Understanding the rules of golf and adhering to the official rulebook of the United States Golf Association will take time and practice. However, there are some basic standards that every golfer should know about, right from day one. These are not complex issues either, but rather common sense rules that does not require in-depth study of the USGA rulebook.
Always Play The Same Ball
As simple as this rule is, you will find many newbie golfers breaking it without realizing what they are doing. Simply put, you must play with the same golf ball used from your initial tee shot right to the very end when the flagstick is reached and the ball is in the hole.
There are exceptions, however, that can prevent a player from utilizing the same ball. For example, very poor shots may cause a ball to land in a hazard area such as a lake or other body of water (there are even some courses built around the ocean). And some golf balls do get damaged during the game which make them unplayable. Lastly, there are times when another player may accidentally play your ball without realizing it.
You Must Play The Ball “As Is”
This is another simple rule that is occasionally overlooked, particularly by new golfers. Essentially it means that you have to hit your golf ball from the exact location that it ends up from your last shot.
For example, if you make a shot and the ball ends up in a hazard area making it a difficult shot to get out of, you cannot just pick the ball up and move it to the fairway. You must face the challenge and make your best shot, regardless of how terrible the scenario is.
Like most rules, there are exceptions to this. In fact, there are certain situations that will also cause you to move your golf ball to a slightly better area. One rare example is when your ball ends up landing on top of a sprinkler. You can then slide the ball over to a decent spot. And sometimes, golf balls will become literally embedded into the dirt. This situation also allows you to move the ball. You are authorized to clean the ball off in such situations.
Lastly, another exception to the “play the ball as is” rule is during bad weather, I mean really bad weather. You’ll find quite a few local courses that allow players to pick up their golf balls in order to clean them up and replace them to a dry spot near the landing spot. This type of scenario typically happens during rainy weather when the ground has become extremely muddy.