Rules of Golf
As the governing body of golf in Canada, Golf Canada holds the exclusive right to publish and distribute the Rules of Golf in Canada.
The Rules are updated every four years through the work of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland and the United States Golf Association. A joint committee of these associations, on which the Rules Chairman of Golf Canada sits, is charged with revising, modernizing and improving the Rules of Golf and the Decisions on the Rules of Golf. These two documents form the complete Rules of Golf that are used universally throughout the world of golf.
Golf Canada has the exclusive right to publish and distribute the Rules of Golf throughout Canada. All Rights Reserved.
The Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf are available for purchase online or by calling us at 1-800-263-0009.
In addition to publishing the Rules, Golf Canada has created a national Rules Education Program that leads to national certification as a Rules Official. The program description is contained on the Rules Education section of this website. You will also find links to the lists of conforming clubs and balls that are used by all associations and updated monthly by the USGA.
For clubs or committees in charge of competitions, the Conditions of Competition and Standard Local Rules Golf Canada implements at all championships is posted for your reference. In addition, a list of local rules that should be considered is available on this website.
Ask a Rules Expert
To ask a rules question, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a rules question regarding a competition currently taking place (the competition has not closed), then you may wish to use the Competition Hotline.
To contact Golf Canada for a ruling during a competition please call Adam Helmer, Director of Rules and Competitions at 416-450-6374.
If your call is not answered immediately, please leave a detailed message including your name, title (Rules Chair, Professional, etc.) phone number where you can be contacted and a description of the incident requiring a ruling. Your call will be returned as soon as possible.
Golf Canada offers several programs to learn the Rules of Golf. Our Education Program is designed for all golfers wishing to improve their level of knowledge of the Rules of Golf including recreational golfers, competitive golfers, professionals and rules officials, or those wishing to become a rules official.
Whether you have an interest in learning the basics or wish to pursue national certification as a rules official, Golf Canada offers the right program for you. Read about each level of education below and then click on the appropriate link for more information.
You can also view our Rules Education Pathway.
Level 1 of the program is a beginner program that introduces the basic concepts and language of the Rules of Golf. Examples, videos, animations and exercises are used to introduce the student to the principles of the Rules and how to use the Rules book. The program is ideal for juniors, beginners and golfers who have had no previous experience with the Rules.
Level 2 of the program builds on the experience of Level 1 and introduces the key reference manual for officials: the Decisions on the Rules of Golf. This publication is the key to understanding how the Rules of Golf are applied on the course. In addition to introducing some of the fundamental rules through examples, videos and exercises, Level 2 teaches the student how to use the Decisions book effectively when the Rules book alone does not provide the answer.
- Achieve 80% on the Level 2 Exam
- Complete 20 hours of satisfactory on-course experience as a Starter/Scorer/Official at club, regional or provincial events
Level 3 of the program is comprised of a three day seminar conducted by the provincial golf associations. The seminar covers the most common Rules of Golf and includes practical sessions that demonstrate how the Rules apply on the golf course. To be certified at Level 3 an official must successfully pass the exam and meet the minimum practical requirements. The Level 3 program leads to provincial certification as a tournament official. Once Level 3 certified, an official is qualified to attend the Level 4 national certification seminar. To find out about seminars in your area, please contact your provincial golf association.
Pre-requisite: Level 2 Certification
- Complete Level 3 Rules of Golf Seminar
- Achieve 85% on Level 3 Exam
- 10 hours accompanying a Certified Rules Official as an observer at a regional or provincial event
- Minimum of 50 hours of satisfactory on-course experience as a Rules Official at regional or provincial events
Note: Level 3 and Level 4 exams must be written in separate calendar years.
Level 4 of the program leads to national rules certification. This is a necessary, but not sufficient qualification to work as a rules official at a Golf Canada national championship. The Level 4 program is intended for experienced rules officials who wish to improve both their technical and practical knowledge as a rules official. Considerable time is spent on the golf course discussing complex issues of the Rules of Golf. The optional 3 hour exam is a rigorous test of the Rules of Golf intended to identify those candidates with the highest level of knowledge. Registration is available online by clicking the Level 4 link below.
Pre-requisite: Level 3 Certification
- Complete Level 4 Rules of Golf Seminar
- Achieve 85% on the Rules of Golf exam
- 100 hours of satisfactory on-course experience as a Level 3 Rules Official at regional or provincial events.
Level 4 – Rules Seminar Information
Golf Canada’s Level 4 Rules of Golf seminars are intended for experienced officials. Registration for a 2018 Rules of Golf Seminars is restricted to persons who:
- are Level 3 certified officials;
- have achieved 70% or better on the Level 4 Rules Exam or 80% or better on the USGA Rules Exam within the last four years; or
- have achieved 92% or better on the USGA Rules Exam after January 1, 2007; or
- are currently or have been previously certified at Level 4 or equivalent by Golf Canada.
