Archive for the ‘Rules’ Category

“Winter Rules”

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

“Winter rules” or “preferred lies” are sometimes allowed in the early or transitional part of a golf season when the course is not in optimal playing condition. Players are given permission to “bump” their ball – in other words, move the ball so that it is in a better lie. (The Rules of Golf: Appendix I-4b)

 

I’m not fond of preferred lies for a couple of reasons. I’ve seen too many people who can’t seem to play without taking preferred lies. It’s become a habit that’s hard to break. Secondly, how will we learn to play off a bad lie if we never do so? Finally, winter rules are far too arbitrary in terms of what is meant by a bad lie.

Here’s a great story:

Four of my University of Texas players were discussing whether to play ‘winter’ rules or ‘summer’ rules. ‘What do you think, Coach?’ I said, ‘Well, you boys can go play golf. Or else you can make up some other game and go play that instead.’ They understood my meaning. In the game of golf, the ball is played as you find it. – Harvey Penick

 Q: What if my ball is lying close to another ball on the fairway?

Alice: You may mark your ball and pick it up. However, you may not clean the ball and you must be certain to replace it in its exact position. (The Rules of Golf: Rule 22)

Q: What if my ball is embedded in its own pitch mark?

Alice: You get free relief. You must drop the ball as close as possible to its embedded position. (The Rules of Golf: Rule 25-2)

From “Hit It, Alice! A Woman’s Golf Guide to Everything But the Swing” 

Playing on the Beach

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Sound good? Not if the beach is a bunker on a golf course. Some days I feel like I’m in bunkers more than I’m on the fairway. It can be very frustrating.

Bunkers are simply hollowed-out areas filled with sand. Bunkers come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found almost anywhere on a golf hole. In most cases, you can play a shot out of the bunker. However, there are certain conditions of bunker play that you have to keep in mind.

A bunker is a hazard and is treated the same as any hazard under the Rules of Golf. You may not “ground your club” before making a shot. You may not “test the condition of the sand,” i.e. touch the sand with your hand to see how hard or soft it is.

 

 

You may not touch or move a loose impediment (natural objects) lying in or touching the bunker.

 

 

There are a couple of etiquette tips to remember as well.

Enter the bunker at the flattest entry point. Entering on a steep bank erodes the sand. After you have played out of the bunker, be sure to use the rake to repair any damage you’ve done. Then leave the rake either inside or outside of the bunker, depending on the requirements of the course you’re playing.

 

Q: Should I always use my sand wedge to hit out of a bunker?

A: A sand wedge may be the best club to use because it is a lofted club that will naturally lift the ball. However, you are allowed to use any club.

Q: When my ball comes to rest against a rake in the bunker, what should I do?

A: The rake is a movable obstruction and should be removed. If your ball moves in the process, it must be replaced and there is no penalty.

PS:  Learn to call the “beach” what it is – a bunker, not a sand trap.

 

 

 

 

Could You Pass?

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

In some European countries, golfers must pass a playing test as well as a written rules and etiquette test in order to obtain a “license to play.” The reasons? Pace of play, safety, reduced course damage, fewer dropouts from the game, etc.

Sweden is at the forefront of this movement and has developed an impressive examining system. Here are a few of the skill tests and a few questions from the written test. Could you pass?

Putting: Hole at least four of eight putts from two feet; hole at least four of eight putts in two strokes from 15 feet; hole at least two of four putts in three strokes or less from 3o feet.

Chipping: Begin 10 feet off the green with the flag place 30 feet back from the edge of the green and get at least five of ten chips within six feet of the hole.

Pitching: From 25 yards off the green and over a hazard, hit at least five of ten pitches on to the green.

Bunker: Make at least two of four balls from a greenside bunker stay on the green; from a fairway bunker, get at least two out of four balls out of the bunker.

Full Swing: In general, be able to hit a 7-, 8-, or 9- iron farther than 25 yards; hit a 4-, 5-, or 6- iron farther than 50 yards; hit a tee shot more than 80 yards. All shots must stop within a 30-40-yard-wide area. (Distances are for women.)

Some of these skills tests sound easy enough, but when faced with the pressure of HAVING to perform, could you do it? (I’m going to take these tests to a practice facility and test myself.)

How about these questions?

1) Give at least three examples of bunker etiquette.

2) A mis-hit causes  your ball to fly sideways and hit your bag. How many penalty strokes do you incur?

3) Are you allowed to remove dirt from your ball when it’s a) in the fairway? b) on the green?

4) You hit the wrong ball out of the rough. How many penalty strokes do you incur?

