changes should only be made between holes unless you lose a ball.

Rules for the Teeing Ground

  • When you tee it must be done behind the line that was created by the tee markers. You can tee anywhere between the markers.
  • If a ball falls off the tee before you’ve taken a swing this will not count as a shot.
  • If you swing and completely miss the ball that will still count as a shot.

Rules to Follow During a Play of a Hole

  • A ball must be played as it lies. You cannot move or kick the ball to a better spot.
  • You cannot bend or break a branch in order to allow you to swing easier
  • When you’re stuck in a bunker do not ground your club in the sand in order to test it out.
  • You cannot rake the sand in a bunker before a shot
  • You also cannot remove stones or debris from a bunker

When Taking a Practice Shot

You can’t hit a ball off before your turn but you can take a practice swing. You can hit rocks during a practice shot, but you cannot hit off any balls.

The Correct Order of Play

  • Many beginners become confused when it comes to the order of the play. On most courses, the person that’s furthest from the hole should take their shot first.

When you Hit the Ball

  • Scooping the ball isn’t allowed
  • You must hit your ball with one strike
  • You cannot push the ball using extended contact
  • You can only hit the ball when it’s standing still. Hitting a moving ball is only allowed if it’s in the water
  • Before you play, make sure you identify the ball. You can get a two-stroke penalty if you hit someone else’s ball.

Playing on the Green

  • If any part of your ball touches the green this means you’re on the green, so you can place a marker behind it and pick it up.
  • You’re allowed to move away leaves, gravel, sand, and stones, or any other type of loose impediment on the line.
  • Never rub or scrape the surface of the green with your club or your hand in order to feel the texture.

Related Questions

Are There Any Range Finders Under $200 That are Accurate?

Yes! If you’re on a tight budget and you’re looking for a more affordable range finder, one that’s accurate, easy to use, and equipped with the type of features you’d normally find on higher priced models we recommend the Callaway 300 Pro Golf Laser Rangefinder. This budget-friendly model is a great option for golfers of all skill levels and comes loaded with some great features that are designed to improve your shooting accuracy. If you’re not familiar with golf range finders, how they work and what features they offer, make sure you stop by and read our golf range finder buyer’s guide.

Are there Any Rules That Apply to Golf Cart Use?

Yes. Before you rent a golf cart, make sure you familiarize yourself with the course’s rules. Some courses may allow you to drive your cart onto the fairway, while others will not. Some clubs are very lax with their golf cart rules, while others will have many restrictions that you must adhere to. Fortunately, many of the rules surrounding golf carts apply to clubs all over the country. There are also separate laws that apply to golf cart use when you’re off the course, as well. If you’d like to learn more, click here to read our article on golf cart laws.

Do Clubs Allow Golf Range Finder Use?

Yes, all courses will allow you to use a golf range finder, however, these rules change during a tournament. If your range finder has the slope feature, which determines the accurate distance based on changes in elevation on the course, then you may not be able to use the range finder in a competition. Fortunately, many newer models of range finders will allow you to shut off this feature, which will make it tournament legal.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our guide on golf rules made easy. As you can see, there are dozens of rules to keep track of that apply to the green, bunkers, the ball, tees, and so much more. Fortunately, our guide can help you to avoid any embarrassing situations out on the course so you can relax, focus on the game and work on perfecting your swing.