Golf Rule 3, Stroke Play

    Golf Rule 3, Stroke Play – Simplified Version




    3-1. General definition of stroke play as a competition for the lowest overall score for an entire round or series of rounds. If players are using handicaps, the lowest net score (gross score minus handicap strokes) wins.

    3-2. Players must hole out (finish) on each hole. As opposed to match play, no concessions are allowed in stroke play. A golfer who doesn’t hole out on a hole before teeing off on the next hole is disqualified.

    3-3. If a player encounters a situation in which he’s not certain of the rules, he can play the rest of the hole with two balls (the original and a second ball). The one played correctly under the rules counts toward his score.

    Example: John finds his ball in an area he believes to be casual water, but isn’t certain. After explaining the situation to his competitor, he plays the ball as it lies, and drops a second ball in accordance with the casual water rule (rule 25) and plays it as well. John finishes the hole with both balls, scoring a 5 with his original ball and a 4 with his second. At round’s end, John confers with an official, who determines the first ball was, in fact, lying in casual water. His score with the second ball counts for the hole.

    3-4. A player who refuses to comply with a rule that affects a competitor is disqualified.

    Example: Bill’s ball is on the green near the cup, while Paul’s ball is off the green. Bill plans to mark and lift his ball and tells Paul. Paul, knowing that Bill’s ball could deflect his shot closer to the hole, doesn’t recognize Bill’s right to remove his ball (per rule 22-1) and plays his shot before Bill can mark. Paul is disqualified for denying Bill’s rights under the rules.

    3-5. The penalty for breaking a rule in stroke play is two strokes, unless otherwise stated by another rule.

    3-1. General; Winner
    A stroke-play competition consists of competitors completing each hole of a stipulated round or rounds and, for each round, returning a score card on which there is a gross score for each hole. Each competitor is playing against every other competitor in the competition.

    The competitor who plays the stipulated round or rounds in the fewest strokes is the winner.

    In a handicap competition, the competitor with the lowest net score for the stipulated round or rounds is the winner.

    3-2. Failure To Hole Out
    If a competitor fails to hole out at any hole and does not correct his mistake before he makes a stroke on the next teeing ground or, in the case of the last hole of the round, before he leaves the putting green, he is disqualified.

    3-3. Doubt As To Procedure
    a. Procedure
    In stroke play, if a competitor is doubtful of his rights or the correct procedure during the play of a hole, he may, without penalty, complete the hole with two balls.

    After the doubtful situation has arisen and before taking further action, the competitor must announce to his marker or fellow-competitor that he intends to play two balls and which ball he wishes to count if the Rules permit.

    The competitor must report the facts of the situation to the Committee before returning his score card. If he fails to do so, he is disqualified.

    Note: If the competitor takes further action before dealing with the doubtful situation, Rule 3-3 is not applicable. The score with the original ball counts or, if the original ball is not one of the balls being played, the score with the first ball put into play counts, even if the Rules do not allow the procedure adopted for that ball. However, the competitor incurs no penalty for having played a second ball, and any penalty strokes incurred solely by playing that ball do not count in his score.


    b. Determination of Score for Hole(i) If the ball that the competitor selected in advance to count has been played in accordance with the Rules, the score with that ball is the competitor’s score for the hole. Otherwise, the score with the other ball counts if the Rules allow the procedure adopted for that ball.
    (ii) If the competitor fails to announce in advance his decision to complete the hole with two balls, or which ball he wishes to count, the score with the original ball counts, provided it has been played in accordance with the Rules. If the original ball is not one of the balls being played, the first ball put into play counts, provided it has been played in accordance with the Rules. Otherwise, the score with the other ball counts if the Rules allow the procedure adopted for that ball.


    Note 1: If a competitor plays a second ball under Rule 3-3, the strokes made after this Rule has been invoked with the ball ruled not to count and penalty strokes incurred solely by playing that ball are disregarded.


    Note 2: A second ball played under Rule 3-3 is not a provisional ball under Rule 27-2.

    3-4. Refusal To Comply With A Rule
    If a competitor refuses to comply with a Rule affecting the rights of another competitor, he is disqualified.

    3-5. General Penalty
    The penalty for a breach of a Rule in stroke play is two strokes except when otherwise provided.