Golf NSW Hard Card

Published: January 1, 2021
Last Update: March 1, 2024

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. Dropping Zones and Relief Areas
  3. Seams of Cut Turf
  4. Penalty Areas
  5. Immovable Obstructions
  6. Integral Objects
  7. Temporary Power Lines or Cables
  8. Ball Deflected By Permanent Power Lines
  9. Temporary Immovable Obstructions
  10. Abnormal Course Conditions
  11. Practice
  12. Pace Of Play
  13. Advice in Team Competitions
  14. Player May Remove Animal Not Defined as Loose Impediment from Near Ball
  15. Clubs & Balls
  16. Suspension Of Play
  17. Squeegee Policy
  18. Transportation
  19. Eligibility
  20. Deciding Ties
  21. Returning Of Scorecard
  22. Drugs
  23. Code of Conduct
  24. Results of Match Or Championship – Competition Closed

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. Dropping Zones and Relief Areas

Dropping zones are relief areas. When a player is using a dropping zone to take relief, they must drop a ball in the dropping zone, and it must come to rest in the dropping zone.

3. 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. When taking relief, all seams within the area of cut turf are treated as the same seam.

4. Penalty Areas (Rule 17)

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

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.

Where a dropping zone is marked for a penalty area, it is an additional option for relief under penalty of one stroke.

5. 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, at the player’s discretion, interference under 16.1a is considered to also occur with an immovable obstruction when all of the following are 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.)

6. 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 when they are closely attached to trees or other permanent objects.
  • Artificial retaining walls and pilings when located in penalty areas.
  • All roads and paths that are not artificially surfaced.
  • Wood-chipped areas are integral objects unless the provisions of another local rule apply (individual woodchips are loose impediments).

7. Temporary Power Lines or Cables

Model Local Rule F-22 is in effect.

8. 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). (Note: This Local Rule does not apply when a ball only strikes a power line located out of bounds, or only strikes the supporting pole/pylon.)

9. 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.

10. Abnormal Course Conditions (Rule 16)

A: Ground Under Repair

  • Any area bounded by a continuous or dotted white line, including spectator crossing points where marked.
  • Any area of damaged ground (e.g. caused by crowd or vehicle movement) that is considered by a referee to be abnormal.
  • Clearly defined wheel ruts.
  • Washaways in bunkers and at the margins of bunkers.
  • Grass-covered cable trenches.
  • Stone-filled drainage ditches.
  • 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.
  • Painted yardage 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 painted yardage lines or dots only interfere with the player’s stance.
  • 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 only with the player’s stance.
  • For holes left by movable obstructions in parts of the general area cut to fairway height or less, free relief is available for lie of ball or area of intended swing, but there is no relief for interference to the stance.

B: Immovable Obstructions

  • The artificial surfaces and artificial edges or borders of roads and paths (includes gravel paths, wood-chipped paths, etc).
  • When two artificially-surfaced paths are adjoining, they are treated as the one path.
  • When white-lined areas tie into an immovable obstruction, the two conditions are treated as a single abnormal course condition.
  • Landscaped garden areas and everything growing in them that are surrounded by an immovable obstruction are treated as a single abnormal course condition.
  • Mats that are secured and all ramps covering cables.
  • Staked trees and staked shrubs are ground under repair (the GUR includes the stake and any wrapping).

11. Practice (Rule 5.2)

In stroke play, Rule 5.2b is modified in this way: On any scheduled day of the competition, a player must not practise before or between rounds on a course currently in use for the competition, or that will be used in future in the competition.

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

12. 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 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.


  • It is not necessary for players to be advised they are being timed.
  • Timings will be taken from the moment it is deemed by the Official that it is the player’s turn to play.
  • Where a group has been monitored by an official for any period of time, and unofficial timing of individual shots during this period suggests that an individual player, or two of the players in a group, should be timed instead of the entire group, the official will be authorised at their discretion to officially time only a select member, or select members, of the group

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.

13. Advice in Team Competitions (Rule 24)

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

14. Player May Remove Animal Not Defined as Loose Impediment from Near Ball

Model Local Rule E-13 is in effect.

 15. Clubs and Balls

  1. 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.
    1. 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

16. 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.

17. Squeegee Policy (when brought into effect by the Committee)

If a player’s ball lies on the putting green and there is interference by temporary water on the putting green, the player may take relief under Rule 16.1d or have their line of play squeegeed.

The Committee may squeegee greens until players are nearby and if conditions deteriorate, to keep play going, they may authorise a combination of all the above measures.

Any squeegeeing should be done across the line of play, must extend a reasonable distance beyond the hole (i.e. at least one club-length) and may only be carried out by Committee-authorised personnel.

18. Transportation

During a round, a player or a caddie must not ride on any form of motorised transportation except when doing so in accordance with the Golf NSW policy listed in the Terms of Competition for the event, or when later approved by the Committee. A player who will play, or has played, under penalty of stroke and distance is always authorized to ride on motorized transportation. 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.

19. Eligibility

Players must meet the eligibility provisions established in the relevant Terms of Competition for the specific Championship or Match.

20. Deciding Ties

The method for deciding ties is provided within the relevant entry conditions or is published at the golf course by the Committee.

21. Returning of Scorecard

a. In a situation where a player has returned an incorrect scorecard, a specific mistake will be treated as a ‘committee error’ (which means the player will be exempt from any penalty for this mistake under Rule 3.3b and this mistake must be corrected on the scorecard, regardless of whether the error is discovered before or after the competition has closed) when ALL of the following are true:

  • Where the committee in charge of the competition had appointed a ‘scorecard return official/s’.
  • Where the ‘scorecard return official’ would reasonably be expected to have identified the mistake.
  • Where the player left the scoring area only after having received some sort of advice from the ‘scorecard return official’ to the effect that the scorecard was returned in full compliance with Rule 3.3b.

b. In a situation where Hard Card Local Rule 20.a does not apply, Rule 3.3b(2) is modified in this way: if a player returns a scorecard without the hole scores being certified either by the player, the marker or both, the player gets two penalty strokes. The penalty applies to the last hole of the player’s round.

22. Drugs

All competitors agree to be bound and abide by the Australian National Anti-Doping Policy, which is the anti-doping policy adopted by Golf NSW. Under the policy, all competitors are subject to testing for prohibited substances, as undertaken by Sport Integrity Australia or a third-party service provider. Any violation of the policy may result in an Anti-Doping Rule Violation. The policy and the WADA           Prohibited    list                   are                 available      via Clarification on medication and prohibited substances can also be obtained through the Sport Integrity Australia hotline 13 000 27232.

23. Code of Conduct

Where a Committee adopts a special Code of Conduct for an event 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

24. Results of Match or Championship – Competition Closed

Match Play

The result of a match is officially announced when it has been recorded in the Championship Office.

Stroke Play

The results of the competition are officially announced, and the competition is closed, when the Championship trophy is presented to the winner (unless the committee establishes otherwise).

In stroke play qualifying followed by match play, Rule 20.2e(2) stipulates that the stroke-play portion of the competition is closed when the player has teed off to start their first match.

Our Partners