(The Official Rules of Golf appear here courtesy of the USGA, are used with permission, and may not be reprinted without the permission of the USGA.)
The Game of Golf consists of playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules.
1-2. Exerting Influence on Movement of Ball or Altering Physical Conditions
A player must not (i) take an action with the intent to influence the movement of a ball in play or (ii) alter physical conditions with the intent of affecting the playing of a hole.
1. An action expressly permitted or expressly prohibited by another Rule is subject to that other Rule, not Rule 1-2.
2. An action taken for the sole purpose of caring for the course is not a breach of Rule 1-2.
*PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 1-2:
Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.
*In the case of a serious breach of Rule 1-2, the Committee may impose a penalty of disqualification.
Note 1: A player is deemed to have committed a serious breach of Rule 1-2 if the Committee considers that the action taken in breach of this Rule has allowed him or another player to gain a significant advantage or has placed another player, other than his partner, at a significant disadvantage.
Note 2: In stroke play, except where a serious breach resulting in disqualification is involved, a player in breach of Rule 1-2 in relation to the movement of his own ball must play the ball from where it was stopped, or, if the ball was deflected, from where it came to rest.
If the movement of a player’s ball has been intentionally influenced by a fellow-competitor or other outside agency, Rule 1-4 applies to the player (see Note to Rule 19-1).
1-3. Agreement to Waive Rules
Players must not agree to exclude the operation of any Rule or to waive any penalty incurred.
PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 1-3:
Match play – Disqualification of both sides; Stroke play – Disqualification of competitors concerned.
(Agreeing to play out of turn in stroke play – see Rule 10-2c)
1-4. Points Not Covered by Rules
If any point in dispute is not covered by the Rules, the decision should be made in accordance with equity.
(Editor’s Note: Decisions on Rule 1 appear on USGA.org. The Rules of Golf and Decisions on Rule 1 can also be viewed on the R&A website, randa.org.)