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Do you think the Rules of Golf by the USGA are difficult to understand and apply, not to mention a little too strict?


If so, start playing by official RgA Rules.  RgA Rules are a unified set of relaxed rules that are better suited to speeding-up play, eliminating unfortunate lies, and making the game a little bit easier and much MORE FUN.  RgA Rules also keep things fair and fun for gamblers.


We at the RgA recognize the USGA as the governing body for high level competitive golf and elite country club golf competitions, but we felt compelled to write these extra rules for the other 90% of golfers, the Recreational Golfers.


The game of golf is hard enough.  Why play by rules that make it harder and slower?  RgA Rules are all about making the game a little bit easier and much more fun.


Adopt RgA Rules for your group.


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Official RgA Rules

updated 4-20-2022


Table of Contents

Rule 1 - Breakfast Ball

Rule 2 - Improved Lies

Rule 3 - Bunkers

Rule 4 - Lost Balls and OB

Rule 5 - Root Rule

Rule 6 - Man Made Objects

Rule 7 - Accidental Ball Contact

Rule 8 - Hitting the Wrong Ball

Rule 9 - Sharing Information

Rule 10 - Equipment

Rule 11 - Touching Surfaces

Rule 12 - Don't be a Jagoff

Rule 13 - Hole-In-One

Rule 14 - RgA Scrambles

Rule 15 - RgA Shambles




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Rule 1 - Breakfast Ball

Every player has the option to hit a second tee shot on their first hole of the day. 


Why ruin your entire day with a bad first shot?


However, if you choose to hit a second tee shot, you MUST play it.  You are not permitted to play the best one of the two. 


Also, the decision to hit a Breakfast Ball must be made while still on the tee.  No going back. 


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Rule 2 - Improved Lies

“Lift, Clean, and Place” will be permitted in the fairways, rough, woods, weeds, penalty areas, and sometimes in bunkers (see Rule 3 for specific bunker rules).


You are permitted to place (or roll) your ball on to the best spot, within a few inches or so of where it was originally at rest, as long as you don't change your cut of grass or improve your "line of sight" or "line of swing" around trees, weeds, etc. 


Rule 2 eliminates CHEATING.  "Fluffing" their ball when nobody is looking is the #1 way cheaters gain an advantage.


In addition, you may not break branches or stomp weeds to improve your "line of sight" or "line of swing".  If you are unable to play your ball, you must take an unplayable lie, add a penalty, give yourself a clear shot, and play on.


Also, you may not move your ball if it is on rocks in a penalty area, or move any rock that would cause your ball to move.  You have to play from the rock or take a drop with a penalty.




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Rule 3 - Bunkers

When playing nicely maintained bunkers, balls should be played as NO TOUCH.  Balls that are in their own pitchmark (i.e. fried eggs) must also be played as NO TOUCH, unless the sand is wet and/or packed.


However, if you are in an un-raked footprint, an erosion crevice, weather-beaten sand, or sand that hasn't been freshly maintained, etc... you may rake a fresh spot (or scrape the surface with your spikes) then place your ball where it was orginally at rest. 


If you are in a bunker that doesn't have a fair spot to "rake and place" due to water, erosion, etc... you may remove it from the bunker and drop it at any spot that is equidistant (or further) from the hole.  FYI:  Having to move your ball to a spot with a downhill lie is not considered a fair spot, thus you can remove it from the bunker.


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Rule 4 – Lost Balls and OB

If your ball is lost or unplayable in a staked penalty area, or an un-staked penalty area like: woods, weeds, water, deep grass, high fescue, etc...


-OR-   if it is Out of Bounds,


You must ADD a penalty, then:

(1) re-hit from the original spot, or

(2) drop within 2 club lengths of the point that the ball ENTERED the penalty area or OB, or

(3) drop on a line that keeps the point that the ball ENTERED the penalty area directly between your ball and the hole, going back as far as you want, or

NEW (4) drop on your "line of flight", somewhere on the line between the spot your ball ENTERED the penalty area and the spot from which you hit the ball. 


Remember, in all cases, it is where the ball ENTERED the area, not the total distance the ball traveled.


For non-staked areas, you should use the change of conditions to determine the line that denotes the penalty area.  