NOTE: Those who have achieved a mark of 85% or higher in the last four years have the option to write the exam without the seminar. There will be a review session available on the Saturday afternoon prior to the exam, which will be written on the Sunday morning at each of the below scheduled seminars. The registration fee for writing the exam only is $150.00. Exam only participants must attend Saturday and Sunday.
The Level 4 Seminar will consist of a combination of classroom theory and sessions focusing on the practical application of tournament officiating. Participants are expected to have a good understanding of the Rules of Golf prior to attending. In order to take full advantage of the curriculum, in addition to the above criteria, participants should have some experience as a tournament official.
Participants have the option to attend only Saturday and Sunday and write the Level 4 Exam. Participants who want to write the exam, must attend both sessions. The exam will consist of a combination of multiple choice and word questions similar to the examples provided in the Seminar Workbook. The exam time limit is 3 hours. The Level 4 Rules Exam may be taken only once per calendar year and only at the seminar in which you are registered.
Applications are accepted on a first come, first served basis. To register on-line, please click the link at the bottom of this page and ensure to provide us with your full mailing address, including your postal code, as well as details of the credit card to which the registration fee of $250.00 is to be charged. Include the type of card (Visa/Mastercard/AmEx), name of the cardholder, full account number and date of expiry.
Your application will be confirmed by email. You can expect to receive the seminar materials (via email and post) at least 4 weeks prior to the seminar date.
If you register and must withdraw, please be kind enough to advise us as soon as possible. If you cancel at least two weeks prior to the first day of your seminar by notifying the Rules Seminar Administrator (email@example.com), your fee will be refunded subject to a $50.00 (or $30.00 for exam-only participants) non-refundable fee to cover the cost of materials and administration. The seminar fee is fully non-refundable for anyone withdrawing less than 14 days prior to the seminar start date.
Note: The seminar fee includes all course materials, light breakfast and lunch each day.
If you require further information please call the Rules Seminar Administrator at (905) 849-9700 ext. 244 or 1-800-263-0009 ext. 244.
3-DAY SEMINARS – (Maximum 40 participants at each venue) Cost is $250.00 for full seminar, or $150 to write exam (must attend Saturday & Sunday).
Date & Location:
- April 13 – 15: Vancouver, BC – TBD
- April 13 – 15: Montreal, QC – TBD
- April 27-29: Oakville, ON (Golf Canada)
Note: There must be a total of seven (7) or more participants for the seminar to occur.
The deadline to apply is February 14, 2018.
2019 Rules Modernization Initiative
As the National Sport Federation and governing body of golf in Canada, Golf Canada, in conjunction with the R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA), has unveiled a preview of the proposed new Rules of Golf. This joint initiative was designed to modernize the Rules and make them easier to understand and apply.
The online release of this preview by the R&A and USGA began a six-month feedback and evaluation period, during which the R&A and USGA received feedback from thousands of golfers around the world. The changes are now being finalized and will take effect on January 1, 2019.
2018 Rules Certification Extensions
Golf Canada has decided for those level 4 officials whose certification will no longer be valid in 2018, we will be extending their certification until December 31, 2018.
2019 Golf Canada Rules of Golf Seminars
The first series of workshops on the new Rules of Golf will be conducted in the Fall of 2018, with a second series of workshops scheduled during the Spring of 2019. The two series of workshops will have different exams. This will allow anyone taking the exam in the Fall of 2018 to also take the exam given in the Spring of 2019, should there be a need or desire to do so.
The schedule for workshops on the new Rules will be published in the spring, with registration opening in the early summer. Additionally, information about new tools and resources to support your learning of the new Rules will be provided in the coming months.
Decision 34-3/10 (NEW - effective immediately as of April 25, 2017)
Limitations on Use of Video Evidence
It is appropriate for a Committee to use video evidence in resolving questions of fact when applying the Rules (see Decision 34-3/9). Such evidence may lead to the conclusion that a player breached the Rules or to the conclusion that there was no breach. Video evidence may also help players and the Committee in determining other factual questions such as the location of a player’s ball when it has not been found or where a ball last crossed the margin of a water hazard.
However, video evidence can sometimes present complications because of its potential to reveal factual information that was not known and could not reasonably have been known to players and others on the course. Golf is a game of integrity in which the Rules are applied primarily by the players themselves. Players are expected to be honest in all aspects of their play, including in trying to follow the procedures required under the Rules, in calling penalties on themselves and in raising questions with other players or with the Committee when they are unsure whether they might have breached the Rules.
Video technology, especially the use of methods such as high resolution or close-up camera shots that can be replayed in slow motion, has the potential to undermine this essential characteristic of the game by identifying the existence of facts that could not reasonably be identified in any other way. Such evidence should not be used to hold players to a higher standard than human beings can reasonably be expected to meet. For this reason, there are two situations in which the use of video evidence is limited:
- When Video Evidence Reveals Things that Could Not Reasonably be Seen with the Naked Eye. The use of video technology can make it possible to identify things that could not reasonably be seen with the naked eye. Examples of this include:
- When a player unknowingly touches a few grains of sand in a backswing with a club in making a stroke from a bunker.
