The USGA developed a summary of the 2019 & 2020 Rules Changes.  Click the buttons below for information. Also, please check the 2024 Rules Committee News below for any 2024 updates.

Download the USGA Rules of Golf to your phone or computer from most App Stores.

BVWGC Play Day Rules

1. Preferred or improved lie is allowed through the green (the whole area of the course except teeing ground, putting greens and penalty areas). The ball may be lifted and placed within 12 inches, no nearer the hole. NOTE: There is no distinction between rough and fairway. They are both considered ‘The General Area’ of the course as defined in the areas of the course. NOTE: USGA Rules of Golf p 23 2.2a.

2. Scramble events: The first player will play the ball as it lies in a penalty area/bunker (if that is the ball selected). Each subsequent player will PLACE her ball in the penalty area/bunker and play her ball as it lies. If selected shot is played from a bunker, rough, fairway, each team member must do the same.

3. Tee Markers: The first group on each tee may reset the tee markers if they are set so far back that the player does not have the two club lengths back as stipulated by the USGA or if there might be a sprinkler head that interferes with player’s stance. Please remember this applies only to your first tee box.

4. BVWGC will abide by any Local Rules provided by Golf Operations. Please review specific rules for each course.

5. BVWGC will adopt the local rule for lost ball / out of bounds option for taking relief. For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3). Click for an explanation and diagrams


The Bella Vista Women's Golf Club, in the Spirit of the Game, has adopted the Etiquette slogan ...

"Be Courteous, Be Ready, Be Kind to the Course"

Etiquette is a combination of respect and consideration.  

Applying those two attributes to any golf situation will invariably result in the correct action. 

The following are reminders of that slogan:  


Pace of Play - we strive for a 4-hour round 

Be a Steward of the Course


On the Green

Further information regarding golf etiquette is available on the USGA website.

POA Local Rules

Updated March, 2019

1. All native grass areas are to be treated as a Penalty Area.

2. All permanent Red and Yellow Penalty Area stakes are considered Immovable Obstructions. Free relief of swing, stance and line of sight, no closer to the hole, without improving the condition of play. For example, if your ball is in the Penalty Area, relief must be taken within the Penalty Area.

3. All mulched and pine needle areas, and flower pots are considered No Play Zones.  Mandatory drop, no penalty, no nearer the hole.

4. Unmarked rock drainage is considered Ground Under Repair.

5. All birdhouses and greenside fans are considered Temporary Immovable Obstructions.  Free relief of swing, stance and line of sight.

6. Washed out areas in bunkers may be played as Ground Under Repair.  Free relief by dropping ball back in bunker no closer to the hole.

Special Course Conditions

Updated:  March 30, 2019

Country Club #13 - Sod farm, right of the cart path, is A No Play Zone. You must take a free drop, one club length at nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole. (see Player’s Edition of the Rule of Golf 16 and Bella Vista Local Rule #3).

Dogwood Hills

#13 - Cement bridge and cement spillway are part of penalty area; (see Player’s Edition of the Rule of Golf 17.1d).


#2 - The new protective barriers at the edge of penalty areas are immovable obstructions, USGA Rule 16.

#8 - If the ditch 80 yards or so in front of the red tee has water in it, play as casual water and drop behind the ditch, no penalty.

#12 - If the ball comes to rest on the cart path, it may be played from the drop area, no penalty.


#8 - When water is present in the indented area on the right side of the fairway, play as casual water. 

BVWGC Drop Areas have been designated at the following courses with a one stroke penalty: 

Country Club - Hole #5.

Scottsdale - Hole #18 (drop area by the tree right of the green)

Course Drop Zones: All course marked dropped zones are used by BVWGC.

New yardage markers on all courses MAY be played as temporary immovable obstructions.

As an additional alternative, if ball lies in a penalty area, you may (not must) elect to hit from the drop area, adding a one stroke penalty.

Rock Rule (BVWGC Local Rule)

If you find yourself in a rocky area on any of our golf courses, you may take relief as you would in Ground Under Repair: Move your ball to the nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole. To proceed properly, you should mark the spot where your ball lies in the rocks, find your nearest point of relief, place the ball, check that your fellow competitor agrees that you are taking proper relief, remove the mark and play on. The Rock Rule will not apply if your ball is in a penalty area.

