Twenty Rules Of Golf Every Golfer Should Know

Over the next couple of months I plan to post many of the rules of golf questions and answers I have specifically written for golfers. This way everyone can learn a little more about the rules.

I hope you enjoy reading these 20 rules of golf questions and answers:

#1 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“A golf ball is embedded/plugged in its own pitch mark in the bunker wall – the sand section. It can barely be seen. Is there any relief?”

#1 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“There is no relief from a ball embedded in a bunker.

Decision 13/4 states;

‘Q. A player’s ball is completely embedded in the vertical lip of a bunker. The lip is not grass-covered, so it is part of the bunker. Is the ball considered to be lying through the green? If so, the player would be entitled to drop the ball behind the bunker if he deems it unplayable.

A. No. An embedded ball is considered to be lying in the part of the course where it entered the ground.’

Under the Rules the only place where a player gets relief for a ball embedded in its own pitch-mark is in ‘any closely mown area through the green’ (Rule 25-2).”

#2 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“A few weeks back I entered the monthly medal at my club. I didn’t play well (again) and signed off for a net 78. My card was marked and signed correctly by my playing partner and myself. I duly entrered my scores into our club computer but it seems that I forgot to press the enter button!

My club then disqualified me. I informed him that as far as I was aware I had done everything right within the rules and just because I forgot to press a button on a computer should not mean I should have been disqualified. I was told that I had not entered my score correctly and was DQ, simple as that. I disagreed as what would have happened in the old days before computers?”

#2 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“I suggest that you refer the person that disqualified you to Decision 6-6b/8;

‘Q. May a Committee, as a condition of competition, provide that a competitor must enter his score into a computer?

A. No. Such a condition would modify Rule 6-6b.’

Therefore, under the Rules of Golf the score card, as signed by the player and the marker, is the official record of the round for purposes of the competition.

But you should be aware of the continuation of that same Decision; ‘However, while it is not permissible to penalize a player under the Rules of Golf for failing to enter his score into a computer, a Committee may, in order to assist in the administration of the competition, introduce a “club regulation” to this effect and provide disciplinary sanctions (e.g., ineligibility to play in the next club competition(s)) for failure to act in accordance with the regulation.’

Under the Rules the Committee were not entitled to disqualify you for the competition in which you did not correctly record your score on the Club’s computer system, but they could have ‘disciplined’ you for a future competition if it was in their ‘club regulations’. In my opinion this would be totally unfair as you had made an attempt to enter your score in the computer but had made a simple error in doing so.”

#3 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“Can you give me a ruling on:

If a player hits through the green into a water hazard, where do you take the drop?

Do you have to keep the water hazard between you and your intended target or drop at point of entry or replay your shot from its original position?”

#3 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“This is a situation that confuses many golfers. Assuming that the player decides that the ball cannot be played from within the water hazard there are two options under Rule 26-1, ‘If a ball is in a water hazard, or if it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in a water hazard (whether the ball lies in water or not), the player may under penalty of one stroke:

a) Play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or

b) Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped’.

So, to answer your question, the important words are ‘keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped’. You will see that in your question the place where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard was on the far side of the green to where the stroke was played from. Therefore, the place where the ball must be dropped under option b) is on the far side of the water hazard. In other words, the player’s next stroke will have to be played over the water hazard on the far side of the putting green from where he last played from, under penalty of one stroke.”

#4 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“I Do NOT ground my club before playing off the fairway, [or any where for that matter]. This I do as I believe having NOT grounded my club, I have not addressed the ball. Therefore if it moves I am not deemed to have made a stroke. I think this includes me inadvertently touching it during waggle?

Do you agree?”

#4 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“You are quite correct. A player has “addressed the ball” when he has taken his stance and has also grounded his club, except that in a hazard a player has addressed the ball when he has taken his stance.

Therefore, if you do not ground your club you have not addressed it (other than in a hazard). Touching your ball inadvertently does not change this situation, unless off course your ball moves of its spot when you do so, when a penalty of one stroke is incurred and the ball must be replaced.”

#5 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“I had a challenging situation yesterday. Whilst driving at the 15th my ball fell into the water. There are yellow stakes around the water. My partner suggested that I reload and I hit a beautiful, straight and long shot onto the fairway ( don`t know why I couldn`t do that the 1st time). I finished playing and when we got back to the club house the people who were playing behind us complained that what I did was wrong.

They did not have a problem with me hitting the second ball from the tee because that was my choice but teeing the second ball was the issue.

They said I can only tee the second ball if the 1st one goes out of bounds or if I cannot find my 1St ball (lost ball). They maintain that in my case I can drop the ball at the tee or anywhere near the yellow stakes but I am not supposed to tee the 2nd ball ot use the peg.

Please help clarify, this left a bitter taste in my partner`s mouth because he has been playing for some years now and he thought he understands the rules.”

#5 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“Tell your partner that he can relax because he was correct. As he quite rightly suggested, one of the relief options under Rule 26-1 for a ball lost in a water hazard is to play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played. Rule 20-5 states, ‘When a player elects or is required to make his next stroke from where a previous stroke was made, he must proceed as follows:

a. On the Teeing Ground: The ball to be played must be played from within the teeing ground. It may be played from anywhere within the teeing ground and may be teed.’

So you were quite within your rights to tee up the ball anywhere within the teeing ground.

Incidentally, the group behind were also wrong if they said that you could drop a ball ‘anywhere near the yellow stakes’. Under Rule 26-1 the only other option if your ball is lost in a water hazard is to, ‘drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped.’

This might be near the yellow stakes or may be many yards away, but in either case it has to be somewhere on an extension of the line from the hole through where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard.”

#6 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

” I have some rubber tees for a driving mat. I am wondering if they are legal with the USGA to use on the course? If so I would rather use them. What I like about them is they are always the same height and won’t break and you can always find them, they don’t go far after hitting the ball.”

#6 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“The definition says, ‘A “tee” is a device designed to raise the ball off the ground. It must not be longer than 4 inches (101.6 mm), and it must not be designed or manufactured in such a way that it could indicate the line of play or influence the movement of the ball.’

Therefore, I see no reason why your rubber tees do not meet this specification and can therefore be used in competition.”

#7 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“Please can you clarify something for me from a rules perspective.

A player is lying 2 on a Par 3 and has about a 4 metre putt for par. As he addresses the ball his putter touches the ball which does a half roll forward and then settles back into its original position. The player then hits his putt and sinks it for a par.

What is the ruling? Must he take a 4 for the ball moving, although resting in original position, or does he record a 3.”

#7 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“A ball is only deemed to have ‘moved’ if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place. Also, Rule 18-2a(i) permits a player to touch his ball in the act of addressing it. So, in the situation that you describe no penalty has been incurred.

This is confirmed in Decision 18/2, ‘Q. In addressing the ball, a player accidentally causes the ball to oscillate, but it returns to its original position. Has the ball ‘moved’ A. No.’

