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?
#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.”
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.