RULE: Practice, practice, practice!

 It's a busy time of year with all types of championships being decided, both stroke and match play. This is a time when we all decide we need a bit more practice. So, when can we practice? Where is it NOT legal to practice. What are the penalties if we are in breach of this "practice" rule? 

 Practice on the course means playing a ball from anywhere or testing the surface of the putting green of any hole by rolling a ball or rubbing the surface.

1. BEFORE a ROUND

  • In MATCH PLAY, it is OK to practice before the round on the competition course on the day of play, or between rounds,  for any match play competition .
  • BUT - before a round on any day of a STROKE PLAY competition (stableford, par, bogey are forms of stroke play) a competitor MUST NOT practise on the competition course, or test the surface of any putting green on the course by rolling a ball or roughening or scraping the surface.

The penalty for breaking this rule is

  • General penalty for first breach 
  • Disqualification for second breach!
(General penalty = 2 strokes)

2. But what about DURING a round?

You cannot make a practice stroke during the play of a hole.

(A practice swing is not a practice stroke, and may be taken at any place provided you do not breach any other rule eg practice in a bunker or penalty area.)

I thought I could have a practice putt after I have holed out?

Yes, you may (Rule 5.5) Between the play of two holes, you MUST NOT make a practice stroke except that you may practice putting or chipping on or near:

  •   the putting green of the hole you last played;
  •   any practice putting green; or
  •   the teeing ground for the next hole to be played in the round -   BUT not from any bunker, and you must not unreasonably delay   play.

What about if the hole has been decided already (eg loss in match, washout in stableford) - can I play on and finish the hole without penalty?

Yes as long as you are not unduly delaying play! (It is common, and it speeds up play in stableford to pick up if you can not score!) Strokes made in continuing the play of a hole, the result of which is already decided, are NOT practice strokes.

If you breach this part of the rule (during the round) penalty is loss of hole in match play, or two strokes in stroke play!

HOWEVER - be advised that some courses do NOT permit this type of practice - their committee has made a local rule prohibiting this, so remember to check the local rules of any course when you 'play away'! 

3 AFTER a ROUND.

Changes to the rule in 2019 under Rule 5.2b allows you to practice on the course after the final round of the day.  


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