Thus the player recorded a 3.”

#8 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“At my home course, hole # 11 runs parallel to hole # 15 ( in opposite directions). In between the two is an old train rail bed, which is out of bounds on both fairways. ( it is used as an access road for the grounds crew) My question is, if you hit a tee shot off either hole and it crosses the out of bounds stakes on the hole being played and crosses the out of bounds stakes in the parallel hole and lands in the fairway of the parallel hole, is the ball still in play?”

#8 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“Decision 27/20 answers your question;

‘Q. A public road defined as out of bounds divides a course. A ball crosses the road and comes to rest on the part of the course on the other side of the road. Is the ball out of bounds?

A. No. Since the ball lies on the course, it is in bounds unless a Local Rule provides otherwise. However, because it is unfair that a ball on the road is out of bounds and a ball beyond it is in bounds, it is suggested that the following Local Rule should be adopted:

A ball which crosses a public road defined as out of bounds and comes to rest beyond that road is out of bounds, even though it may lie on another part of the course.

So, in your question the ball is in bounds unless there is a Local Rule that declares otherwise. You will see that the USGA and R&A would approve of such a Local Rule being introduced in these circumstances.”

#9 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“How should mixed competition be held?

Should the ladies play from the men’s tee?

The ladies handicap is given according to the ladies’ tee. So would it be fair to make the ladies play from men’s tee with the same handicap?”

#9 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“Unfortunately, I cannot give you a definitive answer to your question as it is not covered by the Rules of Golf but by a Rule of Competition, as defined by the course or Club Committee.

However, I can tell you that, in my experience, for most mixed competitions the men play from their tees off their stroke indexes and the ladies play from their tees off their (usually different) stroke indexes.

There is a Decision on the Rules, which is relevant to your question; Decision 29-2:

Q. In a mixed foursome in which the men play from the back tees and the women play from the forward tees, a man hits a tee shot out of bounds. Does his partner play the next stroke from the back tee or the forward tee?

A. The partner must play from the back tee.”

#10 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“My friends and I were discussing some rules of golf when this one came up.

A person hits a ball towards the green, they look around for the ball but could not find it and the player declares the hole lost, then he finds the ball in the hole and tries to say he’s won the hole.

One of my friends says this right. Could you please clarify this point for me.”

#10 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“Your friend was correct in that the person who found his ball in the hole won the hole, assuming of course that his score on that hole was lower than his opponent. The reason is that the ball is out of play as soon as it is holed out and cannot therefore be lost or the hole conceded.

Decision 2-4/11 is relevant as it confirms the principle involved;

Q. In a match, A played his second shot towards the green but he could not find his ball. He conceded the hole to B, whose second shot was on the green. The following players then found A’s ball in the hole. What is the ruling?

A. Since a player may not concede a hole after conclusion of the hole ‘Rule 2-4′. A holed out in two strokes and won the hole if he made a claim before B played from the next teeing ground (Rule 2-5). If A did not do so, he lost the hole.”

#11 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“I once saw Mickelson use a wedge on a putting green to approach a very distant hole, instead of the putter. I understand the expected club to use on the green is a putter, but there is no explicit rule against using any other club, is there? If so, even if the player in this case were completely on the green, could he take his stance and use any club for his next shot?”

#11 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“You are quite right, there is no Rule of Golf that prohibits a player from using any of his clubs on the putting green of the hole being played. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you have to chip a ball from the putting surface make sure that you completely repair any damage to the surface that your stroke leaves.

You are probably aware that Rule 25-3 states that a player may not play a stroke from any putting green other than the one being played, though he is permitted to take his stance on a green in order to play a stroke at his ball that lies just of the putting surface.”

#12 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“I once hit a bunker rake on a second fairway shot and it made a large hole in my ball. At other times on my course I may hit a cemented pathway, a rock, etc. and the ball will come out damaged or with very deep cuts or cracked. Can I replace the ball?”

#12 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“Yes, Rule 5-3 states that, ‘a ball is unfit for play if it is visibly cut, cracked or out of shape. A ball is not unfit for play solely because mud or other materials adhere to it, its surface is scratched or scraped or its paint is damaged or discolored.’

If you suspect that your ball may be unfit for play during play of a hole you must be careful to follow the procedure laid down in the Rules,’Before lifting the ball, the player must announce his intention to his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play and mark the position of the ball. He may then lift and examine it, provided that he gives his opponent, marker or fellow-competitor an opportunity to examine the ball and observe the lifting and replacement. The ball must not be cleaned when lifted under Rule 5-3.’ Failure to comply with any part of this procedure incurs a penalty of one stroke. If the ball is unfit for play under the above definition it may be substituted without penalty. Of course, any ball may be substituted between the play of holes.”

#13 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“What could happen in a tournament if a golfer did not submit their original scorecard for a Stableford Competition and instead submitted a regular scorecard and filled in the numbers to match the original scorecard?”

#13 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“The answer to your question is in Decision 6-6/7;

Q. At the end of a round in stroke play, a competitor returns to the Committee a score card different from the one issued by the Committee at the start of the round (e.g., because the original score card was lost or illegible due to wet weather). The new score card contained the competitor’s name and scores and was signed by both him and his marker. Should the score card be accepted?

A. Yes.”

#14 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“The opponents ball was hit approx 10 meters further than mine on the fairway after we teed off. I then took a short iron to further hit the ball to the green, in the process I took a divot, which then landed on top of the opponent’s ball. What is the ruling when they have to remove the chunk of grass form the ball?”

#14 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“A principle of the Rules of Golf is that a player is entitled to the lie which his stroke gave him. Accordingly, in equity (Rule 1-4) your opponent could not only have removed your divot lying against his ball, without penalty, but he could also have lifted and cleaned any grass or earth that was deposited on his ball as a result of your stroke. Decision 13-2/8.5 rules on similar circumstances.”

#15 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“When a white line is not present, i.e. just stakes, why can’t clubs attach some weather proofed chord to each post as this will surely help to more easily determine the actual OOB line?”

#15 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“I certainly agree that all out of bounds should be marked as clearly as possible and ropes or chains between the posts are a good idea to identify those areas. However, under the Rules, when out of bounds is defined by reference to stakes, the out of bounds line is determined by the nearest inside points at ground level of the stakes, not by the ropes or chains between them.”

#16 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“Would it be possible for you to send me the rule on the 3 option, when you take a penalty in a bunker”

#16 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“I believe that you are referring to when you declare your ball unplayable in a bunker. The three options, under Rule 28, all incurring a penalty of one stroke, are;

a. Play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); or

b. Drop a ball in the bunker behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind that point the ball may be dropped; or

c. Drop a ball in the bunker within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole.

