The sport of golf has internationally standardized rules. It is jointly governed by the R&A, spun off in 2004 from St. Andrews’ Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the US Golf Association. Fairness is the fundamental principle of the rules and regulations in golf. As written on the back cover of the official golf rule book: “Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.”
The sport implements strict rules and regulations regarding a golfer’s amateur status. Basically, any player who has ever played golf for money or received compensation or payment for giving instruction, is not an amateur and is disqualified to participate in competitions for amateur golfers. But amateur players may receive expenses that comply with strict guidelines and accept non-cash prizes within the limitations set by the Rules of Amateur Status.
There are also guidelines known as golf etiquette that every player must abide. These guidelines encompass matters like fairness, safety, pace of play, as well as a golfer’s obligation to contribute to the maintenance of the golf course. Although players are not penalized for violating etiquette rules, they generally follow these guidelines in an effort to improve the playing experience of all.
Players are penalized in certain situations. Penalties are counted towards a golfer’s score as if there was extra swing at the golf ball. Strokes are added for striking one’s ball into an unplayable situation or for rule infractions. A ball hit out of bounds or a lost ball results in a penalty of one stroke and distance. (Rule 27-1) Rule 18-2 states that a one stroke penalty is assessed if a golfer’s equipment causes the ball to move or the removal of a loose impediment causes the ball to move.
Players incur a two stroke penalty if they hit a fellow golfer’s ball with a putt (Rule 19-5) or make a stroke at the wrong ball (Rule 19-2). Most rule infractions lead to stroke penalties, but they can also result in disqualification. A player could be disqualified from rule infractions that result in improper play or if he or she cheats or signs for a lower score.