Here is a quick rundown of the most important basic rules you should know when you start out as a golfer. After all, you don’t want to add any penalty strokes to your score for breaking them! Obviously, this won’t be a big issue when you’re playing a casual round with friends, but when you enter a tournament, you should be aware that the #1 of golf rules is: know the rules!

1. The three-minute warning
Your search party has three minutes (down from five) to find a lost ball. However, there’s no penalty for accidentally moving the ball while searching for it.

2. Taking Relief
No announcement is necessary when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it’s damaged. Players may also select the longest club in the bag – not the putter – when determining where a drop is taken.

3. Plugged lies
Free relief is granted if your ball is embedded anywhere (except bunkers) in the ‘general area’ – the new team for through the green.

4. Double-hits
Accidentally hitting the ball twice will now count as one stroke, rather than two. Hooray!

5. An alternative to stroke and distance
At club level, a new Local Rule offers the option of taking a drop in the vicinity of where the original ball is lost or out of bounds, including the nearest fairway area, under a two-stroke penalty.

6. Trusting player integrity
A golfer’s “reasonable judgement” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area of distance will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong.

7. Relaxed ‘penalty area’ rules

  • Red and yellow marked penalty areas (new term for water hazards) may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock etc, in addition to areas of water.
  • Committees are given the discretion to mark all penalty areas as red so lateral relief is always allowed.
  • No penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.
8. Relaxed putting green rules
  • Players may putt with the flag in or out
  • Spike marks and other damage made by shoes or animals may be repaired without penalty
  • No penalty for touching the line of a putt or accidentally moving a ball or ball marker
9. Relaxed bunker rules
  • No penalty for moving loose impediments or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club (grounding the club right next to the ball will still incur a penalty).
  • An extra relief option is added for an unplayable lie, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker under a two-stroke penalty.
10. Knee-high drops
Forget about dropping from shoulder height. Players must go lower and drop the ball from knee height.

11. Maximum score
A new strokeplay format means your score on a hole can be capped at a maximum by the committee.