There is another situation when a player’s ball lies in an abnormal ground condition in a bunker (e.g. casual water); ‘Rule 25-1b. If the ball is in a bunker, the player must lift the ball and drop it either:

(a) Without penalty, in accordance with Clause(i) above, except that the nearest point of relief must be in the bunker and the ball must be dropped in the bunker or, if complete relief is impossible, as near as possible to the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole, on a part of the course in the bunker that affords maximum available relief from the condition; or

(b) Under penalty of one stroke, outside the bunker, keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the bunker the ball may be dropped.’

Remember, that the options under Rule 25-1b only apply when there is an abnormal ground condition in the bunker. Some players mistakenly think that they have the option to drop their ball outside a bunker, under penalty of one stroke, whatever the circumstances.”

#17 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“If a sprinkler head is in the line of your swing path but in no other way interferes with the stroke viz it is not affecting your stance nor is the ball lying on it, is relief permitted?”

#17 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“There is no relief from a sprinkler that is in the line of a player’s swing path unless his club would make contact with any part of it during his intended swing. As sprinklers are usually flush with the ground this is unlikely. In other words there is no relief for mental interference by an immovable obstruction.

On a related issue, note that if a Club adopts the specimen Local Rule in Appendix 1, Part B, no.6, for Immovable Obstructions Close to Putting Green, a player may take relief if his ball lies off the putting green, but not in a hazard, and there is a sprinkler on or within two club-lengths of the putting green and within two club-lengths of his ball intervening on his line of play. There is no such relief unless this Local Rule is in operation.”

#18 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“A player marks their ball on the putting green picks it up then wipes the mud of the ball on the surface of the green is there any penalty?”

#18 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“There is no penalty unless there was intent to test the surface of the putting green. Decision 16-1d/5 states,

‘Q. May a player clean his ball by rubbing it on the putting green?

A. Yes, provided the act is not for the purpose of testing the surface of the putting green. It is recommended that a ball be cleaned in other ways to eliminate any question as to the player?s intentions.’

This is why you see professionals pass the ball to their caddie for cleaning.”

#19 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“If Player A plays with a non-conforming driver and Player B at the 11th tee-box notifies his opponent that he is making a claim. Player A still used the non-conforming driver on the 11th hole.

What is the ruling before Player B plays from the 11th tee-box and after he plays from the 11th tee-box.”

#19 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“Rule 4-1 states that,’the player’s clubs must conform with this Rule and the provisions, specifications and interpretations set forth in Appendix II.’ As soon as Player A made a stroke on the 11th with the non-conforming club, in breach of Rule 4-1 or 4-2, he incurred the penalty of disqualification (see the penalty statement at the end of Rule 4-2).

If Player A had not made any stroke with the non-conforming club in playing the first 10 holes, or during the 11th hole, he would have had two holes deducted from the state of the match at the end of the 11th hole; ‘*PENALTY FOR CARRYING, BUT NOT MAKING STROKE WITH, CLUB OR CLUBS IN BREACH OF RULE 4-1 or 4-2: Match play – At the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred; maximum deduction per round – Two holes.

Obviously, he may not use the non-conforming club for the remainder of the round or he will be disqualified.

The important point here is that any stroke made with a non-conforming club disqualifies the player, whether in match play or stroke play.”

#20 RULES OF GOLF QUESTION:

“I have been told that a worm cast on the green cannot be removed. I assumed they came under the heading of a loose impediment, and as long as they can be removed by sweeping with the hand there is no penalty. Who is correct and under which rule does it fall?”

#20 RULES OF GOLF ANSWER:

“You are correct. Decision 23-1/1 states,

‘Q. Worm casts are loose impediments. By what means may such casts be removed?

A. Loose impediments may be moved by any means, except that, in removing loose impediments on the line of putt, the player must not press anything down (Rule 16-1a).’

Worm casts can therefore be removed anywhere on the course other than in a hazard.”

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Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of this information on the Rules of Golf I am human and have been known to be wrong! Neither I, nor anyone connected with GolfSwingSecretsRevealed.com, shall be held responsible for any losses caused by reliance upon the accuracy or reliability of such information. Readers should refer to the full text of the rules and decisions as published in the official publications of the R&A and the USGA, The Rules of Golf 2008-2011 and Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2008-2009.


60 Responses to “Twenty Rules Of Golf Every Golfer Should Know”

  1. Joel Massey says:

    A friend and I were playing the other day and I stuck the green on a par 3. We both had noticed that the ball did not bounce or roll after impact with the green. As we got closer, we saw that the ball was about an inch buried in the green, which made the ball completely hard or near impossible to hit as it laid. This is the second time that has happened to me on the same hole, and I was wondering; what the exact procedure is for a lie like that? I just marked the spot, un-wedged my ball, and fixed the divot. Great post by the way.

  2. Barry Rhodes says:

    Alison,

    No, once you choose to take relief from GUR you must take full relief. See my blog on this subject at http://www.barryrhodes.com/2011/03/taking-complete-relief-eg-from.html.

    Barry

  3. Barry Rhodes says:

    Kim,

    If your stance is in a bunker designated as GUR you may take relief from the bunker within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole.

    Barry

  4. Barry Rhodes says:

    Frans,

    It depends on the exact wording of the Local Rule. If it does not specify that the ball must be placed within one club-length on the fairway in play then a player may place within this permitted area in the rough. If this is not what the Committee intends they must correct the wording.

    Barry

  5. Barry Rhodes says:

    Steph,

    John Paramor is referring to Rule 13-2, which states that a player must not improve or allow to be improved, his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole by creating or eliminating irregularities of surface.

    Barry

  6. Barry Rhodes says:

    Julie,

    Rule 16-1c permits a player to repair an old hole plug. Decision 16-1c/3 explains;

    Q.A player’s ball lies on the green. An old hole plug is sunk or raised on the player’s line of putt. What relief is available to the player?

    A.The player may attempt to raise or lower the plug to make it level with the surface of the putting green – Rule 16-1c. If this is impossible, he may discontinue play and request the Committee to raise or lower the plug. If the Committee cannot level the plug without unduly delaying play, the Committee should declare the plug to be ground under repair, in which case the player would be entitled to relief under Rule 25-1b(iii).

    Barry

  7. Alison says:

    If you take relief from GUR and then find when you take your stance your feet are still in the GUR is it permissible to play a stroke without penalty?

  8. Kim says:

    If a bunker is GUR and my ball is on the rim of the bunker, not in it, but on the edge of the grass around the bunker, and to play the ball I will have to stand in the bunker, because the bunker is GUR do I get relief from standing in it or do i have to play the ball with my stance in the GUR bunker?

  9. Frans Conradie says:

    We have preferred lies and are allowed to mark, pick up, clean and place the ball 1 club length on the fairway in play and not all fairways. Is it allowed to place the ball within 1 club length but on a good elevated spot in the rough?

  10. Steph says:

    Hi Barry

    If my ball pitches onto the green and then spins back (but remains on the green) and the pitch mark is in my line of play can I repair that pitch mark, or would it be a penalty.

    A quote from an interview with John Paramour (a top international golf referee for 34 years )

    Golfalot: If your ball lands on the fringe of the green and then bounces on to the green are you allowed to repair the pitch mark?