- When a player is unaware that the club struck the ball more than once in the course of making a single stroke.
In such situations, if the Committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of a potential breach of the Rules, the player will be deemed not to have breached the Rules, even when video technology shows otherwise. See also Decision 18/4. In applying this “naked eye” standard, the issue is whether the facts could have been seen by the player or someone else close by who was looking at the situation, not whether the player or anyone else actually saw it happen.
- When a Player has Made a Reasonable Judgment. Players are often required to determine a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location on the course to use in applying the Rules. Examples of this include:
- Estimating where a ball last crossed the margin of a water hazard (see Decision 26-1/17).
- Estimating or measuring where to drop or place a ball when taking relief, such as by reference to the nearest point of relief, to a line from the hole through a point or to the spot from which the previous stroke was made.
- Estimating or measuring whether a ball that was dropped in taking relief was dropped in the correct location and whether it has come to rest in a position where a re-drop is required.
- Replacing a lifted ball in relation to a ball-marker or replacing a ball on the spot from which it was accidentally moved.
Such determinations need to be made promptly and with care but often cannot be precise, and players should not be held to the degree of precision that can sometimes be provided by video technology. A “reasonable judgment” standard is applied in evaluating the player’s actions in these situations: so long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player’s reasonable judgment will be accepted even if later shown to be wrong by the use of video evidence.
The relevant circumstances to be considered by the Committee when applying this standard include:
- The particular actions taken by the player and the context in which they were taken;
- The player’s explanation of the reasons for those actions;
- Information from other players or persons who were there; and
- The amount by which the location was wrong in relation to the type of determination made, recognising that certain actions (such as replacing a marked ball on the putting green) can be taken with greater accuracy than other actions that may involve more inherent uncertainty (such as estimating where a ball last crossed the margin of a water hazard at a point well ahead of the player).
This “reasonable judgment” standard also applies to any other type of later information, such as testimony from other persons, that shows that the player made a mistake in determining a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location.
These “naked eye” and “reasonable judgment” limitations on the use of video and other evidence are not intended in any way to change or reduce each player’s obligation to be honest in applying the Rules and to raise questions when they are uncertain whether they have breached a Rule. When applying this Decision in any particular case, it is the Committee’s responsibility to assess all the circumstances in determining whether these standards have been met.
Rules of Golf Revisions for 2016
As golf’s governing body in Canada, Golf Canada, in conjunction with the R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA), announce the new revisions to the Rules of Golf for 2016.
In accordance with the Joint Rules Committee’s four-year review cycle of the Rules of Golf, the new changes will come into effect on January 1, 2016.
Along with the R&A and USGA, Golf Canada holds a unique position as the only other governing body that sits on the Joint Rules Committee which carries out the quadrennial review of the Rules of Golf. Golf’s governing bodies are committed to ensure the rules are constantly evolving and relevant to today’s game.
Among the most significant of the changes in the 2016 edition of the Rules are the following:
- Withdrawal of Rule on Ball Moving After Address – Rule 18-2b (Ball at Rest Moved by Player, Partner, Caddie or Equipment) has been withdrawn. This means that if a ball at rest moves after the player addresses it, the player is no longer automatically deemed to have caused the ball to move. A one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 will be applied only when the facts show that the player has caused the ball to move.
- Limited Exception to Disqualification Penalty for Submission of Incorrect Score Card – A new exception has been introduced to Rule 6-6d (Wrong Score for Hole) to provide that a player is not disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player did not know were incurred before returning the score card. Instead, the player incurs the penalty under the Rule that was breached and must add an additional penalty of two strokes for the score card error. In all other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the penalty will continue to be disqualification.
- Modification of Penalty for a Single Impermissible Use of Artificial Devices or Equipment – The penalty for a player’s first breach of Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Abnormal Use of Equipment) during the round has been reduced from disqualification to loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. The penalty for any subsequent breach of Rule 14-3 will continue to be disqualification.
- Prohibition on Anchoring the Club While Making a Stroke – As announced in May 2013, the new Rule 14-1b (Anchoring the Club) prohibits anchoring the club either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point” in making a stroke. The penalty is loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.
“As the game evolves, the rules need to stay current and every aspect of the game was reviewed during this exhaustive four-year review cycle by the Joint Rules Committee,” said Adam Helmer, Golf Canada’s Director of Rules, Competitions, and Amateur Status. “The ultimate goal when developing a single set of rules for all golfers around the world is to make the game more equitable under all playing conditions, and the feeling is that the 2016 Rules of Golf accomplished that goal.”
The 2016 publication has been designed, published and presented jointly by golf’s governing bodies. The book is reproduced in 36 official languages and distributed to millions of golfers around the world.
