Your guide to ten of golf’s unusual rules

Golf is well known for some of its weird and wacky rules, and it seems there’s a decision to cover every eventuality.

Ball under a car? Sorted. Hit a shot into the clubhouse? Covered. Find your ball inside someone’s discarded orange peel? Yes, there’s a rule for that too.

Here’s everything you need to know if you are prone to encountering some unusual situations on the course.


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What if my ball lands next to a cactus?

Rule 1-2/10: You can protect yourself from the cactus by wrapping a leg or arm in a towel. However, you are not allowed to cover the cactus in a towel.

What if my ball lies under a parked car?

Rule 24-1/24-2b: If the car is readily moveable, it should be treated as a moveable obstruction and moved. If the car is not readily moveable, it should be treated as an immoveable obstruction and the player is entitled to free relief.

What if my ball is moving in a water hazard?

Rule 14-6: If the ball lands in the water, you may make a stroke, but you are not allowed to delay it in order for the current to make the positioning more beneficial.

What if my shot ends up inside the clubhouse?

Rule 24-2b/14: Unless the clubhouse is considered OB, you may open a door or window to continue the game.

What if my clubhead falls off during a swing?

Rule 14/2, 14-3: If the clubhead falls off during your downswing and you miss the ball, it counts as a stroke. However, if it falls off during a backswing and you miss the ball, it does not count as a stroke.

What if my ball gets embedded inside a piece of fruit?

Rule 23/10: You must play the ball/fruit as it lies, or declare it unplayable.

What if some prankster moves the flagstick away from the hole?

Rule 1-4/3 The player must accept the resultant advantage or disadvantage, which means you cannot replay the shot.

What if my ball lands on an ant hill?

Rule 23/5, 23-1: Ant hills are considered loose impediments, therefore players are entitled to remove it and replace the ball without penalty.

What if I encounter a snake?

Rule 23/6.5: A dead snake can be treated as a loose impediment, which means you may remove it. However, a live snake is considered an outside agency, which means it cannot be moved before continuing play.

What if my ball lands in a bunker directly in front of a half-eaten apple?

Rule 23/3: A half-eaten apple is considered a natural object and cannot be removed without penalty. It does not matter if there are apple trees in the vicinity, or if it was left there by another golfer.

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