December 8, 2023

Golf NSW Hard Card

Thomas Heaton
Published: January 1, 2021
Last Update: July 21, 2022

The following Local Rules & Terms of Competition hereto known as the Golf NSW Hard Card apply until further notice to all Amateur competitions conducted under the auspices of Golf NSW (and designated competitions conducted by any other Committee that adopts this publication). 

Note – A committee is permitted to modify this Hard Card for any or all of its events.

For the full text of any Local Rule referenced below, please refer to the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf effective 1 January 2019.

Unless otherwise noted, the penalty for a breach of a Local Rule is the general penalty (loss of hole in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play).

Table of Contents

  1. Out of Bounds
  2. Seams of Cut Turf
  3. Penalty Areas
  4. Immovable Obstructions
  5. Integral Objects
  6. Ball Deflected By Power Lines
  7. Temporary Immovable Obstructions
  8. Abnormal Course Conditions
  9. Pace Of Play
  10. Modified Rules for Players With A Disability
  11. Clubs & Balls
  12. Suspension Of Play
  13. Practice
  14. Ball Played From Outside Relief Area
  15. Replacing Broken Or Significantly Damaged Club
  16. Transportation
  17. Returning Of Scorecard
  18. Drugs
  19. Advice In Team Competitions
  20. Results of Match Or Event – Competition Close
  21. GolfNSW Code of Conduct – In Play

1. Out of Bounds (Rule 18.2)     

Beyond the inside line of any wall, fence (or the extension of such wall or fence line) or line of white stakes (including those with black tops) and/or white lines defining the boundary of the course.

A ball which crosses a public pathway/roadway area defined as out of bounds and comes to rest beyond that area is out of bounds, even though it may lie on another part of the course.

Note: Where out of bounds is defined by white stakes or fence posts (excluding angled supports) the line joining the course-side points at the ground level of such stakes or posts defines the boundary. A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies over such a line. (Note: Angled supports of a boundary fence are obstructions.) Where boundary fence posts have concrete bases, out of bounds is defined by the posts (NOT the bases) – additionally, the concrete bases are NOT obstructions.

2. Seams of Cut Turf

If a player’s ball in the general area lies in or touches a seam of cut turf, or a seam interferes with the player’s area of intended swing, the player may take relief under Rule 16.1b.  But interference does not exist if the seam only interferes with the player’s stance.  All seams within the area of cut turf are treated as the same seam in taking relief.

When a penalty area adjoins a boundary, the penalty area edge extends to and coincides with the boundary.

3. Penalty Areas

When a player’s ball is found in or it is known or virtually certain to have come to rest in any penalty area where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area at a point that coincides with the boundary of the course, opposite side relief is available under Model Local Rule B-2.1.

Dropping Zones for Penalty Areas

Where a dropping zone is marked for a penalty area, it is an additional option for relief under penalty of one stroke.  The dropping zone is a relief area.  A ball must be dropped in and come to rest in the relief area.

4. Immovable Obstructions (e.g. Sprinkler Heads) Close to Putting Greens – Line of Play Interference

Rule 16.1b applies to immovable obstructions close to putting greens.  In addition to the types of interference described in Rule 16.1a, interference also exists with an immovable obstruction if all of the following is true:

  • It is on the player’s line of play, AND
  • It is within two club-lengths of the putting green, AND
  • It is within two club-lengths of the ball.

(Exception – There is no relief under this Local Rule if the player chooses a line of play that is clearly unreasonable.)

5. Integral Objects

The following are integral objects from which free relief is not allowed:

  • Bunker liners in their intended position.
  • Wires, cables, wrappings or other objects where they are closely attached to trees or other permanent objects.
  • Artificial retaining walls and pilings when located in penalty areas.
  • All roads and paths which are not artificially surfaced.
  • Wood-chipped areas are integral objects unless the provisions of another local rule apply (individual woodchips are loose impediments).

6. Ball Deflected by Permanent Power Lines

If it is known or virtually certain that a player’s ball hit a power line, the stroke does not count.  The player must play a ball without penalty from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6 for what to do).

7. Temporary Immovable Obstructions

Model Local Rule F-23, with any additions or amendments in the additional Local Rules published by the Committee, is in effect.

8. Abnormal Course Conditions, incl. Immovable Obstructions (Rule 16)

A: Ground Under Repair:

  1. Any area bounded by a continuous or dotted white line, including spectator crossing points where marked. 
  2. Any area of damaged ground (e.g. caused by crowd or vehicle movement) that is considered by a referee to be abnormal. 
  3. Clearly defined wheel ruts in the General Area.
  4. Washaways in bunkers and at the margins of bunkers.
  5. Stone-filled drainage ditches.
  6. Ground affected by tree roots on surfaces cut to fairway height or less, or within two club-lengths of surfaces cut to fairway height or less.
  7. Yardage painted lines or dots on the putting green or in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less are to be treated as ground under repair from which relief is available under Rule 16.1.  Interference does not exist if yardage painted lines or dots only interfere with the player’s stance.
  8. Restriction on Relief from Stance on Animal Hole.  Rule 16.1 is modified in this way: Interference does not exist if the animal hole interferes with only the player’s stance.