    JP: Providing they’re not going to improve area of intended swing or lie of the ball then yes. Where people normally transgress is pitch on and spin back but then fix pitch mark which is in their line of play then that would be a penalty. It’s good etiquette to fix a pitch mark on the fringe in a timely manner.

    However, I can’t find anything else to back this up and would be grateful for your thoughts.

    Regards

    Stephanie

  11. Barry Rhodes says:

    Julie,

    Rule 16-1c permits a player to repair an old hole plug. Decision 16-1c/3 explains;

    Q.A player’s ball lies on the green. An old hole plug is sunk or raised on the player’s line of putt. What relief is available to the player?

    A.The player may attempt to raise or lower the plug to make it level with the surface of the putting green – Rule 16-1c. If this is impossible, he may discontinue play and request the Committee to raise or lower the plug. If the Committee cannot level the plug without unduly delaying play, the Committee should declare the plug to be ground under repair, in which case the player would be entitled to relief under Rule 25-1b(iii).

    Barry

  12. julie says:

    Barry, after the greenkeeper has changed the hole the plug will rise often, especially if there is water in the old hole is there any relief. thanks julie.

  13. Barry Rhodes says:

    Cliff,

    A gopher is a burrowing animal and a player is entitled to obtain relief if the lie of their ball, their stance or area of intended swing is affected by any hole, cast or runway made by a burrowing animal, Rule 25-1. It is a matter of fact as to whether the mounds you describe were indeed made by gophers, but it seems unlikely. Where there is genuine doubt the player should play a second ball under Rule 3-3, nominating which ball they would like to count providing it has been played within the Rules, and must then report the situation to the Committee for them to make a ruling on whether the mound was made by a gopher, or not. Rule 3-3 is not used often enough by players who are unsure of how to proceed.

    I hope that I can encourage you to visit my blog on the Rules of Golf at http://www.barryrhodes.com. If you are interested in Rules situations I think that you will find it informative and will learn from it. You can ensure that you are notified of any new posting on this blog by subscribing at the top right corner of the home page. I promise that your email address will remain confidential and will never be shared with anyone else.

    Regards,

    Barry

  14. Barry Rhodes says:

    Joey,

    This may well be the case, which is why I included it as option a) in my answer to the question.

    Barry

  15. Joey says:

    For #3, would it not be easier just to play the ball where it started instead of on the far side of the water hazard?

  16. David says:

    Ball goes through the green and lands on the following holes tee. Ruling please

  17. Cliff says:

    Barry,

    I was playing in a club match play competition and my competitor took relief several times from “gopher mounds”. I believe that this issue falls under abnormal ground repair. My issue is that these “mounds” in my opinion were just wet dirt areas. They were located in a native area and were not clearly gopher holes. For instance, he literally called every single area that was dirt a gopher mound. There was not a “hole” to be found just “mounds”. So…my question is, can he take relief from something that is at best suspect to be a gopher mound and what is the definition of an animal cast? (does it need to be raised off of the ground a significant amount?)
    Further, what kind of interference is reason to take relief ie. ball is on top, stance is on top, mound behind ball.

    Thanks Barry

  18. Kathy,

    No, bouncing a ball on your clubhead is not a practice stroke and does not breach any Rule of Golf.

    Barry

  19. Kathy says:

    I was playing in a competition, and prior to holing out, my competitor was bouncing the ball on his putter head, while waiting to putt. Is there any penalty incurred?

  20. Jeff Chauvet says:

    Recently I hit my drive onto a mound near the green, surrounded by fairway on all sides. My ball came to rest on top of a gopher cast. The mound was not closely mowed as the fairway.(rough) I asked for relief under rule 25.1b unusual ground condition, my competitor refused. He claimed that as the he is part of the commitee. He has the right to grant or deny me relief. Needless to say, it put me on tilt for the next few holes. Who is correct? Should I be given relief from gopher casts, and can a fellow competitor deny me relief? Clarification of this matter would be greatly appreciated.

  21. Sheila Wilby says:

    Hi could you tell me the correct procedure for your golf ball lying on a sprinkler head off the green. Is it a free drop to the side or do you have to drop behind the hole and chip over it.

    Thankyou

  22. Barry Rhodes says:

    Glen,

    I have already answered this question which you addressed to me via my blog site on the Rules of Golf;

    Can the Committee disqualify a player after the competition has closed for recording a score lower than was actually scored when the player’s and marker’s signed score cards both recorded the same score? Yes an exception to Rule 34-1 b states;

    A penalty of disqualification must be imposed after the competition has closed if a competitor….(iii) returned a score for any hole lower than actually taken (Rule 6-6d) for any reason other than failure to include a penalty that, before the competition closed, he did not know he had incurred.

    Obviously, having reviewed the evidence, the Committee has decided that the player signed for a score on one hole that was lower than he actually scored.

    Rule 34-3 states;

    In the absence of a referee, any dispute or doubtful point on the Rules must be referred to the Committee, whose decision is final.

    Barry Rhodes

  23. Glen Coates says:

    If both cards have the same score recorded and the player confirms this score can he be disqualified even when no penalty was incurred during the hole.
    My partner and I were disqualified because five days after the game I was asked “how many putts did he have on a particular hole”? I said ‘not sure, maybe 2′ which would have given him 2 stableford points for the hole, but 3 points were recorded on the card. Due to this memory laps and with NO one protesting about his putting on the hole, the match committee have disqualified him for signing an incorrect card.

    Is this in breach of the rules by the committee.

  24. Barry Rhodes says:

    Bryan,

    You do not get relief for a ball that is embedded in the grass wall of a bunker unless it is closely mown, which is not often the case (see Rule 25-2). If it is not carefully mown you obviously have to play the ball as it lies. If it is closely mown then you must drop it as close as you can to where it was embedded. If it rolls into the bunker, more than two club-lengths from where it touches the course, or nearer the hole you have to drop it again. If the same thing happens after the second drop then you place the ball where it first hit the course. If it will not stay at rest at this point you have to place it at the nearest point where it will come to rest not in the bunker and not nearer the hole (Rule 20).

    There are only two types of hazard in golf; water hazards (which includes lateral water hazards) and bunkers. However, grass-covered ground bordering or within a bunker, including a stacked turf face (whether grass-covered or earthen), is not part of the bunker (See Definition of Bunker).

    Barry Rhodes

  25. Bryan Chen says:

    Hi,

    I’m not sure if you have already answered this question so I apologise if you have already done so.

    Qn : If my ball is embedded in its own pitch mark on the steep grass wall of a bunker (not in bunker), and the wall is too steep for me to drop the ball, what do I do according to the rules?

    Also, is a bunker considered a “hazard”? I took part in a competition recently and my playing partners kept insisting a bunker (as well as the grass walls) are all considered “hazards” so I should not be entitled to a free lift.

    Thanks for clarifying!

