Rules Throwback: The More Things Change... March 16, 2017 By Jamie Wallace, USGA

Richard Tufts was a member of the USGA Rules of Golf Committee and served as USGA president in 1956-57. In 1960, he published his seminal book The Principles Behind the Rules of Golf. This work sets forth the two underlying principles of the Rules: “play the course as you find it” and “put your ball in play at the start of the hole, play only your own ball and do not touch it until you lift it from the hole,” or more succinctly,  “play the ball as it lies.”

As much as the Rules of Golf have evolved and changed, these two principles have remained constant. And with the proposed new Rules of Golf for 2019, the principles of playing the course as you find it and playing the ball as it lies are maintained as essential to the game.

For anyone interested in learning more about the Rules of Golf, Tufts’ book remains an excellent starting point to gather a broad understanding of concepts and ideas prevalent throughout the Rule book.

Jamie Wallace is the manager of Rules education and digital content for the USGA. Email him at

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