The Original 13 Rules of Golf

Articles and Laws in Playing Golf


  1. You must tee your Ball, within a Club’s length of the Hole.

  2. Your tee must be upon the Ground.

  3. You are not to change the Ball which you Strike off the tee.

  4. You are not to remove, Stones, Banes or any Break Club, for the sake of playing your Ball, Except upon the fair Green and that only within a Club’s length of your Ball.

  5. If your Ball comes amang Watter or any wattery filth, you are at liberty to take out your Ball and bringing it behind the hazard and teeing it, you may play it with any Club and allow your Adversary a Stroke for so getting out your Ball.

  6. If your Balls be found any where touching one another, you are to lift the first Ball, till you play the last.

  7. At Holling, you are to play your Ball honestly for the Hole, and not to play upon your Adversary a Ball, not lying in your way to the Hole.

  8. If you should lose your Ball, by its being taken up, or any other way you are to go back to the Spot, where you struck last and drop another Ball, and allow your adversary a Stroke for the misfortune.

  9. Na man at Holling his Ball, is to be allowed to mark his way to the Hole with his Club or any thing else.

  10. If a Ball be stopped by any person, Horse, Dog, or any thing else, the Ball so stopped must be played where it lyes.

  11. If you draw your Club, in order to Strike and proceed so far on the Stroke as to be bringing down your Club; If then, your Club shall break, in any way, it is to be Accounted a Stroke.

  12. He whose Ball lyes farthest from the Hole is obliged to play first.

  13. Neither Trench, Ditch or Dyke, made for the preservation of the Links, nor the Scholars Hole or the Soldiers Lines, Shall be accounted a Hazard; But the Ball is to be taken out teed and played with any Iron Club.

John Rattray,
Captain of Golf
March 7, 1744


Historical Account Regarding Dr. John Rattray, Captain of the Golf…

There is no doubt, whatsoever, that the year 1744 marked an important event in the history of golf when the first-ever written Rules of Golf were penned and remained, essentially, undiscovered until 1937 when one C.B. Clapcatt, during his examination of the Minute Book or the Company of Gentlemen Golfers at Edinburgh, Scotland, found the Rules recorded on the last two pages. The pages contained both the original Rules of Golf, thirteen Articles in all, and the signature of John Rattray, Captain of The Golf. Today, the Club is located at Muirfield, East Lothian, Scotland. The Rules, as presented, are a copy of these contained in the Minute Book and thus reflect the phonetic spelling and grammar of the day, 07-March-1744.

Rattray, a surgeon, won the coveted Silver Club, which has been presented to the Gentlemen Golfers by the Edinburgh Town Council for annual competition, in both 1744 and 1745. Today, two and one half centuries later, there are five such Silver Clubs, as each Captain attaches an inscribed silver ball to the club. In 1980, the fifth Silver Club was presented to Jack Nicklaus, at Muirfield Village, in Ohio, USA.

In 1746, John Rattray’s older brother, James Rattray, the Laird of Craighall Rattrayy, as a token of support the the Jacobite cause, (supporters of the exiled Scottish King’s claim to the British throne), suggested that John Rattray offer his medical services to Bonnie Prince Charlie (the king in exiles oldest son) as his personal physician during the Uprising. On 16-April-1746, after the battle of Culloden (the last battle fought on British soil, to try and reinstate the Scottish Kings to the throne of Britain), Rattray was captured by the English-led forces and sentenced to be executed. Fortunately for Rattray, his good friend and golfing companion, Lord President Forbes, who chose not to take sides during the Uprising, had considerable influence and intervened on behalf of Rattray and his life was spared. Eventually, Rattray was able to return to his golfing and was, again, Captain of Golf, in 1751.

It is with much pleasure that the Clan Rattray Society, formed in 1993 and based in Perthshire, Scotland, where Rattrays have been known to have lived since the year 1044, presents the Rules of Golf in this form for the enjoyment and display by golfers around the world.

James Rattray of Perth, Chairman
Clan Rattray Society

–Via Electric Scotland

Sean T. Kelly
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