A gentleman’s game

Golf is considered to be a game where trust and fairness is important. The official rule book states: Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.

A strict divide between amateurs and professionals

As in any sport, it is important to make sure that the players are similar in terms of abilities. So in golf there are very strict rules to ensure that the amateurs and professionals are kept separate.

The basic rule is that if you have, at any time, been paid for playing or participated in a competition with a cash prize, then you are a professional. You will remain a professional even after it has been years since you have received compensation.

Amateurs can participate in competitions and tournaments where the price is a gift, not money. There are strict rules that are outlined in standard rulebooks and everybody have to follow these rules if they want to participate in official tournament and competitions.

Making it fair – the handicap

As part of the game’s effort to be fair, there exists a system called the “handicap” system. This is a way of trying to level the playing feel so experienced and in-experienced players can play together without the result being given in advance.

In golf, the handicap, the number of strokes that the player gets for “free” on the course. Simply put: if an experienced player will be expected to use 7 strokes to get through the course, then an inexperienced player will use 10 strokes. However, to even it, they will agree that the inexperienced player gets 3 strokes handicap so they won’t count. This means that both player have the same chance to win.

In reality it is not that simple as calculating the handicap is complicated and also involves a fair amount of trust. Also, each course has it’s own “standard strokes” or what is called par. Therefore, the handicap has to be re-calculated if you play on a new course.

Luckily there is a system for doing these calculations. By using these official guidelines, it is simpler to calculate the handicap. However, there are also people who are familiar with the golf course and can help with calculating the handicap.


There are rules one have to follow. If these are broken, then the player will get penalties. The penalties are given as extra strokes. So the player will get extra strokes added to their total and in some cases also have to place the ball a longer distance from where it was.

Here are some of the rules and the penalties:
• If you hit a ball out of bounds or you lose it: one stroke and a distance.
• The ball moves due to an equipment failure or the removal of a loose impediment: one-stroke penalty
• Yellow or red staked hazard: one-stroke penalty
• A golfer strikes or tries to strike the wrong ball: a two-stroke penalty.

These are just a couple of penalties. Most of the time the player will only get a penalty, but the player can also be disqualified.
Disqualification is most often used when the problem involves cheating.