  26. Barry Rhodes says:

    Bob,

    It’s a good question. In my opinion, players should be encouraged to prevent others from breaking a Rule and should therefore pick up the flagstick to avoid a fellow competitor’s ball hitting it. However, it is up to each player to make their own decision on this. Since 2008 there is no penalty for the fellow competitor that lifts the flagstick, as part of Rule 24-1 states;

    When a ball is in motion, an obstruction that might influence the movement of the ball, other than equipment of any player or the flagstick when attended, removed or held up, must not be moved.

    Barry

  27. Bob Hanley says:

    Player A removes the pin and places it on the green before Player B makes his stroke. When the ball appears to be heading for the pin, Player A moves the pin so the ball would not strike it. Did Player B do the right thing or is he expected to protect the field by allowing the ball to strike the pin?

  28. Ram Paleti says:

    My partner’s second shot on a par 4, landed in a sandy patch (not a hazard) with some irregularities. The ball came to rest next to a tire mark peak just an inch high. My partner takes a stance, grounds the club between the ball and while taking a back swing scrapes off the tire mark peak and hits the shot on to the green. What is the ruling here? has he not improved the lie using his back swing and hence liable for a penalty??
    Rule 13.2 is not very clear on this situation. Please clarify.

  29. Bob Sleadd says:

    What is the rule and penality if hitting the 1st shoot off the T box
    goes out of bounds?

    Is it a drop near out of bounds, and hit 3rd stroke, or return to T box and hit 3rd stroke. This happened where in a 4some was require to return to T Box. (just a game not a match)

  30. Peter says:

    Ball goes in hazard from tee shot and player confirms this with playing partner. He then decides to hit provisional ball from tee, as he has not lost his ball and not gone out of bounds this provisional ball becomes the ball in play and in effect playing three off the tee.

    Thanks Peter.

    Barry’s Reply:

    Peter,

    I presume that you meant to say that the hazard was a water (or lateral) water hazard and was therefore not a bunker. If this is the case, and it is known or reasonably certain that the ball has come to rest in a water hazard, then a provisional ball may not be played. Rule 27-2 states,

    “If a ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally in accordance with Rule 27-1.”

    So, as it was known that the ball played from the teeing ground WAS in a water hazard and could not have been lost outside then, as soon as another ball had been played from the teeing ground, that was the ball in play and it was NOT a provisional ball. The next stroke would be the player’s fourth.

    Regards,

    Barry Rhodes

  31. george says:

    okay I have a question on fairness, if a 50 yard tree is under local rules a free drop area and a stance and one club length can be taken that is realy 2 club lengths so why can’t you get stance for complete relieve when in a tree trunk and the 2 club lengths for a one stroke penalty. Don’t make sense to me.

    Barry’s Reply:

    George,

    I have read your email several times and am not sure that I understand what your question is. Apologies if this answer is not what you are looking for.

    Committees often establish a Local Rule giving mandatory relief, without penalty, from staked trees that they want to protect. If players’ balls lie up against these trees they don’t want them to attempt to play shots that could permanently damage them. However, if your ball is at the base of a mature, unstaked tree, you have the options of attempting to play a stroke, without penalty, or taking the option of dropping a ball within two club-lengths, not nearer the hole, under penalty of one stroke. This seems fair to me.

    Regards,

    Barry Rhodes

  32. Tony says:

    Recently, I watched a tournament on ESPN as a rules committee member informed a player that because his ball was embedded in the dirt portion of the bunker, just above the rim of the sand, in the area of where the roots of the grass could be seen, that the player was entitled to a free drop. He received the free drop on top and outside of the bunker, no closer to the hole, with no penalty.

    Also, there have been many situations, where in tournaments, I have seen pros take a drop between the point of entry into a water hazard that went through the green and the hole, even to the point where they have had to place the ball because it keeps rolling into the hazard when dropped. Please explain these situations.

    Barry’s Reply:

    Tony,

    It is evident that, in your first question, the Rules Official deemed the ball not to be in the bunker and therefore lying through the green. In this case Rule 25-2, Enbedded Ball, states, “A ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground in any closely mown area through the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green. ‘Closely mown area’ means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.”

    I am a little confused with the wording of your second question. It would seem that you may be referring to situations relating to lateral water hazards (red stakes and/or lines) in which one of the options for relief open to the player, under penalty of one stroke, is to drop a ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard (Rule 26-1). If, when taking relief from a hazard, the ball when dropped rolls into a hazard, and does so again when re-dropped, then the player must place it as near as possible to the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped (Rule 20-2c).

    If this has not fully answered your question I think that you will find my two short videos on water hazards and lateral water hazards very informative.

    Regards,

    Barry

  33. Billly says:

    Whilst looking for my ball in thick rough, I was told my buggy (electric) ran over it.

    The ball did not move from its original position and it left the ball plugged

    I was told I had to take a one stroke penaly because my equipment came in touch with the ball. In a hazard, a player is allowed to find, mark and identify his ball as long as he replaces it in exactly the same spot.

    I cannot understand why I should be penalised for running over my ball and making its lie a lot more difficult and add penalty stroke.

    Barry Reply:

    This apparently simple scenario involves a number of different points.

    The first is that a ball is deemed to have “moved” if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place. This includes vertically downward. Decision 18-1 states; “Q. A ball lying in long grass slips vertically downward. Or a ball is accidentally stepped on and pressed down, say a quarter of an inch, in the grass or into the ground. In each case, has the ball moved?

    A. Yes, unless the ball returns to its original position. The direction of movement is immaterial.”

    Rule 18-2a(ii) states that if equipment of the player or his partner causes the ball to move, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke, and if the ball is moved, it must be replaced. The same Rule provides that there is no penalty if a player accidentally causes his ball to move in searching for a ball in a water hazard.

    You make the point that “In a hazard, a player is allowed to find, mark and identify his ball as long as he replaces it in exactly the same spot.” This is correct in as far as it goes, but misses out on the very important point that the player must not touch his ball until he has given his opponent, marker or fellow-competitor an opportunity to observe the lifting and replacement (Rule 12-2). When a ball has been lifted for identification from a bunker, the original lie must be re-created as nearly as possible and the ball must be placed in that lie.

    In summary, you did incur a penalty of one stroke as soon as your buggy moved the ball in the rough (vertically downwards) and the Rules required you to replace the ball in its original lie. If you did not replace the ball to the lie it had you would have incurred a total penalty of two strokes (in stroke play) for playing from the wrong place; see the penalty statement at the end of Rule 18.

  34. marcus goodson says:

    Hi my name is marcus .

    My question is that when you are on the tee bed I know you can stand on the outside of the grid but can you have your feet over the front line of the grid.

    Barry’s Reply

    Marcus,

    In the Rules of Golf the ‘tee bed’ as you describe it is known as the teeing ground.

    Rule 11-1 states, ‘A player may stand outside the teeing ground to play a ball within it.’ Therefore it does not matter whether a player has a foot in front of, to the side, or behind the teeing ground when he makes his stroke, providing the ball is played from within the teeing ground.