Golf Canada has the exclusive right to govern, publish and distribute the Rules of Golf throughout Canada. As the National Sport Federation, Golf Canada will also produce a French edition of the Rules of Golf.
The Rules of Amateur Status also underwent revisions in conjunction with the changes to the Rules of Golf.
Notable changes to the 2016 Rules of Amateur Status include:
- Prize Money to Charity – New Rule 3-1b enables an amateur golfer to participate in an event where prize money or its equivalent is donated to a recognized charity, provided the approval of the governing body is first obtained in advance by the organizer.
- Golf-Related Expenses – New Rule 4-3 clarifies that an amateur golfer may receive reasonable expenses, not exceeding actual expenses incurred, for non-competition golf-related activities. Former Rule 4-3 becomes Rule 4-4.
- Reinstatement to Amateur Status – The recommended guidelines on periods awaiting reinstatement are amended to provide that a period in breach of the Rules of up to six years (previously up to five years) should result in a period awaiting reinstatement of one year.
For the full text of the 2016 Rules of Amateur Status, please click here.
In addition to the Rules of Golf, clubs and committees may implement Local Rules that pertain specifically to their golf course or competition. Local Rules are created to deal with unusual or abnormal conditions on the golf course. At the club level, these often appear on the score card or posted in the locker rooms. For competition, local rules must not be introduced or altered after a stroke play round has started, but in some cases may be introduced or altered between rounds.
Each year Golf Canada adopts a set of Standard Local Rules which are in place at all competitions conducted by Golf Canada. These Standard Local Rules (often referred to as the “hard card”) form part of the Rules under which Golf Canada competitions are conducted, regardless of the location. Clubs and Committees may wish to consider these Local Rules for their own use.
In addition, clubs and committees should consider several other items when designing local rules for their golf course. The list to the right is not comprehensive and reference should also be made to Appendix 1 of the Rules of Golf and Rule 33-8 of Golf Canada’s Decisions on the Rules of Golf.
Note: If it is determined that a player’s ball on the putting green was moved as a result of wind, water or some other natural cause such as the effects of gravity, the ball must be played as it lies from its new location. A ball-marker moved in such circumstances is replaced.”
Accidental Movement of the Ball on the Putting Green
If a Committee wishes to introduce such a Local Rule, the following wording is recommended:
Accidental Movement of a Ball on a Putting Green
Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1 are modified as follows:
When a player’s ball lies on the putting green, there is no penalty if the ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved by the player, his partner, his opponent, or any of their caddies or equipment.
The moved ball or ball-marker must be replaced as provided in Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1.
This Local Rule applies only when the player’s ball or ball-marker lies on the putting green and any movement is accidental.
Note: If it is determined that a player’s ball on the putting green was moved as a result of wind, water or some other natural cause such as the effects of gravity, the ball must be played as it lies from its new location. A ball-marker moved in such circumstances is replaced.”
Many courses have newly planted trees that require protection. If the club or committee wishes to protect these trees, they should be identified in some manner (usually a stake or ribbon tied around the tree) and a Local Rule implemented.
“Protection of young trees identified by ______ — If such a tree interferes with a player’s stance or the area of his intended swing, the ball must be lifted, without penalty, and dropped in accordance with the procedure prescribed in Rule 24-2b (Immovable Obstruction). If the ball lies in a water hazard, the player must lift and drop the ball in accordance with Rule 24-2b(i) except that the nearest point of relief must be in the water hazard and the ball must be dropped in the water hazard, or the player may proceed under Rule 26. The ball may be cleaned when lifted under this Local Rule.
Exception: A player may not obtain relief under this Local Rule if (a) interference by anything other than such a tree makes the stroke clearly impracticable or (b) interference by such a tree would occur only through the use of a clearly unreasonable stroke or an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play.
It is up to the Committee to decide how to determine a winner in the event of a tie. The Committee may use any method it sees fit, however, under Rule 33-6, it MUST announce the manner and time for a decision. If a playoff is not possible, the Committee must announce what method it will use to determine a winner.
When a playoff is not possible, in stroke play, Golf Canada recommends matching score cards. There are many methods of matching score cards, one example of which is contained in Appendix 1, Part B, Section 10 of the Rules of Golf.
Stones in Bunkers
If stones in bunkers may pose a danger to players, the Committee may implement a local rule deeming stones in bunkers to be movable obstructions and therefore provide relief under Rule 24-1. Relief should be granted throughout the course and not restricted to a particular bunker or hole.
Stones in bunkers are movable obstructions (Rule 24-1 applies).
Preferred Lies (Winter Rules)
One of the basic principles of golf is that the ball be played as it lies. Preferred Lies (often referred to as Winter Rules) are common in Canada in early spring, late fall and throughout the winter in those parts of the country where winter golf is played, and should only be used when playing golf by the Rules would be unfair or the rule is necessary to protect the course from excessive damage. Winter Rules are commonly implemented for too long a period or when conditions do not warrant such a rule. Implementing Winter Rules when conditions do not warrant has the effect of artificially lowering players’ handicaps because it allows players to create a “perfect” lie for every stroke. This puts them at a disadvantage when playing at a course where no such rule is in effect.
