Golf Basic Rules for Kids: A Simple Guide to Fun and Fair Play

Colin McCarthy

Golf For Kids

Teaching kids the basics of golf isn’t just about swinging clubs and hitting balls; it’s also about instilling good manners and sportsmanship.

Golf is a game that requires respect for the course, fellow players, and the rules that govern play. Introducing these concepts early can shape your child’s attitude toward the game and life in general.

By understanding the fundamental rules and etiquette of golf, kids can enjoy the sport more fully and develop a deeper appreciation for its traditions.

Simple actions like keeping quiet during a shot, repairing divots, and raking bunkers can make a big difference in how they experience the game.

Plus, learning these habits early on can lead to a more enjoyable and respectful atmosphere on the course for everyone involved.

Understanding the Basics of Golf

Golf is a precision club-and-ball sport where players use various clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible.

Here’s a basic overview to help you understand the fundamentals of golf:

Golf Course Layout and Structure

Golf courses consist of 18 holes, each with a unique layout. Each hole includes a tee box, fairway, rough, and green.

The tee box is where you start each hole, hitting the ball towards the fairway, which is a well-maintained grassy area leading to the green.

The rough surrounds the fairway and is usually more challenging due to longer grass. The final target is the green, where you putt the ball into the hole.

Bunkers, or sand traps, and water hazards add extra challenges. Understanding the course layout helps you plan your shots and navigate each hole more effectively.

Essential Equipment for Young Golfers

Young golfers need basic equipment to start. Key items include:

  • Golf Clubs: Kids usually start with a putter, a pitching wedge, and a 7-iron. These clubs cover the primary types of shots they’ll encounter on the course.
  • Golf Balls: Choose balls specifically designed for junior players, which often have softer compression to match their slower swing speeds.
  • Golf Bag: A lightweight bag makes it easier for kids to carry or pull their clubs on the course.
  • Tees: Used to elevate the ball for the initial shot on each hole.
  • Golf Shoes: These provide better traction and stability during swings.

Core Rules of Golf for Kids

Introducing kids to golf involves teaching them the core rules and the etiquette of the game in a simplified and engaging way.

Here are the core rules of golf tailored for kids:

Starting the Game: Teeing Off

Teeing off happens at the beginning of each hole. You place the ball on a tee within the designated tee box. The player with the lowest score on the previous hole hits first, followed by the others in order of their scores.

In friendly games, players may use “ready golf,” where whoever is prepared hits first. While others are teeing off, stand out of their line of sight and avoid distracting them.

Safety is paramount; ensure all players are at a safe distance before swinging. After teeing off, players follow the same order for subsequent shots, aiming to reach the hole with as few strokes as possible.

Playing the Hole: Fairway to Putting Green

Once the ball is in play after teeing off, the goal is to reach the putting green with as few strokes as possible. The player farthest from the hole hits next, regardless of their score.

You can move loose impediments like leaves or sticks, but be careful not to move the ball. When on the green, mark your ball with a coin or marker behind it when you need to pick it up.

Always wait for your turn to putt and avoid stepping on the line of someone else’s putt. Safety is also crucial, so ensure you wait until the group ahead is out of range before taking your shot. Finally, be honest with your score, as integrity is a core value of golf.

Etiquette on the Course

Maintaining proper etiquette on the course shows respect for the game and other players. Always shake hands with your fellow players after the round.

Stand quietly and out of the way when others are hitting or putting. Avoid running on the putting green and always repair any divots or ball marks you make.

Remember to keep the game enjoyable for everyone by following these etiquette rules. Additionally, always let faster groups play through to maintain the pace of play.

Keep conversations low and refrain from using mobile phones on the course. Respecting these guidelines ensures a positive experience for all participants.

Special Rules for Different Golf Situations

In golf, various situations on the course require special rules to handle them correctly.

Here’s a guide to some of these situations and the rules that apply:

Penalty Areas and Obstructions

Penalty areas include water hazards, lakes, ponds, and other designated zones where playing the ball might be difficult. Hitting into a penalty area usually results in a one-stroke penalty.

You have several options for taking relief. Drop a ball behind the penalty area, keeping the point where the ball entered between you and the hole. Alternatively, return to the spot of your previous shot to replay the ball.

Obstructions can be natural, like trees and rocks, or artificial, such as cart paths. If your ball lands in an abnormal course condition, you may move it without penalty. Familiarize yourself with the rules regarding obstructions to avoid unnecessary penalties.

