Proactive Golf Rules Quick Reference
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.

Can I Get A Ruling ?
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

See also:

Play of the game: for a recap of the basics of the game of golf

Types of competition: for the different scoring systems and tournament formats

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.
Can I Get a Ruling ?
Can I Get a Ruling ?
Golf Rules Revealed Through Other's Mistakes
A fun and entertaining way to learn the
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Golf Rules

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Recommended books
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
Decisions on the Rules of Golf, 2004-2005
by United States Golf Association
The Decisions on the Rules of Golf are based on formal case decisions by the R&A and USGA and are published regularly

For further explanation of the play of the game of golf, see: golf tips for beginners and golf facts and faqs.

Sources and References:

Golf Rules Illustrated Effective Through 2011: The United States Golf Association: An Official Publication of the USGA USGA
ProActive Golf Rules Quick Reference
A pocket-sized Golf Rules Quick Reference