Do You Know These Bizarre Golf Rules?

Golf. It’s the summer past time just about everyone can find a way to enjoy. From being the sport of choice for some of the world’s most powerful leaders to those who like to take along and drive the cart, golf has become much more than a hobby. It has become the catalyst that brokered major deals, stopped international incidents, and created lifelong friendships.

You’d think that with the ease the world has taken to the sport that it would be pretty straightforward. Hit the ball toward the hole in the ground in as few strokes as possible. (Oh, and try not to lose your ball.) But, for those experienced golfers, you know that golf is far from simple.

In fact, the USGA’s rulebook is 600 pages long, and full of some of the oddest rules you’d never even consider while choosing your club. Let’s take a look at a few of golf’s weirdest rules.

The Air Rule

“If a gust of wind moves your ball, you can play it from its new position. But if artificially propelled air moves your ball, you must replace it without penalty.” – USGA decision 18-1/2.

Wait, what? That’s right, the wind is your friend, but if someone comes along with a giant fan that moves your ball, you must return it to where it started from. The mind races with all of the hilarious cartoon style antics that must have occurred to give way to a rule such as this!

The Orange Rule

“If your ball is lodged in an orange, you cannot take relief without penalty.” – USGA decision 23/10.

We’re sorry, but did they really mean orange? Are there really so many golf courses with orange trees that this needed to become an actual rule? What happens if you don’t want to take the penalty? Do you just hit the ball while it’s still inside the orange? What if the orange is still in the tree? Do we just chuck the club at it? There are so many questions that arise from this one sentence rule.

The Cactus Rule

“If your ball comes to rest next to a cactus, you may wrap an arm or leg in a towel to protect yourself from the needles when you play your shot. But you can’t cover the cactus with a towel.” – USGA decision 1-2/10.


The Flying Insect Rule

“If the player’s ball lies in a hazard, the insect is considered to be in the hazard and the player may not touch or physically remove the insect from the ball (Rule 13-4c). However, as the insect is animate and capable of moving on its own, the player may take action, such as waving his hand, a club or towel, to encourage the insect to move.” – USGA decision 13-4c/16.5.

Boy, would we have loved to be a fly on the wall during the discussion of adding this rule!

The Water Bottle Rule

“You cannot place a water bottle on a green and use it as a level to determine how a putt will break.” – USGA decision 14-3/12.5.

We mere mortals who are NOT playing on the PGA circuit need some tricks up our sleeve. Oh well.

The Spit Rule

“You may spit on your clubface before playing a shot to clean it, but not if you’re trying to reduce spin to hit a straighter shot.” – USGA decision 4-2/4

All we can say to that is, “Don’t judge us! Our clubs are VERY dirty!”

The Clubhead Fell Off Rule

“If the clubhead falls off during the backswing, and you complete the swing but miss the ball it does not count as a stroke. If the clubhead falls off during the downswing and you complete the swing but miss the ball, it counts as a stroke.” – USGA decisions 14/2 and 14/3.

As if the game wasn’t challenging enough, now you want to penalize us for equipment malfunctions? Come on golf, we’re friends. Can’t we call a mulligan?

The Clubhouse Rule

“If a shot ends up in the clubhouse, and the clubhouse is not out-of-bounds, you can open a door or window and play the next shot without penalty.” – USGA decision 24-2b/14.

Ok USGA, now you’re just pulling our legs! Either this is a joke rule or someone on the rules committee just wants to play golf like a frat boy from Animal House. Either way, we’re in!

If at first you were confused as to how the USGA could possibly come up with 600 pages of rules, well, now you know! Who knew the game of golf could be so strict? Right down to when you can swat at a fly! We’re not sure if knowing these rules will help improve your golf game or not, but one thing’s for certain. The next time you’re loading up your golf cart, you’ll remember these rules and decide to leave your giant fan and cactus towels at home.