Rules….One stroke or two??

When do you take a ONE stroke penalty, and when do you take TWO strokes???

However well you know the Rules of Golf at times you can be uncertain of the penalty you have incurred. You stand there and ask yourself, “Should what I just did be a one or two stroke penalty?”

Certified Rules Officials learn from the NCGA “Big-Little Book” in which almost a whole page is devoted to when you get a ONE stroke penalty. Many Rules Officials quake at memorizing these, and even after learning them they still make mistakes. I’ve certainly been there…..done that.

So how does the everyday golfer decide?

I’ve been giving some thought as to how I can explain it to you all, as I know you don’t want to memorize a whole page. Hopefully this will help you. It’s not set in stone; it’s a guide to help you make the correct decision.

Let’s start by looking at the REAL world……According to the law of the land if you break the law you can be charged with a FELONY, or a MISDEMEANOR.

Let’s move this thinking over to the golf world, but don’t worry there’s no jail time!

If you break a golf Rule, as in moving your ball to a different place and hitting it from there, that’s like a FELONY, bad, bad, bad so it’s a TWO stroke penalty.

You took an advantage and cheated. A felony.

If you do anything in the course of play to help you play better, like getting advice from someone, or grounding your club in a bunker, and thereby testing the surface of the sand, it’s a FELONY, you’re a bad, bad girl, and you deserve a TWO stroke penalty.

Now the ONE stroke penalty, this is like a MISDEMEANOR.

You did something you shouldn’t have but it’s more like an accident, not a deliberate action to gain an advantage in the golf world.

You accidentally hit you ball in the water hazard; it was a mistake, so just a ONE stroke penalty.

You hit you ball out of bounds, again not a deliberate act, so a ONE stroke penalty.

You are a klutz and on your swing you accidentally hit your ball twice……you take a ONE stroke penalty. Ouch!

You move your ball in play by mistake, an accident, ONE stroke …UNLESS you don’t move it back and then it’s a deliberate act to cheat for distance and so it’s a TWO stroke penalty.

Very simply put………….and a basic guide for you all……..

When you do something wrong on the course think to yourself, “Was it an accident, or did I do a really bad thing? Was it more like a misdemeanor or a felony?”

Accidental, with no advantage but you should not have done it…….then a ONE STROKE PENALTY.

If you gained an advantage in your play by what you did, breaking a Rule, then it’s a TWO STROKE PENALTY.

I always end my Rules’ e mails by saying “I hope this helps you”, this time I really hope this helps you decide correctly if you take a one or two stroke penalty, and if you really can’t decide you can always ask me, or look it up in the Rules of Golf.



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