    Regards,

    Barry

  35. andyhiggins says:

    A player is off the putting green with his ball (putting from the fringe) is he allowed to remove soil/leaves from the intended line of putt on the green?

    cheers

    Andy

    Barry’s Reply:

    Rule 23-1 states, ‘Except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard, any loose impediment may be removed without penalty.’ Leaves are loose impediments and may be removed anywhere on the course, except when your ball lies in a bunker or water hazard. However, the definition of loose impediments states that, ‘sand and loose soil are loose impediments on the putting green, but not elsewhere’. This means that you may not remove any soil that is on the fringe, but you may remove soil that is actually on the putting green. This is the Rule whether or not your ball lies on the putting green.

  36. Dan says:

    Hey
    If i play a shot into a bunker and its flooded, there is no way i can play it and no where i can drop it in the bunker and its not GUR , am i allowed to drop in another bunker no nearer the hole if there is one with no penalty.. Many thanks…

  37. Damien says:

    In matchplay we would take the difference in the handicaps and allow 3qtrs to the higher handicap. Has this rule changed?

    Barry’s Reply:

    You have to remember that golf is played by at least 60 million people playing golf on 35,000 golf courses in 130 countries. Although, thank goodness, there is only one set of Rules, as published jointly by the USGA and R&A, these Rules do not cover handicaps, which are administered by the national governing bodies, or Rules of Competition, which are prescribed by national governing bodies, clubs, societies, etc.. Handicapping systems also vary according to the format of play (e.g. singles, four-ball, foursomes).

    For example, the UK and Ireland use the CONGU system of handicapping.

    You may be interested in checking-out http://www.congu.com/template1.asp?pid=26 which shows their differing match play handicap allowances.

  38. Trevor says:

    I’m going through your questions and answers and for now would like to comment on rule 16.

    Does one drop or place in a bunker as when one drops the lie will differ and is it not that one need to create a similar lie?

    Thanks

    Trevor

    Barry’s Reply:

    Yes, you do have to drop the ball in the bunker when taking relief, under penalty of one stroke, from an unplayable lie under Rule 28 options b) or c). You also have to drop the ball when taking free relief from an abnormal ground condition (e.g. casual water) in a bunker.

    However, if you have lifted the ball under the Rules in order to identify it, or because it is interfering with the play of another player, or you want to see if it is damaged, then you may recreate the lie that you had before replacing it at the spot where you lifted it from.

  39. Kate Stagg says:

    Rule 13-2/22 Ball in trees. Player approaches ball, approx 2ft from ball takes full blooded back swing knocking down many leaves, then steps forward to ball slightly changing line of swing and takes stroke. Is this a breach of rule.? There is no where I can find definition for AREA of Swing as defined in rule. Are you in the area of your swing if you are stood 2ft from your ball.

    Barry’s Reply:

    Your question addresses one of the most subjective areas in the Rules of Golf. Let me start with the relevant Decision 32-2/22;

    ‘Q. A player’s ball lies near a tree or bush. The player takes a practice swing near his ball and knocks down leaves in the area of his intended swing. Is this a breach of Rule 13-2?

    A. The answer depends on whether the area of the intended swing is improved. In some cases, the knocking down of a number of leaves would not improve the area of the intended swing as the player still has to swing through a number of remaining leaves when making his stroke. In such circumstances, there would be no breach of the Rules. In other cases, the knocking down of one leaf might improve the area of the intended swing, in which case there would be a breach of Rule 13-2.

    If a player has improved the area of his intended swing by knocking down a leaf or a number of leaves, he cannot avoid penalty under Rule 13-2 by subsequently changing the area of his swing when he actually makes the stroke.’

    Now you can see why it is so subjective as to whether the intended area of swing has been improved or not. This might be especially true in a match play situation when the player and his opponent might see things differently, especially as the penalty incurred is loss of hole! My opinion on this is that if it is obvious that the player did not intentionally knock down the leaves, then if there is any doubt at all that he/she has improved their area of intended swing they should be given the benefit of doubt.

  40. andyhiggins says:

    Are you allowed to tap down a pitch mark that you repair on th line of your putt if the pitch mark is an old one? Cheers!

    My favourite is the reflief from a rabbit scrape when under a bush! I believe there is an exception to the relief when you are clearly unable to make a stroke because of something other than the abnormal ground condition? My pals hate this :twisted: :twisted:

    Barry’s Reply:

    Yes, Rule 16-1c permits a player to repair any damage to the putting green caused by the impact of a ball (pitch mark), whether or not the player’s ball lies on the putting green. Care should be taken when a pitch mark is on your line of putt. You may tap down the repaired area but be careful not to touch the line of putt outside of the pitch mark area as this would incur a penalty of two strokes, or loss of hole, under Rule 16-1a.

    In your second point you are referring to the exception to Rule 25-1b which states, ‘A player may not take relief under this Rule if

    (a) it is clearly unreasonable for him to make a stroke because of interference by anything other than an abnormal ground condition or

    (b) interference by an abnormal ground condition would occur only through use of an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play.’

  41. Andrew lucan says:

    I have a question for you on the rules.

    I was playing our 16th hole and hit my second shot into an unplayable lie amongst some gorse bushes. I decided to take 2 club lengths no nearer the hole under penalty of 1 shot. When I dropped my ball it bounced and hit the head of my driver. I didn’t really think anything of this because my ball was still in an awful position and continued to play the ball as it lay.

    On of my playing partners said I should incur a 2 shot penalty. I was unsure about this rule and said we should check once we had completed the round.

    The consensus of opinion at the club house was that a 2 shot penalty was appropriate. I duly applied the 2 shot penalty and signed my card. However this was still niggling me.

    I have since found out that I should have re-dropped the ball because it was an illegal drop and made sure it did not hit any part of my golf gear. However finding this out after the event and signing my card didn’t give me any great pleasure.

    In these circumstances what should I have done:

    1) Disqualify myself
    2) Accept the 2 shot penalty, which was the consensus of opinion.
    3) Argue that I received no benefit from the ball striking my driver and not give myself a 2 shot penalty.
    4) Explain the situation to the competion committe and let them decide.
    5) An Alternative action.

    This may seem petty but I was on a reasonable score and could have beaten my handicap and if not at least been in the buffer zone so there is a serious side to the question.

    Thank you very much

    Regards

    Andrew

    Barry’s Reply:

    The answers to your questions are all to be found in Rule 20. Firstly, there is no penalty if your dropped ball strikes your equipment but you must drop the ball again within the Rules (Rule 20-2a). When you failed to drop the ball again and played your ball from where it lay you incurred a penalty of two strokes for playing your ball from the wrong place (Rule 20-7ii).

    However, as you did not gain a significant advantage as a result of playing from this wrong place the Committee would not be justified in disqualifying you (Note 1 to Rule 20).