“A ball lying on a closely-mown area through the green [or specify a more restricted area, e.g., at the 6th hole] may be lifted without penalty and cleaned. Before lifting the ball, the player must mark its position. Having lifted the ball, he must place it on a spot within [specify area, e.g., six inches, one club-length, etc.] of and not nearer the hole than where it originally lay, that is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.
The Rules of Golf allow a player to practice between the play of two holes by putting or chipping on or near:
- the putting green of the hole last played;
- any practice putting green; or
- the teeing ground of the next hole to be played in the round.
No practice stroke may be made from a hazard and practice must not delay play. The Committee may implement a local rule prohibiting practice on the putting green of the hole last played during a stroke play competition. This is a common local rule in place, including at all Golf Canada competitions and on most professional tours.
Practice areas are commonly located on or near the actual golf course. In stroke play the penalty for practicing on the golf course before the round on the day of a competition is disqualification. If the practice area is not located out of bounds, then the Committee should clarify where players are allowed to practice. This could be as simple as stating, “practice is permitted on the practice range and on the practice putting green next to the clubhouse”.
Out of Bounds
If the Committee has defined the boundary in any manner not described in the definition, it is necessary to clarify this by a Local Rule. For example, if a road, a wall, pavement or the like is being used to define the boundary, it is necessary to specifically state this and clarify whether it is the inside edge of the wall or beyond the wall, whether it is the inside edge of curbing or beyond the curbing (a ball lying on the road). Be as specific as possible to avoid confusion during the competition.
Overhead Power Lines
When elevated power lines have the potential to interfere with the play of a hole, the Committee should consider implementing a local rule per Decision 33-8/13 providing relief for a ball that strikes the power line. It is important to note that if such a local rule is in place, the player is not given a choice of whether to cancel the stroke; if the ball strikes the power line, the stroke MUST be cancelled and replayed.
The following text is suggested:
“If a ball strikes the power line during the play of the ____ hole, the stroke is canceled and the player must play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was played in accordance with Rule 20-5 (Making Next Stroke from Where Previous Stroke Made).”
In some cases the Committee may wish to include in the Local Rule the towers or poles supporting such lines when the towers or poles are positioned such that they interfere with the play of the hole.
Integral Parts of the Course / Close to Putting Greens
The Committee must clarify in the Local Rules which objects are integral to the course and therefore not covered by Rule 24-2, i.e. relief under the obstruction rule. Common examples of this would be walls surrounding teeing grounds or roads that are adjacent to boundary fences. The most famous example of this is the road adjacent to the 17th green on the Old Course at St Andrews, Scotland. The road is such a fundamental part of the character of the hole that players are not entitled to relief without penalty when their ball comes to rest on it. It also happens to run adjacent to the boundary wall and the Committee does not want a player to consequently get relief from the wall if their ball happens to lie on the road next to it.
Some courses have drains or sprinkler heads located very close (on the fringe) of putting greens. If these obstructions are close enough that they could interfere with a player’s line of play when their ball is close to (but not on) the putting green, the Committee may implement a local rule permitting relief for line of play when the obstruction is within two club-lengths of the putting green and the player’s ball lies within two club-lengths of the obstruction. See Appendix 1, Part A, Section 4.a. for wording.
Ground Under Repair
In addition to marking ground under repair (usually with white paint), the club or committee may deem some areas to be ground under repair even though the area may not be marked. Narrow ditches filled with stones, called French drains, can be defined as ground under repair and provide relief without penalty under Rule 25-1.
If the club or committee wishes to protect flower beds or other sensitive areas of the course, a local rule deeming the area to be ground under repair from which play is prohibited may be introduced.
“The ____________ (defined by ____) is ground under repair from which play is prohibited. If a player’s ball lies in the area, or if it interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing, the player must take relief under Rule 25-1.
Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA)
When the Committee is required to prohibit play from environmentally-sensitive areas (ESA) that are on or adjoin the course, it should make a Local Rule clarifying the relief procedure. ESA’s are areas declared by an appropriate government agency or the like. The Committee does not have the authority to declare an area to be an ESA. If the Committee wishes to protect an area by preventing play from it, a local rule deeming the area to be ground under repair from which play is prohibited may be implemented. See Ground Under Repair section. If an area has been designated as ESA, the Committee must determine how to define the area. There are three choices, either ground under repair, water hazard or out of bounds. In order to declare an ESA as a water hazard, it must meet the definition of a water hazard, otherwise the Committee must deem the area to be ground under repair or out of bounds.
When an area is deemed to be ESA, the local rule must clarify how the area is defined and how the player must proceed.
