Roanoke Valley Senior Golf Tour

Rules of Play

PLEASE AVOID SLOW PLAY: With our large field, it is critical that you keep pace with the group ahead of you. All of the courses should be played in no more than 4 hours & 45 minutes. Agree beforehand that your group will play ready golf.  Take a few clubs, walk to your ball, and be ready to play.

The following rules are a condensed version of USGA Rules, and do not cover all aspects of play. If you encounter a situation and you are unsure about how to proceed, consult with your partners, and if necessary, play your orginal ball and a provisional ball and report the situation to the committee for ruling upon finishing the round.

It is important to understand that this is a competitive tour, and the Tour expects all players not only to play by the rules, but also to enforce the rules. Infractions may result in stroke assessments, disqualification, or suspension from the Tour. Consult the USGA website for more complete explanation of the rules.

* * * CAUTION - The posposed rules changes you have heard so much about do not take effect until 2019. * * *

1. Equipment / Playing the Wrong Ball / GPS or other Devices

You are allowed a maximum of 14 USGA conforming clubs, and you may not use another player's clubs. Clubs must be conform to all USGA guidelines. Breach is a two stroke penalty per hole, maximum four strokes per round.

Balls must be on the USGA conforming list. You must be able to identify your ball, otherwise it is lost. Place an identifying mark on it before you begin play. You must hole out with the same ball driven from the tee unless the original ball was declared lost or unfit for play.

If you play a wrong ball the penalty is two strokes and you must then replay with your own ball. If another player plays your ball, drop your ball as close as possible to your original lie, no penalty to you.

RVSGT Tour Local Rule - Optical and GPS devices are permitted during tournament play. 

2. Play the Ball as it Lies

You must not improve the lie of the ball, your area of stance, or your intended line of play by pressing down, moving, bending , breaking or scraping anything growing or fixed, unless it is allowed by another rule (see Teeing Area & On the Green). You may lift a ball to identify it only after notifying your playing partners and marking the position of the ball. It must be restored to the original lie without cleaning, unless it is on the putting green.

Tour Rule Exception - You may lift, clean and place the ball in your own fairway within one club length, no nearer the hole.

3. Abnormal Conditions & Ground Under Repair (not in Water Hazard)

If your ball in is a position where interference from casual water, ground under repair, holes, casts or runways made by burrowing animals, reptiles, or birds, you may drop a ball within one club length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole, without penalty.

If the ball is in a bunker, it must be dropped in the bunker, or under penalty of one stroke, you may drop outside the bunker away from the hole on a line keeping the original ball position between you and the hole.

4. Ball at Rest Moves

If your ball is moved by an outside agency (generally, another player or his equipment) the ball must be replaced without penalty before continuing play.

If your ball is moved by your action, or after you have addressed the ball, the ball must be replaced and you incur a one stroke penalty. Exception noted below.

If you fail to replace the ball after either of the above situations, you incur a two stroke penalty.  Exception - If it is known or virtually certain that the player did not cause the ball to move (for example: heavy winds), this rule does not apply.  Play the ball as it lies.

If wind, rain or gravity (which are not outside agencies) cause a ball at rest to move, you play the ball as it lies without penalty. 

5. Grounding of Club in Hazard or Bunker

You may not ground your club in a hazard or bunker prior to making your stroke. Penalty for doing so is two strokes.

6. Ball Unplayable (Outside of Water Hazard)

Unless the ball lies in a water hazard, the player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable. If the ball is declared unplayable, the player has three options, each incurring a one stroke penalty:

a) Play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the orginal ball was last played.

b) Drop a ball behind the unplayable ball position keeping that position in between the dropped ball and the hole with no limit on how far back. If in a bunker, you must drop within the bunker.

c) Drop a ball within two club lengths, no nearer the hole. If in a bunker, you must drop within the bunker.

If you drop a ball under provision (b) or (c), and the ball comes to rest in the same or another unplayable position, you play it as it lies, or you may proceed again under the unplayable rule with applicable penalties.


