Golf may be a game deeply rooted to the past, but many of its rules have either changed or been eliminated altogether over the centuries. With help from golf rules archive ruleshistory.com and the USGA’s collection, here are eleven decrees golfers had to play by, lest they suffer a penalty.
1. The “Tee The Ball Next to the Hole” Rule
Rule:“You must tee your ball within a club’s length of the hole”
This is the first entry from the earliest known rules of the game, written by the Gentlemen Golfers of Leith in 1744. Back in the olden days of links play, there were no tee boxes. After holing, players would lay their club down and set off for the next hole right there. As the rules were developed, players would tee off farther and farther away until courses began the practice of installing tee boxes to mark the beginning of each hole.
2. The “Toss the Ball Over Your Shoulder Like Salt” Rule
Rule: “A ball shall be dropped in the following manner: The player himself shall drop it. He shall face the hole, stand erect, and drop the ball behind him over his shoulder.”
Starting in 1908,this was what golfers had to do after incidents that required a dropped ball, like hitting out of bounds or into the water. In 1984, the USGA changed the rule, and golfers now have to stand erect and hold the ball out at arm’s length before dropping it.
3. The “That’s My Ball Now, Buddy” Rule
Rule: “When a Ball lies in sand, mud, or amongst rubbish, no obstruction shall be removed; but in cases where the Ball is so placed, that the Player finds he cannot play it, it shall be in the power of his adversary to play it.”
This, from the Burntisland rules of 1828, allows players to hijack an opponent’s ball should it land in a hazard.