Rules of Golf: Rule 10 – Order of Play

Just about everything in golf has a rule governing what is appropriate behaviour, legal equipment, and what order do players proceed during a golf hole. It would surprise many of you that Rule 10 – Order of Play, was not designed to help the pace of play, but to ensure no player gains an advantage over the other by playing out of turn.

Yesterday I was contacted by a friend of my late mother. Irene was talking to my sister Roxana and my sister mention my golf blog. Irene is an avid golfer and asked a question relating to order of play. It was a brilliant question because many players actually apply Rule 10 incorrectly. Her is Irene’s question:

“In regard to golfing I have a question for you. If I am three feet off the green and fifteen feet from the pin and my friend is forty feet away on the green do I have to chip on before she putts?”

The short answer to Irene’s question is NO. According to Rule 10-2c, the person on the green is farthest from the hole, therefore they are away. It makes no difference as to where the balls are located (whether on or off the green), the rule is very clear.

However, during stroke play Rule 10-2c does allow for players to play out of turn as long as they are not doing it to gain an advantage. If this is the case, both players are disqualified.

Understanding the spirit of Rule 10, during friendly matches (and tournaments) it is not uncommon for the person farthest from the pin who is on the green to offer to a closer player who is off the green to play up. However, the closer player is under no obligation to play first. Generally, the offer is made with the intent to speed up play. I play by this guideline during friendly matches, but I am more restrictive during tournaments.

Bottom line, under Rule 10-2b, the person farthest from the pin is obligated to play first. There are no qualifying ‘what ifs’ that changes this rule.

Thank you Irene for the great question. I hope this helps.

Has anyone experienced the same situation as Irene?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

10 thoughts on “Rules of Golf: Rule 10 – Order of Play

  1. Hi Jim,
    I experienced a situation on a tee box recently where a player, who I thought should not be first on the tee, just stepped up and teed off. The player who should have gone first mentioned this point, but the answer was, you were not ready, we are playing ready golf. Any thoughts ?



    • Pete

      Experience has taught me to establish the ready golf rule on the first tee. It is a habit I developed for this exact reason; that is until someone gets a birdie, then we wait for them to play first on the next tee. However, if not established before hand, then the player should have waited or asked before teeing off, that to me is proper etiquette. What do you think?



  2. Not being a tournament player, I’ve always allowed those off the green to chip on first as you mentioned, but I did know the rule as I had noticed it applied correctly when watching the pro’s play. I do have a question though. The new rule change allowing the pin to be left in the hole when putting will alleviate the time benefit of letting others chip on first in a friendly game. Have you given any thought to whether that will change your standard practice of having others chip on first when it takes effect next year?


    • Kevin

      Great question. As of right now, I do not seeing things changing. I will be pulling the pin anyway when putting, so it is a wash for me. I am sure others will play differently. How about you?

      Cheers Jim


      • Playing alone most of the time I already seldom pull the pin. That’s how I get through a 9 every hour. When I do play in a group, I’ll continue to let the group decide. It’s a very rare occasion when I assert my view over the rest. That generally only happens when playing with new golfers who are interested in learning more about the game.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kevin,

        That is about right. During tournaments, most understand the rules and abide by them. During a friendly, well just about anything goes and being flexible is the key to a great day on the links.



  3. Jim, good topic and explanation! My experience is a large number of golfers do not really understand this rule. Many players believe all players in the group need to be on the green before someone putts or they believe if a person is off the green (and closer) the decision to leave the pin in or take the pin out affects the order of play.


    • Colin,

      You are absolutely right. Many believe they all have to be on the green. Think of Phil Mickelson who had Honest and the pin and he was 60 yards off the green. Rule 10 is a simple rule, but often miss understood. Great to hear from you.

      Cheers Jim


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