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Stump the Rules 2014

2012ROGphotoaHave a nagging question on the Rules of Golf you want answered? Have an argument that needs to be resolved? Saw an incident on television that has you confused?

The NCGA wants your assistance in providing more information on the Rules of Golf. Put the NCGA’s team of rules officials to the test. Submit your question/situation below and receive an almost immediate answer. The best questions each quarter will receive expanded coverage in the next NCGA Golf, with photos or diagrams to make even the most complex rulings crystal clear.

Author: rfarb

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  • James

    Player enters Red/hazed with two clubs. Chooses one for play and lays down other in the hazard. Is this a violation of grounding.

    • Ryan Farb

      No, Exception 1 to Rule 13-4 explicitly permits the player to place his clubs in a hazard without penalty, provided nothing is done that constitutes testing the condition of the hazard.

  • Bob Anderson

    Are you allowed to raise the pin on an elevated green to give direction to a player below who has a blind shot?

    • Ryan Farb

      Bob,
      Rule 17-1 permits the player to have the flagstick raised directly above the hole prior to the stroke (and if done prior to the stroke he can have it held up throughout the stroke).
      Other than with the flagstick directly over the hole, Rule 8-2 permits the player to have the line of play indicated to him prior to the stroke, but not during the stroke.

  • drwinn1@comcast.net

    A player’s ball lies on a cart path. Red stakes mark both sides of the cart path where tall brush prohibit access to nearest point of relief.
    1. Is the ball considered to be in the water hazard?
    2. what are the player’s options?
    Question #2.
    Given the situation above with a bridge connecting the cart path and the ball lies on the bridge. The bridge is considered an immoveable obstruction.
    Is the bridge considered in the water hazard?
    What option/s does the player have?

    • Ryan Farb

      Dwight,
      1. If the ball lies on the cart path in a position that is within the margin of the lateral water hazard (between the red stakes), the ball lies in the water hazard. 2. The player must play the ball as it lies or proceed under Rule 26-1. Also, when relief from an obstruction is available, remember the nearest point of relief is not necessarily the nicest point of relief. Even if a player cannot physically reach or play from the point that would be the NPR, that point is still the NPR.
      If the hazard is marked in a manner that the bridge is within the margins of the water hazard, the player must either play the ball as it lies or proceed under Rule 26-1. The bridge is still an immovable obstruction, but a player is not entitled to relief from an immovable obstruction when his ball lies in a water hazard. However, the player may ground his club on the bridge (Decision 13-4/30).

  • Ed

    Decision 31/1 is confusing me: A and B are partners playing C and D and also A vs. C and B vs D. “The exception …is with Rule 8-1 as the two partners may not exchange advice if both are playing in individual competition.” Does this mean A and B can’t give advice to each other?

    • Ryan Farb

      In a four-ball stroke-play competition with a concurrent individual competition if both A and B are playing in the individual competition they may not give each other advice. For match play see Decision 30-3/1 situation 9. The reason is to protect the field, but note also in match play if the four-ball match has concluded partners would be prohibited from giving each other advice because they would no longer be partners.

      • Ian Riggall

        In individual competition, during Four-Ball Stroke play or two man best ball stroke play, if one team player picks up after it becomes apparent he cannot contribute to the team score, what score does he use for the individual competition. For instance, he is a 9 handicap, hits into the water on the number 1 handicap par four hole, his partner hits great shot down the middle, so water ball guy hits again into water. so his next shot would have him hitting his 5th shot and he decides to pick up. For posting to handicap he correctly posts a 6. for the individual gross competition does he mark down a 6 and then for the individual net competition get a 5? Or is he DQ’d from the individual competition? In this case, Our group has been letting players take the gross 6 and net 5 and then use that for individual competition. I think that is not correct as it lets players remove “blow up” holes from their gross and net scores, assuming they knew of this local, undocumented, unshared “ruling”.

  • Benton Gross

    Last year, I asked if using a golf app on my iPhone was legal for NCGA events and you answered no, since the iPhone had a compass. However, in reading page 56 of NCGA Golf Winter 2014, I see that New decision 14-3/18 and Revised Decision 14-3/4 now permit golfers to access weather information on multi-functional devises without penalty and allow the use of a compass. Therefor, is the use of a golf app on my IPhone (which uses GPS to measure distances) now legal for NCGA events?

    • Ryan Farb

      Benton,

      Yes the new Decisions paved the way for distance-measuring apps to be permissible in competitions. Their use is still subject to certain stipulations and I highly recommend reviewing the NCGA’s Clarification on Smart Phones and Distance-Measuring Devices which can be found on the Tournament Central webpage under Regulations & Policies.

      • Benton Gross

        Thank you

  • Dennis

    I hit my ball into a hazard. After finding it I decide to play it and the ball is then lost in the same hazard. Where do I play my next shot from?

    • Ryan Farb

      Dennis,

      Rule 26-2 gives you several options. You may proceed under stroke and distance from the previous spot in the hazard. You may use the spot where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard (on the previous stroke) and proceed in accordance with Rule 26-1b or 26-1c(if a lateral water hazard). You may also play from where the last stroke outside the water hazard was made. All under penalty of one stroke. Note that if you drop a ball under stroke and distance and decide you don’t want to play it from in the hazard, you may add an additional penalty stroke and use the other listed options to play from outside the hazard. For the specific text see Rule 26-2.

  • Chuck Marshall

    The course I play has “waste areas” that because of sandy soil is hard to tell from a bunker. They are not hollowed out as most of the bunkers are but the definition for a bunker wherein it says “often a hollow” and where turf is replaced with “sand and the like” doesn’t provide me enough comfort to assume they are not hazards. Is there a way to positively tell the difference between a “bunker” and a “waste area”?

    • Ryan Farb

      It is the Committee’s responsibility to properly define which areas are “waste areas” and which are bunkers. There is no hard and fast Rule because in some events, areas that are clearly bunkers are defined as waste areas or vice versa (for example, in the 2012 PGA Championship all sandy areas were played as “through the green” which is the same status as a “waste area”).

  • Rick

    A fellow player accidentally hits the wrong ball. I understand it’s a two stroke penalty but if he hits the wrong ball two times in a row,
    is it another two strokes?

    • Ryan Farb

      The answer depends on whether or not the player becomes aware he has played a wrong ball between strokes at the wrong ball. If the player makes successive strokes at a wrong ball and finds out after those strokes that he had played a wrong ball, a single two-stroke penalty applies. If the player played a wrong ball, became aware of it, and then played a wrong ball again, separate penalties would be applied. See Decision 15-3b/2.

      • Rick

        Thanks

        Rick Caballero
        Ocean Press Multimedia
        408-453-2500

  • Michael (Tom) Terry

    Question regarding relief from a sprinkler head / drain. If a player’s ball lies in the 1st or 2nd cut just off the green and wants to putt his ball but a sprinkler head / drain is in the intended path of the put but not interfering with the player’s stance or stroke, is that player entitled to any relief? I think the answer is no but I would appreciate if you would confirm my thinking or provide the correct answer. Thanks.

    • Ryan Farb

      With no Local Rules in effect, the player is not entitled to relief for intervention by an immovable obstruction on his line of play.

      The Committee may put into a effect a Local Rule that permits a player to get relief for intervention on his line of play by an immovable obstruction that is within two club-lengths of the putting green and within two club-lengths of the ball.

  • Bruce Hoffman

    Must the golf scorecard be totaled and signed before turning it in?

    • Ryan Farb

      Rule 6-6b requires that the player ensure that the marker has signed the score card and that he signs it himself prior to returning it. The player is only responsible for the hole-by-hole scores. Rule 33-5 makes the Committee responsible for the addition of the score card.

  • Steve Dwelle

    A’s shot hit his partner’s cart, which was stopped, with his partner in the driver’s seat. His opponent was sharing the cart but was not in it at the time. Is there a 1 stroke penalty for hitting his (team”s) equipment?
    Steve Dwelle

    • Ryan Farb

      Yes. By definition the cart is deemed to be the equipment of the player or player’s side whose ball is involved, unless the cart is being moved when it is the equipment of the player moving the cart. Therefore, under Rule 19-2 the player incurs a one-stroke penalty for a ball deflected or stopped by a member of the side’s equipment.

  • john lee

    I understand that distance-measuring devices cannot factor slope. My question is if I am allowed to use a calculator (not from my smart phone, because it has a weather app that gives wind speed) to calculate uphill distances. I basically want to use a standard calculator to do the math. Its a simple geometry equation, but not always easy to do without a calculator.

    • Ryan Farb

      John,

      The use of a calculator in and of itself is not prohibited by Rule 14-3. However, the use of an electronic device, such as a calculator, to assist in calculating the effective distance between two points would be a breach of Rule 14-3 resulting in disqualification. See Decision 14-3/16 (last bullet point).

      Also, see new Decision 14-3/18 that permits the use of a Weather App during the stipulated round and the NCGA’s Clarification on Smart Phones and Distance-Measuring Devices at Tournament Central under Regulations & Policies.

  • Ed

    A player’s ball ends up buried in a bunker or in a sandy waste area. He searches for the ball and makes a good attempt to recreate the lie but clearly makes the ball much more visible than just “a small part of the ball.” If he plays the ball with the added visibility, is it a one or two stroke penalty?

    • Ryan Farb

      If the player fails to meet the requirements of Rule 12-1a by leaving a much larger portion of the ball visible than before the lie was disrupted, he would incur the general penalty for a breach of Rule 12-1, two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

  • gary e

    A players ball lodges in a gopher hole which is under the out side edge of low hanging branches of a pine tree. The hole is mounded with dirt, the ball is below ground level and can clearly be identified. The player takes stance and one club length laterally. This positions the ball from under the branches and just outside circumference of the tree branches but the tree still impedes backswing a great deal. The ball is played from this position. Was it proper relief?

