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More than 271 years have passed since the first written code of golf rules appeared in 1744 in Scotland. During this time there have been many frequent and extensive changes by both the United States Golf Association and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. Equipment, attitudes, venues, and conditions of play have all been reasons for fundamental change.
There are only two major principles that have ever been considered. One is that you play the course as you find it. And the other is you put your ball in play at the start of the hole, play your own ball, and do not touch it until you lift it from the hole.
The present set of 34 rules, joint venture between USGA and the R&A, merely regulates these two great principles and are broken down into 11 groups. These groups are:
· The Game
· Clubs and Ball
· Player Responsibilities
· Order of Play
· Teeing Ground
· Playing the Ball
· The Putting Green
· Ball Moved, Deflected or Stopped
· Relief Situations and Procedures
· Other Forms of Play
The definitions, found at the beginning of the Rules of Golf book, are most important by forming the foundation around which the rules of play are written. A good knowledge of these defined terms is essential to the correct application of the rules. The Rules of Golf book is published every two years by the USGA and is distributed by them and the Hawaii State Golf Association. Every player should have a copy.
Hawaii State Golf Association