Golf is an acquired talent in several regards, but one of the most acquired (and essential) parts of the game is its long list of rules. In order to excel at the sport, you will have to make sure you are playing in accordance to all of these rules, which apply to gameplay, terrain, and occasionally depth perception and awareness.

Here are a few of the most common rule violations in golf.


Playing a provisional ball off a water hazard

Water hazards can be a nuisance to anyone’s golf game on a bad day of play, and as a result, it can be easy to seek relief from a water-related setbacks wherever you can find it. However, it is important to note that if you think your ball has entered a water hazard, you cannot play a provisional ball in this scenario. However, if a ball is lost outside a water hazard, a provisional ball may be played.


Improving area of swing

Hazards aside, hitting a ball into an undesirable location is obviously not an ideal scenario for any golfer. As a result, some golfers accidentally find themselves improving the area of their swing or putt prior to taking action — at times, this is done habitually with no malicious intent (pressing grass down in front of your ball with your club head, etc.). Still, manipulating your area of play is against the rules and should be discouraged in any self-respecting playing group.

Additionally, the removal of obstacles is also frowned upon by the golf rule book, as these factors — typically naturally occurring obstacles — are simply considered part of the game. By removing obstacles from play, you will essentially give yourself an advantage that by-the-book players will not have.


Lifting ball

This is another common rule violation that is likely done habitually nine times out of ten. In many cases, a player will lift his or her ball off the ground to check identify it for the sake of proper gameplay, but this action is also against the rules. If you find yourself in this position, make sure to first announce to other players that you are lifting your ball and replacing it with a marker for placement purposes.

Playing the wrong ball

Probably one of the most common golf rule violations, playing the wrong ball is by no means anything to be ashamed of for long — most golfers have done this at least once (especially beginners). This is one rule violation that can have a huge impact on a game’s outcome, but it is also one that the violator pretty much has to laugh off and move on from, as it commonly comes from a simple absence of judgement or attention to fine detail (and let’s be honest — golf, at its core, is supposed to be fun and relaxing, not stressful and pressing). Avoid misidentification scenarios by making sure your ball is clearly marked, either with a specific color scheme or with your own markings.