    • Ryan Farb

      In taking relief under Rule 25-1b the player must drop the ball (if immediately recoverable) within one club-length of the nearest point of relief. I cannot tell from your description if a nearest point of relief was determined. There is also a question that the player may not have been entitled to relief because something other than the abnormal ground condition made the stroke clearly impracticable. Please see Rule 25-1 and the Exception to 25-1b for further guidance.

  • David F

    When taking relief from a cart path you must drop within one club length of nearest point of relief and the ball cannot roll more than two club lengths. Can you use any club to measure the distance? For example, if your ball drops into heavy rough and rolls farther than two wedges but not as far as two drivers, can you measure the distance with a lob wedge and redrop the ball?

    • Ryan Farb

      You must use the same club for measuring throughout an entire procedure. If you first measure your nearest point of relief with your driver, you may not then switch and measure if the ball rolled two club-lengths with a wedge. See Decision 20/1.

  • David Harmon

    We are an NCGA certified 9 hole course. We start on several holes. If we start a 4-some on Hole #9 is the next hole considered to be #10 or do you finish the front 9 and the next recorded would be #1?

  • john lee

    As a follow-up to your reply to my question on 2/19, can you clarify Decision 14-3/18? I wanted to clarify if a player can check his smartphone and weather at ANY time during a round or if its only allowed during “AN IMPENDING STORM TO PROTRCT THEIR OWN SAFETY.” If its a bright sunny day and a player is checking his phone simply to get wind speed and direction, is this allowed? The 2 sentences from the USGA website are a bit vague. Thanks.

    • Ryan Farb

      John,
      The player may access information from a Weather Application or internet website weather report without restriction so long as the phone itself is not measuring the temperature or wind direction/speed.

  • Ed

    A player was recently disqualified from an NCGA tourney for wearing metal spikes. (He obviously didn’t read the player info sheet). My question: Is there a specific moment when the dq takes place? The info sheet could be read that the dq takes place when the metal spikes touch a green for the first time or is it when the player makes his first stroke of the day?

    • Ryan Farb

      The condition against wearing traditional metal spikes would be breached once the player begins his stipulated round, so when he makes his first stroke. He can walk to the tee and has the opportunity to change his shoes before he starts his round without penalty.

  • Hee

    Q. Brian asked Kevin to mark his (Brian`s) ball while Brian was raking the bunker after playing his stroke. Is Kevin the only one who can replace Brian`s ball?

    • Ryan Farb

      Hee,

      Under Rule 20-3 there are three people who may always replace a ball, 1)the player, 2) the player’s partner, or 3) the person who originally lifted or moved the ball. So in your situation (assuming Brian has no partner), both Kevin or Brian may replace the ball.

  • BobG

    Sorry if this is a re-post, my original question does not appear. Under winter rules a player is allowed to mark, lift, clean, and place his ball (26-4). When exactly does the placed ball become “in play”? Is it when the ball touches the ground or when the mark is picked up? I thought I have seen pros fiddle with the placement to get it just so before picking up the mark.

    • Ryan Farb

      Bob,
      Under Preferred Lies, the Local Rule commonly known as Winter Rules, a player may place the ball only once. Once the hand leaves the ball on the ground, the ball is placed. Whether the mark is left in place or removed at that point is irrelevant with regards to the ball being in play.

  • Ed

    I hit my ball onto the green and notice an obvious dent on my line of putt probably put there by an angry golfer slamming his club on the green earlier in the day. What rights do I have regarding getting that damage repaired before I putt?

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,
      If you believe the damage is severe enough to warrant the area being ground under repair, contact the Committee as soon as possible to see if they would deem it ground under repair or repair it themselves. If no Committee member is available, in stroke play you may proceed under Rule 3-3 playing one ball as it lies and the other with relief in accordance with Rule 25-1b and report to the Committee at the end of the round. In match play, you must continue the match without delay. If you take relief when not permitted or repair the damage your opponent may make a claim or overlook the breach (so long as there is no agreement to waive a Rule).

      • Ed

        In match play could my opponent agree that the damage should be gur and grant relief and we play on or would that be some sort of waiving the rules of golf problem?

        • Ryan Farb

          Ed,
          If you agree with your opponent to repair that damage or take relief when it isn’t GUR in and of itself and you are both aware that would be against the Rules, you both would be in violation of Rule 1-3. In match play, an opponent may overlook a breach, so with your opponent watching you can just repair it and take a chance that he doesn’t make a claim. If he makes a valid claim you would lose the hole under 16-1c. Not necessarily the wisest choice.

  • Dennis Anderson

    Provisional Ball question: I read is Golf Digest that a player can go forward up to 50 yards and then go back to where ball last hit and declare that player is going to hit a Provisional Ball. Is this true?
    Dennis

    • Ryan Farb

      Dennis,
      Decision 27-2a/1.5 Meaning of “Goes Forward to Search” was revised for 2014 and now provides an approximate distance of 50 yards that a player may walk forward before he is considered to have “gone forward to search.” This, however, would not necessarily apply in the (hopefully) rare cases where the original is likely to be only a short distance (i.e., under 50 yards) away.

  • pacific

    I’m about to make a stroke that gets me on the green. However, I notice loose impediments on my target landing spot or on the line that I want the ball to roll on. I could be in a greenside bunker or at 80 yards away or on the tee box of a short Par 3. Before I make my stroke, may I walk up to the green and clear the loose impediments and repair ball & spike marks?

    • Ryan Farb

      Pacific,
      If your ball is in a hazard (bunker or water hazard) you may not remove loose impediments that lie in the same hazard – Rule 13-4. However, you may remove loose impediments lying through the green or on the putting green at any time regardless of whether they are on your line of play so long as you don’t move your ball and the moved loose impediments would not influence the movement of a ball in motion – Rule 23-1. You may not repair spike marks on your line of play, putt or extension of your line of play/putt beyond the hole or anywhere if the repair might assist you in your subsequent play of the hole – Rule 16-1c. You are permitted to repair ball-marks on the putting green regardless of where your ball lies – Rule 16-1c. I would also stipulate that if you are 80 yards away or at the teeing ground of a par-3 you may be subject to penalty for undue delay (Rule 6-7) if you walked up to remove loose impediments 80 yards away or repair ball-marks on the green and then went back to play your stroke.

      • pacific

        What if my ball is not on the green and I need one stroke to get onto the green. Before I take my stroke, may I walk up to the green to remove loose impediments lying on the green? (Rule 23 is not explicit regarding removing loose impediments on the green when the ball is NOT on the green.)

        • Ryan Farb

          Pacific,

          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.” So except for in the same hazard, it makes no difference where the ball or loose impediment lie, just don’t cause the ball to move and don’t remove the loose impediment while another ball is in motion heading toward it.

  • Larry

    I am the first to putt from 15′ away and my 3 competitors are all on the green and marked. I miss the putt and it goes 18″ past the hole. I now stand on the side where the putt came from with feet astride the line of putt and make a pulling stroke as to avoid standing on anybody’s line. Is this a penalty per 16-1e or not a penalty per 16-1e exception?

    • Ryan Farb

      Larry,
      16-1e covers standing astride your line of putt. The line of putt does not extend beyond the hole(Definition of Line of Putt), so if you are on the opposite side of the hole you cannot stand on your line of putt or an extension of that line behind the ball, and you could not breach 16-1e. However, you must be careful when you say “pulling stroke” because you must make sure that you do not push, scrape or spoon the ball into the hole as that would be a violation of 14-1.

  • Bruce Hoffman

    I’m watching the Arnold Palmer golf tournament and Ian Poulter was in the water hazard…..wind is minimal, but still creating small waves. The ball was moving back and forth in the water when Poulter hit the ball. I thought, under no circumstances, are you allowed to hit a moving ball. What’s the call???

    • Ryan Farb

      Bruce,

      There was no penalty in the situation you mentioned for two reasons: 1) Although the ball was oscillating with the waves, it was not changing its position and therefore it was not “moving” according to the Rules of Golf. An oscillating ball is not a moving ball, Decision 18/2; and 2) there are several exceptions to playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 and one of them is for a ball moving in water in a water hazard (Rule 14-6). Had Poulter’s ball been moving, there would be no penalty for playing a ball moving in water in a water hazard provided he did not delay to let the ball move to a more favorable position.

  • Julian Venturi

    what is the rule if your ball hits a power line?

    • Ryan Farb

      Julian,
      With no Local Rules in effect the ball must be played as it lies. Decision 33-8/13 provides the Local Rule for a ball that is deflected by a power line. When in effect, the player MUST cancel and replay the stroke if the ball is deflected by a power line.

  • Ian Riggall

    In individual competition, during Four-Ball Stroke play or two man best ball stroke play, if one team player picks up after it becomes apparent he cannot contribute to the team score, what score does he use for the individual competition. For instance, he is a 9 handicap, hits into the water on the number 1 handicap par four hole, his partner hits great shot down the middle, so water ball guy hits again into water. so his next shot would have him hitting his 5th shot and he decides to pick up. For posting to handicap he correctly posts a 6. for the individual gross competition does he mark down a 6 and then for the individual net competition get a 5? Or is he DQ’d from the individual competition? In this case, Our group has been letting players take the gross 6 and net 5 and then use that for individual competition. I think that is not correct as it lets players remove “blow up” holes from their gross and net scores, assuming they knew of this local, undocumented, unshared “ruling”.

    • Ryan Farb

      Ian,

      According to your question I must assume you have a four-ball stroke play tournament with concurrent individual stroke play.

      In the individual stroke play, the player MUST hole out. If he fails to do so he is disqualified from the individual competition under Rule 3-2. For posting purposes, however, the player should use the most likely score he would’ve made. In your scenario it is not clear the most likely score would be a 6. It may even be necessary to use Equitable Stroke Control and post the maximum score if that is what would be his most likely score for the hole.