USGA Rules You Should Know

Taking Relief

Quickie video links:  How to measure a Relief Area   Taking Lateral Relief

1. A ball is lost if not found in three minutes. (See Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf 18.2a)

2. Dropping procedure. Place your ball. (See BVWGC Local Play Day Rule 1.)

3. Lost Ball/Out of Bounds. You now have 3 options playing with BVWGC.

   a. Stroke and Distance, hit again from original location (because you KNOW the Ball is lost or OB). 1 Penalty stroke.

   b. Provisional (original Ball MAY be lost or OB). 1 Penalty stroke.

   c. New Local Rule, Place the ball in the fairway relief area. 2 Penalty strokes. (See BVWGC Local Rule 5.)

Areas of the Course

1. Penalty Areas. Red and Yellow marked areas are called ‘Penalty Areas’. (See Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf 17.)

   a. Loose impediments. You can remove loose twigs, leaves, stones and other natural objects without penalty. But if the ball being played moves and is anywhere except on the green, put it back with 1 penalty stroke. You cannot move or touch your ball intentionally in a penalty area. (See Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf 15).

   b. Actions allowed on the course, you may ground your club LIGHTLY in front of or behind behind the ball (not in the bunker), you may take a practice swing, being careful to not improve your lie or swing path. (See Player’s Edition of Rules of Golf Rule 8... 8.1a Actions That Are Not Allowed, 8.1b Actions That Are Allowed... review these pages).

2. Putting Green

   a. Flagstick, putting with an unattended flagstick left in the hole. No penalty if a ball played from the putting green (or anywhere else) hits the unattended flagstick in the hole.  See Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf 11 & 13)

   b. Repairing Damage. You are allowed to repair damage such as pitch-marks, footprints, spike marks, old hole plugs etc. without penalty on the green. However, aeration holes and natural imperfections cannot be repaired. See Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf 13).

3. Bunkers

a. Unplayable Ball. If a player declares a ball in the bunker unplayable, the player has four options to drop a ball. For a 2 stroke penalty, the player may choose the option to go back on the extension of the line from the hole to the ball outside the bunker as far back as you like. All other options have a 1 stroke penalty. (See Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf 19).

4. No Play Zone. (Bella Vista Local Rules #3). All mulched and pine needle areas, and flower plots (landscaped areas) are considered No Play Zones. Mandatory drop, no penalty, no nearer the hole.

Ball in Motion

1. Double Hit. Player accidentally hits the ball more than once during a stroke. No penalty. (See Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf 10.1a)


1. Interference occurs when a ball lies in or on an obstruction or so close that it interferes with the player’s stance or swing. Cart paths, sprinkler head, bird houses, metal sprinkler box, fans or other artificial objects are immovable obstructions. You may either play your ball as it lies or take free relief. To take relief, you must find the nearest point of complete relief from the artificial object and drop your original ball or another ball away from the object and within one club-length of that point not nearer the hole (see Player’s Edition of the Rule of Golf 16.1).

World Handicap System.....Things to Know

Course Handicap

Rule Change for 2020: A Course Handicap represents the number of strokes a player receives in relation to the Par of the tees being played.

The formula includes a Course Rating minus Par adjustment:

 Course Handicap = Handicap Index × (Slope Rating ÷ 113) + (Course Rating – Par) 

Reasons for Change: 

Under the USGA Handicap System, when players competed from different tees, a Course Handicap adjustment based on the Course Rating difference had to take place to make the game fair.

Applying Course Rating minus Par within the Course Handicap calculation allows players to compete from different tees without any adjustment – unless a difference in Par exists. 

A score of Net Par is used for holes not played, and the maximum hole score for handicap purposes is a Net Double Bogey. Having a Course Handicap that is relative to Par ensures that the correct number of strokes are received and applied for both procedures.

Net Double Bogey

Click here for an explanation of  your maximum score for Handicapping purposes as a Net Double Bogey.  An example is also provided.

Click here for a Handy Cheat Sheet for calculating adjusted scores.

Rules Committee Goals

● Maintain the “Spirit of the Game” with a kind and gentle tone of communication.

● Take every opportunity to help our members understand the Rules, how to use the “Rules” books and other educational tools.

● Emphasize etiquette, pace of play and care of the golf course.

● Always be willing to say “I don’t know, but I will find out for you.” No answer is better than misinformation.

● The Rules of Golf are a tool to assist the player, not to punish. With the changes of 2019, this is an even greater emphasis.

● Understanding terms and definitions - see pages 136-148 in the Players Edition of Rules of Golf book. Continue to learn and become more knowledgeable of the rules of golf and changes starting in 2019.

2024 Rules Committee News


New BVWGC Play Day Rule:

2023 Rules Committee News



4/18/2023: If you hit your shot off the tee (or hit from within the fairway) and think you may not be able to find the ball, you’re allowed to hit a provisional ball that you can play in the event your first ball is lost. Once you decide to hit a provisional, you have to announce to your group that you’re hitting the provisional. This ball is to only be used in the event you cant find your lost ball. If you use your provisional, know that you’ve technically taken your 3rd stroke, and your next stroke will be considered your 4th.

Look for your lost ball:

According to the official ruling, once you reach the area you lost your golf ball in, you have 3 minutes from when you start searching to find the ball. If you do not find your ball in the allotted 3 minutes, the ball must be declared lost. Just to be clear- if you hit one in the water, you don’t need to spend 3 minutes looking for it. 3 minutes is just the maximum time you can spend.

Keep in mind if you or your teammates have seen that your ball crossed into a hazard, it is not considered a lost ball. In this scenario, you place your ball laterally from the area you ball crossed the hazard and take the appropriate penalty strokes.

2/10/2023:  Rules, rules, rules. Why play by the rules? Simple answer: The main rule of golf is to play fair. Fairness is a key to golf. Golf is a game of etiquette and conscience. The game will be more rewarding if you always play by the rules and play fair. 

The BVWGC plays by USGA Rules of Golf with two exceptions/additions: special Bella Vista course rules and special BVWGC rules. In the BVWGC course handbook and on BVWGC website, all the special BVWGC rules are listed along with several of the special BV course rules.  In our handbook, you will find references to the USGA Player's Edition of the Rules of Golf (you may pick up a copy at the BV golf office). You may also purchase a Quick Reference Guide  or a IZZO Golf- Know Your Rules Bag Tags. There are USGA rules apps that also may be downloaded to your smart phone. The rules played by the BVWGC group may be different than how other leagues in Bella Vista play which can create confusion for those that play in multiple leagues.

If a member raises a question about rules to me during the course of the playing season, I will do my best to research the answer. I will provide the question and answer to our members via the rules corner on the BVWGC website. In preparation for 2023 season, is there a rule you like to see clarified? If so, please send them to me, Laurie Schoenbaum at in advance of the spring luncheon. 

One question that is brought up over and over is in regards to Dogwood #13. The man made cement waterway is considered a penalty area. It is marked with yellow stakes. You may either play the ball from the penalty area or take the appropriate relief from where the ball crossed into the penalty area for a one stroke penalty (USGA Rules of Golf 17.1d). You will find this rule highlighted in our handbook and on our website.

2022 Rules Committee News

There have been several questions over the last few weeks regarding how to play the water hazard on #5 of the Country Club (over the creek hole). The water hazard is not marked but it is a water hazard. I have spoken with Daryl and it will be marked for the BVWGC club championship but may not be marked before then because of the frequency of flooding on that hole. According to Daryl, the hazard begins at the tall grass cut line. Therefore, if your ball rolls into the tall cut line or up to or into the rocks, you are in the hazard. BVWGC does have a drop zone on this hole. If you roll into the cut line you may choose to hit from the hazard or take relief across the creek on the drop zone. If you take relief in the drop zone, it is a one stroke penalty. 

Please feel free to share this information with other groups that you may play with if there are questions on where the hazard actually begins. 

EBLAST - Rules 6_ 4.pdf

2020 Rules Committee News

As a result of the board meeting on 8/28/2020, a couple of rules will go into effect immediately, as follows:

1)  Scotsdale Hole #12

The WGC player will now have a choice on hole #12 at Scotsdale. The player can attempt to hit a drive as normal or they can forego the drive attempt and proceed to the drop zone; take the stroke for the drive and penalty (just as if they hit the drive into the penalty area), hitting 3rd shot from the drop zone.

2)  Starting the Hole (Teeing Area) 

This rule is being clarified for the GOLD tee boxes since they do not have specific markers.

USGA Rule 6.2(b)

The teeing area is where you start each hole and is one of the five defined areas of the course. It has a defined size and shape that is a two club-length deep rectangle measured from the tee markers you are playing your round from. You can stand outside the teeing area as long as your ball is within the teeing area. If the gold marker is near the red tee box, you may use the red teeing area.

Golfers know they cannot tee up their ball on a hole ahead of the tee markers from the tees they are playing. That’s against the rules and comes with a severe penalty of two strokes and then needing to play a ball from what’s officially dubbed the teeing ground.