10 Strange Golf Rules/Decisions You Didn’t Know Existed

PGA EuroPro Tour 2014 strange golf rules

Take a swing at some of these strange golf rules!

After rewatching our coverage of the PGA EuroPro Tour I noticed that there were so many strange golf rules in the game. I thought, “There’s no way it could get any weirder, right?” Wrong! There is a 600+ page of rules published by the USGA (United States Golf Association) that details every one of the specific and strange golf rules that you could think of. Follow this list to find out some things about the sport that you probably didn’t know.

  1. What if your ball ends up near a cactus? Yup, there are strange golf rules for that. Decision 1-2/10

    cactus strange golf rules

    Ouch! Don’t forget to bring a towel!

    Q.A player’s ball lies near a cactus, and to play the ball, the player would have to stand with his legs touching the cactus. To protect himself from the cactus needles, the player wraps a towel around his legs before taking his stance. He then plays the ball. What is the ruling?

    A.Provided the player does not breach Rule 13-2 (i.e., he takes his stance fairly), there is no breach of the Rules. However, if the player were to place the towel on the cactus, the player would be in breach of Rule 1-2 for altering physical conditions with the intent of affecting the playing of the hole; as a result, he would lose the hole in match play or incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play.


  2. There’s some dirt on my club. As per strange golf rules, can I give it a good ol’ spit-shine? Decision 4-2/4

    Golf_clubs strange golf rules

    Get that dirt off your club! Just make sure to wipe the spit off

    Q.A player spat on the face of his club and did not wipe the saliva off before playing his next stroke. Is this permissible?

    A.If the purpose of doing this was to influence the movement of the ball, the player was in breach of Rule 4-2b as saliva is “foreign material.”


  3. The front fell off! Is that still a stroke if you swing? Yes and no, depending on when it breaks, according to these strange golf rules. Decision 14/2-3

    Blue_golf_club_disected strange golf rules

    Make sure you go out swinging! Just watch where the club head flies off to

    Q.The head of a player’s club separated from the shaft during his backswing. The player completed the swing but missed the ball. Is the player deemed to have made a stroke?

    A.No. A stroke is “the forward movement of the club … .” A shaft by itself is not a club…

    Q.A player starts his downswing and the clubhead separates from the shaft. The player continues his swing but no contact is made with the ball. Did the player make a stroke?



  4. What if your ball get’s stuck on a worm? Or trapped in a spider’s web? As long as you can move either bug out of the way without moving the ball, it’s fair play! Decision 23/5.5

    spider_web strange golf rules

    Beware! Icky sticky spiderwebs!

    The definition of “Loose Impediments” provides that worms, insects and the like are loose impediments. The term “the like” includes creatures such as spiders. A web made by a spider is considered to be a cast made by an insect and is also a loose impediment, even if attached to another object.


  5. All these dang bugs! All these dang strange golf rules! Do you really have to play through everything? Don’t worry, there’s an exception here. Decision 13-4/16.5

    flies strange golf rules

    Swat away! So long as the bug isn’t directly on your ball

    Q.A player’s ball is in a water hazard. The player is being distracted by an insect (a loose impediment) flying in the hazard. May the player swat away the insect?

    A.Although the margin of a water hazard extends vertically upwards such that the insect is in the hazard, the Rules do not contemplate such a case. Thus, in equity (Rule 1-4), the player may swat away the insect whether it be flying or on the player.


  6. Your ball ended up under a log. Oh no! Can you move the log out the way? Oh yeah! Just don’t sit on it, and don’t burn it. These strange golf rules describe why: Decision 23/1

    log strange golf rules

    To sit or not to sit? That is the question

    Loose impediments may be transformed into obstructions through processes of construction or manufacturing. For example, a log (loose impediment) that has been split and had legs attached has been changed by construction into a bench (obstruction); or a piece of wood (loose impediment) becomes an obstruction when manufactured into a charcoal briquette.


  7. Hmmm, is this course straight? Using your water bottle to check? Don’t do that! Decision 14-3/2.5

    Water bottles strange golf rules

    Leave the bottle-flipping challenge at home, not on the green

    Q.A player places a bottled drink on the putting green in order to gauge the slope of the green. Is the player in breach of Rule 14-3?

    A.Yes. The player is using equipment in an abnormal manner to assist him in his play contrary to Rule 14-3. However, if the placing of the bottle on the putting green was not for the purpose of gauging the slope, the player would not be in breach of Rule 14-3. (Revised)


  8. Don’t blow it! Natural wind is OK, but man-made is not. Decision 18-1/2

    wind-149701_640 strange golf rules

    Make sure your ball doesn’t become Gone With The Wind

    Q.What is the status of air from a blower operated by an outside agency or from a fan?

    A.Although the Definition of “Outside Agency” states that wind is not an outside agency, in this case the artificially-propelled air is considered to be an outside agency.


  9. Orange you glad I didn’t say banana? Don’t laugh. Golf is a very serious sport. Decision 23/10

    definition-387464_640 strange golf rules

    When they say play-through, they really mean play-through!

    Q.A ball is embedded in an orange lying under an orange tree. What is the ruling?

    A.The player must play the ball as it lies or deem it unplayable. Since the orange was adhering to the ball, it was not a loose impediment.


  10. How’d that get in there? If your ball ends up flying into the clubhouse can you still play it? There’s strange golf rules for that, too. Decision 24-2b/14

    broken-window strange golf rules

    Can’t move the house, but you can open a window!

    Q.A competitor hit a ball into a clubhouse which was not out of bounds and had not been declared an integral part of the course.
    In order to play it out, he opened a window, claiming that it was a movable (or partially movable) obstruction. Was this permissible?

    A.Yes. The clubhouse was an immovable obstruction. However, any part of it designed to be movable, such as a window or door, may be moved to any position if this can be done without undue delay.