We take a look at the eight biggest rules mistakes golfers make and you need to look out for.

8 Biggest Golf Rules Mistakes

Neil Tappin and Jezz Ellwood talk through the 8 biggest rules mistakes including what you do when you drop and where to tee off from!

WATCH: 8 Biggest Golf Rules Mistakes


8. Dropping Mistakes

This relates to how many club lengths relief you get and there is a general rule of thumb to follow here. This generally is one club length for free relief and two club lengths for a penalty drop.

However this is not always the case for penalty drops. If a penalty area is marked with red stakes, you have three options. You can go back to where you last played from, you can drop back on the same line as far back as you like, or you can take two club lengths from where it last crossed the hazard.

7. Improving Your Lie

The most important thing in golf is play the ball as it lies and a common mistake some players make is stamping down grass behind the ball, or improving their lie as they are identifying their ball. In terms of the latter, the rule now says you have to mark your ball before you lift to identify it, then once you have done so, it has to be put back in exactly the same place.

8 biggest golf rules mistakes

6. Nearest Point of Relief 

The nearest point of relief is one spot, you cannot choose where that is, regardless of where it is. Another pointer is that you have to take full, complete relief too. To take relief you must find the nearest point, take your stance with the club you realistically will play the next shot with, and from that point you get one club length in an arc in which to drop the ball.

5. Teeing Area

Key mistake here is teeing the entire ball up in front of tee markers. In matchplay you could be asked to play the ball again, whereas in stroke-play you get a general penalty of two strokes and beyond that you have to correct the error which means playing another from within the teeing area. You must do so before teeing up on the next hole, or before handing in your scorecard. Failure to do so means disqualification.

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4. Matchplay Mistake

This relates to who has the honour at a particular time. A common mistake is people thinking you can tap-in during matchplay and therefore playing out of turn. If you do this, your opponent has a couple of options; they could let it go or ask you to replay the shot.

3. Provisional Ball

If you hit a ball into trouble and you think it might be lost but you aren’t sure, if you decide to hit another you have to declare the next shot you hit as a provisional ball. In fact you must say the word ‘provisional’ too because if you don’t then the second ball you hit from the tee will be the ball in play.

2. Sprinkler Heads 

You automatically don’t get relief from sprinkler heads in some instances. The only occasions you automatically get free relief is if your ball is on the sprinkler or if your stance is on it. Another important thing to remember though is checking the back of your scorecard which will tell you the local rules for dealing with this issue. Some clubs offer extra relief if different criteria are met.

1. Declaring Your Ball Lost

If you hit a ball into trouble, play a provisional, and then find the first one, you have to continue playing from there. You cannot declare it lost because it has been found whereas you can decide to not look for a ball.

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