Prac­tice – Rule 7

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How­ever, as men­tioned, the above ap­plies to stroke play only. Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, there is no penalty at all for com­mit­ting any of the above­men­tioned ‘of­fences’ be­fore a match play com­pe­ti­tion – pos­si­bly the stark­est con­trast in the Rule book be­tween stroke play and match play Rules!

In­ter­est­ingly, the Com­mit­tee does have the re­mit to mod­ify or re­verse both these el­e­ments of Rule 7-1 via the con­di­tions of a com­pe­ti­tion with ref­er­ence to Rules 33-1 and 33-2c. This is useful when there is no prac­tice ground avail­able, or to per­mit more than one stroke play com­pe­ti­tion to be played on the same day or over sev­eral days.

In such sce­nar­ios, the Com­mit­tee may per­mit prac­tice on the com­pe­ti­tion course or part of the com­pe­ti­tion course on any day of a com­pe­ti­tion. All recog­nised prac­tice ar­eas within the bounds of the course may be used by play­ers for prac­tice on any day of the com­pe­ti­tion. You are not al­lowed to prac­tise dur­ing a round if it will un­duly de­lay play

What about mid-round – surely you can’t prac­tice at all, then, other than prac­tice swings? Ac­tu­ally, you can, but only in very spe­cific cir­cum­stances and places as high­lighted in Rule 7-2. Those places are be­tween the green of the hole just com­pleted and the next tee, where you are al­lowed to prac­tise putting or chip­ping on or near the green just played, on or near the next tee, or on or near any prac­tice putting green, should you hap­pen to pass one!

This ap­plies to stroke play and match play com­pe­ti­tions, but a cou­ple of words of warn­ing: you can’t make a prac­tice stroke from a haz­ard, and you can’t prac­tise at all if it will de­lay play.

Breaches of the above will cost you a two-stroke penalty in stroke play and loss of hole in match play. If the breach oc­curs be­tween the play of two holes, the penalty is ap­plied to the next hole you’re about to play… which could mean a fruit­less 500-yard walk if your next match play hole is a par 5!

rac­tice makes per­fect, some say; prac­tice makes per­ma­nent, oth­ers say; prac­tice on the course be­fore or dur­ing a round and you may end up with a penalty, the Rules of Golf say… but not al­ways! So it’s im­por­tant you know what you can and can’t do pre­and mid-round to avoid fall­ing foul of Rule 7, which ad­dresses prac­tice.

In stroke play, the great­est penalty of all is dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion for prac­tis­ing on the com­pe­ti­tion course be­fore a com­pe­ti­tion round. This also ap­plies be­tween rounds on any com­pe­ti­tion course you haven’t yet played in an event of two or more rounds over con­sec­u­tive days. Be­fore a round, you aren’t al­lowed to test the sur­face of any putting green on the com­pe­ti­tion course by rolling a ball or rough­en­ing or scrap­ing the sur­face ei­ther. The only ex­cep­tion is that you may prac­tise putting or chip­ping on or near the 1st tee.

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