Rule 25-2 gives relief for a ball embedded in its own pitch mark in any closely mown area (cut to fairway height or less). A Local Rule may be introduced that provides relief anywhere through the green.
“Through the green, a ball that is embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground may be lifted without penalty, cleaned and dropped as near as possible to where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green
Distance Measuring Devices
The Rules of Golf allow a club or committee in charge of a competition to implement a local rule permitting the use of distance measuring devices (range finders and the like). If no such local rule is implemented, use of distance-measuring devices remains a breach of the Rules for which the penalty is loss of hole in match play and two strokes in stroke play. For a subsequent offence, the penalty is disqualification.
If the Committee wishes to act in accordance with the Note under Rule 14-3, the following Local Rule is recommended:
“(Specify as appropriate, e.g. In this competition, or For all play at this course, etc.), a player may obtain distance information by use of a distance-measuring device. If, during a stipulated round, a player uses a distance-measuring device to gauge or measure other conditions that might affect his play (e.g. elevation changes, wind speed, etc.), the player is in breach of Rule 14-3.” Golf Canada’s Rules & Amateur Status Committee has approved the use of Distance Measuring Devices (DMD’s) for all amateur championships.
This Local Rule will be introduced at Future Links Championships, as well as Canada’s national amateur competitions. Competitors will not be allowed to use DMD’s at Golf Canada’s professional championships including, the Freedom 55 Financial Championship, the RBC Canadian Open and the CP Women’s Open, including their respective qualifiers.
If a Local Rule is in place, competitors must ensure that the Device complies with the restrictions of this Local Rules. The competitors must not access other information other than distance on their Device as this would result in a breach of the Rules.
When it is not feasible or practical to proceed under the Rules when taking relief from an immovable obstruction (Rule 24-2, 24-3), an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1), a water hazard or lateral water hazard (Rule 26-1), or when taking relief for an unplayable ball (Rule 28), the Committee may establish a dropping zone.
Dropping Zones may be used in the following situations:
- to provide an additional option when proceeding under Rule 26-1 taking relief from a water hazard. An example would be when the player’s only option under the Rule would be to play a ball as nearly as possible from the spot the original ball was last played. When proceeding under the water hazard rule, the Committee should endeavor to provide the player with at least two options. The Committee may wish to use a dropping zone if the point of relief (proceeding by the rule) would force the player to drop a ball in a bunker or in an area that would make it very difficult to play the dropped ball.
Note: A dropping zone may not be used to negotiate a water hazard. i.e. on the green side of a water hazard for a player that fails to negotiate the water hazard.
- to provide an additional option when taking relief from a protective fence, including providing a dropping zone that gives the player line of play relief from the fence. (Decision 33-8/18)
- to provide an additional option when taking relief from an abnormal ground condition or immovable obstruction when proceeding under the Rule is not practical. This should not be used simply to ensure a player gets “good” relief from a condition, but rather to ensure a player is able to take relief of some sort from the condition. “Good” relief is not guaranteed.
“If a ball is in or it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard (specify location), the player may:
(i) proceed under Rule 26-1; or
(ii) as an additional option, drop a ball, under penalty of one stroke, in the Dropping Zone.
Conditions of Competition and Standard Local Rules
Play is governed by the Rules of Golf of Golf Canada, the Decisions on the Rules of Golf and where applicable, by the following Local Rules and Conditions of Competition, subject to changes, additions or deletions for particular Championships by the Rules of Golf Committee of Golf Canada. The player’s attention is drawn to Conditions of Competition as printed on the forms accompanying applications for entry. Complete text of Rules and Appendix I, Part A, B, C (Parts A and B) may be found in the Rules of Golf.
Unless otherwise noted, penalty for breach of a Local Rule or Condition is:
Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes
SECTION A: CONDITIONS OF THE COMPETITION
- Specification of the Ball – The ball the player plays must be named on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls recognized by Golf Canada. The current List of Conforming Golf Balls is available in the Golf Canada Tournament Office. Penalty for Breach of Condition: Disqualification
- Specification of Driver Head – Any driver the player carries must have a clubhead, identified by model and loft, that is named on the current List of Conforming Driver Heads recognized by Golf Canada. The current List of Conforming Driver Heads is available in the Golf Canada Tournament Office. Penalty for Breach of Condition: See Penalty Statement for Rules 4-1 and 4-2.
- Caddies – In stroke play competition, a player is prohibited from having another competitor serve as his caddie during the stipulated round. Penalty for Breach of Condition: See Penalty Statement for Rule 6-4
- Pace of Play See the posted Pace of Play Policy.
- Discontinuance of Play – Note to Rule 6-8b is in effect. All practice areas are closed when play is suspended for a dangerous situation until the Rules Committee has declared them open. A player using such practice areas will be subject to disqualification. Note: A suspension for a dangerous situation will be signalled by one prolonged air horn note. All other types of suspension will be signalled by three consecutive air horn notes. Resumption of play will be signalled by two short air horn notes.