1. Teeing Area

The ball must be teed within two club lengths behind the front and outside edges of the designated teeing markers (usually Gold on the Tour) If you tee off from outside this area, you incur a two stroke penalty and must replay the shot from within the correct teeing area.

You are permitted to improve your stance or lie on the teeing area by removing frost, water, and impediments, or by pressing down or building up surface irregularities.

Should a ball fall off the tee, or be knocked off accidentally during the address, it may be re-teed without penalty. 

2. Lost or Out-of-Bounds / Provisional Ball

If your ball might be lost or out-of-bounds, you should announce and play a provisional ball from the spot where the original ball was played. This is done to save time and avoid having to go back if the original ball is declared lost or OB. Play the provisional ball until you reach the place where the original ball is likely to be. If the original ball is lost or out-of-bounds, you incur the penalty of one stroke and distance and continue play with the provisional ball (Ex.- Now laying 3 off the tee). If the original ball is playable, you must play that ball and disregard all strokes taken with the provisional ball.

3. Dropping a Ball

To properly drop a ball the player, while standing erect, drops the ball from shoulder height. The ball must be re-dropped if it: rolls nearer the hole, rolls more than two club lengths, or rolls to a position which does not provide relief from the orginal reason for the drop (except when dropping for an Unplayable Lie). If the re-drop fails, the ball must be placed where it first strikes the course on the re-drop.

4. Loose Impediments

Loose impediments (natural objects such as stones, dead leaves and twigs) which are not in a hazard or bunker may be removed as long as the ball is not moved in the process. If it moves, replace it and add one stroke penalty. If a ball on the putting green is accidentally moved while removing loose impediments, it must be replaced, no penalty.

If a ball lies in a hazard or bunker, these impediments may not be touched. (Tour Rule - You may remove stones from a bunker.)

5. Movable and Immovable Obstructions

Movable obstructions may be moved with no penalty (hoses, rakes, cans, bottles, etc.). If the ball moves in the process, it must be replaced.

Should an Immovable Obstruction (such as a building, sprinkler head, cart path, etc.) interfere with your swing or stance, except when your ball is in a water hazard, the ball may be lifted and dropped within one club length of the nearest point of relief from the obstruction, without penalty. Refer to Dropping a Ball.

You do not get free relief from obstructions just because they are in your intended line of play, unless you are on the putting green.

OB markers and fixed objects outside of the OB line are not Obstructions and you are NOT entitled to free relief.

6. Water Hazards & Lateral Water Hazards

If a ball lies in a Water or Lateral Hazard, the ball must be played as it lies without grounding the club before the stroke, unless relief is taken under the following provision:

If a ball lies in, or is lost in a Water or Lateral Hazard, the player may, under penalty of one stroke, either:

a) Play a ball as near as possible to the spot from which the original ball was played.

b) Drop a ball behind the hazard keeping the spot at which the original ball crossed the margin of the hazard between the dropped ball and the hole.

c) Additional options for Lateral Water Hazards: drop a ball within two club lengths, and not nearer the hole, of the point where the original ball crossed the hazard margin, or at a point on the opposite side of the hazard equidistant from the hole.


1. Cleaning the Ball

A ball on the putting green may be marked, lifted, cleaned and replaced on the same spot from which it was lifted, without penalty.

2. Improving Path of Putt

Should another player's ball or marker rest on the intended line of your putt, you may request that it be removed with the spot marked appropriately.

Loose impediments or obstructions may be removed from the intended path of your putt without penalty. Note: Dew and frost are not considered loose impediments. Ball marks may be repaired, but not spike marks.

3. Ball Hitting Flag Stick

A player may at any time have the flag stick attended, removed or held up to indicate the position of the hole. Should a ball hit a flag stick while attended or removed, or should it hit the person holding the flag stick, or if a ball is played from the putting surface and hits an unattended flag stick, the player incurs a two stroke penalty.

4. Ball Resting against Flag Stick

If a ball hit from off the putting green comes to rest against the flag stick in the hole, the player may remove the flag stick. If the ball falls into the hole, the ball shall be considered to have been holed out on the last stroke.

For complete information on rules, visit the USGA Website.