4 Decisions On The Rules Of Golf

Here is a recent rules of golf email I replied to.

There were 4 parts to the email and I explain the answers in full below. I trust you will enjoy reading these decisions.


“1. During the rainy season and an almost unplayable course, a greenside bunker is full of water. Player A’s ball lands in that bunker and there is absolutely no relief inside the bunker since it is completely filled with water. Player A then drops the ball just outside the bunker directly behind the place where the ball was found. Has he incurred in a penalty?

2. After playing a beautiful approach shot A player finds that his ball has landed on a part of the green that is full of sand left behind by a previous player. His caddy uses his towel to wipe away the sand that is in the path to the hole. Has he incurred in any penalty? Has the previous player who left the green full of sand incurred in any penalty?

3. All opponents are on the green during a tournament. Player A is resting on his putter which is resting on the green while player C proceeds to putt. Player D, who is player C’s partner claims that there is a ruling that states that he cannot place his putter on the green when another player is putting and therefore has incurred in a one stroke penalty. Player A says there is no such rule. Who is correct?

4. During a Best Ball tournament one of the players balls was not only was seen flying OOB but was declared a lost ball. Since his partner has played a great ball and is only 80 yds from the green he declares he will not play another ball. One of the opponents says he must play a new ball or lose the hole. What is the ruling?

All of the above are real life situations I have encountered during several years of play.”


“Phew. You’re keeping me busy! Here are my answers to your four questions;

1. Player A has incurred a penalty of either one or two strokes depending on exactly where he dropped his ball. Let me explain. When a ball lies in an abnormal ground condition (which includes casual water) in a bunker Rule 25-1b.iib permits the player to lift the ball and under penalty of one stroke, drop the ball 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. If he drops the ball in any other place outside the bunker, and then plays it, he incurs a penalty of two strokes for playing from the wrong place, and could be disqualified if the Committee judge it to be a serious breach of the Rules (i.e, if he has gained a significant advantage as a result of playing from a wrong place) – Rule 20-7c.

2. No penalty has been incurred here. Under the definitions sand is a loose impediment on the green, but not elsewhere, and loose impediments may be moved by any means, providing the player does not press anything down. There is no penalty for a player leaving the putting green without clearing sand that they have left behind.

3. Player A is right. There is no Rule that prohibits a player from resting on his putter on the putting green. It happens all the time, though should be discouraged as it can cause damage to the surface of the green. However, Rule 16-1 does prohibit a player from touching the putting green on his line of putt, except under seven specific circumstances, which are listed (e.g. removing obstructions or loose impediments). If a player did lean on his club on his line of putt in stroke play he would incur a penalty of two strokes.

4. Who are these people that you are playing with? They seem to making up Rules as they go along! Not only can a player in a four-ball stroke play competition drop out of a hole at any time the whole round can be played by a single player. Rule 31-2 states; ‘A Side may be represented by either partner for all or any part of a stipulated round; both partners need not be present. An absent competitor may join his partner between holes, but not during play of a hole.’ By the way, a player cannot render a ball lost by a declaration ? see Definition of ?Lost Ball.? at the front of the Rules of Golf book.”

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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.

5 Responses to “4 Decisions On The Rules Of Golf”

  1. John Gose says:

    The course has been aerated and all the fairways are plugged. Player A’s ball comes to rest in one of the plug holes. Does he get relief?

  2. Ernie Grem says:

    I think the above answer about brushing the sand off with a towel is incorrect. Years ago, Jesper Parnevik was penalized for brushing sand off the green with his golf glove that he had removed. As a matter of fact, when he was questioned about it, he denied doing it and his caddie acknowledged that he did resulting in him being fired.

  3. Barry Rhodes says:


    Yes, If the Committee did not close the course a winner should be determined from the properly returned cards. Rule 6-8 starts;
    “The player must not discontinue play unless:
    (i) the Committee has suspended play;
    (ii) he believes there is danger from lightning;”
    It goes on to say;
    “Bad weather is not of itself a good reason for discontinuing play.”

    Coincidently, I wrote a blog about golf in bad weather and the Rules last week on my Rules of Golf web site at http://www.barryrhodes.com.


  4. David Green says:

    During our January medal we had a heavy snowfall which made the course unplayable in so much as 95% of the entrants made a nil return.
    Are my committee right in stating that the six cards completed will stand ? yours D. Green.

  5. peter cox says:

    Regarding the bunker situation, the player must also have the right to declare the ball unplayable and take a new shot from where the first was taken – am I right?

    Barry’s Reply:


    Correct, when a player deems his ball unplayable (which can be when his ball lies anywhere on the course except in a water hazard) Rule 28, option a., states that he can play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played, under penalty of one stroke.

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