      For the Four-Ball stroke play card you mark down the most likely score with an X to signify that the player did not hole out. In four-ball only one partner has to hole out. Note if both partners fail to hole out in the four-ball competition, the side is disqualified from the competition.

      • Ian Riggall

        Would the same rulling apply to individual competition in two man best ball. We award prizes for team reults and award Fedx championship type points for individual scores.

        • Ryan Farb

          Ian,

          Two-man best ball is the common term name for Four-Ball. Four-Ball is the proper Definition for that form of play.

  • jim atchison

    Is there “ground under repair” on a green? While playing in a tournament, I hit my ball onto the green. In between my ball and the hole was a fairly large bare spot whit no grass. Can I move my ball to the nearest point , without having to putt over the spot? If my ball was actually on the bare spot, would I be entitled to any relief? Or if no relief is given, may I repair the bare mark? I understand players must play over or around such conditions while elsewhere on the course. However, when on the putting green, and the proper play is to putt the ball, I believe some relief must be given, otherwise players might elect to chip the ball, thus causing more damage to the putting green. Any advice would help . Thanks

    • Ryan Farb

      Jim,

      Ground under repair can exist anywhere on the course (even in a water hazard, but if your ball were in the water hazard you would not get relief). However, areas such as you describe would not be automatically ground under repair, it would have to be declared as such by the Committee. Bare spots in and of themselves do not constitute ground under repair.

      If it were declared as GUR by the Committee, when your ball lies on the putting green you are entitled to relief for intervention by GUR on the putting green on your line of putt. You would place the ball at the nearest point of relief, and that point may be off the putting green (Rule 25-1b). You are not entitled to repair the bare spot.

  • HSX

    An area near the green directly beside a water hazard has turf missing – an area of 2 ft x 4 ft.
    This area is normally rough and never included as part of the hazard. This area is adjacent the hazard.
    This area was scheduled to be be repaired imminently per the committee. In the interim the greens keeper inadvertently painted the red line around this area which therefore included that area within the hazard.
    During play is the Club Pro/rules official allowed to intercede and state that it really is ground under repair?
    Therefore should a ball come to rest within that area should one get a free drop re Ground Under Repair? Or must it be deemed part of the hazard even though it will be repaired and should not have been part of the hazard in the first place?

    • Ryan Farb

      It is the Committee’s responsibility to ensure that the course is correctly marked under Rule 33-2. Decision 33-2a/2 permits the Committee to declare an area as ground under repair during the stipulated round, however, the Committee should not alter the marking of a boundary or hazard during a stipulated round. Therefore they could declare that area as GUR, but a player would only be entitled to relief for interference by that area if the ball lies outside the hazard margin.

  • QWERTY

    I have some rules questions relating to the putting green.
    1. A`s ball is on the putting green. B has a tap in directley in A`s line. B holes out.. What is the ruling?
    2. A marks his ball but in doing so walks in B’s line. What is the ruling?
    3 . The first described senario occurs but before B tapped in, A said “Could you please mark your ball.” What is the ruling?
    4. The first describe senario occurs but A said “Go ahead and finish.”

    • Ryan Farb

      Much depends on the form of play.
      Stroke Play:
      1. No penalty, provided the the players did not agree to play out of turn in order to give an advantage. See Rule 10-2c.

      2. Rude, but no penalty unless A did so purposely to influence the movement of B’s putt. If intentional, A would incur a two-stroke penalty under Rule 1-2. See also decision 16-1a/13.
      3. No penalty. Under Rule 22-2 in stroke play a player may play first rather than mark.
      4. No penalty.
      Match Play (assumes match between A and B):
      1. B has played out of turn and A has the right to recall the stroke and have B play in the correct order, or he may let it stand. No penalty strokes. See Rule 10-1c.

      2. See 16-1a/12 and 16-1a/13 again. Provided the action was unintentional there is no penalty. If intentional, A would lose the hole for a breach of Rule 1-2.
      3. See answer to scenario 1.
      4. B has still played out of order. A does not have the right to permit a player to play out of turn in match play in this instance, but provided he said it in ignorance of that and then did not recall the stroke, there would be no penalty and the hole would stand as played.

  • Ed

    Hi,

    During my round today the screw that allows changing the loft of my driver became loose in the normal course of play (no anger management needed). Is it ok to tighten up the screw?

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,

      Yes you may tighten the screw to its original position. Rule 4-3a permits you to repair a club damaged in the normal course of play provided that the repair does not unduly delay play. However, you would not be permitted to tighten the screw to a new position (if it’s a slider) or change the loft.

  • Ed

    HI,
    My ball ended up on a bridge over a water hazard marked as environmental. Can I play off the bridge; doing so won’t hurt he environment.

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,
      No. If the water hazard was not marked as an ESA, you would be permitted to ground your club on the bridge as it is not considered “ground” in the hazard (Decision 13-4/30), however, the bridge and ball are still in the hazard. Since the ball is still in the hazard, if the hazard is marked as an ESA, you are required to take relief in accordance with Rule 26 under penalty of one stroke and may not play the ball as it lies on the bridge.

  • Bruce Hoffman

    I just received my NCGA Golf, Volume 34. Number2 magazine. On page 71, Stump the Rules Expert, it states that the player is only responsible for the hole-by-hole scores. My question is this….concerning the PGA, when the pros go in to the tent to sign and turn in their score cards, does the above also apply to them or are they required to total the entire card and sign before turning it in?

    • Ryan Farb

      Bruce,

      Yes, Rule 33-5 makes the Committee responsible for the addition of the score card. Rule 6-6 only requires the player to check his hole-by-hole scores in any form of stroke play. Decision 33-1/7 specifically prohibits the Committee from making competitors responsible for the addition of their scores.

  • Ed

    A vs. B in a match. A takes relief from an unmarked area that he thinks should be relief for gur. B sees what A is doing but doesn’t say anything until after the hole is completed which A won. Before teeing off on the next hole B says, “I don’t think you should have taken relief back there.” I’m making a claim and I win the hole because you played from a wrong place. Who actually wins the hole?

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,
      My answer would depend on whether the players agreed to the GUR procedure at the time or B just simply watched. If the two players agreed then Decision 2-5/8.5 applies and the hole stands as played. If B just simply watched, the claim was timely as it was made prior to any player in the match playing from the next teeing ground.

  • Mel

    In stroke play, a fairway mower broke down in front of the bunker guarding a 106 yard, par 3. Player A hit his shot over the green, and completed the hole with a triple bogey 6. The mower was moved, and player A replayed his shot saying the mower visually distracted him and he was entitled to replay the shot. His second score on the hole was a 4, which he recorded. Was player A entitled to replay the shot? If not, what is the penalty for replaying the shot and recording the second score?

    • Ryan Farb

      Mel,
      Absolutely not, this is not a cancel and replay situation. When the player had completed the hole, Rule 7-2 would permit the player to practice putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole last played, but not from a hazard. If he made strokes from a hazard (bunker or water hazard) or made any full practice strokes he was in breach of Rule 7-2 and incurred a penalty of two-strokes in addition to the 6 he actually made. If he unduly delayed play by replaying the hole from that spot, he could be subject to a two-stroke penalty under Rule 6-7.

  • Armando

    Can a senior of 76 years of age with a 18 Hcp from the white tees be allowed to play from the ladies red tees? If so how do you adjust his score and Hcp to play at the shorter tees?

    • Ryan Farb

      Armando,
      A player of any age can play from any tees as the Committee allows. Preferably the tees should be rated for men. If not the USGA Handicap manual has adjustments for unrated tees if needed. You would calculate his course handicap according to the applicable slope (either as rated for men or using the adjustment in the USGA Handicap Manual). Then calculate the difference between the two course ratings rounded to a whole number and in the case specified he would have that difference subtracted from his course handicap.

  • Walter

    When is the only time you can hit a moving ball?

    • Ryan Farb

      There are several times you can play a moving ball listed under Rule 14-5:
      When a ball is falling off the tee (Rule 11-3, no penalty but the stroke counts), When you have struck the ball more than once (Rule 14-4, one-stroke penalty), or when the ball is moving in water in a water hazard (Rule 14-6, no penalty, stroke counts).
      When the ball begins to move after you have begun the backward movement for the stroke (back-swing) and the stroke is made, you are not penalized for playing a moving ball, however you might be subject to penalty under Rule 18-2a or 18-2b for a ball at rest moved.

  • Bruce Hoffman

    I believe it is okay to repair a golf hole by way of patting the sides to even it out as long as you have completed the hole. I believe this holds true even if there are one or more golfers in your foursome still to putt. If this is true, here’s my question. My wife did just this on a particular hole. She was told that it was against their club rules to do so because it no longer allows the field to putt under the same conditions. Are they allowed to have a rule like this? My thought is, the only golfers that would play a damaged hole are those that play after it was damaged. Therefore, before the damage and when damaged are no longer playing an equal hole which would nullify their thinking. What say you???

    • Ryan Farb

      There are two applicable Decisions depending on the situation.
      To the first question: No, the club may not make a Local Rule as such.
      To the second question, it is permissible to smooth the ragged edge of a hole provided she was doing so for the sole purpose of caring for the course and not to influence the movement of a fellow-competitor’s ball – Decision 1-2/3.5
      When a hole is damaged prior to yourself putting Decision 16-1a/6 gives us guidelines for how a player should proceed depending on whether the hole’s proper dimensions have been altered.

  • Green man

    Is it within the rules to play say the fourth hole with a titleist golf ball and then tee off on the fifth hole with a Bridgestone ball ?

    • Ryan Farb

      Yes. Rule 15-1 only requires the player to hole out with the ball played from the teeing ground unless another Rule applies, therefore it is permitted to substitute golf balls of any conforming kind between the play of two holes. There is an optional Condition, commonly called the “One-Ball Rule” that is used in USGA and other high level competitions that would limit a player to one single type of golf ball for a stipulated round (so not just Titleist, but Titleist Pro-V1). See Appendix I-C-Ic.

