Rule 12 --
Finding Ball in Hazard -- Identifying Ball
A hazard is any bunker (area of sand) or water hazard
(lake, pond, creek, etc).
In a bunker or water hazard, if your ball is covered by
wand or leaves, you may remove enough of the sand or
leaves to be able to see a part of the ball.
You may lift your ball to identify it anywhere except in a
hazard. You must tell your opponent or fellow competitor
before you lift your ball to identify it.
-- Playing Lies and the Course
You must play the ball as it lies. You may not move it to
a better spot.
You may not improve your lie by pressing down behind the
ball. The club may be grounded only lightly behind the
You may not improve the area of your intended swing or
line of play by bending or breaking anything growing, such
as tree limbs or weeds.
In a hazard, you may not touch the sand, ground or water
with the club before or during your backswing.
In a hazard, you may not remove loose impediments (natural
things such as leaves or twigs) but you may remove
obstructions (artificial objects such as bottles or
-- Striking the Ball
You must fairly strike the ball with the head of the club.
You may not push, scrape or rake the ball.
You must not hit your ball while it is moving.
-- Playing a Wrong Ball
In match play, if you play a ball that is not yours, you
lose the hole unless the wrong ball in a hazard, you must
then play the right ball.
In stroke play, if you play a ball that is not yours, you
must take a two-stroke penalty unless the wrong ball was
played in a hazard. You must then play out the hole with
your own ball. If you do not do so, you are disqualified.
-- The Putting Green
If any part of your ball is touching the green, it is on
When your ball is on the green, you may brush away leaves
and other loose Impediments on your line of putt with your
hand or a club. Do not fan them with a cap or towel.
You should repair ball marks or old hole plugs but you may
not repair marks made by spikes or shoes, if they are on
your line of putt.
You may not test the surface of the green by rolling a
ball or scraping the surface.
Always mark your ball by putting a small coin or other
marker behind it when you want to pick it up to clean or
get it out of another player's way.
-- The Flagstick
If your ball is off the green, there is no penalty if you
play and your ball strikes the flagstick, provided no one
is holding the flagstick.
If your ball is on the green, do not putt with the
flagstick in the hole. Either take the flagstick out or
ask another player to hold it and take it out when you
play your ball. If you putt and your ball hits the
flagstick when it is in the hole, in match play you lose
the hole. In stroke play, you must add two penalty strokes
to your score for the hole.
-- Moving the Ball
If you or your partner move either of your balls on
purpose or accidentally, add a penalty stroke to your
score, replace and play it.
If your ball is moved by someone or something other than
you or your partner, (An outside agency) there is no
penalty, but you must replace it. If the ball is moved by
wind or water, you must play it as it lies.
Once you address the ball, if the ball moves, add a
penalty stroke and replace the ball.
If you move a loose impediment within one club-length of
the ball and the ball moves, add a penalty stroke, replace
it and play it. On the putting green, there is no penalty.
-- Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped
If your ball hits an outside agency, (bird, rake, etc.),
it is called a "rub of the green." There is no
penalty and the ball is played as it lies.
If your ball hits you, your partner, your caddie, or your
equipment in match play you lose the hole. In stroke play,
you are penalized two strokes and you must play your ball
as it lies.
If your ball hits your opponent, his caddie, or his
equipment, there is no penalty; you may play the ball as
it lies or replay the shot.
If your ball hits a fellow competitor, caddie or equipment
in stroke play, there is no penalty and the ball is played
as it lies. These are the same as outside agencies in
If your ball hits another ball and moves it, you must play
your ball as it lies. The owner of the other ball must
replace it. If your ball is on the green when you play and
the ball which your ball hits is also on the green, you
are penalized two strokes in stroke play. Otherwise, there
is no penalty.