Golf Rule 6, The Player – Simplified Version
6-1. The player and, if he has one, his caddie are responsible for knowing the rules. The player is penalized for any rules violation by the caddie.
6-2. If using handicaps in match play, competitors must declare their handicaps before the match begins. If one player is later determined to have a lower handicap that the one he declared (i.e., he is “sandbagging”), he is disqualified. In stroke play competition using handicaps, the golfer must record his handicap on the scorecard before turning it in. If he lies and provides a number that’s higher than his actual handicap (for instance, reports an 8.2 handicap when he’s actually a 5.4), or fails to record a handicap on his card, he is disqualified. Handicaps are not always required in match or stroke play.
6-3. The player must start his round at the pre-arranged time, and stay with his group until the round is complete.
Penalties for failing to start on time: If the player arrives no more than five minutes after his tee time, he loses the hole (match play) or takes a two-shot penalty (stroke play). Later than five minutes results in disqualification from match or stroke play competition.
Exceptions: There is no penalty if the committee determines the player’s tardiness was caused by exceptional circumstances.
Example: On her way to the course, Phoebe stops to help a driver who’s been in an accident. She should not be penalized for being late.
Penalty for failing to stay with one’s group: Disqualification (match or stroke play).
6-4. A player is allowed only one caddie in a competitive round.
Penalties for violating rule 6-4: Match play – Loss of each hole on which the player violated the rule, to a maximum of two holes lost. Stroke play – Two strokes for each hole on which the player violated the rule, to a maximum of four strokes per round.
6-5. The player is responsible for playing the correct ball throughout a round; each player should make an identifying mark on any ball put in play. (For example, a dot next to the brand name.)
6-6. Scores for each hole are recorded by a marker (which can be a fellow competitor). When the round is finished, the marker signs the scorecard and gives it to the competitor, who checks the scores for accuracy, settles any discrepancies, signs the card and turns it in.
If a player turns in a scorecard with a score for any hole that is lower than his actual score for that hole, he is disqualified. If he signs for a score on a hole that is higher than his actual score for that hole, the score stands.
6-7. Players must maintain pace of play without undue delay. This includes the time between finishing one hole and teeing off on the next. Pace of play guidelines are set by the rules committee.
Penalties for violating rule 6-7: Match play – loss of hole. Stroke play – two strokes.
Example: Jack finishes a hole and realizes he left a club near the previous green. By returning to get the club, he causes an undue delay. He is penalized for a rules violation.
6-8. A player can’t discontinue play except under these circumstances: Play has officially been suspended; there is potentially dangerous lightning in the area; he is seeking a rules decision; another good reason, including sickness or injury.
Penalty for violating rule 6-8: Disqualification (match play or stroke play).
Exception: If competitors in a match agree to discontinue play, they aren’t disqualified unless they delay the competition.
The player and his caddie are responsible for knowing the Rules. During a stipulated round, for any breach of a Rule by his caddie, the player incurs the applicable penalty.
a. Match Play
Before starting a match in a handicap competition, the players should determine from one another their respective handicaps. If a player begins a match having declared a handicap higher than that to which he is entitled and this affects the number of strokes given or received, he is disqualified; otherwise, the player must play off the declared handicap.
b. Stroke Play
In any round of a handicap competition, the competitor must ensure that his handicap is recorded on his score card before it is returned to the Committee. If no handicap is recorded on his score card before it is returned (Rule 6-6b), or if the recorded handicap is higher than that to which he is entitled and this affects the number of strokes received, he is disqualified from the handicap competition; otherwise, the score stands.
6-3. Time Of Starting And Groups
a. Time of Starting
The player must start at the time established by the Committee.
In stroke play, the competitor must remain throughout the round in the group arranged by the Committee, unless the Committee authorizes or ratifies a change.
(Best-ball and four-ball play – see Rules 30-3a and 31-2)
The player may be assisted by a caddie, but he is limited to only one caddie at any one time.
The responsibility for playing the proper ball rests with the player. Each player should put an identification mark on his ball.
6-6. Scoring In Stroke Play
a. Recording Scores
After each hole the marker should check the score with the competitor and record it. On completion of the round the marker must sign the score card and hand it to the competitor. If more than one marker records the scores, each must sign for the part for which he is responsible.
b. Signing and Returning Score Card
After completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee. He must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the score card, sign the score card himself and return it to the Committee as soon as possible.
c. Alteration of Score Card
No alteration may be made on a score card after the competitor has returned it to the Committee.
d. Wrong Score for Hole
The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified. If he returns a score for any hole higher than actually taken, the score as returned stands.
6-7. Undue Delay; Slow Play
The player must play without undue delay and in accordance with any pace of play guidelines that the Committee may establish. Between completion of a hole and playing from the next teeing ground, the player must not unduly delay play.
6-8. Discontinuance Of Play; Resumption Of Play
a. When Permitted
Bad weather is not of itself a good reason for discontinuing play.
If the player discontinues play without specific permission from the Committee, he must report to the Committee as soon as practicable. If he does so and the Committee considers his reason satisfactory, there is no penalty. Otherwise, the player is disqualified.
b. Procedure When Play Suspended by Committee
When play is suspended by the Committee, if the players in a match or group are between the play of two holes, they must not resume play until the Committee has ordered a resumption of play. If they have started play of a hole, they may discontinue play immediately or continue play of the hole, provided they do so without delay. If the players choose to continue play of the hole, they are permitted to discontinue play before completing it. In any case, play must be discontinued after the hole is completed.
The players must resume play when the Committee has ordered a resumption of play.
c. Lifting Ball When Play Discontinued
When a player discontinues play of a hole under Rule 6-8a, he may lift his ball, without penalty, only if the Committee has suspended play or there is a good reason to lift it. Before lifting the ball the player must mark its position. If the player discontinues play and lifts his ball without specific permission from the Committee, he must, when reporting to the Committee (Rule 6-8a), report the lifting of the ball.
If the player lifts the ball without a good reason to do so, fails to mark the position of the ball before lifting it or fails to report the lifting of the ball, he incurs a penalty of one stroke.
d. Procedure When Play Resumed