B: Immovable Obstructions

  1. The artificial surfaces and artificial edges or borders of roads and paths (includes gravel paths, wood-chipped paths, etc).
  2. If two artificially-surfaced paths are adjoining, they are deemed to be the one path.
  3. White-lined areas and the immovable obstruction they tie into are treated as a single abnormal course condition. 
  4. Landscaped garden areas and everything growing in them that are surrounded by an immovable obstruction are treated as a single abnormal course condition.
  5. Staked trees and staked shrubs are no play zones and are ground under repair (the GUR includes the stake and any wrapping) Relief MUST be taken in accordance with 16.1b.

9. Pace of Play (Rule 5.6)

In the absence of mitigating circumstances, a group is liable to be timed if it is in excess of the time allowed and in the case of second or subsequent groups, out of position. From the commencement of timing, if any player exceeds 50 seconds on a ‘first to play approach shot (including Par 3 tee shot), chip or putt’, or 40 seconds if it is a tee shot or ‘second or third to play shot’, they shall be deemed to have had a bad time.

The time allowed will be determined by the Committee and will be available prior to play. Out of position is defined as being more than the starting interval behind the group in front. 

A player whose group is timed will have a bad time carried forward in the round even if the group subsequently arrives back in position or within time. 


First Bad Time :  Verbal warning from referee and told that if they have a further bad time they will be penalised.

2 Bad Times: A One stroke Penalty shall be incurred (strokeplay and matchplay).

3 Bad Times: Stroke play – An additional two penalty strokes. Matchplay – Loss of hole.

4 Bad Times: Disqualification.

When Timing Commences:
Other than on the putting green, the timing of a player’s stroke will begin when it is their turn to play and they can play without interference or distraction.
Reasonable time spent by the first player to play in determining their yardage will not count as time taken for the next stroke.
On the putting green, the timing of a player’s stroke will begin after a player has been allowed a reasonable amount of time to mark, lift, clean and replace their ball, repair damage to the green, and remove loose impediments on their line.
Time spent looking at the line from beyond the hole and/or behind the ball will count as part of the time taken for the next stroke.

10. Modified Rules for Players with Disabilities

Specified clause/s of the Modified Rules for Players with Disabilities are in effect for a player when approved by the Committee.

11. Clubs and Balls

List of Conforming Driver Heads: Model Local Rule G-1 is in effect.

Penalty for making a stroke with a club in breach of Local Rule: Disqualification.

List of Conforming Golf Balls: Model Local Rule G-3 is in effect. 

Penalty for breach of the Local Rule: Disqualification.

Note: An updated List of Conforming Clubs and Balls is available on

12. Suspension of Play (Rule 5.7)

The following signals will be used to suspend and resume play:

  • Immediate stop for imminent danger – one prolonged note of a siren.
  • Stop for a non-dangerous situation – three consecutive notes of a siren.
  • Resumption of play – two consecutive notes of a siren.

Note: When play is stopped for imminent danger, all practice areas will be immediately closed.

13. Practice (Rule 5.2)

In stroke play, Rule 5.2b is modified in this way: A player must not practice on the competition course before or between rounds. 

Exception: All recognised practice areas within the bounds of the course may be used by players for practice on any day of the competition. 

14. Ball Played From Outside Relief Area (Back-On-the-Line Relief)

Model Local Rule E-12 – Ball Played From Outside Relief Area When Taking Back-On-the-Line Relief, is in effect.

15. Replacing Club that is Broken or Significantly Damaged

Model Local Rule G-9 – Replacing Club that is Broken or Significantly Damaged, is in effect.

16. Transportation

During a round, a player or caddie must not ride on any form of motorised transportation except as authorised or later approved by the Committee.  

The player gets the general penalty for each hole during which there is a breach.  A breach between two holes applies to the next hole.

A player who will play, or has played, under penalty of stroke and distance is always authorised to ride on motorised transportation.

17. Returning of Score Card

A player’s scorecard is officially returned to the Committee when the player has left the recording office/area with both feet.

18. Drugs

Golf NSW has adopted Sports Integrity Australia’s Australian National Anti-Doping Policy for sport, effective 1 January 2021: Anti-Doping Policy for sport. Anti-doping rules apply to all participants of our sport from the

elite down to grassroots. All members must be aware of, and have a basic understanding of their obligations in regards to anti-doping. The Sport Integrity Australia website has a range of information and resources to assist, including:

19. Advice in Team Competitions (Rule 24)

Each team may have one advice giver whom players in the team may ask for advice and receive advice from during the round.  The team must identify the advice giver to the Committee before any team member receives advice from that person.

20. Results of Match or Event – Competition Closed

Match Play: The result of a match is officially announced when it has been recorded in the Event Office.

Stroke Play: When the trophy is presented to the winner, the results of the competition are officially announced, and the competition is closed.

21. Golf NSW Code of Conduct – In Play

The Golf NSW Code of Conduct – In Play is in effect under the specific authority of Rule 1.2b, the following penalty structure will apply:

FIRST BREACHWarning or Committee sanction
SECOND BREACHOne Stroke Penalty
THIRD BREACHGeneral Penalty

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