When dropping, you get relief from over-hanging limbs, however, you do not get relief from trees further down the tree line.


Rule 4b - "NO PENALTY" Exceptions

   (1) Plugged Balls  

   (2) Leaves

   (3) Thick Rough along fairway

   (4) Taken by Someone

   (5) Darkness


If your ball can't be found, AND your foursome agrees that it DEFINITELY should have been found, to save time, you may drop in the area that your ball was believed to be WITHOUT penalty.


However, IF IT IS POSSIBLE it’s in a penalty area, woods, weeds, water, deep grass, high fescue, etc., you must ADD a penalty stroke.


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Rule 5 - Root Rule 

You may take relief from roots that grow along the ground, but not the portion that grows upwards and is connected to the trunk.  Nearest point of complete relief plus one club-length, no nearer the hole.  You may take this relief if the root affects your "line of swing" or "line of sight", but not your stance.  This relief is granted so nobody hits a root and hurts their wrist or hand.


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Rule 6 - Man Made Objects 

If you hit your ball near a man-made object (a post, a bench, an OB fence, a garbage can, a cart path, etc…) you may take complete FREE relief.  You may take relief if the object hinders your stance, swing, or line of sight.  You should determine the spot that is the NEAREST point of complete relief, then drop your ball within one club-length of that spot, no nearer the hole.


Note:  This rule includes all flower beds and decorative areas where the flowers or plants are "delicate" and at risk of serious damage due to a swing.



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Rule 7 –Accidental Ball Contact 

There is no penalty for accidentally striking your ball or causing it to move during a practice stroke or at address.  Since we play "Lift, Clean, and Place", you should quickly re-set your ball to your liking and play on.



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Rule 8 - Hitting the Wrong Ball 

There is no penalty for hitting the wrong ball once.  Quickly replace it and proceed with the correct ball.  However, if you hit the wrong ball 2 consecutive shots, you must finish with it, count your strokes, and ADD A PENALTY.  Please be mindful of holding-up play and fix any errors as quickly as possible.


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Rule 9 - Sharing Information

To speed up play, discussion of yardages and club selection between players is encouraged.  Also, GPS devices and laser range-finders (including slope models) are permitted.


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Rule 10 – Equipment 

Any commercially available club (with no maximum in your bag) or ball is acceptable for play.  Also, the player may swap-out their ball at any time during play.  However, you may not have separate balls for driving and putting, continually switching between the two.


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Rule 11 - Touching Surfaces

There is no penalty for touching the surface of a bunker or penalty area with your club.  You MAY even touch your club to the sand or the ground at address. 


However, you may NOT:

     (1) Intentionally take practice swings that test the surface  (Accidents happen, intent to test the surface is the breach of the rule)

     (2) Break branches or stomp weeds

     (3) Excessively depress the sand behind the ball as to gain an advantage by making the ball easier to hit

     (4) Move rocks that would cause your ball to move


Doing any of the above = 1 stroke penalty.


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Rule 12 - Don't be a Jagoff

Players may not use obscure USGA rules for infractions that don't grossly affect the play.  For example:  Playing out of order, or not marking your ball on the green, or accidentally hitting someone's equipment, etc...  Just play on.


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Rule 13 - Hole-In-One

Unlike regular golf tradition, the maker of a Hole-In-One is entitled to free drinks for the rest of the evening (paid for by his foursome or larger group, e.g., a golf trip or golf outing).


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Rule 14 - Scrambles 

Players should mark the spot of the ball that they choose to play.  Then, each player may place their ball within one club-length of the marked spot, no closer to the hole.  You MAY change your cut of grass, move it from behind a tree, move it from out of water, move it from out of a bunker (new in 2020), or move it from OB, IF it is within (1) club-length. 


Remember, you only get (1) club-length.  You don't get extra space for your stance.  


Think of it this way - Your ball isn't "in play" until after you use your club-length.  Also, when on the putting green, you can only move your ball a maximum of 6", no closer to the hole.


No BREAKFAST BALLS in Scrambles.


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Rule 15 - Shambles 

Everyone hits their tee shot. Then, each player has the choice of playing-in from any tee shot in their group. 


