Golf Rules FAQ: Questions and Answers About Tricky Rulings

A golf ball is stuck on a tree during the second round of the Open Cala Millor Mallorca in Spain
That's a bad lie. What's the ruling?. Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

This Golf Rules FAQ covers golf rules codified by the USGA and the R&A. The Rules of Golf can be found on those governing bodies' Web sites, or by clicking over to our Golf Rules section.

The questions posed below cover situations both common and uncommon, but tricky spots that can arise while playing golf. Click on the title of an FAQ to read the answer.

What's the Ruling?

And More Rules FAQs

Is Practicing In-Between Holes Allowed?
Once play a hole is over, is it "legal" under the rules to practice a few putts before leaving the green? Or, on the next tee box, to practice chipping? Yes. In fact, some courses have practice putting and chipping areas built into their tee boxes behind the championship tees for exactly this purpose.

It's even OK to practice putting and chipping on Hole 8, for example, while waiting to play Hole 9 (just make sure nobody is trying to play up to Hole 8!). You can also putt and chip balls on any tee box.

You may not practice bunker shots or shots from any other hazards. And of course, you are never allowed to play practice strokes during the play of a hole, or to hit 3-irons, for example, while waiting between holes.

Even putting and chipping are prohibited when practicing those shots would delay play (but, then, good etiquette should keep you from doing that anyway).

But: You just knew there'd be a but, didn't you? A note to Rule 7-2 states that a committee can institute a condition of competition that prohibits practicing between holes. The PGA Tour, for example, uses this condition of competition, so that practice between holes isn't allowed at PGA Tour events. If you are playing in a tournament, you need to know whether this condition of competition is in effect. The Rules of Golf themselves, however, do not prohibit practice between holes in the ways described above.

Do I get relief from aeration holes on the putting green?
The short answer is no, as stated by the USGA and R&A in Decision 25/15 - unless the Committee has adopted a Specimen Local Rule. Read more.

Is it OK to use a long putter to measure club lengths?
Yes. There are several instances in the Rules of Golf when measuring using club lengths comes into play, most notably in taking relief from an obstruction or dropping a ball (you know, "drop two club lengths from ..."). Long putters are longer than drivers, sometimes significantly so. Is there anything in the Rules of Golf that governs which club to use when measuring club lengths? No, there isn't. The rules don't prescribe or prohibit any clubs. In two of its Decisions, the USGA has specifically cleared long putters for use in measuring club-lengths.