Below are the defined terms used in the Rules Academy. Some of them are abbreviated from those found in the Rules of Golf and not all of the defined terms in the Rules of Golf are referenced in the Rules Academy

  • A

    Abnormal Ground Conditions
    An “abnormal ground condition” is any casual water, ground under repair or hole, cast or runway on the course made by a burrowing animal, a reptile or a bird.
    Addressing the Ball

    A player has "addressed the ball" when he has grounded his club immediately in front of or immediately behind the ball, whether or not he has taken his stance.


    “Advice’’ is any counsel or suggestion that could influence a player in determining his play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke. Information on the Rules, distance or matters of public information, such as the position of hazards or the flagstick on the putting green, is not advice.

  • B

    A “bunker’’ is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like. Grass-covered ground bordering or within a bunker is not part of the bunker. A wall or lip of the bunker not covered with grass is part of the bunker.
    Burrowing Animal
    A "burrowing animal" is an animal (other than a worm, insect or the like) that makes a hole for habitation or shelter, such as a rabbit, mole, groundhog, gopher or salamander.
  • C

    A "caddie" is one who assists the player in accordance with the Rules, which may include carrying or handling the player's clubs during play.
    Casual water
    “Casual water’’ is any temporary accumulation of water on the course that is not in a water hazard and is visible before or after the player takes his stance. Dew and frost are not casual water.
    The “Committee’’ is the committee in charge of the competition or, if the matter does not arise in a competition, the committee in charge of the course.
  • E


    “Equipment” is anything used, worn, held or carried by the player or the player's caddie, except any ball that the player has played at the hole being played. A ball played at the hole being played is equipment when it has been lifted and not put back into play.

  • F

    The “flagstick” is a movable straight indicator, with or without bunting or other material attached, centred in the hole to show its position.
  • G

    General Penalty

    The term “general penalty” refers to a penalty of loss of hole in match or a penalty of two strokes in stroke play.

    Ground Under Repair
    “Ground under repair” is any part of the course so marked by the Committee. Ground under repair includes material piled for removal and a hole made by a greenkeeper, even if not so marked. Grass cuttings and other material left on the course that have been abandoned and are not intended to be removed are not ground under repair unless so marked.
  • H

    A “hazard’’ is any bunker or water hazard.

    The “hole’’ must be 4¼ inches (108 mm) in diameter and at least 4 inches (101.6 mm) deep. If a lining is used, it must be sunk at least 1 inch (25.4 mm) below the putting green surface.

    A ball is “holed” when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip of the hole.
  • L

    Lateral Water Hazard
    A “lateral water hazard” is a water hazard or that part of a water hazard so situated that it is not possible, or is deemed by the Committee to be impracticable, to drop a ball behind the water hazard keeping a straight line to the hole.
    Line of Play
    The “line of play’’ is the direction that the player wishes his ball to take after a stroke, plus a reasonable distance on either side of the intended direction. The line of play extends vertically upwards from the ground, but does not extend beyond the hole.
    Line of Putt
    The “line of putt’’ is the line that the player wishes his ball to take after a stroke on the putting green. The line of putt includes a reasonable distance on either side of the intended line. The line of putt does not extend beyond the hole.
    Loose Impediments

    “Loose impediments’’ are natural objects, including:

    • stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like,
    • worms, insects and the like, and the casts and heaps made by them,

    provided they are not:

    • fixed or growing,
    • solidly embedded, or
    • adhering to the ball.

    Sand and loose soil are loose impediments on the putting green, but not elsewhere. Dew and frost are not loose impediments.

    Lost Ball

    A ball is deemed “lost” if:

    a. It is not found or identified as his by the player within five minutes after the player’s side or his or their caddies have begun to search for it; or

    b. The player has made a stroke at a provisional ball from the place where the original ball is likely to be or from a point nearer the hole than that place (see Rule 27-2b); or

    c. The player has put another ball into play under penalty of stroke and distance.

  • M

    A “marker’’ is one who is appointed by the Committee to record a competitor’s score in stroke play.
    Move or Moved

    A ball is deemed to have “moved’’ if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place.

  • N

    Nearest Point of Relief

    The “nearest point of relief” is the reference point for taking relief without penalty from interference by an immovable obstruction, an abnormal ground condition or a wrong putting green. It is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies:

    (i) that is not nearer the hole, and

    (ii) where, if the ball were so positioned, no interference by the condition from which relief is sought would exist for the stroke the player would have made from the original position if the condition were not there.

    View Nearest Point of Relief Diagram

  • O


    An “obstruction’’ is anything artificial, except:

    a. Objects defining out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings;

    b. Any part of an immovable artificial object that is out of bounds; and

    c. Any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course.

    An obstruction is a movable obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. Otherwise, it is an immovable obstruction.

    An “opponent” is a member of a side against whom the player’s side is competing in match play.
    Out of Bounds

    “Out of bounds’’ is beyond the boundaries of the course or any part of the course so marked by the Committee. When out of bounds is defined by reference to stakes or a fence or as being beyond stakes or a fence, the out of bounds line is determined by the nearest inside points at ground level of the stakes or fence posts.

    A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies out of bounds. A player may stand out of bounds to play a ball lying within bounds. 

    View Out of Bounds Diagram

  • P

    A “partner’’ is a player associated with another player on the same side
    Penalty Stroke
    A “penalty stroke’’ is one added to the score of a player or side under certain Rules.
    Provisional Ball
    A “provisional ball’’ is a ball played under Rule 27-2 for a ball that may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds.
    Putting Green
    The “putting green’’ is all ground of the hole being played that is specially prepared for putting or otherwise defined as such by the Committee. A ball is on the putting green when any part of it touches the putting green.
  • S

    Taking the “stance’’ consists in a player placing his feet in position for and preparatory to making a stroke.
    A “stroke’’ is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if a player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball he has not made a stroke.
  • T

    Teeing Ground
    The “teeing ground’’ is the starting place for the hole to be played. It is a rectangular area two club-lengths in depth, the front and the sides of which are defined by the outside limits of two tee-markers. A ball is outside the teeing ground when all of it lies outside the teeing ground.
    Through the Green
    “Through the green’’ is the whole area of the course except: a. The teeing ground and putting green of the hole being played; and b. All hazards on the course.
  • W

    Water Hazard
    A “water hazard’’ is any sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open water course (whether or not containing water) and anything of a similar nature on the course. All ground and water within the margin of a water hazard are part of the water hazard.
    Wrong Ball

    A “wrong ball’’ is any ball other than the player’s:

    • ball in play;
    • provisional ball; or
    • second ball played under Rule 3-3 or Rule 20-7c in stroke play.