  • David F

    Is it legal to use grip wax products during play to improve your grip on a club? What if the wax ends up on the ball or club face?

    • Ryan Farb

      Rule 14-3 permits a player to use “resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents” in order to assist in gripping the club. Provided this wax does not materially change the shape of the grip I believe it would fall under that category. If the wax made its way onto the club face or ball there would likely be a violation of Rule 4-2b or 5-2 respectively and any stroke made with a club face or ball with the foreign material applied would likely result in disqualification.

  • Larry

    A ball is hit into an area of many gopher holes beyond a small rise such that nobody actually saw the ball roll into the animal hole. Is free relief granted or does the usual rule for lost balls apply?

    • Ryan Farb

      If it is not virtually certain that the ball is lost in an abnormal ground condition (burrowing animal hole in this case) and the ball is not found within 5 minutes, then the ball is lost and Rule 27-1 applies so the player must proceed under penalty of stroke and distance.

  • Oli

    Hi, I was recently playing in a singles knockout game and I went on my phone during the match. My opponent said that he is claiming the match because I was on my phone. He later let me off and warned me for the future and we carried on. Is that rule true? Could he have actually claimed the match?
    Thanks

    • Ryan Farb

      The Rules of Golf do not prohibit the use of a cell phone as a cell phone (i.e to make business calls, text, etc) provided the phone is not used to breach any other Rule (obtain advice, video tape the swing for advice purposes, measure the slope of a green, etc). However, if the use of the cell phone is disruptive to the proper play of the game, you could be subject to penalty under Rule 33-7 for a serious breach of etiquette. Many clubs have made it a condition of their competitions to prohibit cell phone use, which could lead to disqualification under Rule 33-7, however in the circumstances described I do not believe your opponent’s claim was valid. See Decision 14-3/16 regarding the use of Electronic Devices.

  • Ross Owen

    A certain large warehouse store has 2 Bushnell range finders on sell. One had a “slope” function (reads terrain and shows adjusted
    distance) which if I read NCGA correctly, would make scores non-postable and
    not be usable in tournaments. One can turn that function off, but I am guessing still cannot be used. I hate to not get all of the technology available. Would you please give meyour thoughts.

    My biggest reason to get is between practice and play have
    same readings. My biggest concern being able to use. And woudl like to use when allowed if “slope” function off.

    Thank you.

    • Ryan Farb

      Ross,

      If the device has a slope function available at all, it cannot be used in tournament play and would make a score ineligible for posting (see USGA Handicap Manual Decision 5-1e/2).

      If you are looking for a distance-measuring device to use with postable scores and/or for tournament play you must make sure that it does not have the capability to measure other conditions that might affect your play, including slope, temperature or club selection advice. See Decision 14-3/0.5.

    • Ross Owen

      They should have made the advanced rangefinders with a lock out on all the non allowed features that only officials could turn off.
      Thank you.

  • Kent

    Ball lands In a sand trap, on loose burrowed animal soil at entrance to burrow (squirrel). I can drop no closer to hole in trap with no penalty, correct?

    Kent

    • Ryan Farb

      Kent,

      If you have interference from a burrowing animal hole in a bunker, you may take relief without penalty in accordance with Rule 25-1 by dropping the ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole and within the bunker.

      • Kent

        Thanks Ryan – that is what I did and my competitor had ok’d the drop, but I wanted to just confirm.
        Kent

  • http://www.tilmoneydouspartbook.com Maureen

    I hit my approach shot, hit the top of the bunker and rolled into it. No big deal. I get to my ball–a previous player had destroyed the side of the bunker for a stance and did not rake it or make any effort to restore the bunker to its previous state. My ball is in a 6 inch deep foot print on the side of the bunker, under the lip. The entire area around my ball was deep foot prints of someone who dug into the side to make a stance, but yet could not make an effort to restore the bunker.

    I understand a footprint in the bunker happens. But this was a destroyed area. Do to the extreme situation was I entitled to relief without penalty proceeding under 1-4 (equity) by taking a free drop in the bunker? Had the bunker been raked, my ball would’ve been playable.

    Should I have proceeded under 3-3 and take it up with the committee (this was a tournament) after the round?

    Or would I have had to take an unplayable and get penalized a stroke because of an inconsiderate moron who apparently intentionally left the bunker in shambles ( the rake was 4 ft away from this area)

    I just chopped it out to get it out of the hole, all the time wondering if I should’ve used 3-3. Thank you for the clarification.

    • Ryan Farb

      Maureen,

      If you are ever in doubt, you should use Rule 3-3 to protect your interests. However, a player is not entitled to relief from un-raked footprints in a bunker and you would not have been granted relief had you used Rule 3-3. Relief from damage in bunkers is usually reserved for situations where the bunker has been significantly damaged or altered and un-raked footprints, however deep, generally do not fall under that category.

      • http://www.tilmoneydouspartbook.com Maureen

        I can see your point, Ryan. However, this was damage that was unreasonable. Why wouldn’t the equity rule come into play in this situation? One would be granted relief from a burrowing animal, I would call the individual who did this a burrowing animal — a pig!

        • Ryan Farb

          Equity doesn’t apply because a bunker is a hazard. A player is not entitled to have an easy shot out of a hazard. However, in severe cases the Committee is able to declare an area of severe damage to be ground under repair, which would get you relief. See Decision 33-8/9.

          • http://www.tilmoneydouspartbook.com Maureen

            Thank you Ryan. This is good to know for the future. Generally, and thankfully, such apparent inconsideration doesn’t happen on a regular basis.

  • Debby

    Are you allowed to put your knee on the green when lining up a putt? What rule covers this?

    • Ryan Farb

      Debby,

      There is no Rule prohibiting kneeling on the putting green provided that in doing so you do not touch your line of putt (Rule 16-1a) or test the surface of the putting green by roughening or scraping (Rule 16-1d).

  • Arnel

    We were on the teeing ground before our tee time, after the rules official explained the rules too us, my partner walk off to wet his towel, upon walking off the rules official stated that he was going to give him a two stroke penalty for being late. My partner was back before the first person in our foursome had tee’d off. We brought this up after the round and the penalty was waived. Who is right in this case, us or the rules official?

    • Ryan Farb

      Arnel,
      Decision 6-3a/2.5 states in its answer:
      A. When a time of starting is listed as 9:00 AM, the starting time is deemed to be 9:00 AM and the player is subject to penalty under Rule 6-3a if he is not present and ready to play at 9:00:00 AM.

      If the player is not present and ready to play on the tee at the time of starting, he is subject to penalty under Rule 6-3a. Whether or not the first person has actually teed off does not matter unless he has not teed off because the group was delayed and could not start at the appointed time (Decision 6-3a/4).

      • Arnel

        The first player teed off at our appointed time and my partner was on the tee box before the appointed time, so the according to the rules above, was the official wrong in trying to assess a penalty?

        • Ryan Farb

          At the appointed time the player was not at the tee but off wetting his towel. The fact that he was previously on the tee is irrelevant. I won’t comment further on a ruling from today as I am the staff in charge, but feel free to contact me tomorrow at the office if you wish to discuss it further.

  • David F

    One of our players was taking a drop yesterday for cart path relief and a rules official observing the drop deemed he had tossed or flicked the ball during his drop and assessed him a 2-stroke penalty. I am not sure if he hit his ball yet or not but is there a penalty for dropping improperly or do you simply re-drop the ball again?

    • Ryan Farb

      David,

      Under Rule 20-2a if a ball is dropped in an improper manner and not corrected (by lifting and dropping in the correct manner) the player incurs a one-stroke penalty. If as a result of the improper drop the ball is dropped in a wrong place and then played, the player would incur a two-stroke penalty or loss of hole in match play.

  • David F

    A question arose yesterday after our round regarding tending the flag. If you are off the green and someone is tending the flag and your chip strikes the flag is there a penalty?

    • Ryan Farb

      David,
      Yes. The player’s ball must not strike an attended flagstick, regardless of whether the stroke was from on or off the putting green. Rule 17-3. It is a two-stroke penalty in stroke play, loss of hole in match play.

  • BobG

    If a player hits a ball into a hazard but the player feels he can play the ball if he can find may the player hit a provisional ball and then go look in the hazard for the first ball? If the player finds the ball in the hazard may he abandon the provisional and play the first ball?

    • Ryan Farb

      Bob,
      No. A provisional ball is only for a ball that may be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds. If a player puts another ball into play because his ball is in the water hazard he has put another ball into play under penalty of stroke and distance and the original is lost. He would not be permitted to play the original if found. See Decision 27-2a/2.

  • Debby

    My ball is sitting right off the green on the first cut. In front of my ball on the green is a bad patch of sanded green not marked GUR. My opponent said I could not take relief because I had the option of chipping over the bad spot instead of putting from where I was off the green. Who is right? Thanks

    • Ryan Farb

      Debby,
      When your ball lies off the putting green you are not entitled to relief for intervention by GUR on your line of play even if the area had been marked.

  • NewSpring

    4man2bb stroke play ( i.e. a 4 men team). Pairing is done so that each team is split in 2 groups (A and B) of 2 players with a different tee time. Question: can the 2 groups share their scores during play, in other words during play can any player from group A communicate with another player from group B about their scores ? if Yes, can they use a cell phone to communicate their scores? I think communicating scores is not OK. Thanks.

    • Ryan Farb

      Sharing score information in person or via cell phone is permitted.

