New Decisions Helpful in Daily Play
Most changes to the Rules of Golf originate from rules situations that do not have a definitive answer. These situations occur on the PGA, LPGA, European and Asian Tours and at major amateur championships. However, some of the new decisions for 2008 might have originated at your local course as they address questions that the average club member faces in a casual round of golf during the year.
Putting Green Situations Clarified
How often have we heard a player attending the flagstick say to his partner, “Aim toward my left foot” and wondered if that was a Rules infraction? Now thanks to Decision 8-2b/2 we know that if the person attending the flagstick purposely places his foot on the green to indicate a line for putting, there is a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play to the person putting.
However, that is not the end of the decision. If the person attending the flagstick takes his stance and then realizes a player targeted his foot as a good line, his suggestion to “aim toward my right foot,” would only be a breach of the Rules of Golf if he did not move his foot to another position that would not indicate the line for putting before the stroke is made.
New Decision 16-1e/2 also involves the putting green. In an effort to hole a short putt, right-handed players frequently stretch their right foot across an extension of the line of putt behind the ball to avoid standing on another player’s line while they tap their ball into the hole. (For the Phil Mickelsons in our readership, it is the left foot.) This is all done in an effort to keep play moving. It is not intended to putt croquet-style which is what Rule 16-1e legislates against. Good sense has prevailed, and this common practice is no longer a breach of the Rules of Golf. Purposely putting croquet style will still get a player penalized.
Distance Measuring Devices
A new Local Rule which may be adopted by a club or committee conducting a tournament permits the use of distance-measuring devices. However, a strong word of caution is needed here. Players should never assume the Local Rule is in effect. They need to look at the Local Rules for the competition being played. If the Local Rule is not included, the use of distance-measuring devices is still a disqualification penalty under Rule 14-3.
The NCGA Rules and Tournament Committees have agreed to implement this Local Rule. GPS type systems can be used in all of our qualifiers and tournaments in 2006.
Exchanging Distance Information
Paired with the Local Rule that allows the use of distance-measuring devices is a revision to Decision 8-1/2 which now allows players who are not partners to exchange distance information. Players may now exchange information between any two objects on the course, not just two permanent objects. This means a player may ask anyone (fellow-competitor, opponent or their caddies) the distance between his ball and the hole and not face a penalty. For example, if Player B in a cart observes his ball is 176 yards from the hole according to the GPS device, Player A may ask Player B what the distance is from his (B’s) ball to the hole. Knowing that his fellow-competitor’s ball is four paces closer to the hole, Player A knows his next shot is 180 yards.