Golfing Etiquette 101
Every now and then we like to refresh our memory on some of golf’s most basic codes of conduct. While doing so we hope that we are, in turn, speaking to others who may be in need of some refreshing or who are new to the game.
Question: How long does a player have to take in golf?
The USGA Rules of Golf doesn’t specifically have a time limit in which a golfer must play a shot. However, the rule does make clear that slow play is discouraged. The rules also permit individual tournament committees to set more specific regulations to encourage a reasonable rate of play.
Rule 6-7 states that a golfer must play a shot “without undue delay.” The same rule applies to players who’ve just completed a hole (other than the 18th), stating that they must proceed to the next tee to continue their round and not “unduly delay play.” Rule 6-7 also allows a tournament committee to set its own standards to discourage slow play. Pursuant to Note 2 to Rule 6-7, a committee’s regulations may limit the time in which a golfer must complete a round, a hole or a stroke. The penalty for violating Rule 6-7 is the loss of the hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.
Rule 16-2 states that if any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the golfer is given “enough time to reach the hole,” then must play the ball within 10 seconds. Should the ball fall into the hole after the 10-second period, the player is assessed a 1-stroke penalty. If the ball remains on the edge of the cup without dropping into the hole, there is no penalty, even if the player waits more than 10 seconds to take his shot.
Even accidental delays in playing a shot may incur a penalty.
The USGA Decision 6-7/1 states that if a player preparing to putt discovers that the player left their putter at the tee area, then returns to retrieve the putter then that player will be penalized for undue delay. According to decision 6-7/2, a player is penalized for undue delay if the player searches for a lost ball for more than the five minutes permitted under rule 27-1.
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