Easy Ways to Learn the Rules of Golf – No More Excuses!

By Steve Zahn
June 7, 2013


Last week I described how the Rules of Golf both fascinate and frustrate me. They fascinate me, in part, because in casual rounds golfers seem to follow some rules universally but ignore others.  But they also frustrate me as I find them hard to remember and apply.  Perhaps because my knowledge of them is not as developed it needs to be. Years ago, this would have been a problem. But with today’s technology, there is no reason not to understand the rules more completely. Let me share with you my three favorites.


  1. Not in any particular order, but let’s start with our own golf organization – the USGA.  The star of their website is a 12 video series highlighting the most common rules. These are excellent videos, with clear vocals and demonstrations. Allow about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to watch the entire series and you will be rewarded with a comprehensive, visual grasp of those rules situations you’re most likely to encounter.  To provide further depth, the USGA also offers the entire book of rules, and all the decisions, in a digital, searchable format.  Finally you can test your knowledge using their quiz page. The quiz is offered with either 10, 18 or 25 questions at a basic, advanced or mixed level.

  2. Across the pond, the R&A also does a nice job providing access to rules education. Their website focuses on a tool they call The Rules Explorer.  At first glance the Rules Explorer seems like a just another digital version of all the Rules of Golf – but it is much more.  Select a rule and you are provided with the following options and benefits:

    1. Each rule is clearly displayed with some text highlighted for additional information.

    2. Decisions associated with the rule are conveniently available.

    3. Images to help explain the rule are provided as are short videos.

    4. Finally – and this is really cool – you can take a immediate quiz about the rule without navigating from The Rules Explorer page. Generally, 1 – 4 questions specific to that rule.

The R&A also provides a rules quiz. Their quizzes consist of just 10 questions at either an easy, moderate, or difficult level. (Personally I think these quizzes are harder than the USGA. Give it a try and let me know what you think.)

The R&A website also offers a golf rules video but, curiously, in a different section of the website.  No matter!  They call this a Quick Guide to The Rules. Mostly the videos are just nice diagrams.  But there is one short video, about 11 minutes, narrated by Padraig Harrington. It is not as comprehensive as the USGA videos but I love listening to Padraig!

  1. Finally if you need something to carry with you on the course consider The Shortcut to Golf Rules from Shortcut Books (a licensee of the USGA). It is a full color, laminated pocket-size summary of all the Rules of Golf. What is particularly useful about this Pocket Guide are the excellent diagrams showing you the options for obstructions, water hazards and the like. Very easy to read and very handy.

So there you go.  Not so painful! Now, no more reasons not to enjoy a deeper appreciation of the Rules of Golf.  I would love to hear your opinions and experiences.  Join the conversation or you can contact me at steve@usgolftv.com .

Steve Zahn

1 Comment

  1. I enjoy rules about as much as any other person with OCD… but I’ve also celebrated the flexibility they allow (taking / not taking relief, etc.). There are even formal rules for different types of play (match and stroke). Similarly, there are many “games” that groups can play to keep things interesting. Each of these has their own “rules.” My VERY recreational group allows as many “Mulligans” as you’d like, but each costs $1 on the table after the round (That’s one of our rules!).

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