Play is governed by the 2019 Golf Canada Rules of Golf, and, where applicable, by the following Local Rules and Terms of the Competition, subject to changes, additions or deletions for particular competitions. The player’s attention is drawn to Terms of the Competition as printed on the forms accompanying entry applications.

Complete text of Local Rules may be found in the 2019 Golf Canada Official Guide to the Rules of Golf (available using the R&A or USGA Rules of Golf App).

Unless otherwise noted, the penalty for breach of a Local Rule is the General Penalty:

Match play - Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes



  1. Out of Bounds (Rule 18.2) - Defined by the line between the course-side points at ground level of white lines, dots or stakes and fence posts defining out of bounds. A ball is out of bounds when it is beyond any wall defining the boundary of the course. 
  2. Penalty Areas (Rule 17) - When a red penalty area is defined on only one side, it extends to infinity. When a red penalty area adjoins a boundary, the penalty area edge extends to and coincides with the boundary.
  3. Dropping Zones – Where a dropping zone is marked it is an additional option for relief. The dropping zone is a relief area and the ball must be dropped in and come to rest in the relief area.
  4. Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions) (Rule 16) -

Ground under Repair - Rule 16.1 includes:

    1. Areas defined by white lines;
    2. French drains filled with stones;
    3. Seams of Cut Turf – If a player’s ball lies in or touches a seam of cut turf or a seam interferes with the player’s area of intended swing:

                (a) Ball in the General Area: The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b.

                (b) Ball on the Putting Green: The player may take relief under Rule 16.1d.

But interference does not exist if the seam only interferes with the player’s stance.

All seams within the area of cut turf are treated as the same seam in taking relief. That means that if a player has interference from any seam after dropping the ball, the player must proceed as required under Rule 14.3c(2) even when the ball is still within one club-length of the reference point.

  1. White-Lined Areas Tied Into Obstructions - White-lined areas of ground under repair and the artificially surfaced road or path or other identified obstruction they tie into are treated as a single abnormal course condition when taking relief under Rule 16.1.
  2. No Play Zones – Areas that are ornamental garden beds, turf nurseries or flowerbeds are no play zones that are to be treated as abnormal course conditions. Free relief must be taken from interference by the no play zone under Rule 16.1f.
  3. Aeration Holes – If a player’s ball lies in or touches an aeration hole:
    • Ball in the General Area. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b. If the ball comes to rest in another aeration hole, the player may take relief again under this rule.
    • Ball on the Putting Green. The player may take relief under 16.1d.

But interference does not exist if the aeration hole only interferes with the player’s stance or, on the putting green, on the player’s line of play.

  1. Wood Chips and Mulch (Rule 15.1) - Wood chips and mulch are loose impediments.
  2. Integral Objects – The following are integral objects from which free relief is not allowed:
  1. Wrappings, wires, cables and other similar objects when closely attached to trees;
  2. Artificial walls and pilings when located in penalty areas and bunkers.
  3. Bunker liners in their intended position. Interference by a liner with a player’s stance is deemed not to be, of itself, interference under this Rule.
  1. Permanent Elevated Power Lines or Cables - If a ball strikes a permanent elevated power line or cable in bounds, the stroke does not count. The player must play a ball without penalty from where the previous stroke was made (See Rule 14.6).
  2. Temporary Immovable Obstructions – Model Local Rule F-23 is in effect. Temporary Immovable Obstructions include, but are not limited to, starting tents, scoring tents and pace of play stations.
  3. Clubs and Balls – (Rules 4.1a &4.2a)
    1. List of Conforming Driver Heads: Model Local Rule G-1 is in effect.  Penalty for making a stroke with a club in breach of the Local Rule: Disqualification.
    2. List of Conforming Golf Balls: Model Local Rule G-3 is in effect.  Penalty for breach of the Local Rule: Disqualification.

Note: An updated List of Conforming Clubs and Balls is available via www.golfcanada.ca/rules.

  1. Pace of Play (Rule 5.6) - The player must play without delay in accordance with the current Golf Ontario Group Pace of Play Policy in effect and posted at all tournaments. Note: Different Pace of Play Policies are in effect for different forms of competition. The player is responsible for knowing the Pace of Play Policy and penalties specific to the event.

Note:  Rule 5.6a (Unreasonable Delay of Play) is still applicable.

  1. Suspension of Play (Rule 5.7) –The course and all practice areas are closed during an immediate suspension for a dangerous situation until the Committee has declared them open. Players who practice on closed practice areas will be asked to stop practicing; failure to stop practicing might result in penalties under the Code of Conduct.

Note: A suspension for a dangerous situation will be signaled by one prolonged air horn note.

All other types of suspension will be signaled by three consecutive air horn notes.

Resumption of play will be signaled by two short air horn notes.

  1. Practice (Rules 5.2 and 5.5)
  1. Rule 5.2a & 5.2b are modified in this way: A player must not practice on the competition course before or between rounds. Penalty for first breach: General Penalty (applied to the player’s first hole). Penalty for second breach: Disqualification.
  2. Rule 5.5b is modified in this way: Between the play of two holes, a player must not:
  • Make any practice stroke on or near the putting green of the hole just completed, or
  • Test the surface of that putting green by rubbing the putting green or rolling a ball.
  1. Transportation – Players or caddies must not ride on any form of transportation, unless authorized or later approved by the Tournament Appeals Rules Committee, during the following Golf Ontario events: Men and Women's Amateur championship and practice rounds, Junior, Juvenile, Bantam and Peewee championships, practice rounds and qualifiers. See the Golf Ontario Motorized Transportation Policy for medical exemptions. A player who will play, or has played, under penalty of stroke and distance is always authorised to ride on motorized transportation for that purpose.