- Practice – Note to Rule 7-1b is in effect. In stroke play competition, a player may not practice on or near the putting green of the hole last played or roll a ball on the putting green of the hole last played.
- Transportation – Players must not ride on any form of transportation during a stipulated round unless authorized by the Committee. See Transportation Policy for senior competitions and medical exemptions. Penalty for Breach of Condition: See Penalty Statement in Appendix 1, Part B, Section 8.
- Close of Competition – The competition is deemed to have closed when the trophy has been presented to the winner or, in the absence of a prize ceremony, when all scores have been approved by the Committee.
SECTION B: LOCAL RULES
- Abnormal Ground Conditions – Rule 25. Ground Under Repair includes: a. Areas defined by white lines; b. French drains filled with stones; c. Seams of Cut Turf – Through the green, seams of cut turf (not the turf itself) are deemed to be ground under repair. However, interference by a seam with the player’s stance is deemed not to be, of itself, interference under Rule 25-1. If the ball lies in or touches the seam or the seam interferes with the area of intended swing, relief is available under Rule 25-1. All seams within the cut turf area are considered the same seam.
- Embedded Ball Through the Green – Local Rule as prescribed in Appendix I, Part A, Section 3.a. is in effect.
- Obstructions – Rule 24. White lined areas tying into artificially surfaced roads, paths or obstructions are deemed to have the same status as the road, path or obstruction and are not ground under repair.
- Wood Chips and Mulch – Wood chips and mulch are loose impediments.
- Integral Parts of the Course – a. Wrappings, wires, cables and other objects when closely attached to trees; b. Artificial walls and/or pilings when used to define the margin of bunkers. Such walls and/or pilings are through the green.
- Permanent Elevated Power Lines or Cables – If a ball strikes a permanent elevated power line or cable, the stroke MUST be cancelled and the player must play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played in accordance with Rule 20-5.
- Temporary Obstructions – Local Rule as prescribed in Appendix I, Part A, Section 4.b. is in effect.
New Groove Rules FAQ
Q. What is the plan for implementing the groove condition at Golf Canada championships?
A. The groove rules, effective January 1, 2010, will be adopted as a condition of competition for the Canadian Men’s Amateur and Canadian Women’s Amateur beginning in 2014. The condition will NOT be in effect at all other Golf Canada’s national championships.
The full text of the condition of competition appears at the end of this document.
Q. What guidance does Golf Canada offer to provincial golf associations or clubs regarding adoption of the condition of competition for their competitions?
A. Although the condition of competition was included in the Rules of Golf as of January 1, 2010, Golf Canada has tiered implementation of the condition over a period of several years, beginning in 2010 with the RBC Canadian Open and the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, and their regional and final qualifying events.
As indicated, Golf Canada will adopt the condition for the Canadian Men’s Amateur and Canadian Women’s Amateur championships and their associated team events beginning in 2014.
Golf Canada recommends that provincial golf associations review their situation and championships and implement the condition in the time-frame they consider appropriate. At amateur competitions below the provincial level, including the club level, it is recommended that implementation not occur until 2024, when the current condition will become part of the Rules of Golf.
Q. What are the basics of the new groove regulations?
A. Although the complete technical specifications of the new groove requirements are more detailed, the following statements summarize the key changes:
The volume of grooves is reduced.
Groove edge sharpness is reduced for clubs with lofts greater than or equal to 25 degrees.
A. A common misconception is that “V”-shaped grooves will be required under the new specifications and that “U”-shaped grooves will no longer be allowed. This is not the case. However, any “U”-shaped groove must conform to the new specifications for both cross-sectional area/spacing and edge radius.
The complete technical specifications can be found in the Test Protocols for Equipment section at http://www.usga.org/equipment/testing/protocols/Test-Protocols-for-Equipment/
Q. What clubs do these new specifications apply to?
A. These specifications apply to all clubs with a loft of 25 degrees or higher – irons, wedges, hybrids and fairway woods.
Q. How does a player determine if a club or set of clubs conforms to the groove specifications?
A. The USGA has developed a database, called the Informational Club Database (Grooves), to assist players in determining if their clubs conform to the specifications, provided the club or set of clubs has not been altered and is “as manufactured.” The database, which is available at http://www.usga.org/InfoClubsDB/intro.html is a searchable database of irons, wedges, fairway woods and hybrids, with lofts of 25 degrees or higher, submitted to the USGA and/or The R&A prior to January 1, 2010, and evaluated to determine whether they meet the new groove rules.
Please note that clubs submitted to the USGA and/or The R&A on or after January 1, 2010, are not included in the database. New models of golf clubs manufactured on or after January 1, 2010 are required to conform to the new groove and punch mark specifications effective from January 1, 2010. Although it is expected that they conform and meet the new groove specifications, it is the player’s responsibility to ensure their clubs meet all rules specifications.