  • C. Silva

    I was recently informed it was a two stroke penalty for what I call ‘raking’ my putt back into the hole. My putt ran by the hole and I reached over the hole and pulled/tapped it back towards me into the hole. I was told I had to be on the side of the ball or behind it and not in front of it. Can you please tell the rule #.. Thanks

    • Ryan Farb

      C. Silva,

      Rule 14-1 states the ball must not be pushed, scraped (raked) or spooned. If you fairly made a stroke at the ball (tapped and not raked) from the opposite side of the hole, there is no prohibition against such a stroke.Rule 16-1e prohibits a player from standing astride his line of putt or an extension of that line behind the ball, however the line of putt does not extend beyond the hole, so standing on the other side of the hole to play a stroke is not prohibited provided it is not pushed, scraped or spooned.

      • C. Silva

        Thank you very much Ryan.. As I understand you interpretation of the rules I must make a stroke at the ball.. I must tap it.. I understand I cannot pull it or ‘rake’ it back towards me but I can clearly tap it towards me from the other side of the hole.. Thanks again…

  • David F

    Is there a recommended procedure for verifying scores in NCGA tournaments prior to signing and submitting cards? It always seems a little hectic at the end of a tournament and I wondered if there is a preferred method or routine for players to use to make sure their scores are correct.

    • Ryan Farb

      David,

      The scoring area is for verifying scores. The marker should have kept the correct scores on the card throughout the round. All players should come to the scoring area and verify their scores with each other and resolve any questions at the scoring table prior to returning their card to the Committee.

  • Tyler Vergho

    Can the Committee of a competition declare an obstruction to be an integral part of the course during the course of the competition (stroke play) – e.g. change the local rules?

    • Ryan Farb

      Tyler,
      Nothing in the Rules permits the Committee to change the status of an obstruction to an integral part of the course during a stipulated round. They could between the play of two rounds, however, such a change could lead to confusion and penalties caused by misunderstanding the change and would not be recommended.

  • Monty Ichinaga

    If a player takes a Mulligan, not on the green, how should his ESC score be entered, if at all? (1) If the Mulligan is a tee shot? (2) If the Mulligan is a fairway shot that lands on the green, whereas the original shot landed in a trap or not in a trap? (3) If the Mulligan is a fairway shot that doesn’t land on the green, whereas the original shot landed in a trap or not in a trap?

    • Ryan Farb

      Monty,
      There is no such thing as a mulligan in real Golf. Therefore, if a player plays out a mulligan he has played that ball under penalty of stroke and distance as that is the only Rule that applies, regardless of where the original ball is in relation to the second ball.

  • Monty Ichinaga

    So, for our everyday imaginary golf, we should post a score that adds 2 strokes for every unreal Mulligan we take. Is this correct?

    • Ryan Farb

      The Rules of Golf and the Handicap System do not contemplate mulligans. The only Rule that permits you to play another stroke from where the previous stroke was made is Rule 27-1, stroke and distance.

  • Monty Ichinaga

    I want to be absolutely certain of the NCGA posting rules. For those who play Mulligans, they should NOT post their score since Mulligans don’t exist in the rules of golf.

    • Ryan Farb

      Monty,
      You should not play with mulligans as they do not exist in the game of Golf. And no, you absolutely should post your score however, you must factor in the stroke and distance penalty for playing from where the previous stroke was made.

  • Debby

    There is still some confusion within my club members about
    an immovable object.

    We have a railing right off the green that is part of the
    water feature on that hole. Many times
    our ball will roll right up again this railing making it almost impossible to
    make your next stroke toward the hole.
    Some members say it’s part of the course design and therefore is not
    considered an immovable objects. No free
    relief. Others say it is possible to take free relief from this immoveable
    object which they feel this is and being part of the course design has nothing
    to do with it. Will you tell me which side
    comes out the winner on this? Thanks

    • Ryan Farb

      Debby,
      Any immovable artificial object not defining out of bounds, not lying out of bounds and not deemed to be an integral part of the course is an immovable obstruction. The player would be entitled to relief under Rule 24-2 for a ball lying outside the hazard. However, on the NCGA hard card and USGA hard card, artificial walls and pilings located within hazards are deemed to be integral parts of the course and relief without penalty is not available. Whether or not relief is available depends on whether or not this object has been deemed an “integral part of the course” which is a Decision the Committee makes.

  • Paul

    A golf ball is hit into an area where there are many small burrowing animal holes. What are the rulings for the following scenarios:

    1. The ball is not observed going specifically into any of several small burrowing animal holes in the landing area and it cannot be found anywhere in the vicinity within 5 minutes. It is common for this player who plays this course often (for over 30 years) to find the ball in this general area if it did not go into a small burrowing animal hole. In fact, he has routinely found his ball in this same area in some of the shallow small burrowing animal holes, over the past 30 years, but not today. The area is perfectly flat and there are no other explanations for the ball not being found in this area, i.e. there is no tall grass, obstructions, trees, water, wet areas, sand, etc. In other words the only remaining explanation is that the ball is in one of the deeper holes made by small burrowing animals, in this area where this player normally hits the ball. Also there are no other players on any adjacent hole, that could have erroneously picked up the ball. No marshal is on duty on this hole.

    2. A ball is observed in a small burrowing animal hole in the area where player’s ball landed, it is not identified as the player’s, and in the process of either the player or his opponent attempting to retrieving it, the ball is pushed further back into the hole and is not identified and or recovered within 5 minutes.

    3. A ball is observed and identified as the player’s in a burrowing animal hole, but it is not retrievable within 5 minutes.

    4. A ball is observed and identified as the player’s in a burrowing animal hole and it is retrieved within 5 minutes.

    5. The player’s ball is observed by only the player, or the player and a playing partner, or the player and a playing opponent, or just his playing partner, or just a playing opponent, or only by an observer – say a member of the group ahead, or a course marshal, going into a specific and positively identifiable small burrowing animal hole. The ball cannot be seen when looking into that specific burrowing animal hole, therefore the ball is not identified or found within 5 minutes.

    6. The ball is struck towards a sand bunker. It is observed by the player as entering the bunker and not exiting. As the player approaches the bunker no ball is observed, yet there is now observed a single hole made by a small burrowing animal at the far end of the bunker. The ball cannot be found anywhere else in the vicinity within 5 minutes. There is no other reasonable explanation for the missing ball except that it went into the single small burrowing animal hole. What is the ruling? Would there be a difference if there were two or more burrowing animal holes in this same bunker? Would it make a difference if a fresh ball mark and or ball trail is observed leading directly to the single small burrowing animal hole? Would it make a difference if a fresh ball mark and or ball trail is observed in the sand leading directly to only one of many small burrowing animal holes in the bunker? Would it matter if the sand is compacted and or raked in such a way that no ball marks or ball trails are left in the sand and there is just one – or several – small burrowing animal hole(s)? Thanks for your help on this.

  • Mike

    This
    question is in regards to the 12-man competition. We played a team 4 weeks ago
    and some of their players shot some very low scores which have not been posted
    at this time. Is there a rule about this, because we are playing them again and
    some of their handy caps have not reflected the low scores?

  • Mike

    This
    question is in regards to the 12-man competition. We played a team 4 weeks ago
    and some of their players shot some very low scores which have not been posted
    at this time. Is there a rule about this, because we are playing them again and
    some of their handy caps have not reflected the low scores?

  • Dwaine

    If a player has addressed the ball on the teebox and you noticed that he is at the wrong set of tees (Ladies) , can you warn him or is that giving advice? Thanks

    • Ryan Farb

      Dwaine,

      Information on the Rules is not advice. It would be appropriate to warn a player about to incur an infraction.

  • Craig Cannaday

    A player in match play tees off on a short par 4 dogleg. The ball can’t be located and said player returns to the tee to rehit. As the group is coming on the green, the ball is located in the hole as a hole in one.
    Does the first ball count since it is in the hole and the play has concluded for him or does he have to use his second ball having abandoned the first with a second tee shot.
    Also, what are the parameters regarding having a group looking for and finding the first ball after the player retees and within the time limit for a lost ball search? Thanks.

    • Ryan Farb

      Craig,
      The first ball counts as the hole was complete when it was holed – Decision 1-1/2.

      Once a player has put another ball into play under penalty of stroke and distance, the original ball is lost, regardless of whether it is found within the five minutes – Definition of Lost Ball.

      Note also, that once a player has gone forward to search he may not go back to play a provisional ball, a ball played under such a circumstance would be his ball in play – Rule 27-2a.

      • Craig Cannaday

        Thank you for the quick response…. I assume then even though he left the tee and searched, went back and reteed , that the only exception is when the ball is in the hole on the original shot?

        • Ryan Farb

          Craig,
          To my knowledge that is the only time, because the hole was complete once the original ball was holed.

  • Marie

    A player in match play has a caddie with a golf cart for medical use. The other player has a caddie with no cart. The caddie with the cart uses the cart to drive ahead of his player’s ball at rest to examine what “lies ahead” and what the rest of the hole looks like. The other player and caddie without the medical cart are at a disadvantage because they are on foot. It seems there should be some sort of a penalty for this type of activity like improving the line of play? It definitely isn’t what the use of the cart was intended for and it provides a huge advantage for the player who knows what “lies” ahead or is in the way.

    • Ryan Farb

      Unless the caddie actually breaches a Rule of Golf by actually improving the line of play as in Rule 13-2, or breaches another Rule such as 8-2 Indicating Line of Play there is no golf penalty for driving ahead to view the hole. If the caddie delays play in repeatedly driving ahead and then back to converse with his player, he could be subject to penalty for Undue Delay under Rule 6-7.

  • Debby

    A player hit her second shot and went forward to find it. She could not find it where she normally hits a ball. She went back and hit another ball at the place where she hit her last shot. She hits the second ball twice before getting to the green. Once on the green she finds her first ball on the green pass the hole.

    1. Her second ball is on the green also but has not been hit pass the original
    ball. Can she play the original ball into the hole now that she has found it?

    2. In researching this ruling, I’ve found that you cannot go back to the original spot. You must hit a provisional ball before going forward to search for the first ball. Is this true?

