The rules of golf are internationally standardised and are jointly governed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA). By agreement with the R&A, USGA jurisdiction on the enforcement and interpretation of the rules is limited to the United States and Mexico.
The rules continue to evolve; amended versions of the rule book are usually published and made effective in a four-year cycle.
The underlying principle of the rules is fairness. As declared on the back cover of the official rule book:
"play the ball as it lies",
"play the course as you find it", and
"if you can't do either, do what is fair".
Some rules state that
every player is entitled and obliged to play the ball from the position where it has come to rest after a stroke, unless a rule allows or demands otherwise (Rule 13-1).
a player must not accept assistance in making a stroke (Rule 14-2)
the condition of the ground or other parts of the course may not be altered to gain an advantage, except in some cases defined in the rules
a ball may only be replaced by another if it is destroyed, lost, or unplayable, and a penalty is incurred in the latter cases
Golf rules: a deeper understanding of the game is fundamental to keep progressing. For beginning players, a perfect knowledge of the golf rules will give you a boost of self-confidence and compensate your lack of practice on the golf course.
Safety rules of the golf course: probably the first and most important piece of text you should read (and remember) about golf, whether you are a beginning or seasoned golfer.
Golf Rules Illustrated Effective Through 2011
The United States Golf Association: An Official Publication of the USGA USGA
by Usga More information:
Playing by the Rules :
All the Rules of the Game, Complete with Memorable Rulings From Golf's Rich History
by Arnold Palmer A hardly appealing topic (even for golfers) made fascinating by one of the game's legends. More information:
Rules of the Green:
A History of the Rules of Golf
by Kenneth G. Chapman