    So, my direct answers to your questions are;

    1. No.
    2. Yes.
    3. No.
    4. It is always best to do this if you have played from wrong place.
    5. Not applicable.

  42. uttam purohit says:

    Further to your answer at Q. 8, at my home course two parallel fairways have been segrgarted by a line of trees and rough area. In addition two Totem Poles have been erected at either ends of the tree-line. At the end of both the fair-ways it is possible to hit adirect shot to the Green. But the local stipulation is that one CANNOT do so; one MUST go beyond the Totem Pole and only then approach the Green. My question is– How far such a stipulation is correct? Why can’t one go direct across the other fairway and save a stroke? Please clarify. Thanks.

    Barry’s Reply:

    Naturally, I cannot comment on the Local Rule that you describe without knowing all the facts, but there are two Decisions on the Rules that are relevant to your question;

    33-2a/12 Internal Boundary Between Holes Q. It is proposed to install boundary stakes between two holes as a safety measure. It would prevent players playing a “dog-leg” hole from driving onto the fairway of another hole in order to cut the “dog-leg.” Is it permissible to establish such a boundary?
    A. Yes. For the recommended status of such boundary stakes, see Decision 24/5.

    33-2a/14 Internal Out of Bounds Applying to Stroke from Teeing Ground Only A Committee may make a Local Rule under Rule 33-2a declaring part of an adjoining hole to be out of bounds when playing a particular hole, but it is not permissible for a Committee to make a Local Rule placing an area of the course out of bounds to a stroke played from the teeing ground only.

    So, there is nothing in the Rules to prevent the Committee in making such a Local Rule. This does not necessary mean that they are correct in doing so. Internal out of bounds should only be defined where they are absolutely necessary.

  43. Eric Sando says:

    Can sand be removed to identify a golf ball in a bunker? If not and it is subsequently learned a wrong ball has been played is there a penalty or not?

    Barry’s Reply:

    The Rule on this situation changed on 1st January 2008. A player may now identify his ball anywhere on the course, including in a hazard, providing the correct procedure is followed; ‘Before lifting the ball, the player must announce his intention to his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play and mark the position of the ball. He may then lift the ball and identify it, provided that he gives his opponent, marker or fellow-competitor an opportunity to observe the lifting and replacement. The ball must not be cleaned beyond the extent necessary for identification when lifted under Rule 12-2.’

    Rule 12-1 covers the situation where a ball is covered by sand; ‘In a hazard, if a ball is believed to be covered by loose impediments or sand, the player may remove by probing or raking with a club or otherwise, as many loose impediments or as much sand as will enable him to see a part of the ball. If an excess is removed, there is no penalty and the ball must be re-covered so that only a part of the ball is visible. If the ball is moved during the removal, there is no penalty; the ball must be replaced and, if necessary, re-covered. The player must then replace the ball and restore the previous lie as closely as possible.’

  44. Charles says:

    I am having a hard time visualizing the play of the course as describe in #3 rules as stated below.

    I understand this much because I have seem it happen on PGA a lot, where a ball which must go over the water to reach the green fails to make it over the water and must be played back somewhere between the water and where it was hit before entering the water and a penalty and stroke is added.

    Where do you place the ball if the the ball land on the green (the green is an island) but keeps rolling and off into the water?

    Sometimes rules get over detailed and don’t make much beans!!

    Have yourself a great day.

    Charles

    Barry’s Reply:

    I agree that this is a very difficult Rule to explain in words. I have made a note to try and get something on video on this subject, where I can explain the various scenarios on a whiteboard.

    However, in the meantime let me try and summarise. Picture a Par 3 hole with an island putting green. In front of the green (i.e. on the teeing ground side) there is fairway right up to the water hazard.

    Behind the green (i.e. on the far side from where the player is teeing) there is light rough. In each of the following three situations the player chooses not to play out of the water hazard and not to return to the tee for his next stroke.

    1. Tee shot bounces on the fairway and drops into the water hazard short of the green. Under penalty of one stroke the player may drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped. This will be from the fairway on the teeing ground side of the water.

    2. Tee shot crosses the water, lands on the putting green but spins back into the water. Under penalty of one stroke the player may drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped. This will again be from the fairway on the teeing ground side of the water.

    3. (Your question) Tee shot crosses the water, runs through the putting green and into the water on the far side. Under penalty of one stroke the player may drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped. This time the ball will have to be played over the water from the rough on the far side of the water.

    I hope that this helps.

  45. Chan says:

    Rule #11 – First great read, practical scenarios, tips and following comments (this link was forwarded through a chain of friends).

    Is it also correct, that if you use any other club other than your putter, you can’t ground your club on the green?

    Barry’s Reply:

    There is no Rule of Golf that prohibits you from grounding any club on the putting green. In fact, there is no Rule that prohibits you from making a stroke with any club on the putting green, though I recommend that you don’t do it in front of the greenkeeping staff! Rule 16-1a prohibits players from touching their line of putt with any club, although there are seven exceptions, such as removing loose impediments or obstructions (Rule 16-1a).

  46. karin says:

    Hi Andy, if a player has established his point of relief from a GUR,( right hand side of the GUR) which is aprox. 10 meters from the green, and uses his 3 wood to measure this , and then uses the same wood to measure his 2 club lengths allowed for his free drop , and then proceeds to use his wedge to play the next shot.- does the player get a penalty for not measuring the first from the GUR with his wedge? If so, how many penalty strokes? Thanks Karin

    Barry’s Reply:

    The definition of ‘nearest point of relief’ includes these words; ‘In order to determine the nearest point of relief accurately, the player should use the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke. Notice that it says ‘should’. In other words there is no penalty for using a different club. However, a Committee would be justified in giving a warning, and then some form of sanction, to someone who deliberately ignored this explicit recommendation in the Rules.

    The next point is important. When taking relief from GUR, an abnormal ground condition, the player must drop the ball, without penalty, within ONE club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. Believing that the relief is within TWO club-lengths is a common mistake made by golfers. The two club-length relief applies to situations where the player incurs a penalty, e.g. one of the options for an unplayable ball, or opting to take relief from a lateral water hazard.

    On your second point Rule 4-4 states’ For the purpose of measuring, a player may use any club he has selected for that round’. Therefore there is nothing to stop a player from using a 3 wood, a driver, or even a long-handled putter, providing he uses one of his own clubs. However, using a long-handled putter is considered by some to be poor etiquette and I would avoid doing this.

  47. Gregg Gillia says:

    While on the putting surface you notice that someone earlier had scuffed his shoe soft spikes on the green and left a bump that would definitely steer the ball in another direction either right or left . CAN I WITH MY PUTTER LEVEL THE GROUND TO ITS ORIGINAL FORM prior to stroking my ball to the hole? Rule 16-1a states according to your comment that you cannot press down on the green . Why is it that I ‘ve seen players lift up divot hole impressions then press down to level the ground prior to putting?