    3. IF number two is correct, wouldn’t it make for a lot of extra balls being hit in the case of not finding your ball?

    4. Please define when and when you should not hit a provisional ball in the case of not finding your ball. I know the rulings on lost in water hazards and out of bounds. Are there others instances?

  • Larry Nathan

    I have a question regarding a ball coming to rest on a bridge which spans a water hazard. Is the ball “in the hazard” or “on an immovable obstruction”? Can you please cite the rule/decision which clarifies this? Thanks. – Larry

    • Ryan Farb

      Larry,

      The answer is both. The ball lies in a water hazard because the margins of a water hazard extend vertically upward and downward (Definition of Water Hazard). The bridge is an immovable obstruction, however, since the ball lies in a water hazard the player is not entitled to relief for the obstruction. The player is allowed to ground his club on the bridge in playing the ball. See Decision 13-4/30.

  • David F

    A question came up yesterday in our group at the Poppy Ridge Zinfandel course. The No. 7 par three has a water hazard (yellow stakes) fronting the green. There was a designated drop zone for balls in the water so there was no question where to drop. A discussion came up when our tee shot cleared the hazard, landed just short of the green and backed up into the hazard. Without a designated drop zone could you: a) drop your ball behind the point the ball first crossed over the hazard in line with the flag which is just off the tee, or 2) drop your ball across the hazard in line with the flag and the point the ball entered the hazard up near the green which would put you in the No. 6 fairway?

    • Ryan Farb

      David,
      The drop zone is an additional option under Rule 26-1. When your ball comes to rest in a water hazard (yellow stakes) you always have two penalty options for relief 26-1a) proceed under penalty of stroke and distance or 26-1b) drop a ball behind the hazard keeping the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped. Where the ball LAST crossed the margin of the hazard is your reference point. Where the ball FIRST crossed is completely irrelevant.

  • Robert Molyneaux

    With respect to Rules 1-2 and 19-1, 19-2, 19-3.

    Stroke play
    In this case I and my equippment are considered an “outside agency”.

    My competitor is in a greenside bunker. I am standing on the green beyond the hole and off to the side. My wedge and towel are at my feet my putter in my hand. My competitor plays out of the bunker and the ball is rolling towards me. If the ball strikes me or my equippment it is rub of the green according to 19-1 provided it is considered accidental.

    Q1: If I pick up my wedge and towel and move out of the way am I in violation of 1-2?
    a: if it hurts my opponent?
    b: if it helps my opponent?

    Q2: If I deliberately do not pick up my wedge and towel and allow his ball to be stopped or deflected by them am I in violation of 1-2 or is 19-1 “rub of the green” the ruling here? “Deliberately” implies that I could have reasonably avoided the interference but choose to leave the equippment as it lay either because I saw an advantage in doing so or because I thought that I would be in violation of 1-2 by moving it.
    a: if it hurts my opponent?
    b: if it helps my opponent?

    Match play
    In this case I and my equippment are NOT considered an “outside agency”.

    My partner is in a greenside bunker. I am standing on the green beyond the hole and off to the side. My wedge and towel are at my feet my putter in my hand. My partner plays out of the bunker and the ball is rolling towards me. If the ball strikes me or my equippment it is a one stroke penatly according to 19-2.

    Q1: If I pick up my wedge and towel and move out of the way am I in violation of 1-2?

    My competitor is in a greenside bunker. I am standing on the green beyond the hole and off to the side. My wedge and towel are at my feet my putter in my hand. My competitor plays out of the bunker and the ball is rolling towards me. If the ball strikes me or my equippment there is no penatly according to 19-3 provided it is considered accidental. My opponent has the option to play the ball as it lies or replay the stroke.

    Q1: If I pick up my wedge and towel and move out of the way am I in violation of 1-2?

    Q2: If I deliberately do not pick up my wedge and towel and allow his ball to be stopped or deflected by them am I in violation of 1-2? “Deliberately” implies that I could have reasonably avoided the interference but choose to leave the equippment as it lay either because I saw an advantage in doing so or because I thought that I would be in violation of 1-2 by moving it.

  • steve

    On the subject of tee markers. If a player tees his ball just inside one of the markers makes a stroke and steps on the tee marker in his follow thru and moves it is this a penalty

    • Ryan Farb

      There is no penalty. See Decision 11-2/2 situation (c).

  • Scott Peterson

    While playing a match play event with a friend the other day a question came up. My opponent we will call him player B, tees off. The ball goes right and there is a question of weather it carried the hazard. Player B then re tees and hits a ball into hazard. Player B then re tees and before he hits I tell him if he puts this ball in play the first ball is no longer an option. I may be wrong but my thinking was you can not have more than two balls in play at any given time, (provisional and ball of unknown status). The potential to find and play first ball should no longer be an option.
    What’s the correct ruling?

    • Ryan Farb

      Scott,

      You only have one ‘ball in play’ at any given time. A provisional ball is not your ball in play (it may become the ball in play). With the facts you have given me, if B re-tees and puts another ball into play under stroke and distance, the original ball becomes lost and he would no longer be able to play the original – see Definition of Lost Ball.

      • Bruce

        Ryan,

        Unless Player B stated it was provisional, aren’t any
        subsequent tee shots considered ball in play? But if he states his retee
        is provisional, couldn’t he have reteed the third time, and still be
        considered provisional? Since he has not reached/passed the area of the
        suspected first tee shot, aren’t all of his subsequent shots considered
        provisional until it reached that point? Or does the “provisional” tag
        get lost once his provisional tee shot gets lost in the hazard?

        • Ryan Farb

          Bruce,
          If a provisional is not announced it is not a provisional and the original is lost and the new ball becomes the ball in play.
          A provisional is for a ball that may be lost OUTSIDE a water hazard or out of bounds – Rule 27-2a. In the situation above the player was hitting another ball for a ball that might be in a water hazard which is not a provisional.
          If a player properly plays a provisional and it then becomes known or virtually certain that the original ball is in a water hazard, the provisional MUST be abandoned and the player may play the original or proceed in accordance with Rule 26-1 – Rule 27-2c.

          • Bruce

            Ryan,

            I am still having a problem here:

            Ball 1 Original (May be in hazard)
            Ball 2 Provisional (In hazard)

            Since the rule you stated says: ” known or virtually certain that the original ball is in a water hazard”. The state of the original Ball 1 is still in question. But since we have not found the status of Ball 1, how should he proceed?

            1. Abandon Ball 2, hit another tee shot (Ball 3) as a provisional (In fairway, but laying 5 if used). Or additional tee shots as necessary (Taking into account penalty strokes). Then go and look for Ball 1, and proceed as normal from there?

            2. Abandon Ball 1 and 2, and hit Ball 3?

            3. Go up and look for Ball 1, if in hazard, come back and hit Ball 3?

            I only bring this up because during a qualifier tournament, we asked the Rules person almost this scenario. He told us that we would proceed using scenario #1, citing rule 27-2b.

            But it looks like you are stating we should be using scenario #3.

            I think the problem comes about the terminology being used. I do understand that 27-2a has a note about a provisional of a provisional. So calling Ball 3 a provisional is probably incorrect, but I am not sure what else to call it at this point.

            Thanks,

            Bruce

  • Ashley Cox

    A player marks his ball, replaces it, and removes the marker. He then adjusts the line on the ball without remarking the ball. What’s the penalty in match play?

    • Ryan Farb

      The player incurs a one-stroke penalty in both stroke play and match play for touching the ball other than as provided in the Rules. See Decision 18-2a/33. In match play, a timely claim must be made (see Rule 2-5).

  • Robert Crooks

    A player plays from the Silver tees 9 (rating 68.1) against another player playing from “Gold” tees (rating 70.4) How much is the first player’s handicap reduced?

    • Ryan Farb

      Robert,
      The Silver player’s course handicap is reduced 2 strokes OR the Gold player has 2 strokes added to his course handicap. See Section 3-5 of the USGA Handicap Manual.

      • Robert Crooks

        Thank you. Usual rounding rules should be used. If the differential was 2.8, would I round up to 3?

  • Ed Tatarian

    A player hits a shot onto a green with a false front..The ball comes to a stop on the green. Another player in the foursome runs over and marks the ball stating he did it before the ball could start rolling back off the green. Is there a penalty on the player marking the ball for assisting another player?

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,
      The form of play matters in this situation. If the ball on the green was at rest: In stroke play, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced, Rule 18-4 and Decision 20-1/4. In match play, if the ball was lifted by his partner there is no penalty, a ball may be lifted by a player’s partner – Rule 20-1. If the ball was lifted by the opponent, then the opponent incurs a one-stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced (unless the lifting was authorized by the player) – Decision 20-1/2 and Rule 18-3.

  • Larry Preszler

    No where can I find a rule that prohibits removing loose impediments from the green when my ball is off the green and I am about to chip on. Several people seem to think this is not allowed. Need help.

    • Ryan Farb

      Larry,
      Such a rule does not exist. Rule 23-1 permits a player to remove loose impediments at any time (except when the ball and loose impediment lie in the same hazard – Rule 13-4 or when the ball is in motion and the loose impediment might influence the movement of the ball – Rule 23-1), even if the loose impediment is on the putting green and the ball lies elsewhere.

  • Jim Boesiger

    A ball in flight strikes golf cart, whether it be your opponents or partner, what is the ruling?

    • Ryan Farb

      Jim,
      If a ball in motion is stopped or deflected by his or his partner’s golf cart, the player incurs a one-stroke penalty and must play the ball as it lies – Rule 19-2. If a ball in motion is stopped or deflected by his opponent’s golf cart, there is no penalty to either player, and the player has the option to play the ball as it lies, or cancel the stroke and replay from the previous spot – Rule 19-3.

  • John Carrillo

    I saw a professional chip on a grren, is that legal?

    • Ryan Farb

      Yes. The Rules do not require you to use a putter on the putting green. Proper etiquette would suggest that you ensure not to take a divot.