5) Name two ways to let the group playing behind you play through.

6) Name three areas of the golf course where you shouldn’t pull a cart or drive a motorized cart.

7) What color are the stakes marking a direct water hazard?

Again, could you pass? Good luck!!  (Answers below)

 

 

1) Rake the bunker; enter and exit the bunker on the low side; leave the rake wherever the course directs you to do so.

2) Two strokes (Rule 19-2)

3) a. No (Rule 21)  b. Yes (Rule 16-1b)

4) Two strokes (Rule 15-3)

5) Stop playing while the group behind plays through; let the group behind tee off with you, then allow them to move ahead at a pace that’s faster than yours.

6) The green, the tee, the apron of the green and the edge of a bunker.

7) Yellow

 

 

 

Rain or Shine

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Dressed for the cold!

 

Sometimes you just have to play – whether it’s raining, windy, cold or some other form of inclement weather. Most often, you choose to play because you’re in competition and the officials in charge have not delayed or cancelled the event. Other times you just want to play so badly that you’ll endure most anything.

 

Some thoughts about inclement weather:

1) Prepare for possible weather conditions and weather changes. Dress in layers and have some optional clothing available – i.e. gloves, handwarmers, stocking hat, rainsuit, etc.

2) Swing easy when it’s breezy.

3) Know that everyone is playing under the same conditions; keep a positive attitude.

4) Keep a small Handy Wipe in your bag. When your grips get wet, you are allowed to wrap this (or a small towel) around the grip to keep your hands from slipping. It really works! Conversely, you may use resin or powder to keep your hands dry on a very hot, humid day. (Rule 14-3c)

5) Never continue when there is lightning in the area. Even in competition, if you feel unsafe, you may mark your ball and take shelter.

6) In competitive play, if a horn is sounded to discontinue play, you MAY NOT play another shot. Not even if you have a one-inch tap-in. You MUST mark your ball and leave the course or you will be disqualified. That one-inch tap-in will still be there when play is resumed.

One of the last times I played golf with my mother (who was slipping into Alzheimer’s), we joked that someone must have left their dryer vent open. It was snowing. We were bundled up, and we were the only ones on the course. It’s one of my most precious memories.

 

Water Hazard Questions (and Answers)

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Here are a few interesting situations involving Rule 26: Water Hazards.

(Before trying to answer these questions, be sure you know the difference between a direct and lateral water hazard and the options you have with each.)

Direct hazard -  yellow stakes

Lateral hazard – red stakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(from Golf Digest - August 2010)

1. Your opponent hits a ball toward a water hazard, but neither of you knows if the ball went in or if it is lost outside the hazard. She then hits a provisional but later finds the first ball inside the margin of the hazard. Is  she required to abandon the original ball?

2. You hit your ball into a water hazard that is marked with yellow stakes (a direct hazard). You see a spot on the opposite side of the hazard that is equidistant to the hole from the point where your ball last crossed the hazard margin and went into the water. Can you take a penalty drop at that spot?

3. Your playing partner duffs a tee shot that rolls just inside the margin of a water hazard. To make things worse, she tries to play her second shot from there, and it flies out-of-bounds. Can she add a penalty stroke for hitting it out-of-bounds and another stroke for taking relief from the hazard and then hit from the tee again, now lying 4?

4. Your shot lands on the green, rolls past the pin and off the other side into a lateral water hazard. It’s easy to determine where the ball last crossed the margin, but it’s impossible to find a spot within two club-lengths to drop that’s no closer to the hole. Can you drop in that area anyway?

5. Taking a one-stroke penalty, you drop within two club-lengths of the point where your ball last crossed the margin of a lateral water hazard, no closer to the hole. Your ball hits a pebble and rolls outside the two club-length zone but is still no closer to the hole. Can you play it as it lies, or do  you have to re-drop?

Answers

1. No. She must play the original ball as it lies or drop and take a one-stroke penalty. (Rule 26-1) The rules don’t allow for a provisional if a shot is known for certain to have been hit into a water hazard. In this case the player thought her first ball could be lost outside the hazard, so it was okay to have hit the provisional.

2. No. This option is available only if it’s a lateral water hazard marked with red stakes or a red line. (Rule 26-1c)

3. Yes. Or she can play another shot from the hazard (lying 3) or drop a ball behind the hazard, keeping the point at which the first ball crossed the hazard margin between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the hazard the ball is dropped – lying 4. (Decision 26-2/1)

4. No. You must proceed under one of the other options for a lateral water hazard. Most likely you’d replay the last shot. (Decision 16-1/18)

5. If the ball rolled more than two club-lengths from the spot where it hit the pebble, you must re-drop. Otherwise, play it as it lies. (Rule 20-2c(vi)).