    Barry’s Reply:

    During play of a hole, a player is permitted to repair are old hole plugs or damage to the putting green caused by the impact of a ball (Rule 16-1c). This is true whether or not their ball lies on or off the putting green. Any other damage to the putting green must not be repaired if it might assist the player in his subsequent play of the hole. This last sentence is important. Few of us can guarantee that we will hit our putts along the line that we intend and we might also overshoot the hole by a significant margin; perhaps on the next putt as well! Therefore players should not repair any other damage to the putting green until they have finished play of the hole.

    Decision 16-1c/4 specifically deals with spike marks;

    ‘Q. A player?s ball lies on or near the putting green. Before playing his next stroke, he taps down spike marks in the vicinity of the hole. Is this permissible?

    A. No. Such action would be a breach of Rule 16-1c since repair of spike marks in the vicinity of the hole might assist the player in his subsequent play of the hole.’

    With regard to you saying that you have observed ‘players lift up divot hole impressions then press down to level the ground prior to putting’ I can only suggest that they are either repairing pitch marks, which is permissable, or are ignorant of the Rules and should have incurred the two stroke penalty.

  48. Lorinda says:

    Referring to # 9 Rules of Golf Question: In a mixed foursome in which the partners play of a combined handicap divided by two, and men play from the back tees and the women play from the forward tees on their respective drives, which stroke is applicable?

    Barry’s Reply:

    The Rules of Golf do not cover handicaps, which vary considerably, according to national governing bodies of golf in each country. I am not familiar with the foursomes format that you describe but suggest that it is the Club’s Rules of Competition that would have to specify whether the men or ladies stroke indexes should be used.

  49. Syl says:

    Thanks Bobby, very insightful reading.

  50. Bob says:

    Your comment on Rule 4-1 intrigues me, because it suggests there is a penalty for merely carrying a nonconforming club—even if it is never used.

    I have a weighted club that I use during warmups. I don’t hit balls with it, but swing it to get loose and to help me get my swing into the proper groove. The club is not meant to be used to actually hit balls.

    Since I don’t carry the full complement of 14 clubs, I typically just leave my weighted club in the bag. Does Rule 4-1 mean that I cannot do this when playing in “official” matches or tournaments?

    Barry’s Reply:

    This is a difficult one for me to answer conclusively. There is a Decision on it; Decision 4-4a/7 Carrying Weighted Training Club;

    Q. May a player carry a weighted training club in addition to the 14 clubs selected for the round?

    A. No, but a weighted training club may be selected as one of 14 clubs carried by a player, provided it conforms with Rule 4-1 (e.g., an excessively-weighted driver head may breach the limit on Moment of Inertia ? see Appendix II). (Revised.)

    So, you will have to check the specifications in Appendix ll against your training club. Personally, I would not carry one in my bag in competition even if I only had 13 other clubs.

  51. Stanford Smith says:

    It was interesting reading the rules in understandable language. Wish I had this knowledge in prior competition. Keep the rules coming.

  52. Glynn Sockett says:

    Thanks for making the rules simpler, putting it into every day playing situations, this will make it more understandable for us THANKS

  53. chris loy says:

    In the 20 rules of golf, question 2 relating to DQ for not entering a score into the computer, would the committee have to publish the fact that disciplinary action could be taken for not entering the score correctly BEFORE they were allowed to carry out any punishment. Surely members must be made aware of the possibility before the committee can act.

    Barry’s Reply:

    In my experience Golf Committees are a law unto themsleves. They can do anything in the knowledge that Rule 34-3 states, ‘In the absence of a referee, any dispute or doubtful point on the Rules must be referred to the Committee, whose decision is final.’

    Of course, you are correct that any Rules or Regulations of Competition should be made known to the entrants before they commence their round. If a player is involved in a serious dispute with a Committee over a matter such as this the only way forward would be to require that the Secretary refer the dispute or doubtful point to the Rules of Golf Committee of the United States Golf Association, whose decision is final. However, one hopes that referring them to the Decision that already exists Decision 6-6b/8) they would save everyone’s time by admitting that they were wrong.

  54. David says:

    NICE to publicitize the rules that are put into actural situations that we all come to experience in our journey of golf. I especially like to test my knowledge of the rules. I read the entire Book of Rules at the beginning of each and every season and these are wonderful situations. Question #10 is particularily interesting.

    Thanks again,

  55. Richard snook says:

    Great scenarios and answers

  56. Les Gunter says:

    Rule # 3 should be clarified that the water hazard is not a lateral water hazard. In that case you are allowed to take a drop two club lnegths from the point the ball last crossed the hazard line, no nearer the hole. Granted, it may be difficult to drop no closer to the hole.

    Barry’s Reply:

    I understand your point and did think about expanding my answer at the time, but as the questioner only referred to a water hazard I decided to keep my reply concise and easily understood. The subject of lateral water hazards introduces whole new scenarios, which in my opinion is best dealt with in a separate Q&A.

  57. NeddySeagoon says:

    #16. ” Some players mistakenly think that they have the option to drop their ball outside a bunker, under penalty of one stroke, whatever the circumstances.”

    They do if they declare it unplayable, don’t they?

    Barry’s Reply:

    Thanks for drawing attention to this. In my answer to Q.16 I quoted the whole of Rule 28 – Ball Unplayable. Option a) of this Rule permits a player to play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played. It therefore follows that if a player’s ball is at rest in a bunker (or in a water hazard, or anywhere else on the course) he always has the option to replay his last shot again under penalty of one stroke. If you think about it this is exactly the same stroke and distance penalty as if the player had hit his ball out of bounds.

  58. Paul says:

    I came to grief in a competition last weekend by not knowing the rules fully. On the first hole, a par 4, my ball was on the green for four. On walking to it, I inadvertently kicked it off the green into the rough at the rear of the green. I then played it as it lied and chipped in for a 5. On consulting the pro afterwards he deemed that I should have a 1 stroke penalty for moving the ball. I then should have replaced the ball in its original position. As I did not, I received a further 2 shot penalty. It was a qualifier for a knock out comp next year, did I make it? No, missed out by 3 shots.

  59. Parriss Johnson says:

    No 17 I understood this rule had been changed to :if the sprinkler head is within 3FT on the intended line relief can be taken.

    Barry’s Relief:

    It is important to understand that the Rules of Golf do not permit any line of play relief from sprinklers off the green. However, the USGA and R&A have facilitated those Committees that wish to introduce a Local Rule allowing such relief by giving a specimen wording in Appendix 1, part B, no.6, which specifies two club-lengths. It is up to Committees whether they wish to modify this recommended wording for a Local Rule. So if your Club has introduced ’3 feet’ into their Local Rule then this stands. All I can say is that in my experience this is very unusual, as I have never heard of this measurement being used before.

  60. Johnny Enslin says:

    Hi Andy, thanks for the update on the rules. Its always refreshing to find that other players play by the rules and that some of them also have problems remembering what some of the rules state. I think that is why it is important to carry the small condensed rules book in your bag at all times.

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