  • Kevin Traynor

    Is it legal to use a flashlight or phone to light your ball at address during an evening round of golf?

    • Ryan Farb

      Kevin,
      No. Rule 14-3 prohibits using artificial devices that might assist the player in making a stroke.

  • javier gutierrez

    if you are standing on a squirrel mound do you get relief ?

    • Ryan Farb

      Rule 25-1 grants players relief from burrowing animal holes if the hole, cast or runway interferes with the player’s lie, stance or area of intended swing,, unless the Committee has enacted a Local Rule that interference with a player’s stance alone does not warrant relief (see Note to Rule 25-1a).

  • Charles Lee

    Is it legal to use a range finder with slope function turned off in a ncga competition?

    • Ryan Farb

      No. You may not use a range finder that has a slope function ability in ANY competition even if it is turned off.

  • rich

    Two players land in front of the green one ball directly behind the other the player with the ball behind the first chooses to putt his ball can the ball in front be marked off the green?

    • Ryan Farb

      Rich,

      Yes. Under Rule 22-2 except when a ball is in motion, if a player considers that a ball might interfere with his play he may have it lifted. When the ball is lifted it must not be cleaned. In stroke play, the player could play first rather than mark and lift the ball.

      • rich

        Thank you very much Ryan, ordered a book after your reply again thanks

  • Debby

    If you are in a back bunker which has been marked GUR, must
    you keep the flight of the ball and the pin in line when taking free relief? This would probably mean chipping over the
    bunker. Or may you just take relief to
    the side of the bunker?

    • Ryan Farb

      Debby,

      If an entire bunker has been marked as GUR you must find the nearest point of relief that is not nearer the hole. This point may be in any direction not closer to the hole provided it is the nearest point to where the ball lay. See Rule 25-1b(i) – Note when a whole bunker has been deemed as ground under repair it loses its status as a hazard and it classified as through the green (Decision 25/13).

  • JR

    Hi – question regarding relief from a cart path, which we encountered yesterday at Harding Park.

    Ball comes to rest to the side of a cart path. My stance is directly on the path, so I am entitled to relief.

    However, the nearest point of relief where my stance is no longer on the path (and no closer to the hole) is behind me and *in a ground under repair* area. What options do I have? Can I take further relief from the ground under repair? If so, where?

    • Ryan Farb

      JR,

      If your nearest point of relief is in the GUR, you may drop the ball in the GUR within one club-length of the nearest point of relief no nearer the hole. You would then be entitled to either play the ball as it lies or take relief from the GUR in accordance with Rule 25-1.

      • JR

        Awesome, thanks!

  • Ed

    Similar to the previous question: my ball is on a cart path and the nearest point of relief is in a bunker. Do I drop in the bunker?

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,

      No, when your ball lies through the green, your nearest point of relief must also be through the green, it is not in a bunker or hazard.

  • George Carriker

    I have two question on which I can not get answers to. Number one; My ball landed in greenside bunker about 25 inches from an open Gopher Hole. I could play with out any problems, but the question came up how do you treat this situation if the ball had gone down the hole? I would not have tried to retrieve the ball as reaching down into the hole could result in being bitten, All parties im group saw my ball go in trap and no other balls were in the trap so one would have to assume mine was in the gopher hole. What is the ruling? Question number two; MY ball was in the greenside rough about 10 inches from the bunker. I could not get a stance to hit the ball as when I stepped into the bunker the ball was over my head. I declared an unplayable lie. I took relief into the trap, one club length no clser to the hole. Could I have taken relief by dropping behind the bunker? Thanks George Carriker

    • Ryan Farb

      George,

      1. If it is known or virtually certain that a ball which has not been found is lost in an abnormal ground condition (burrowing animal hole) then Rule 25-1c applies. Since the point where the ball last crossed the outermost limits of the AGC is in a bunker, the player may substitute a ball and drop it within one club-length not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief which must be in the bunker, without penalty. Under penalty of one stroke, the player could drop a ball outside the bunker, keeping the point where the ball last crossed the outermost limits of the AGC between where the ball is dropped and the hole, with no limit to how far behind the bunker the ball may be dropped.

      2. Under Rule 28, for a penalty of one stroke, you may drop the ball within two club-lengths of where the ball lay no nearer the hole (the option you chose). Provided your ball was not in a water hazard to begin with, you could drop the ball on any part of the course including in the bunker. However, you also have two other options available to you (both under penalty of one stroke): b) Since your ball lay through the green, you could drop the ball on a line keeping the point where the ball lay directly between where the ball is dropped and the hole. This could get you behind the bunker. c) You also have the option to proceed under stroke and distance, by playing a ball from where the previous stroke was made.

  • Tim Groden

    In golf competition with men and woman, do woman receive extra strokes because they are play against men even when they are playing from different tees?

    • Ryan Farb

      Tim,

      Section 3-5 of the USGA Handicap manual addresses playing from tees with different ratings. This would lead to women receiving additional strokes if they are playing a tee that is rated higher than the tee you are playing. It could also lead to women getting less strokes if their tee is rated lower.

  • Michael Kristie

    I hit through the green on my second shot. The ball came to rest within inches of the red staked hazzard behind the green, Question, While taking my stance both my feet were in large ( 4-5″) Adobe eroding cracks which during non-drought conditions do not exist. Do I get relief? Does rule 25-2 or some other rule apply?

    • Ryan Farb

      Michael,
      Rule 25-2 is for an embedded ball, it does not apply. Unless the Committee has declared a specific large crack to be ground under repair then a player is not entitled to relief. See Decision 25/12.

  • Bruce Hoffman

    I was watching the last FEDEX Tournament when I saw one of the golfers attempting a 40′ putt. He was on the green. The flag was unattended. He putted and while the ball was in motion his caddie noticed the ball heading for the hole. His caddie ran over to the flag and pulled it out. The ball went into the hole. I always thought that an unattended flag can not be pulled out once the ball is in motion if the ball has a chance to go in…..please update me.

    • Ryan Farb

      Bruce,

      I can’t comment on the specific ruling during the Fedex event as I did not see it. However, Rule 17-1 does prohibit a player from removing (or having his caddie remove) an unattended flagstick while a ball is in motion if doing so might influence the movement of the ball. The penalty is two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

  • Mike Irving

    Our club held a couples event where players were competing with
    each other and playing from different tee boxes. It was the Tournament Chairman’s intent to
    use Section 3-5 to adjust scores for those playing the more difficult
    tees. The event took place and prizes
    were awarded. A few days later it was
    noted the Section 3-5 was NOT used because of a simple computer input error.

    My question is; If the club reviews the results using
    Section 3-5 and the results are different what if anything should the club do?

    • Ryan Farb

      Mike,
      If it was a Condition of the event that Handicaps would be adjusted using Section 3-5, there is no time limit on correcting such an error. The club should adjust the results accordingly, retrieve the awards and give them to the correct players if necessary. See Decisions 6-2b/3 and 33-5/2.

  • Debby

    In stroke play a player hits a “provisional ball” over a water hazard but not in the original spot as the first ball. She moves up to the edge for her “provisional shot.” She finds her first ball on the other side and proceeds to chip this ball onto the green. She then abandons her first ball and plays out her second ball. Isn’t it correct that you do not hit a “provisional ball” over water? If you chose to hit a second ball then that is the ball in play. What if any penalty does she incur for hitting her first ball after putting a second ball in play? Is she disqualified?

    • Ryan Farb

      Debby,
      It is not quite clear exactly what the ruling needs to be from your statement. I will restate the facts and Rule accordingly as restated:
      1. A provisional ball may be played anytime the ball might be lost outside a water hazard. The fact that the ball might also be in a water hazard does not preclude a player from playing a provisional (Dec. 27-2a/2.2).
      2. Once the original ball is found the player MUST abandon the provisional ball (Rule 27-2c).
      So for the case stated above, I will rule on the assumption that the “provisional” was actually played correctly, however the original ball was then found:
      Once the player found the original ball within 5 minutes of beginning to search and before making a stroke at the provisional from closer to the hole than where the original was likely to be, she was required to abandon the provisional. So the chip to the green with the original ball was correct, but when she then went and played the provisional, she played a wrong ball and incurred a two-stroke penalty under Rule 15-3 and was required to correct the mistake by playing the original ball. If she did not correct the mistake and did not hole out with the original prior to playing from the next teeing ground she is disqualified.

      The ruling changes if the “provisional” was not actually a provisional. The “provisional” would NOT be a provisional and would become her ball in play if:
      1. She did not announce the second ball as a provisional on the tee (Dec. 27-2a/1).
      2. She played the provisional solely because she thought the original was in the water hazard (Dec. 27-2a/2).
      If either of those two occurred, the second ball was her ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance and she was required to play out the hole with it. When she makes a stroke at the original, she has played a wrong ball and incurs a two-stroke penalty under Rule 15-3 and must correct the mistake by playing the second ball into the hole, which she did.

      So the facts of the situation make a huge difference in the result of the ruling. Hopefully, between the two scenarios above you have the right set of facts and answer.

  • Debby

    Let me see if I have this correct. She may play a provisional ball at the
    original spot of her last ball if and only if she calls it as a provisional
    ball. If she elects to move to the water edge and hit from there, than that is her ball in play. Her original ball, if found is now no longer in play.