It always pays to know the rules!

A Rules Snafu

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Cathy Schmidt, an LPGA teaching professional in Bradenton, Florida tells this story about a rules situation she encountered while playing in the 2012 LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals National Championship. See if you can figure out her score for the hole.

“Blame my poor shot on loss of concentration. Slow play due to tough course – Donald Ross’ French Lick in Indiana. The teaching pro’s games were not up to par and slow play ensued. Too much time in between shots and too much distraction from idol chit chat. My fault, too. I was ready to tell a story when I heard, ‘It’s your shot, Cathy’.

“(I) hit my tee shot on a par 3 into the fescue. With rules officials, the two other players, my caddy and a few spotters (looking), it seemed like I was going to have a lost ball. Then at 4:58 I stepped on what felt like a ball and identified it to be mine. The mark was the blue sharpied whale stencil, provided in the starter tent that (for fun reasons) I chose to use that day for my id-ing mark.

“One stroke for stepping on the ball. Then (I) placed it, but could not improve the lie so (I was) still in a hole in the fescue. Shot number two hits me and falls back into the fescue, so now I’m lying 4, out on 5 and up (on the green) in 6. I go to mark my ball and see that the whale is not on a Titleist.

“Wrong ball! Some other player used the same stencil. So back to the tee box, lying four, hitting five. (From the tee I) bogied for a grand total of eight.  By the time the rules officials decided what strokes would remain and what ones did not count, I was too confused to argue and just went on to play my best to the end.

“Just before entering the scoring tent, the rules official stopped me and the player who had my card to tell us I took a nine for the hole and to add one more stroke. They had miscounted.

“LOL!  I had fun, though. Fortunately, I only got (penalized) strokes; (I) could have added a host of hitchhiking chiggers from the fescue to itch my thoughts of slow play away.”

That’s quite a story, wouldn’t you agree? But the more I read the account, the more I thought that the final count of 9 wasn’t correct. So I contacted two “rules gurus” at the Minnesota Golf Association, Doug Hoffman and Lisa Overum and went over the situation with them.

Doug & Lisa’s conclusion:

“When she picked up the ball and either replaced or dropped it after stepping on it, she had a responsibility to (then) identify the ball as hers.  Had she done so, she would have discovered that the ball was not hers, and she should have kept looking for her original ball.  By not doing so and putting this found ball into play, she is treated as having declared the original ball lost.  Of course, this requires her to go back to the teeing ground under ‘stroke and distance.’  When she simply placed or dropped the ball and subsequently played it, she was in violation of Rule 20-7c for having played from a wrong place with a serious breach.  This is a ‘must correct’ situation requiring her to go back under the applicable rule (27) and proceed correctly with an additional two stroke penalty.  The strokes played with the ball played from the wrong place do not count.

“(We) both agree that the score is 8 either way you count it. She played five strokes and incurred three penalty strokes – 1 under Rule 27 and 2 under Rule 20-7c.  She does not incur the (2-stroke) penalty for the ball hitting her (Rule 19-2) since that stroke was deemed not to count.”

Are you still there?

For your reference, here are the rules mentioned above:

Rule 27 – Ball Lost or Out of Bounds: If a ball is lost … the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.

Cathy complied with this rule by going back to the tee once she determined that her ball actually was lost.

Rule 20-7c – Playing from Wrong Place: If a competitor makes a stroke from a wrong place, he incurs a penalty of two strokes…

Raise your hand if you got the right answer! It pays to know the rules or, at the very least, know how to find the applicable rules in the Rule Book. In this case, it would have saved Cathy one stroke. And one stroke is one stroke.

 

 

Out of Bounds

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

I was working as a rules official at a tournament recently, and I encountered an interesting out-of-bounds issue. A player hit his tee shot astray; it was careening down the hill on the opposite side of the fairway, so I wasn’t able to see exactly where it ended up. We searched and found the ball, but we weren’t sure if it was in bounds or out of bounds. One of the problems was that the out-of-bounds stakes were quite far apart. Another issue was the weeds, bushes and small trees that were growing right on the out-of-bounds line.

I put a call in to another rules official who had fishing line with him. He came over and we strung the line from one stake to the other (at least 30 yards apart), through the weeds and underbrush. When we were certain that the line was straight, we looked at the position of the ball. It was in bounds!

So – When is a ball out of bounds?

