Golf is one of the few sports in which a player call their own penalties. Unless it’s a professional tournament or organized league, it’s the player’s responsibility to call his or her own penalties. So, what are some of the most common penalties in golf?
Hitting Another Player’s Ball
This is a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning that hitting another player’s ball will result in two-stroke penalty. With the exception of a substitute ball, you are only allowed to hit the same ball that you originally hit from the tee. Double check to make sure you at hitting your ball and not another player’s before you swing the club.
Declaring The Ball Unplayable
A one-stroke penalty is given to a player who declares his or her ball unplayable.
Why would players take a penalty rather than attempting to hit the ball? There are numerous situations in which a penalty stroke may be preferred. When a ball is stuck in a cluster of rocks, for instance, the player may take the penalty rather than risking damage to his or her club.
Cleaning a Ball In Play
Cleaning a ball in play will result in a one-stroke penalty, unless the ball is on the green, the player is attempting to identify the ball, or to determine if the ball is acceptable for play. A ball may be unfit for play if it’s cut or split.
This penalty occurs when the ball is located in an unplayable section of the water. Players receive a one-stroke penalty for water hazard, at which point the ball is placed as near as possible to the area where the ball was originally played.
It’s important to note that penalty strokes are counted in addition to any strokes made on the ball. So if a player hits the ball into a water hazard and drops a substitution ball in place, he or she receives a total of three strokes: one for the original stroke, another for the water hazard, and a third for hitting the substitution ball.
Certain equipment violations may also result in penalties. This includes carrying too many clubs (maximum 14), using clubs with an illegal design, using illegal balls, etc.
Equipment violations typically result in a 2-stroke penalty for every hole in which the illegal equipment was played. If a player used an illegal golf ball on 3 holes, for instance, he or she would receive a 6-stroke penalty.
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