Golf Rule 6, The Player
    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.

    6-1. Rules
    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.

    6-2. Handicap
    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.

    Note: It is the player’s responsibility to know the holes at which handicap strokes are to be given or received.

    6-3. Time Of Starting And Groups
    a. Time of Starting
    The player must start at the time established by the Committee.

    PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 6-3a:If the player arrives at his starting point, ready to play, within five minutes after his starting time, the penalty for failure to start on time is loss of the first hole in match play or two strokes at the first hole in stroke play. Otherwise, the penalty for breach of this Rule is disqualification.

    Bogey and par competitions – See Note 2 to Rule 32-1a.

    Stableford competitions – See Note 2 to Rule 32-1b.


    Exception: Where the Committee determines that exceptional circumstances have prevented a player from starting on time, there is no penalty.

    b. Groups
    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.

    PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 6-3b:Disqualification.

    (Best-ball and four-ball play – see Rules 30-3a and 31-2)

    6-4. Caddie
    The player may be assisted by a caddie, but he is limited to only one caddie at any one time.

    *PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 6-4:Match play – At the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred; maximum deduction per round – Two holes.

    Stroke play – Two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred; maximum penalty per round – Four strokes (two strokes at each of the first two holes at which any breach occurred).

    Match play or stroke play – If a breach is discovered between the play of two holes, it is deemed to have been discovered during play of the next hole, and the penalty must be applied accordingly.

    Bogey and par competitions – See Note 1 to Rule 32-1a.

    Stableford competitions – See Note 1 to Rule 32-1b.

    *A player having more than one caddie in breach of this Rule must immediately upon discovery that a breach has occurred ensure that he has no more than one caddie at any one time during the remainder of the stipulated round. Otherwise, the player is disqualified.


    Note: The Committee may, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), prohibit the use of caddies or restrict a player in his choice of caddie.

    6-5. Ball
    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.

    PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 6-6b:Disqualification.

    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.

    Note 1: The Committee is responsible for the addition of scores and application of the handicap recorded on the score card – see Rule 33-5.


    Note 2: In four-ball stroke play, see also Rules 31-3 and 31-7a.

    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.

    PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 6-7:Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.

    Bogey and par competitions – See Note 2 to Rule 32-1a.

    Stableford competitions – See Note 2 to Rule 32-1b.

    For subsequent offense – Disqualification.


    Note 1: If the player unduly delays play between holes, he is delaying the play of the next hole and, except for bogey, par and Stableford competitions (see Rule 32), the penalty applies to that hole.


    Note 2: For the purpose of preventing slow play, the Committee may, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), establish pace of play guidelines including maximum periods of time allowed to complete a stipulated round, a hole or a stroke.


    In match play, the Committee may, in such a condition, modify the penalty for a breach of this Rule as follows:First offense – Loss of hole;

    Second offense – Loss of hole;

    For subsequent offense – Disqualification.


    In stroke play, the Committee may, in such a condition, modify the penalty for a breach of this Rule as follows:First offense – One stroke;

    Second offense – Two strokes;

    For subsequent offense – Disqualification.

    6-8. Discontinuance Of Play; Resumption Of Play
    a. When Permitted

    The player must not discontinue play unless:(i) the Committee has suspended play;
    (ii) he believes there is danger from lightning;
    (iii) he is seeking a decision from the Committee on a doubtful or disputed point (see Rules 2-5 and 34-3); or
    (iv) there is some other good reason such as sudden illness.

    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.

    Exception in match play: Players discontinuing match play by agreement are not subject to disqualification, unless by so doing the competition is delayed.


    Note: Leaving the course does not of itself constitute discontinuance of play.

    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.

    PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 6-8b:Disqualification.


    Note: The Committee may provide, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), that in potentially dangerous situations play must be discontinued immediately following a suspension of play by the Committee. If a player fails to discontinue play immediately, he is disqualified, unless circumstances warrant waiving the penalty as provided in Rule 33-7.

    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

    Play must be resumed from where it was discontinued, even if resumption occurs on
    a subsequent day. The player must, either before or when play is resumed, proceed as follows:(i) if the player has lifted the ball, he must, provided he was entitled to lift it under Rule 6-8c, place the original ball or a substituted ball on the spot from which the original ball was lifted. Otherwise, the original ball must be replaced;
    (ii) if the player has not lifted his ball, he may, provided he was entitled to lift it under Rule 6-8c, lift, clean and replace the ball, or substitute a ball, on the spot from which the original ball was lifted. Before lifting the ball he must mark its position; or
    (iii) if the player’s ball or ball-marker is moved (including by wind or water) while play is discontinued, a ball or ball-marker must be placed on the spot from which the original ball or ball-marker was moved.


    Note: If the spot where the ball is to be placed is impossible to determine, it must be estimated and the ball placed on the estimated spot. The provisions of Rule 20-3c do not apply.


    *PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 6-8d:Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.

    *If a player incurs the general penalty for a breach of Rule 6-8d, there is no additional penalty under Rule 6-8c.