Ladies - Understanding Penalties

Penalty Shots


Play within the parameters of the tee

The first tee shot of a round is always daunting, even for seasoned golfers, so make sure you tee up between and behind the front of the appropriate markers - usually white for medal tees, yellow for men, red for ladies - and within two club lengths. With all the swing thoughts that go through the average player’s head, it can be easy to forget about these basic parameters.  Penalty for teeing up the ball outside of them (just the ball - you may take your stance outside if you prefer) is two shots in Stroke Play. (Rule 11)

Avoid playing the wrong ball

Sounds blindingly obvious but unless you mark your ball before you start, there’s a danger - with so many golf balls similarly stamped - you may mistake yours for another player’s.  Playing the wrong ball in Match Play could mean loss of hole in singles and will be a two stroke penalty in Stroke Play. To avoid such a penalty, then get marking your ball more clearly with distinctive personalised symbols.  But if you’re unsure the ball - in the rough, for example - is yours, notify your playing partners, mark it carefully with a tee peg, lift but do not clean it (only to identify it) and replace in the identical spot you’re within your rights. (Rule 15-1).

Fresh Air Shot, or Whiff

Each time you swing meaning to hit the ball it counts as a stroke, even if you miss the ball.

Green rulings

Once you have reached the green, there are a couple of key Rules of which you need to be aware.  Once the ball comes to rest on the putting surface you may mark it with a coin, disk or similar, lift and clean it but remember to replace in the exact spot.  You may repair any pitchmarks - not just yours - other damage such as spike marks on the green but not on your line of putt, a playing partner’s putt, or an extension of it, before the completion of the hole.  You can have the flagstick attended at all times but the ball must not strike it. (Rule 17)

Play your ball as it lies

Always play your ball as it lies, wherever it comes to rest, unless the Rules allow you to do otherwise.  Most common exemptions include the affect of ‘loose impediments’ - you can remove leaves, loose twigs, litter - or ‘obstructions’, such as man-made paths, drainage, sprinklers, from which you will receive free relief and be able to drop your ball within one club length at the nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole. (Rule 13-1)

Unplayable lies

If your ball has come to rest in a position that you believe to be unplayable, you have three options.  Either hit another ball from the point of your previous shot, drop a ball behind the unplayable lie (as far back as you wish keeping the original lie between you and the hole) or drop the ball within two club lengths either side of the unplayable lie.  Each option incurs a one stroke penalty. (Rule 28)

No way back from Out of Bounds (OB)

Knowing what to do when your ball sails out of bounds is crucial to a beginner.  A ball hit beyond the confines of the course (usually marked by white stakes) must be re-played from the original position adding a penalty of one stroke.  The scorecard of any course should have its boundaries clearly marked or described.  If you believe a shot has gone OB or into a water hazard always play a provisional and declare it.  You have five minutes to search for it and if indeed it is lost you saved valuable time continuing with the provisional ball despite a one stroke penalty.  If your original is subsequently found in bounds or dry within five minutes of the point of search you must continue with the original ball. (Rule 27-1b)

Seeking advice

While it is one of the most sociable of sports, golf is a solitary game and this is reflected within the Rules.  You cannot ask advice on club selection for example from anyone other than your team mate (if you are playing fourball or foursomes for example) or a caddie.  Neither should you offer advice to opponents in competition. However, you may ask for information on the Rules, distances or positions of hazards or the flagstick. (Rule 8-1)

Definition of ball striking

Striking the ball would seem like a matter of technique but it is also governed in part by the Rules.  For instance, if you find yourself in a difficult lie with an awkward stance, you must strike the ball with the head of the club.  You cannot spoon, scrape or flick it in a style that cannot be described as a ‘stroke’.  A two-shot penalty in Stroke Play and loss of hole in singles Match Play will be the outcome. (Rule 14-1)

Score correctly

At the end of a Stroke Play round make sure your card has been completed correctly - achieved by comparing scores you have marked on a playing partner’s card (you will have exchanged cards at the start of the round) with those she has recorded.  Once you agree, the card must be signed by both parties as a correct record of each hole.  Addition doesn’t necessarily have to be accurate but individual hole scores must tally.  Incorrect scorecards, if lower scores are included, and unsigned ones will lead to disqualification. (Rule 6-6)


How to Score Common Golf Penalty Shots

A stray shot in golf is frustrating, but it happens to the best golfers.  Where the ball is hit makes a difference in how it is played and scored.  Take a look at these common golf penalty shots and how to deal with them:


Out of Bounds: 1-stroke penalty plus distance.  Replay the ball from where it was just played (or tee up again if it was your first shot).

Unplayable lies: 1-stroke penalty. Drop the ball within two club lengths of the original spot, no nearer to the hole.  Or drop the ball as far back as you want, as long as you keep the original unplayable lie point between you and the hole. You may also return to the spot from which you played your original shot if you prefer.  An unplayable lie in a bunker must be dropped within the bunker.

Water hazard (yellow stakes): 1-stroke penalty.  Play the ball as near as possible to the place from which the original shot was hit.  Or drop a ball behind the water, as long as you keep the point at which the original ball
crossed the edge of the water hazard directly between the hole (the flag) and the spot on which the ball is dropped.  There is no limit to how far behind the water hazard you can go with the ball.

Lateral water hazard (red stakes): 1-stroke penalty.  Drop a ball outside the lateral hazard within two club lengths of where the ball went in, but not nearer to the hole.  Or keep a point on the opposite edge of the water hazard equidistant from the hole.