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male golfer swinging at a golf ball stuck in cactus tree

Golf may seem like a simple game, but the rules may be more complex than you might realize. In the most simplistic terms, players use a variety of golf clubs to hit a small white ball into a hole in the ground located hundreds of yards away from where you take your first stroke. However, there are several unusual golf rules that can warrant penalty strokes and cause you to lose the game. If you’ve ever read the complete rules of golf, you’ll find numerous rules relating to the game and player conduct. Here are some of the more obscure golf rules you might have overlooked.

Avoid The Dew Drop Penalty

Dew is common in many areas of the country, including New Jersey, so if you enjoy playing early in the morning, you’re probably going to have to endure some. If you have a habit of wiping off the dew in any fashion, you’re technically breaking a rule that could cost you a two-stroke penalty.

Hide And Seek Penalty

Golf courses typically have bunkers made of sand, which you’ve probably had a ball land in. You may have even “lost” your ball in the sand trap. While you’re allowed to move the sand around to find your ball, you must cover it back up before taking your next shot. It’s okay to leave a small part of the ball visible to know where to hit, but most of it must be recovered, or it’s a two-stroke penalty.

Hitting A Moving Target

Once you’ve hit your ball, you’re generally not allowed to hit it again until it comes to a complete stop. However, there’s at least one rare situation where you’re allowed to hit a moving ball. Golf courses generally have at least one water hazard, which sometimes has a current. If you’ve identified your ball in the water, you can hit it while it’s moving without a penalty. However, don’t take too long to swing, or you might be accused of waiting until the current puts your ball in a more favorable position. It’s usually better to just take a drop/penalty, instead of trying to hit a moving target.

No Penalty For Falling Off Tees

If another player tries to add a stroke because your ball falls off the tee, call their bluff. Whether the wind blew the ball off the tee or you accidentally knocked it off during a waggle, there’s no penalty stroke counted. It cannot be held against you if you didn’t take a deliberate swing at the ball before it fell off.

Leave It In The Way

An obstacle might end up in your golf ball’s way, and you might not be able to move it without getting a penalty. While it’s an unusual occurrence, balls have landed on top of a banana peel or become embedded in an apple. Although these items would be considered loose impediments, you can normally move them without penalty, and you must be able to do so without also moving your ball. But in both scenarios, you can’t move the item without moving your ball. Therefore, you must either play the ball as it lies or take a penalty stroke. Leaves are a more common hindrance, but best left alone.

Snake Encounters

There are over 20 snake species in New Jersey. Imagine your discomfort if you encounter one of these reptiles while on the links or, worse, if it decided to hang out right next to the golfball you need to hit. Unfortunately, you can’t just move the snake or your ball and continue playing. While a dead snake is considered a loose impediment and can be moved, a live snake is considered an outside agency and can’t be moved before continuing play. The exception to this rule is relief for a dangerous animal condition. If the snake is one of the two poisonous species found in New Jersey, you can take relief from the penalty.

Golf Membership At Basking Ridge

Since 1926, Basking Ridge Country Club in New Jersey has provided a uniquely beautiful golf course nestled in the Somerset Hills area. Our private 6,906-yard golf course is perfectly landscaped and offers a challenging 18-hole, par 71 layout. Golf Membership includes exclusive use of the course and unlimited use of our two practice putting greens, extensive short game facility, and driving range. Contact us today at (908) 766-8200 for more information about joining.