[PHOTO: Sino Images]

While we like to think we “know” the Rules of Golf, there are times during a match when how to proceed becomes a head-scratcher for all parties involved. And when that happens, what should you do about it?

Here’s an example: you’re playing a four-ball match (best-ball of your team) and you realise you and your opponent are playing the same type of golf ball, down to the number. You reach the spot where both balls are, and now you’re not sure whose ball is whose. What would you do in that situation?

In most cases, it’s not practical to call for a ruling from a rules official. Maybe there is no rules official if you’re just playing a friendly round with your friends. Can you just come to a mutual agreement among the sides and play on? That seems too easy, right?

Actually, you can. Rule 20.1b says players in a match are allowed to agree on how to decide a rules issue/dispute. Furthermore, if the agreement turns out to be an incorrect application of a rule, so long as the players didn’t agree to ignore a rule or penalty they knew applied, then the agreement stands.

To be clear on this, you can’t play dumb and pretend you don’t know a rule if the agreement turns out to be an advantage for you or your side. But say neither side is sure where to drop when a ball is found in a penalty area, you can make a decision among the foursome and then play on, which is a great time-saver.

One last thing to remember: if there’s confusion about applying a rule in matchplay, you cannot play two balls on a hole and then bring the issue up to a committee (or the head pro) after the round to resolve the dispute. The two-ball procedure only applies in strokeplay. If you were to play two balls, the score with the original always counts and the other is irrelevant.


My opponent stopped my ball from rolling on purpose. Is that a penalty?

While waiting to play a shot, my opponent is killing time by chipping a ball. Is this allowed?

My ball is in a penalty area, so what are my options for taking a drop?

Can I be penalised if someone else improves my lie?

Can you repair divot holes or pitch marks in your line before hitting a shot?

I just played the wrong ball. What do I do now?

What do I do if my ball just hit another ball on the green?

What do you do when the tee markers aren’t lined up or are missing?

Somebody just picked up my golf ball! Now what?

Crazy things that only happen in matchplay

Can you hit a provisional ball after hitting a shot into a penalty area?

Your club breaks, what are your options?

My opponent took a generous drop after hitting into a penalty area. Can he be DQ’d for that?

Can I use a long putter when measuring my relief area?

Our practice putting green sucks. Can I hit a few putts on the course before my round?

I had an extra club in my bag and I just teed off. Now what?

Can I move a stone if it improves my lie?

Are you smart enough to ace this basic rules quiz?

Do I get relief from aeration holes?

What does ‘known or virtually certain’ really mean?

Do you have to use a putter on the green?

You’re playing a Srixon. Two holes later it’s a Callaway. Is switching golf balls mid-round allowed?

I hit a horrible shot. I’m waaaaaay better off if I don’t find the ball. Can I just declare it lost?

I’m on the green, my opponent is not. Who’s away?

Is sneaking a peek in another player’s bag considered getting advice?

What do I do if my golf ball is stuck in a tree?

I conceded a putt. My opponent putted anyway and missed. Is that a penalty?

What is casual water and how do I play around it?

I thought my ball was lost and put another in play then found my first ball… which ball counts?

What happens if I can’t tell my provisional ball from my original?

What exactly is an embedded ball?

How do I find my ‘nearest point of relief’?

How long can I take to hit a shot?

Does a ball have to be unplayable to declare it unplayable?