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I don't carry a rule book very often but do own one that comes with my USGA membership each year. When I am playing in competition I usually do take the rule book with me. For regular playing with the guys if something comes up I do what I believe the rule is and look it up when I get home.
The distance one practices and one plays in a tournament are two different things. I've looked at the course lengths on the tour and they typically play 6400. I'll use our local TPC Snoqualmie Ridge as an example - the whites are 6111 and the blues are 6522. They'd probably practice from the whites but the course set up for a tournament would be one all its own: about 122 yds shorter than the blues which could be accomplished by playing the from the whites on all of the par 3s, and a couple of the par 4s.