Common Rules You Should Know

Common Rules You Should KnowGolf has a long and venerable history, and a great body of rules has grown up around the game. As a golfer, you can understand why. What do you do when your ball goes in the water, when you hit out of bounds or when you play another player’s ball by mistake? Today there are scores of rules, a set of etiquette regulations and a lengthy discussion of decisions that have been made through the years. Also, each course can set its own rules about such things as the dress code. The United States Golf Association, the USGA, publishes revisions to the official rules of golf regularly. Fortunately, as an amateur player you do not have to memorize these rules. But you do need to be aware of the most common situations, especially if you are playing in a tournament or competing for money.

Take the Right Equipment

A hard and fast rule of golf is the 14 club rule. Players with more than 14 clubs in their bag incur a penalty of 2 strokes for each hole up to 4 strokes. For most golfers, this translates into a driver, a couple of woods, 2 or 3 hybrids, irons and wedges, and a putter. Of course, you need tees, enough balls to last through the round, ball markers and equipment for the weather like an umbrella.

Adhere to the Order of Play

The winner of the previous hole tees off first on the next hole. Tee off in the area within 2 club lengths of the tee markers. As play progresses, the ball farthest from the hole is hit first. Be aware of the position of every ball in your foursome so you do not inadvertently walk or drive in front of a player. Keep up the pace of play. A hole should be played in approximately 12 minutes.

Play It As It Lies

This is a very basic rule of golf. Do not touch the ball unless you are permitted to do so by the rules, and play the course as you find it. That means that you cannot improve your lie by moving the ball or tamping down the ground where you will be hitting. However, you may move a loose impediment like a stone or a leaf that is not fixed or growing. Make sure to hit your ball and not someone else’s, or you will incur a 2 stroke penalty and then you will play the correct ball. Many players put an identifying mark on their balls before play to differentiate them from other balls in the foursome.

Grounding the Ball

If your ball lands in a bunker, or sand trap, do not allow the club to touch the sand before swinging the club. You may use your feet to assess the depth and softness of the sand. The same is true of a water hazard. If you choose to hit out of the water, do not ground your club by touching the water before the downswing.

Hitting Out of Bounds

If your ball goes out of bounds, the area on the perimeter of the course marked by a white line or stake, you take a stroke and distance penalty. That is, for a tee shot, you count the tee shot, add a stroke, and tee off again as your third stroke. If you are not sure if the ball went out of bounds, hit a provisional ball from the tee. However, the entire ball must be beyond the marker for the ball to be considered out of bounds. Balls half in and half out are considered in bounds.

The Unplayable Lie

Sometimes you have the option of moving the ball out of a situation and dropping it elsewhere. If your ball lands in an unplayable lie, where it is impossible to swing the club, you may drop the ball within 2 club lengths of the unplayable lie, no closer to the hole. Or, you can drop the ball as far back from the lie as you wish, as long as the original lie is between you and the hole.

Landing in a Water Hazard

Many holes have a drop area around a water hazard. If not, drop the ball as far back from the water as you wish, keeping the point where the ball entered the water between you and the hole. You incur a 1 stroke penalty. For a lateral water hazard marked by a red stake, drop the ball on the side of the water no closer to the hole, and take a 1 stroke penalty. To drop a ball, mark the spot where it landed, stand up straight, hold the ball at shoulder height and at arm’s length, and drop it straight down.




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Five Tips to Lower Your Golf Score

Five Tips to Lower Your Golf Score

Golf can be a complicated game, but the good news is that sometimes a small change can make a big difference. Developing a preshot routine before you address the ball can help your consistency, and getting rid of those long irons in favor of a hybrid can increase your distance and accuracy. Practicing with a short iron can help with the tempo and rhythm of your swing. Another easy tip to lower your score is to remember to open up the face of the sand wedge out of a greenside bunker. As you get comfortable with your swing, remember to think a shot ahead and place the ball so you have a clear next shot.

Use a Preshot Routine

Your golf swing begins before you even address the ball. A preshot routine can help you focus on the golf shot and remind you of key elements for a consistent swing. While a preshot routine is very personal and varies from golfer to golfer, there are some essentials that many players find useful. Begin by lining up your shot and establishing a target line. Develop a habit of finding an intermediary target like a leaf or a twig between the ball and the target. Check your grip to make sure the club is lying across your fingers, and not in the palm of your hand. Be sure to use medium pressure. Square the clubface and align your body to the target. Then take your practice swing and hit the ball.

Try a Hybrid

Another way to lower your score is to get rid of that long 3- and 4-iron and put some hybrid clubs in your bag. Hybrids or utility clubs can help you launch the ball into the air and give you more distance and accuracy. Hybrids combine the best features of irons and woods, making them easy to use. The shorter shaft gives you more control, and the lower center of gravity and evenly distributed weight allows you to launch the ball with ease. Hybrids can be used off the tee for a short hole, in the fairway, out of the rough and even out of a sand trap. Some golfers use hybrids for chip shots around the green. When you hit a hybrid, place the ball just left of center and use a wider stance and a sweeping motion as you would for a long iron.