Additionally, entrants with models of clubs which were available prior to January 1, 2010, that are either not listed in the database or have an indication that testing is required in order to determine conformance to the groove condition may submit their clubs to the USGA through open club testing (Note – this only applies to testing for conformance to the groove specifications). Information regarding open club testing is available at http://www.usga.org/equipment/testing/InviteForOpenClubTesting/.
Alternatively, a player may contact the manufacturer of the clubs for information regarding conformance to the groove condition.
Q. What is the protocol if a player needs to determine the conformity of a club, or the conformity of the club’s grooves is called into question on-site at the 2014 Canadian Men’s or Canadian Women’s Amateur?
A. Players are strongly encouraged to resolve any questions about club conformance prior to arriving on-site for any event that requires conformance with the 2010 groove condition.
As is the case with any question on the Rules of Golf or equipment, any player who is concerned about the conformity of grooves should find the Golf Canada official in charge of the event as soon as practicable. The first step will be to determine the make and model of the club in question and find out whether the club has been included in the USGA Informational Club Database. If the club is listed in the database as meeting the 2010 groove rules or the player can provide proof of conformance to the 2012-2015 Rules of Golf (e.g., a copy of a USGA or R&A decision letter, or a certificate provided by the USGA that the player’s specific club(s) have been tested and meet the 2012-2015 Rules of Golf), the club has not been altered, and there are no other extenuating circumstances or other evidence of non-conformance, the club will be presumed to conform.
If the club is not listed in the database as meeting the 2010 groove rules and has not been deemed conforming by the USGA or The R&A, and a determination cannot be made immediately, the player may choose to play with the club but risks disqualification if a determination is subsequently made that the club does not conform.
If another player calls into question the conformity of the grooves on a player’s club(s), as with any question that arises during the competition, the Golf Canada Tournament Rules Committee will take all pertinent facts into consideration in evaluating the situation, and the above procedure will apply if necessary. The decision of that Committee will be final, and will apply to that tournament only.
Q. Will Golf Canada be doing field testing at the site of championships.
A. No field testing will be conducted. As above, players are strongly encouraged to resolve any questions about club conformance prior to arriving on-site for any event that requires conformance with the 2010 groove condition.
Q. What are the plans of other major golf organizations with respect to the new condition of competition?
A. The PGA Tour (including the Champions and Web.com Tour), PGA European Tour and other members of the International Federation of PGA Tours, as well as the LPGA, adopted this condition of competition at their tournaments beginning Jan. 1, 2010. The PGA of America and Augusta National Golf Club also adopted this condition of competition at the PGA Championship and Masters Tournament, respectively, in 2010.
The USGA and R&A are adopting the condition of competition at all their Amateur Championships in 2014.
Q. What has been the timeline in making the change?
A. Work on this subject has been ongoing at the USGA and The R&A for many years. The following is an outline of key dates in the process, as well as future milestones:
- 2005 – The USGA and The R&A announce they will be studying the effect of grooves.
- August 2006 – The USGA publishes first of two major research reports on groove performance/characteristics.
- January 2007 – The USGA publishes second major research report on groove performance/characteristics.
- February 2007 – The USGA and The R&A propose limits on groove volume and edge radius, seeking feedback from manufacturers.
- August 2008 – The USGA and The R&A adopt a revised proposal, incorporating manufacturer comments.
- January 1, 2010 – All new clubs submitted to the USGA for approval must conform to new specifications. The PGA Tour, major championships and international federation tours adopted the rule as an “expert” condition of competition. Manufacturers were allowed to produce existing clubs and exhaust inventory until the end of 2010.
- 2013 – Golf Canada decides to implement the condition of competition at the Canadian Men’s and Women’s Amateurs beginning in 2014.
- 2014 – The USGA and The R&A have announced that they will implement the condition of competition at their amateur competitions.
- 2024 – Earliest date the condition of competition will become a permanent equipment specification in the Rules of Golf.
- 4-1/1 Groove and Punch Mark Specifications Effective January 1, 2010 Including Condition of Competition
“The player’s clubs must conform to the groove and punch mark specifications in the Rules of Golf that are effective from January 1, 2010.
*PENALTY FOR CARRYING, BUT NOT MAKING STROKE WITH, CLUB OR CLUBS IN BREACH OF CONDITION:
Match play – At the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred; maximum deduction per round – Two holes.
Stroke play – Two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred; maximum penalty per round – Four strokes.
Match or stroke play – In the event of a breach between the play of two holes, the penalty applies to the next hole.
Bogey and par competitions – See Note 1 to Rule 32-1a.
Stableford competitions – See Note 1 to Rule 32-1b.
*Any club or clubs carried in breach of this condition must be declared out of play by the player to his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow competitor in stroke play immediately upon discovery that a breach has occurred. If the player fails to do so, he is disqualified.
PENALTY FOR MAKING STROKE WITH CLUB IN BREACH OF CONDITION: