The R&A COVID-19 – Updated Guidance on the Rules of Golf

The R&A COVID-19 – Updated Guidance on the Rules of Golf

The R&A have released updated guidance on the temporary Rules of Golf relating to COVID-19.

In April we were advised by Golf Australia of the following…



Committees MAY CHOOSE to adopt the following policies:

  1. Have course staff position the hole liner at a very shallow level so that a ball can easily be extracted without touching the sides. A ball at rest in the hole will be considered to be holed even if it is not entirely below the level of the hole. [Extra GA guidance added in April 2020: Rather than positioning the hole liner at a shallow level, many clubs are achieving the same outcome of a shallow hole by positioning small pool noodles at the bottom of the flagstick. Whether a pool noodle is used, or the hole liner is set at a very shallow level, it has become common for a player’s ball to bounce out of the hole when it would normally have come to rest in the bottom of the cup. To cater for this, clubs may introduce a local rule treating a ball as holed if it hits the pool noodle or the hole liner, regardless of whether it comes to rest in the hole.

The R&A have now clarified this option as follows…


Hole and Definition of Holed

A method of inserting the hole liner may be used that means that all of the ball does not fall below the surface of the putting green and can be easily retrieved by handling the ball only.

But if any of the following provisions are used, play in such circumstances is not in accordance with the Rules of Golf:

  • Treating a ball as holed or holed with the next stroke if it is within a certain distance of the hole.
  • Having the hole liner sitting above the surface of the green and treating a ball as holed if it strikes the liner.
  • Treating a ball as holed when it has bounced out of the hole for any reason (for example, when it has bounced off the flagstick, a tray attached to the flagstick or the hole liner).

We have in turn modified our temporary local rules in line with this clarification.


  • Flagsticks must be left in the hole at all times.
    • If a player removes a flagstick, a 1 shot penalty will apply to that player for each individual offense.
    • Cups have been turned upside down.
    • If ball hits the inside of the cup and bounces out, the ball is still in play and IS NOT CONSIDERED HOLED. Play until your ball is at rest in the hole.