Rules Changes 2023

As of 2023, new golf rules apply worldwide. We have summarized the most important changes for you.

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Handicap (Rule 3)

Previously, the player was responsible for applying the correct handicap. A wrong handicap on the scorecard might have resulted in disqualification.

Now, the committee, not the player, is responsible for calculating the score and applying the correct handicap.

Good to know: It is still advisable for players to check the handicap shown on their scorecard.


Damaged clubs (Rule 4)

Previously, only under special circumstances was replacing or repairing a damaged club during the round allowed.

Now, players are permitted to replace or repair damaged clubs during a round, provided that they have not damaged the club willfully or through abuse.

Good to know: Players must make sure they don’t unreasonably delay play when replacing or repairing a damaged club.

Substituting the ball (Rule 6)

In principle, the ball may not be substituted while a hole is being played (unless a rule allows it, e.g. if the ball is damaged or the player is taking relief). The penalty for prohibited substitution of another ball used to be 2 penalty strokes.

Now, the penalty for prohibited substitution of the ball has been reduced to 1 penalty stroke.

Good to know: If a ball is going to be dropped, it may always be cleaned, or a new ball may even be used.

Dropping back-on-the-line (Rules 14, 16, 17 and 19)

With the relief procedure where the player goes back on the extension of the line from the hole to the ball or from the hole to the entry point (in the case of a penalty area), the player previously had to take a drop within 1 club-length, not nearer to the hole.

Now, the ball must be dropped on the line itself and it may roll up to 1 club-length in any direction, including nearer to the hole.

Good to know: This applies to the “Unplayable ball”, “Abnormal course condition in a bunker” and “Penalty area” rules.


Ball at rest moved by the wind or gravity (Rule 9)

If the ball is moved by a gust of wind or if it moves by itself, it must, in principle, be played from its new position. An exception to this is on the green if the ball was previously marked, picked up and replaced.

Now, another exception has been added in the event that the ball was previously picked up for a rules procedure. The rule now states that if a ball comes to rest after being dropped or placed and it then rolls into another area of the course (e.g. bunker or penalty area) or out of bounds, it must be put back without penalty.

Good to know: This rule has more significance for players on the professional tour where the grass is cut very short and thus a ball might roll away after coming to rest.

Ball on the green deflected by an insect (Rule 11)

Previously, the following applied – if, after a stroke on the green, the ball hits an animal, the stroke must be replayed without penalty.

Now, this no longer applies if the ball hits a worm or an insect. In this case, the stroke counts and the ball is played as it lies.

Good to know: Worms and insects are classed as loose impediments and may be removed from the line of play before putting.

Stableford (Rule 21)

In Stableford, some penalties resulted in points being deducted from the overall score.

Now, points are only deducted at the hole where the rules infringement took place.

Good to know: If, for example, zero points were scored at the hole in question, the penalty does not affect the result.


Not keen on learning all that off-by-heart?

No problem, with “Golf Rules Quick Reference” you always have all the rules to hand. Easy-to-understand, with a focus on practical situations and containing numerous illustrations. The handy, water-repellent guide answers virtually every rules question in a matter of seconds. As each rules case is illustrated, the player can identify the correct way to proceed at a glance. Furthermore, the book is divided into sections by index tabs that correspond to an actual round of golf. To sum it up, it is a “must” in every golf bag.

- Global bestseller in more than 20 languages
- More than 2.5 million copies sold
- Multi-award winning
- Recommended by golf associations

The rules guide for use on the course: “Golf Rules Quick Reference”, by Yves C. Ton-That, 50 pages, colored illustrations throughout, spiral-bound, 4.1 x 5.9 in / 10,5 x 15 cm, Artigo Publishing International, ISBN 978-3-906852-39-3
US$ 19.90 / UK£ 16.90 / € 19.90

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You’d rather learn with a laugh?

Then our book "Golf Rules Cartoons with Tom & Chip" is just right for you! In 80 cartoons, all the official rules from 1-24 are explained in an amusing and easy-to-understand way. This makes learning the rules a pleasure.

Making the rules of golf fun: “Golf Rules Cartoons with Tom & Chip” by Yves C. Ton-That and Michael Weinhaus, 96 pages, full-color illustrations, hardcover, 6.7 x 9.6 in / 17 x 24.5 cm, Artigo Publishing International, ISBN 978-3-906852-36-2
US$ 29.90 / UK£ 25.90 / € 29.90

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Also available as an app for the iPhone. iGolfrules by Expert Golf provides the answers to your rules questions in a matter of seconds. You will find the right solution with a maximum of 3 clicks. You thus have a virtual referee constantly at your side who helps you to use the golf rules to your benefit and utilize all the relief procedures available. Recommended by Apple.

Download on the App Store

Rules poster

All the important rules changes are summarized on this two-page poster. Golf clubs can print out the poster and pin it on their notice board. The PDF is also suitable for publishing on the club’s website or distributing in a newsletter. It can be used free of charge provided that the PDF is not shortened or changed.

Download the PDF (A4 paper)

Download the PDF (US letter)

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