When the ENTIRE ball is out of bounds. (The Rules of Golf – Definitions)In this case, only part of the ball was out of bounds.

What is the procedure if the ball is out of bounds?

If the player hasn’t hit a provisional ball, (s)he must play a ball as nearly as possible to the original spot where the ball was played and take a one-stroke penalty. (The Rules of Golf – Rule 27-1) In this case, the player had hit a provisional ball but didn’t have to use it.

What is the proper procedure for hitting a provisional ball?

Two things: 1) announce to your fellow competitors that you’re hitting a provisional ball, and  2) tell them how this ball differs from your first one (different logo, number or brand). If you’re hitting from the teeing ground, wait until everyone has teed off before hitting your provisional ball. (The Rules of Golf – Rule 27-2)

When should you hit a provisional ball?

Whenever you think there’s even a possibility that your ball is lost or out of bounds. You can potentially save a lot of time and energy.

A couple of “What-if’s…?”

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

What if…. you’re taking a practice swing and accidentally move your ball?

You must take a penalty stroke for moving a ball in play and the ball must be replaced. Rule 18-2a.

What if…. your ball ends up on a green that’s not part of the hole you’re playing?

Under The Rules of Golf – Rule 25-3,  you are not allowed to play your ball from a wrong putting green. You must take relief without penalty. As in all other situations where you’re allowed free relief, i.e. a cart path, you must find the nearest point of relief not closer to the hole and drop your ball there.

What if…. a pond which is defined as a water hazard overflows, and your ball lands in the overflow water?

If your ball is not within the defined margins of the hazard (either red or yellow lines or stakes), it is considered to be in casual water, and you may take free relief.

What if….a player is on the green, it’s her turn to putt and she realizes that she doesn’t have her putter? Can she borrow one from another player?

No. The only exception in the Rules of Golf is in a situation where partners are sharing clubs. However, the total number of clubs shared between them may not exceed 14.

On a lighter note, there’s a group of women in Florida     who golf together on a regular basis and call themselves the WAKS – Women Against Keeping Score. These girls just wanna have fun! You go, girls!

Some mid-season thoughts….

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Here are a few “do-so’s” -  things that I’ve been thinking about while on the course.

 

When dropping a ball, do so from shoulder height.

When dropping the flagstick, do so from ankle height. (Have you noticed that a flagstick can make an imprint on the green?)

 

 

When spraying insect repellent, do so on the cart path as the repellent can kill the grass as well as the bugs.

 

When observing another person’s shot, do so from the side, not directly behind. On the green, be sure you’re not standing on the line of the person’s putt – on either side of the hole.

This is WRONG!

 

When you’re on the green and need to clean your ball but don’t have a cloth handy, walk to the side of the green and do so by rubbing the ball in the rough, not on the putting surface.

 

And finally, an obscure decision in the Rules of Golf that actually happened just last week!

A young woman hit her ball into a muddy part of a hazard and then hit it again onto the fringe of the green. Since she wasn’t on the green, she couldn’t clean her ball. She chose to putt the ball onto the green, but when she did, the ball stuck to the face of her club, and she couldn’t get it off.  What to do!?!?!?

Decisions on The Rules of Golf has the answer in Decision 1-4/2.

Q: A player plays a stroke from wet sand or soil and the ball adheres to the face of the club. What is the ruling?

A: In equity (Rule 1-4), the ball should be dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where the club was when the ball stuck to it.

How to ID Your Ball

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

I make it a habit to mark all of the balls in my bag with an identifying mark, and I try to remember to identify my ball each time I’m ready to hit. However, every now and then the ball is lying in such a way that my mark is not visible. What to do?!?!?!

Incorrect procedure!

 

 

In the “Rules of Golf” – Rule 12-2 is very clear on this. You may not just quickly lift the ball, look at it and put it back. In order to be in compliance, you must follow this simple procedure:

 

1) Tell a fellow-competitor what you are going to do and give that person the opportunity to observe you.

2) Put a marker next to the ball.

3) Lift and identify the ball.

4) Replace the ball exactly as it was.

“If the ball is the player’s ball and he fails to comply with all or any part of this procedure, or he lifts his ball in order to identify it when not necessary to do so, he incurs a penalty of one stroke.”

Most of the times when I’ve seen this done incorrectly, it’s simply because the player hasn’t been taught the correct procedure. But I’ve seen the other extreme as well – where a player will lift the ball on almost every shot pretending to identify it, but giving himself a better lie as well.

Make it a habit to mark your ball for identification! Make it a habit to identify your ball with the correct procedure!