Ah, golf tournaments. For many people, they’re the culmination of a lot of hard work and practice. Between college and professional play, there are hundreds of tournaments every year.

Everyone hopes to walk away a winner. What they don’t expect is to get dinged by some obscure rule, but it happens. Golf tournament rules are far from boring. Ever get your golf ball stuck in an orange? No? Well, read on to find out what happens if you do!

Your Balls Must Conform

It’s true, you can’t play golf with just any old golf ball! If you want to play in a golf tournament, then you have to make sure that your golf balls conform to United States Golf Association (USGA) standards.

If you’re not sure whether or not your balls conform to standards, the USGA has a handy tool that allows you to browse a list of specific balls and a has a search function if browsing isn’t your thing.

But Watch Out for Oranges

Apparently, people are leaving orange peels out on the greens because the USGA has actually had to answer the question of what happens if a ball gets lodged in an orange. The USGA ruled that an orange peel is not a loose impediment, and therefore the player must play the ball as it is, orange peel and all, or declare the ball unplayable.

Look, If Your Club Head Is Gonna Fall Off…

The USGA has ruled twice on what happens if a players’ club head falls off on their swing.

Generally, as soon as you lift your club, it counts as a swing, even if you don’t complete the swing. But what if the head of your club comes off? The USGA decided that if your club head comes off during your backswing, and you still complete the shot and miss the ball, then it does not count as a stroke. Good news, right?

Not so fast. If your club head falls off during your downswing, and you complete the swing and miss the ball, then it still counts as a stroke. So, backswing = not a stroke, downswing = stroke.

Who knew?

Please Don’t Enhance Your Clubs

We’ve all heard of performance-enhancing drugs, but have you heard about performance enhanced golf clubs?

The USGA prohibits players from making any modification to a club that would add weight or bulge to the club. Tape isn’t disallowed per se, but the addition of tape to a club must adhere to this standard.

I Said, “Be Quiet!”

Spectators of baseball, football, and hockey all have a tradition of making as much noise as possible when the opposing team is doing something like taking a penalty shot or up for bat. Trying to distract the other team is fun, but if you try to do that in golf, you’re going to have a bad time.

Etiquette is key at golf tournaments. Whenever a player is set to tee off, others cannot make any noises that would potentially be distracting. This includes unintentionally distracting cell phone conversations. Save your shouting for the ball game.

Don’t Touch Your Ball Unless You Tell Someone First

Sometimes, when you’re playing with a lot of other people, it is necessary for you to lift your ball to make sure that the ball you’re about to thwack across the green is actually your ball.

This is a permissible action, but there are strict rules for ball identification. You have to notify your opponent that you’re going to lift the ball up for identification and you have you make sure to mark the position of the ball. Basically, you have to make sure that your opponent gets to watch you while you identify your ball.

Hope You’re Good at Counting

It’s totally normal for a person to want to make sure that they have all of their belongings whenever they move from one spot to another. Gotta check for your keys, your cell phone, and make sure you have all of your golf clubs, right?


If you’re playing in a golf tournament, you can only count your club heads once. If you’re about to tee off at the Masters and feel the urge to double check the number of club heads in your bag, try to resist. Otherwise, you’ll receive a two-stroke penalty. Ouch!

Word of Advice, Don’t Give Advice

It seems like every sport has a coach on-site for the big games, ready to give advice. Unfortunately, if you’re playing golf, you’re going to have to have to go it alone.

Feeling the need to coach a fellow player? That’s a big no-no! Any player caught giving advice on the course in the middle of a tournament is considered to be in violation of the rules and they automatically receive a two-stroke penalty.

Long story short, don’t help out your fellow players during a competitive game.

Good News, You Don’t Have to Get Pricked!

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you were playing in a golf tournament and suddenly your golf ball lands in the middle of a gang of cacti? The USGA has.

The USGA isn’t out to hurt you if your ball finds itself near some prickly friends. You’re permitted to wrap your arm or leg in a towel when you have to get up close and personal with those cacti during your shot.

No, you can’t move your ball. No, you can’t cover the cactus with a towel. Get in, shoot, and get out before you take part of a cactus home with you.

Sure, You Can Play Here

What do you consider out of bounds? The street? The building next door? The clubhouse?

The USGA has decided that, if your shot lands in the clubhouse, and it’s not technically out of bounds, then you are welcome to walk in there, open a window or door, and take your shot without getting a penalty.

Makes you wonder how many players “accidentally” hit into the clubhouse during tournaments with hot weather.

Can Get Enough Weird Golf Tournament Rules? Check Out Our Blog!

If you think golf tends to be a little stuffy, these weird golf tournament rules have probably proven you wrong. I mean, who doesn’t want to hit their shot from inside the clubhouse? Either way, these are some truly strange rules.

Want more sports news? We’ve got you covered! Our news page helps you stay on top of all the latest sports news and topics. Happy golfing, and leave your oranges at home!