The Rules of the United States Golf Association govern plays, as modified by HVGA. Unless otherwise noted, the penalty for breach of a Condition or Local Rule for stroke play is two strokes.

Notice to Players

If you have any doubts as to a rule, please ask your playing partners. If they do not know, then play an alternate ball under rule 3-3. You will play both balls from the point of doubt and must hole out both balls. At the end of the round, you are required to ask for a ruling from the Rules Committee (See item 10 below). The exact language of the Rules may be found online at usga.org under rules. Apps for iphones and Droids may be available for downloads from the website.

SECTION A: Conditions of Competition

1. Specification of Equipment:

  • List of Conforming Driver Heads- is not in effect.
  • List of Conforming Golf Balls-The ball the player plays must be named on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls issued by the USGA.

2. Time of Starting- See Final T-sheet. If the player arrives at his starting point, ready to play, within five minutes after his starting time, the penalty for failure to start on time is two strokes at the first hole in stroke play. Otherwise, the penalty for breach of this Rule is disqualification.

3. Practice-USGA Rule 7 USGA rules allow for chipping and putting on the on any practice green before the round or after the group completion of a hole if doing so does not delay play (for the group behind you).

4. Stroke play tournament for A and B flights:

  • Gross winner: the competitor who plays the round in the fewest strokes is the gross winner.
  • Net winner: the competitor with the lowest net score for the round is the winner.

5. How to Decide Ties: The winner shall be determined on the basis of the lowest total gross score for the top three handicap holes (handicap hole no 1 + no 2 + no 3). If the tying players have the same score for the top 3 handicap holes, then the winner shall be determine on the basis of each of the following handicap hole (lowest gross score for the handicap hole no 4. if no winner, then handicap hole no 5 and so on until a winner can be determined.)

6. Close of Competition: The competition shall be deemed to have closed when all scores including tie breaker have been approved by the Rules Committee.

SECTION B: Local Rules

1. Out of Bounds (OB). All residential fences and roadways are out of bounds. Additional OBs are marked by white stakes.

2. Water Hazard and Lateral Water Hazards- Rule 26

  • Water hazards are defined by yellow lines
  • Lateral water hazards are defined by red lines

Note: See definitions of water hazards.

3. Abnormal Ground Conditions- Rule 25

  • Fire ants mounds or beds are treated as grounds under repairs and is entitled to relief per rule 25 (not loose impediments per rule 23. Relief is available of 1 club length from the nearest point of relief.

4. Embedded Ball- Closely mowed areas through the green only (fairway height).

5. Permanent Elevated Power Lines or Cables. Rule 20-5

  • If a ball strikes a permanent elevated power line or cable the stroke must be cancelled and replayed, without penalty. If the ball is not immediately recoverable another ball may be substituted.

6. Pursuant to Rule 14-3/0.5 a player may obtain distance information by using a device that measures distance only. However, if a player uses a distance-measuring device that is designed to gauge or measure other conditions (e.g., gradient, wind-speed, temperature, etc.), the player is in breach of Rule 14-3, for which the penalty is disqualification, regardless of whether any such additional functions are actually used.

7. NO DROP ZONES ON ALL PAR 3’s: HVGA Local Rules prohibit the exercise of the ‘drop zone’ option on all Par 3 holes even if “drop zones” are marked and allowed by the course. A violation of this rule is a 2 strokes penalty.

8. MAXIMUM SCORE OF DOUBLE PAR: HVGA has enacted the double par rule. For each hole, once the player has reached the score of double par, the player shall pick up his/her ball and record a score of double par. For each hole, the penalty for a player to intentionally hole out after reaching the score of double par shall be two strokes.

9. No Caddie. A player is prohibited from using a caddie. The penalty for violating this rule is disqualification.

10. Each player is responsible to request a ruling before turning his own score card. If a player wishes to request a ruling, he must do so before the closing of the tournament. This request must be made directly to the Rules Committee (Kevin Le, Kraig Nguyen or Nhan Tran)

11. Each player is responsible for reviewing and turning his score card to a committee member.

12. Each player is responsible to mark his own ball. Rule 12-2

Most Common Rule Mistakes In HVGA

  • Playing from the wrong tee. Disqualification (Rule 11)
  • Arriving late. 2 strokes within the first 5 minutes. Otherwise, DQ. (Rule 6)
  • On the green, tapping anything down other than ball marks or old holes. 2 strokes penalty (Rule 16)
  • Discussing which way the wind is blowing; how to play the hole; which club to use. 2 strokes penalty. (Rule 8)

Note: It is permissible to provide distance, location of flag stick and location of hazards.

  • Playing the wrong ball. 2 strokes penalty and must make proper correction before the next tee. (Rule 15)
  • Removing leaves or branches (loose impediments) when the player’s ball lie in a hazard. You can remove man made materials (cans, cigarettes). (Rule 13)
  • Grounding your clubs in a hazard. (Rule 13)
  • Taking a drop using line of flight and dropping the ball more than 2 clubs from the margin. Ex: tee shot sliced right to the water hazard. A player may not drop back in the fairway because that’s the direction of the ball flight before it went into the water. (Rule 26 and Rule 20).
  • Having more than 14 clubs in the bag. 2 strokes penalty with max of 4 per round. (Rule 4-4)

Note: A player may not declare that a club is out of play in order to avoid the 14 club rule or turn it up side down. It is a penalty for having more than 14 clubs in your cart at the start of the round whether or not the extra club was declared. See Decision 4-4c/1

  • Lifting the ball without marking the original position of the ball. Rule 20-1. 1 stroke penalty
  • Ball moved (not oscillate) after the player has addressed and grounded his club. 1 stroke penalty.

Note: Unlike match play competitions, where each player can monitor his opponent and may or may not call a penalty on his opponent, stroke play competitions require all players make the effort to protect the field (all players) and enforce the Rules.

You are encouraged to send questions or suggestions regarding the Rules of Golf to rules@hvga.com.