Rules

The rules of golf are internationally standardised and are jointly governed by The R&A, spun off in 2004 from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (founded 1754), and the United States Golf Association (USGA).
The underlying principle of the rules is fairness. As stated on the back cover of the official rule book: Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.

In addition to the officially printed rules, golfers also abide by a set of guidelines called golf etiquette. Etiquette guidelines cover matters such as safety, fairness, pace of play, and a player's obligation to contribute to the care of the course. Though there are no penalties for breach of etiquette rules, players generally follow the rules of golf etiquette in an effort to improve everyone's playing experience.

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R&A Rules Limited
SCOTLAND, 1744. A group of men who understood the virtues of an exciting game called golf, and the conduct necessary to play it, established a set of rules. Little did they realise that the Rules of Golf would become a sacred and universal framework for playing the game fairly. For more than 250 years, the R&A has helped encourage and safeguard the rules of the game. Amended over time, the rules are in effect for every round - friendly or competitive. Sometimes challenged, but always adhered to. Respect the traditions of the game. Even if it means looking them up.

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USGA
FAR HILLS, NEW JERSEY, USA 1894.
Two players find themselves sharing the title «national amateur champion». There can only be one. Yet it's not the players who settle the dispute, but representatives from five clubs. An inauspicius start, but this gathering to determine the real title holder creates golf's Rules and governing body in America: the USGA. With responsibility that lies beyond writing and protecting the Rules of Golf, the USGA also conducts 13 national championships for individuals, tests and evaluates equipment for conformance to the Rules and is home to both the USGA Museum and Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History. Their history, dating back more than a century, leaves nothing to question.