Not everyone has to play from the same tee shot. 


Once you select the tee shot you want to play from, you will play your own ball until it is in the hole, according to RgA rules.  




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A Big THANK YOU goes out to the following people for their influence on these rules:  Don Coultas, John Huber, Taylor Pawlish, Bucky Cline, Doug Warzinski, Mike Bell, Mark Broda, Jon Walsh, Shawn Liguori, Jason Klein, Jason Corrado, Chuck Kuzniewski, Bob Colantoni, Bo Hand, Chuck Landa, Justin Rubb, Eric Amato, Matt Ginella, and Charlie Rymer.


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Who's to use which Rules

USGA - Professionals

USGA - USGA Amateurs

USGA - H.S. & College

USGA - Country Club Members

RgA - High Hcp CC Players

RgA - RgA Players at a Club

RgA - Public Course Events

RgA - Public Course Leagues

RgA - Daily Public Golfers

RgA - Kids (Easier = More Fun)


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RgA Tips for Speedy Play

1. Don't always mark your ball on the green. Only mark when you are in someone's way or have to clean your ball.


2. Putt-out, whenever possible, instead of always marking and waiting.  Excessive marking of balls really slows down play.


3. Always know when you are next.  Be ready to play when it is your turn.  Prepare to hit your shot while waiting.


4. Play "Ready Golf" and hit.  Respect "Honors" on the tee if the player is ready, but if not, play your shot.  When on the course, as long as you're not holding up the player behind you, you should hit your shot if they aren’t ready to play.


5. Always watch your playing partners’ shots and help them search for their ball when lost.


6. Limit your time at the turn to getting food, drinks, supplies and/or using the rest rooms.  Eat while playing, not while stopped at the turn.


7. Use Smartphone apps, GPS devices, or laser range-finders for assessing yardages.  


8. Tee it forward. Play from the appropriate tees for your skill level.  Hitting Driver then Wedge all day can be really fun.


9. When sharing a cart, whenever possible, drop off your partner at their ball with their club then go to your ball and hit.  You can meet up after, further down the fairway.


10. Learn to putt with the flag in.  It really helps save time.


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RgA Guide to Golf Etiquette

Dress Code

- Always check with the course in advance, but denim blue jeans aren’t a good idea.  Wear khakis, slacks, or Bermuda style shorts.  Cargo shorts are fine at Public courses, but "stuffy" Country Clubs will make you buy shorts from them.


- Collared shirts are best, however, nice collarless shirts (not t-shirts) are typically fine at public courses.  Again, "stuffy" Country Clubs will make you buy a collared shirt.


- Sleeveless shirts are typically acceptable for women golfers only.


- Soft spike golf shoes or sneakers are the norm.  Most courses do not allow metal spikes anymore.


Tee Times

- Arrive at the golf course 30 minutes prior to your tee time, check in at the pro shop upon arrival, and be at the Starter at least 10 minutes before your tee time.  Arrive 45-60 minutes prior if you plan to hit a basket of balls at the range.


Speed of Play

- Always keep up with the group ahead of you.  Remember, golf is much more enjoyable when played in 4 hours or less.  If you are unable to keep pace, please allow faster groups to play thru, but try to keep playing as they do.  Everyone should play their ball up to the green, then the slower group should let the group that is playing thru putt out and move on.


- Bookmark in your phone for quick and easy reference of these rules when needed.


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RgA Rules for Skins

It is recommended that single foursomes should play two separate games in an 18-hole round.  


They should play a Front 9 Skins Game and a Back 9 Skins Game by the following rules:


PAR or Better to win a Skin. Two tie, all tie.  The Skin is cancelled.  No Carry-overs.


Whoever earns the most Skins after 9 holes WINS the game and collects from the 2 players with the least amount of earned Skins.


2nd place, with 4 or 5 players = No Pay.  If 2 tie for 2nd place, they split the No Pay and pay Half each.  With 3 players, there isn't a 2nd Place No Pay.


Everyone that ties for the least amount of Skins pays the full amount.




In a foursome or fivesome, if 2 tie for 1st place, they split the money from the losers.  If 3 tie for 1st place, the game is null.  



In a threesome, if 2 tie for first place, the game is null.