Develop Rhythm and Tempo

Using a sooth rhythm and tempo can help you develop the consistent swing you need to lower your golf score. Tempo is the pace and rhythm involves the flow of the swing as the club and your body work together in a smooth, fluid motion. While a golf professional can hit the ball up to 150 miles per hour, the average golfer will hit the ball 100 miles per hour or less. Golfers with slower swing speeds can purchase clubs designed to provide more distance to accommodate their swing speed. Hitting harder is not the answer to getting more distance, since that can throw off your rhythm and result in throwing your clubhead off at the top of your swing. The key is to maintain control throughout for a smooth takeaway, downswing and follow-through.

Open the Face in a Greenside Bunker

To hit out of a sand trap, use your feet to assess the consistency and depth of the sand. Do not allow your club to touch the sand, unless you do not mind a two stroke penalty. For a greenside bunker with plenty of soft sand, use a sand wedge or a lob wedge and turn the club to the right to open up the face of the club. Dig your feet into the sand, and hit the sand before hitting the ball. For a short shot, hit 3 or 4 inches behind the ball. For a longer shot, hit 1 or 2 inches behind the ball. Keep your knees bent throughout the swing, accelerate through impact and finish the shot. Make sure the face of the club stays open, and splash some sand onto the green.

Think a Shot Ahead

Imagine that you land in the deep rough on the side of the fairway, and notice that a straight shot out will place your ball behind a tree. By thinking a shot ahead, you realize this predicament and solve the problem by hitting onto an area of the fairway that will give you a better lie. Even if you sacrifice some distance, getting into the habit of thinking a shot ahead will shave points off your score in the long run by keeping you out of trouble.

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Golf Articles – The All-Important Takeaway

Golf Articles - The All-Important TakeawayThe takeaway is the first part of the backswing in golf. A good takeaway and backswing will allow you to coil your body so that you can unleash the power you need to achieve the distance you want in your golf shots. The key is to aim for consistency by practicing the backswing sequence and creating muscle memory so that the takeaway becomes second nature. Before you hit the ball, check your grip and verify that you have assumed the correct stance. Confirm that your foot placement and ball position are appropriate for the length of the club, and then go through your preshot routine and practice swing. Then you will be ready to begin your golf swing with a proper takeaway.

Checking your Grip and Stance

For a proper takeaway, make sure your grip, stance, foot placement and ball position are correct. Check your grip and make certain that you have a strong connection with the club, whether you use an overlapping, interlocking or 10-finger grip. Assume a balanced stance by bending slightly at the hips with your arms hanging down in a relaxed position. Your knees will be slightly bent and your butt will poke out a bit. Make sure your body is balanced over the balls of your feet.

Foot Placement and Ball Position

For longer clubs like the driver your feet will be shoulder distance apart, and for shorter clubs they will be a little closer. Position the ball in the middle of your golf stance for short irons like the 9-iron, and line the ball up with the heel of your front foot – that is, the left foot for right-handed players – for the driver. The rule of thumb is that the longer the club, the closer you line up the ball toward the heel of your front foot.

The Preshot Routine

Go through your preshot routine by focusing on the golf shot and mentally ticking off key points, which can include double checking the grip, stance, foot placement and ball position. Line up your shot by standing a few feet behind the ball and look at the target to establish a target line. Make sure your clubface is square to the target and that your body is in alignment with your feet, thighs, hips and shoulders parallel to the target line when you address the ball. Many players will then take a practice swing to loosen up.

Starting the Takeaway

Keep in mind that the takeaway is a sideways move. You will be using a sweeping motion to move the club to the side. The hands remain passive during the takeaway, but although there is no hand action, the hands are “alive” and feel the weight of the clubhead. Try to eliminate all tension in your body and let your arms hang down from your shoulders in a relaxed position. Tensing up can prevent you from taking a full, smooth swing and rob you of distance in your golf shot.

Stay in Synch with the Club

When you begin the takeaway, the club and your body move as one. The object is to groove the proper weight transfer and keep the club on the proper plane. The golf club will stay in synch with your body if you make sure that it stays in line with your sternum as you take the club away. Sometimes this is called keeping the club in front of you. Your arms, hands and the club will move together for a smooth takeaway. Use your upper body to take the club back by completing a shoulder turn with your front shoulder moving under your chin.

Steps for the Takeaway

Sweep the club back by keeping the clubhead low to the ground as if it were a putter. Your weight will shift slowly to the heel of the back foot, and your back leg will remain anchored. Rotate your front shoulder around your spine in order to build up a coil situation and add power to your swing. To achieve a long golf shot, turn your hips only as much as you need to in order to achieve a full shoulder turn. The more you maintain a difference between the shoulder turn and your hip turn, the further your ball will go.

Takeaway Swing Thoughts

When you begin your takeaway, keep some swing thoughts in mind to execute a consistent and powerful swing. Whether you use an early, late or gradual wrist hinge at the top of your backswing, be consistent to insure a proper swing tempo. Your hips will turn as your shoulders turn, but they must not sway during the backswing. Keeping your weight inside the back leg and anchoring the leg will help you maintain your correct posture and body position.

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Featured Tip

Every month Easy Golf Tips will feature a top voted golf tip. Remember, with every golf tip, persistence and patience is required to see the results. Everyone has the capability of lowering their handicap if they can stick with the lessons that work.

Putting is the most important part of the golf game. You can save more strokes on the putting green than you can anywhere else on the course. If you ever get tired of 3 putting or missing 3-4 foot putts, then check out the Putting Tip of the Month.

If you found a tip on Easy Golf Tips that has helped you lower your golf score and would like to nominate it for Tip of the Month, please email us. Our email can be found on the About Us page.

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