The player gets the General Penalty for each hole during which there is a breach of this Local Rule. If the breach occurs between the play of two holes, it applies to the next hole.

  1. Caddies (Rule 10.3) - Rule 10.3a is modified in this way: A player must not have another player in the competition, who has played or will play in the same round, as his or her caddie during the round. The player gets the General Penalty for each hole during which there is a breach of this Local Rule. If the breach occurs between the play of two holes, it applies to the next hole.
  2. Limiting When Stroke Made From Putting Green Must Be Replayed Under Exception 2 to Rule 11.1b

Exception 2 to Rule 11.1b applies, except that when a ball played from the putting green accidentally hits:

    • the player,
    • the club used by the player to make the stroke or
    • an animal defined as a loose impediment (that is, worms, insects and similar animals that can be removed easily)

the stroke counts and the ball must be played as it lies.


  1. Replacement of Club that is Broken or Significantly Damaged - If a player’s club is “broken or significantly damaged” during the round by the player or caddie, except in cases of abuse, the player may replace the club with any club under Rule 4.1b(4).

When replacing a club, the player must immediately take the broken or significantly damaged club out of play, using the procedure in Rule 4.1c(1).

For the purposes of this Local Rule, a club is “broken or significantly damaged” when:

  • the shaft breaks into pieces, splinters or is bent (but not when the shaft is only dented);
  • the club face impact area is visibly deformed (but not when the club face is only scratched); 
  • the clubhead is visibly and significantly deformed;
  • the clubhead is detached or loose from the shaft; or
  • the grip is loose.

Exception: A club face or clubhead is not “broken or significantly damaged” solely because it is cracked.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule – See Rule 4.1b.

  1. Ball Played From Outside Relief Area When Taking Back-On-the-Line Relief - When taking Back-On-the-Line relief, there is no additional penalty if a player plays a ball that was dropped in the relief area required by the relevant Rule (Rule 16.1c(2), 17.1d(2), 19.2b or 19.3b) but came to rest outside the relief area, so long as the ball, when played, is within one club-length of where it first touched the ground when dropped.

This exemption from penalty applies even if the ball is played from nearer the hole than the reference point (but not if played from nearer the hole than the spot of the original ball or the estimated point where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area).

This Local Rule does not change the procedure for taking Back-On-the-Line relief under a relevant Rule. This means that the reference point and relief area are not changed by this Local Rule and that Rule 14.3c(2) can be applied by a player who drops a ball in the right way and it comes to rest outside the relief area, whether this occurs on the first or second drop.

  1. Prohibiting or Restricting Use of Audio and Video Devices - Rule 4.3a(4) is modified in this way: During a round, a player must not listen to or watch content of any nature on a personal audio or video device.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule - see Rule 4.3.

  1. Modified Rules for Players with Disabilities – Specified clause(s) of the Modified Rules for Players with Disabilities are in effect for a player when both are approved by the Committee.



  1. Returning Score Card – A player has officially returned his or her score card when it has been returned to the defined official scoring area and the player has exited the area with both feet, unless the player verbally informs the scoring official that he or she needs to leave the scoring area and will immediately return. The scoring area may include, but is not limited to tents or rooms. When a tent is used for scoring, the official scoring area is defined by the outermost limits of the scoring tent posts or of the roped off area.
  2. How to Decide Ties - The Golf Ontario Tie Breaking Policy – Stroke Play is in effect for all Qualifying Rounds. Copies of the policy are posted on www.gao.ca and available at all qualifying sites.  
  3. Meaning of Round (For Qualifying Rounds and Single-Day Championships/Tournaments that start on the same hole) - Qualifying rounds and single-day championships/tournaments will be comprised of two consecutive 9-hole rounds when all play starts on the same hole. In the event that every player is unable to complete 18 holes but has completed the first 9-hole round and the second round is subsequently cancelled, the score for the first 9-hole round will count and results for qualifying or the single-day championship/tournament will be based on this score. Nine holes must be completed by every player for the round to count.
  4. Close of Competition
    1. Qualifying Rounds: The competition is deemed to be closed when the results have been transmitted and approved by Golf Ontario tournament staff.
    2. Stroke Play Championships: The competition is deemed to be closed when the trophy has been presented to the winner.
    3. Match Play Championships: The result of a match is considered to have been "officially announced” when Golf Ontario tournament staff have posted the results on the Golf Ontario website.
  5. Anti-Doping – Players are required to comply with and be bound by the Golf Ontario Anti-Doping Policy as detailed on the entry form, webpage on gao.ca, any prior notice or at the golf course.
  6. Code of Conduct – (Rule 1.2b) Any player who breaches the Code of Conduct and Ethics Policy as established by Golf Ontario is subject to any or all of the following:
    • Warning
    • One-stroke penalty
    • General penalty
    • Disqualification