Mar 27, 2023

T-Time Podcast // Ep. 24: Top 5 Rules You HAVE TO KNOW When Playing a Tournament

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Tournaments are a great way to showcase your skills and compete against other players in a structured environment. However, playing in a tournament can be a completely different experience from playing casually with friends. It requires discipline, strategy, and a deep understanding of the game's rules. You must know more than just the basic rules to succeed in a tournament. This article covers the top five rules you must know when playing in a tournament. Whether you are a seasoned player or a newcomer, these rules will help you elevate your game and increase your chances of success.  Kim, Pat, and Tara are here for the fun, too!

1.      The Red Vs Yellow Line for a Penalty Area

In golf, two penalty areas are distinguished by their lines: red and yellow. A red line marks a lateral penalty area, where players can take two club lengths and come out where they went in or play it in the penalty area. Players can also go back to their original spot. However, they need to determine where their ball crossed the red line. If a player's ball is in a penalty area and something is blocking their shot, they can pick up rocks and leaves without moving it. On the other hand, a yellow line means the player is going directly across water and cannot go forward if their ball crosses the water. In this case, they must take their shot from the other side of the water. If the line is red, players can drop on that side of the water if their ball crosses the line.

2.      Drop Area has to be Official

To use a drop area, it has to be an official one. Sometimes it may look like a drop area, but if it's not official, you have to drop the ball from your knee as if you were doing an official drop. Once the ball drops, it's in play, and you can't touch it anymore. When you're on a hill, for example, and you're dropping out of a bush in the desert, the ball might roll right back into the bush as soon as you drop it from arm's length. Therefore, officials try to ensure that drop areas have no obstacles.

3.      When Your Ball Moves on the Putting Green

When you mark your ball on the putting green, replacing it exactly where it was before is important. If the ball moves before you hit it, you must replace it in the original spot, even if you can't keep it in the same place due to wind or other factors. This rule changed recently, and now if your ball moves on its own, you won't get a penalty. However, if you accidentally move your ball by touching it, it still counts as a penalty stroke. This used to be a bigger issue, but the rules have become more liberal on the green.

 4.       Unplayable

When you're in a bush, and your ball is in the middle, it's important to take your relief from where the ball is, not from the outer limits of the bush. You can use your driver to determine the two club lengths from the ball, If that doesn't get you out, you have three options for unplayable. The first option is to take two club lengths from the ball in any direction but closer to the hole, with 180 degrees of freedom. The second option is to take the ball on the line to the flag and go back as far as you want, keeping the point where the ball is between you and the flag. The third option is to replay your same shot, or you can always go back and play your own ball.

5.      Out of Bounds or Lost Ball

In golf, losing your ball during a tournament can be a frustrating and costly experience. When a ball goes out of bounds (OB), the only options available are to play a provisional ball or take a stroke and distance penalty by returning to where you last hit the ball. Dropping the ball where it went OB is never an option unless a local rule allows it. It's important to note that penalties for lost balls can be severe, with players receiving a two-stroke penalty for hitting a provisional ball, a one-stroke penalty for hitting a stroke, and a distance penalty.

It's essential to play a provisional ball if you're unsure whether it is lost, as this can save you strokes and penalties in the long run. However, you cannot play a provisional ball if you think the ball is in a penalty area, such as water or desert. If your group is almost positive that the ball crossed the penalty area, you can still play a provisional ball. Being aware of the rules and your options when you lose your ball can help you avoid costly penalties and keep your score as low as possible during a tournament.


There are several things to remember when playing a golf tournament. When playing best ball, it's unnecessary to keep hitting it if someone on your team is already in play. Additionally, divots will always be different. Remember to trade scorecards with your playing partners and verify scores at the end of the round to ensure accuracy. Depending on the seriousness of the tournament, it's important to have the person who kept your card read your score back to them to avoid any discrepancies. By keeping these things in mind, you'll have a better chance of a successful tournament. 


Want to know the next 5 rules? LISTEN, READ, or WATCH the next episode!

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