Out of Bounds and Lost Balls

Out-of-bounds areas are typically marked by white stakes or lines, indicating that the ball is outside the playing boundaries.

If your ball is out of bounds, add a one-stroke penalty and return to the spot of the previous shot to play a new ball. Always check the course layout to identify out-of-bounds areas.

A lost ball results in a one-stroke penalty. The official definition of a lost ball includes not finding it within three minutes or declaring it lost. In both cases, play your next shot from the spot of your previous shot and add one penalty stroke.

Consider hitting a provisional ball if you suspect a ball might be lost. Inform playing partners that it’s a provisional ball to avoid confusion and penalties.

Unplayable Lies

An unplayable lie refers to a situation where playing the ball as it lies is not possible or practical. Declare the ball unplayable and decide the best option for relief.

You can drop a ball within two club lengths of the original position, do so without moving closer to the hole, or drop a ball on the line extending from the hole through the position of the ball.

The latter involves moving back as far as necessary. Add one penalty stroke for declaring the ball unplayable. This rule helps kids handle challenging situations and continue play without frustration.

Golf Etiquette for Young Players

Golf etiquette is essential for maintaining the spirit of the game and ensuring a pleasant experience for all players.

Here are some key etiquette rules specifically for young players:

Safety and Respect

Respect the safety of others and the course is essential in golf. Always remain aware of your surroundings to avoid accidents.

Stand clear when others are swinging, and do not stand too close to the golfer taking a shot. Yell “fore” if your ball is headed towards someone.

Prioritize respect for fellow players by staying quiet while others take their shots and congratulating them on good plays.

This promotes a positive and encouraging atmosphere on the course. Additionally, make sure to adhere to the dress code, maintaining proper golf attire to show respect for the venue.

Pace of Play and Order of Play

Maintaining a steady pace of play keeps the game enjoyable for everyone. Avoid taking too much time preparing for each shot. Play ready golf when it’s practical hit when ready if it’s safe to do so.

Follow the proper order of play by allowing the player farthest from the hole to hit first. If the match is tied, the honor goes to the player with the lowest score on the previous hole.

Be mindful of the course etiquette, such as repairing divots and raking bunkers after use. Always show respect to other players by staying quiet during their shots. Enjoy the game and learn while having fun.

Taking Care of the Golf Course

Caring for the golf course maintains its quality and playability. Repair divots on the fairways and ball marks on the greens immediately after making them.

Rake the bunkers to leave them smooth after playing a shot. Dispose of trash properly and do not damage trees, plants, or other course features. Show respect by leaving the course in the same condition or better than you found it.

Encourage young golfers to develop these habits early to foster a sense of responsibility and pride in the game.

By understanding and practicing course etiquette, kids will contribute positively to their golfing community while honing their skills in an enjoyable environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you teach kids the rules of golf?

Focus on fundamentals first, such as how to hold the club and the basic swing technique. Use simple language and visuals to explain the rules. Mix in fun challenges to keep their interest and always emphasize that golf is meant to be enjoyable.

How to play golf for beginners rules?

Begin with the 14-club rule and ensure you play behind the tee markers. Play the ball where it lies and remember, hitting out of bounds incurs a 2-point penalty. Learn about hazards, lost ball rules, unplayable lies, and the importance of the order of play.

Can you move sand off the green?

Yes, you can move sand off the putting green because it’s an allowed improvement. However, you can’t touch sand that’s on the fringe.

How to score golf for kids?

Scoring in golf is simple: if a hole is a par 4 and it takes five strokes to complete it, that’s one over par and called a bogey. Mark this appropriately on the scorecard.

How to teach kids to putt?

Guide them on proper stance and alignment. Ensure their toes are pointing correctly and help them aim the clubface toward the hole. Practice with patience and make it fun to keep them engaged.


Teaching kids the basics of golf goes beyond just understanding the rules; it’s about fostering respect, safety, and sportsmanship.

By instilling these values early on, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of enjoyable and responsible golfing. Remember to encourage steady practice and patience as they learn.

With your guidance, they’ll not only become proficient golfers but also respectful and considerate players who appreciate the game and its traditions.

Additionally, make sure to introduce them to proper etiquette, such as maintaining a good pace of play and caring for the course. These foundational elements will help kids develop a love for the sport.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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