Leader In The Field of Golf Instruction

Learn To Teach Golf...The Profession of a Lifetime®


Home | About Us | Become Certified | Member Benefits | Schedule | Register | Request Brochure | Contact Us
Teaching Certification
Overview of Certification Levels
Level I Certification
Level II Certification
Level III - Fully Certified
Level IV - Master Golf Teaching Professional®
Home Study Courses
USGTF Examiners Course
Certification Schedule
Course Registration
Typical Day at Certification
Certification FAQs
Free Brochure
Foreign Language Courses
Contact USGTF
Our Global Presence
USGTF Advisory Board
Mission Statement
Regional Directors
History of the USGTF
USGTF Code of Ethics
The USGTF Pretenders
WGTF Presidents
Sign Up for Newsletter
Membership Information
Free USGTF Promotional Video
Free USGTF Brochure
Member Benefits
Upgrade Your Membership
Member Services
The Profession of a Lifetime®
Golf Teaching Pro® Magazine
Instructional Materials
Member Profiles
Member Merchandise
Tournaments for Golf Teaching Professionals
World Golf Teachers Seminar
USGTF Member Bylaws
Michigan/Ontario Golf Teachers Tour «NEW
Other Golf Resources
Site Map
History of Golf Instruction
Videos for Teaching Professionals
Recommended Golfing Sites
Contact USGTF
Toll-Free: 1-888-346-3290
Your Career as a Golf Teacher

FREE Information Package



With the 2010-2011 USGA Rulebook being 155 pages long, it’s no wonder that misconceptions about the Rules are commonplace. Throw in the fact that everyday golfers often violate the Rules, either through ignorance or convenience, and you have a game played by many that doesn’t resemble the game we see on TV every weekend.

It’s a fair wager that the vast majority of golfers, at least in the United States, have never cracked open a Rules book to any great degree. As a result, “rules” that aren’t Rules get passed on by word-of-mouth, and the process repeats with each generation of new golfers.

Below are some of the more common misconceptions and violations that we see with the general golfing public. Elite players aren’t immune, either. Tour players often get into trouble for the most basic violations, as well.

“You can’t hold onto the flagstick while tapping in a putt.” When golfers who hold this belief are challenged as to what Rule is being violated, they most often respond by saying an artificial aid is being used. This might be the case if a golfer who has indulged in too many beers is using the flagstick to steady himself. Otherwise, Decision 17-1/5 makes it clear that such action is permitted, provided the flagstick is removed so the ball doesn’t strike it.

“You can’t put the rake in the bunker before hitting your sand shot.”
There is nothing wrong with putting the rake in the bunker before you hit the shot, provided that nothing is done to test the sand. In fact, it’s even okay to put your other clubs in the bunker (or water hazard) before you hit the shot.

“You cannot have the flagstick tended if your ball is off the green.”
Rule 17-1 states that “Before making a stroke from anywhere on the course, the player may have the flagstick attended, removed, or held up to indicate the position of the hole.”

“Continuous putting is okay in match play.”
Your ball might be 10 feet from the hole, and your opponent from 40 feet away lags his putt to 4 feet. He then says, “I’ll finish.” In stroke play, such a procedure is permitted, but in match play, the person whose ball is farthest from the hole is always entitled to play next. Should your opponent in this case go ahead and putt, you have the right to immediately declare he replay the shot, but he must do so only after you play yours.

“You can’t mark your ball on the green with a tee. That constitutes testing the surface.”
If this logic stood, then it would also be illegal to fix a ball mark before putting. Rule 16-1d considers testing the surface as “rolling a ball or roughening or scraping the surface.” Thus, marking the ball with a tee does not meet this test.

“You have to wait until your ball stops rattling around in the hole before you pick it up.”
Surprisingly, we have come across several instances where players have been penalized for this. This misconception stems from the part of the definition of “ball holed” which states the ball must be at rest within the circumference of the hole. This is simply to state that, in those rare instances where the ball might immediately bounce back out of the hole, the ball is not holed. Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine to pick up the rattling ball out of the hole.

“If a right-hander gets immovable obstruction relief by having to play the shot left-handed, he must play the shot left-handed after getting relief.”
Once a player has obtained relief, if he can now play the shot right-handed, he’s perfectly entitled to do so. As to the question of whether playing the shot left-handed from the original position was necessary in the first place, that is a judgment call. If it is clear that playing the shot left-handed is unnecessary, then taking relief is prohibited.

Dropping a ball near to where the ball went out of bounds. This happens all the time, mainly because the player failed to hit a provisional ball, and to go back to the spot where the last shot was struck would take too much time and anger the players behind.

Rolling the ball over in the fairway to improve the lie.
This is a version of “winter rules,” and while most golfers may play the ball as it lies, a sizeable minority will improve their lie routinely, even on finely-manicured courses.

Failing to hole out.
Otherwise known as a “gimme.” Okay in match play, but technically prohibited in stroke play.

Carrying more than 14 clubs.
Some players can never have enough.

Dropping in the wrong spot after hitting into a water hazard.
Although a stroke-and-distance penalty or keeping the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard between the hole and the dropping point are the only two options for a regular water hazard, you will often see players dropping several yards away from the correct line. This is probably due more to ignorance than a deliberate flouting of the rules, although we don’t doubt the latter does occur.

Taking a mulligan off the first tee.
Note to such golfers: Unless you paid $10 for a couple of mulligans in a charity scramble, play the first ball.

Failure to rake bunkers, replace/sand divots, or fix ball marks.
Yes, technically no violation of the Rules of Golf, but a definite violation of the etiquette of the game. Such golfers may be in need of the most

Back to Main Articles


United States Golf Teachers Federation®
1295 S.E. Port St. Lucie Blvd.   Port Saint Lucie, Florida 34952
1-888-346-3290   772-335-3216   FAX: 772-335-3822
http://www.GolfTeachingPro.com     http://www.usgtf.com     info@usgtf.com

© 2007 United States Golf Teachers Federation®
All rights reserved. Learn to Teach Golf, The Profession of a Lifetime is a US Federal registered trademark.
Overview of Certification | Level I Certification | Level II Certification | Level III Certification | Level IV Certification
Home | The Profession of a Lifetime® | Member Benefits | Schedule | Request Brochure
Contact Us | Become Certified | Site Map | Link to Us