    • Ryan Farb

      Debby,
      You must announce a provisional ball at the time you are playing it (literally, before you play it and before you go forward to search for the original – Rule 27-2a). If she properly announces and plays a provisional, she may continue play with the provisional until a point nearer the hole than where the original is likely to be. If she makes a stroke at the provisional from nearer the hole than where the original is likely to be, the original would be lost. (Def. Lost Ball)

  • Jim

    In the USGA senior ametuer qualifier last month , I was told that my caddy could not sit in or ride in my cart even though we only had 2 carts in our group . With seve rheumatoid arthritis , I am unable to walk . We kept up our pace of play but my caddy struggled to keep up with her duties as my caddy . She is young and was able to run to keep up however it was a real pain in the neck for me and I often felt rushed to chose a club. I see clearly that in the California state am senior qualifier coming up that only two carts are allowed in each group . If in fact my group only has 2 carts I just don’t see how her riding with me gives me any advantage ?? Pace of play is my point ! Note the rule sheet for CGA clearly calls for maximum of 2 carts which I understand . No one wants a whole bunch of carts running around with spectators but geez my caddy should be able to ride with me if in fact my group only has two carts and only 3 riding golfers . ??

    • Ryan Farb

      Jim,
      A different policy is in effect for CGA Senior Qualifying. If there is an empty seat available, your caddie may ride in CGA Senior Qualifying. However, as you stated, your group is only entitled to two carts maximum so if everyone has a caddie you would have to work out who rides with your fellow-competitors.

  • David F

    Is it ever permissible to play a provisional ball if you are unsure if your ball has cleared a water hazard? This is more of a pace of play issue and would not seem to give you an advantage since you would be prohibited from playing the first ball unless it is outside the water hazard.

    • Ryan Farb

      David,
      If there is a possibility that the original might be lost outside the water hazard, the fact that it might also be in the hazard does not preclude a player from playing a provisional ball – Decision 27-2a/2.2. A player may not player a provisional solely because the ball might be in the water hazard – Decision 27-2a/2. The only potential slow play issue is if the player prefers to return to the tee if his ball is in the water hazard. His other option(s) under Rule 26-1 would not slow pace at all.

      There is a local Rule in Appendix I that permits playing a provisional ball for a ball that might be in a water hazard, however there are VERY specific requirements to applying this local Rule and I strongly recommend NOT using it unless someone from the USGA or NCGA have recommended it.

  • Mario

    This past weekend I was in a local club tournament in which we where in 2 man teams playing alternate shot for 6 holes, best ball for 6 holes and scramble for 6 holes. After 9 holes our playing partners/competitors left do to various reasons and left me and my (teammate) playing partner by ourselves. Could we proceed to play the last 9 holes by ourselves signing our own scorecard?

    • Ryan Farb

      Mario,
      Scramble or the 6×3 is not a format of golf covered by the Rules of Golf so there is no official answer to your question. In a format of Golf, if your marker(s) withdraw mid-round you should consult the Committee immediately who will either assign you to a new group with a playing marker, or assign you a non-playing marker. A side or player that plays holes without a marker does not have an acceptable score (Decision 6-6a/2).

  • Ed

    Hi Ryan,
    Please help me with Decision 24-2b/3.7. The player drops his ball as required at P2 and would be standing on the boundary wall to play his next shot which is nearly impossible so he reasonably decides he’ll try hitting the ball left handed with the back of the club which gets him standing back on the cart path. Can he now take relief again which would probably be on the other side of the path? And then after dropping on the other side of the path, if he turns around to hit right handed, which again puts him back on the path, can he drop again and end up after all these new situations with a fairly good lie on the opposite side of the path from the boundary wall?

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,
      Your assessment looks on track. If one nearest point of relief put a player in a situation that requires a different stance or direction of play, and that stance or direction of play is reasonable under the circumstances, if the player then has interference from the condition, he is entitled to relief for that stance/direction of play (see Decision 24-2b/9.5). Once he takes relief for that stance/direction, he could then turn around and play with a normal stance. If that normal stance then has interference from the path, he is entitled to relief for that stance and he may potentially get additional relief away from the path as a result. If these circumstances bounce the player back and forth between the same two positions, then Decision 1-4/8 applies and in equity you would find the nearest point of relief for both situations.

  • Frank

    You are playing in a tournament,and you tee off, and your ball lands in the fairway. Before you can get there you see a tournament official who is picking up range balls, pick up your ball, but before you can get to him he is gone. When you go to check your score card before you turn it in, you ask the official what the ruling is, when an official picks up your ball. He admits to picking up your ball and says that, “You have to treat it as a lost ball, and it’s a two stroke penalty.” Is this correct?

    • Ryan Farb

      Frank,
      That ruling is incorrect. If there is knowledge or virtual certainty that the ball has been moved by an outside agency (official), Rule 18-1 applies, and the player must replace the ball (if the ball is not immediately recoverable another ball may be substituted). If the exact spot is not determinable then the player would drop a ball at the estimated spot (Rule 20-3c).

      Secondly, a lost ball is not a two-stroke penalty. When a ball is lost or out of bounds, the player must proceed under penalty of stroke and distance. So one penalty stroke and play from where the previous stroke was made.

      If you did not have virtual certainty that the official had picked up the ball, then it would be a lost ball when you did not find the original within 5 minutes of beginning to search. (Definition of Lost Ball).

  • T Alt

    Playing the first at Avila Beach and tee shot heads towards lateral hazard. We can not find ball and we agree (virtually certain) ball entered hazard and we also agree on the point it entered. Drop accordingly and finish hole with a hard par. As we were leaving the area of the second shots a group in the adjacent fairway came toward the hazard and we jokingly said that if they found the ball to hit it to us. We are on the green when one of them shouts they have found the ball in our fairway outside of the hazard approximately ten yards from the drop but on the corresponding line of (no longer virtually certain) entry. The ball was nestled in a depression covered by deep rough and was not seen by any of our group.
    My playing partners said that I should keep the par on the card because I acted in good faith and proceeded with what we all thought was the correct rule. I am uncertain that we followed the correct procedures. I know I can not return to the original ball once the second ball is in play, but after that IDK?

    • Ryan Farb

      T Alt,
      If you had virtual certainty that your original ball was in the hazard, then when you dropped the ball in accordance with Rule 26-1 the original ball was lost and the dropped ball was your ball in play with the one-stroke penalty prescribed by Rule 26-1 (relief from a water hazard). At that point you were required to proceed with the dropped ball even if the original ball had been found within five minutes of beginning to search for it. See Decision 26-1/3.5.

  • Ed

    The wind was blowing hard today and after grounding the putter behind the ball to putt, the wind (with certainty) moves the ball a few inches. Is it correct to say that there is not penalty and the ball is played from the new position?

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,

      If you are virtually certain that you did not cause the ball to move by way of having knowledge or virtual certainty that the wind caused the movement, there is no penalty and the ball is played from its new position. See Rule 18-2b and the Exception.

  • Bruce Hoffman

    I was playing stroke play, sharing a golf cart with another player. I was getting ready to hit my ball when the other person in the cart drove the cart 20 feet in front of me and to the right. I shanked my shot and hit the cart. Have I committed a rules violation for hitting what would be considered my equipment?

    • Ryan Farb

      Bruce,

      Under the Definition of a equipment, a shared golf cart is the equipment of the player whose ball is involved EXCEPT when being moved, in which case the cart and everything in it become that player’s (the one moving it) equipment. The answer depends on whether you hit the cart while it was being moved or while it was stopped. If you hit it while being moved, you struck your fellow-competitor’s equipment and it was a rub of the green. There is no penalty and play the ball as it lies (after the stroke). If it was stopped, since it was a shared cart it was your equipment and you incur a one-stroke penalty and must play the ball as it lies. See Decision 19/1.

  • Tyler Vergho

    When a ball or ball marker is moved accidentally in the act of marking/lifting the ball, there is no penalty, provided that the ball or ball marker is replaced (rule 20-1). When a ball or ball marker is moved in the act of replacing the ball, there is also no penalty (rule 20-3a).

    Am I correct in saying that there is a penalty if the ball is moved in the act of lifting the ball marker under rule 18-2? If there is a penalty, I assume that the ball must be replaced. If the ball is not replaced, the player has played from the wrong place and incurred a two-stroke penalty under rule 20-7. But it also says under rule 18 that “If a player who is required to replace a ball fails to do so… he incurs the general penalty under Rule 18″ which is two strokes.

    My main question is this: does the player incurs a 2-stroke penalty under rule 18-2 and a 2-stroke penalty under rule 20-7? Decision 1-4/12, “Related Acts [that] Result in Two Rules Being Breached” seems to me that the player incurs only a 2-stroke penalty. Is this the case? Thank you for clearing this matter up.

    • Ryan Farb

      Tyler,
      If the ball is moved in the act of marking, lifting or replacing the ball there is no penalty under any Rule provided the movement is directly attributable to the act of lifting, marking or replacing. See Decision 20-1/15 for Meaning of Directly Attributable.

      For the second part of your question, look more carefully at Rule 20-7. Under Rule 20-7 you would get a two-stroke penalty (or loss of hole in match play) “under the applicable Rule”, not under 20-7 itself. This means that if you incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 for moving your ball at rest and fail to replace it, you get a two-stroke penalty (total) for playing from a wrong place in breach of Rule 18 (the general penalty statement you mentioned). Therefore there is no need to use 1-4/12. See the asterisk in the penalty statement which says, “If a player who is required to replace a ball fails to do so…he incurs the general penalty for a breach of Rule 18, but there is no additional penalty under this Rule.”

      For the edit, when digging into a Decision like 1-4/12 you must read very, very carefully. You’ve misapplied Example 2 under clause 5. This is a very specific situation where the player actually breached two Rules with his initial action (ball coming to rest against putter then moving the ball). Because he incurred one stroke under 19-2 and 18-2 (which was negated to just one stroke instead of two separate one stroke penalties), the failure to replace as required by 18-2 after his ball moved is a separate act and his one stroke under 18-2 which was originally negated by the multiple penalty situation, comes back and grows to the general penalty for playing from a wrong place in breach of Rule 18. It’s a complicated situation from which it is difficult to apply general statements.

  • Tyler Vergho

    Also, in a separate round, I witnessed a competitor in my group picking up the ball in the hole while it was still moving around in the hole. Under the definition of “Holed,” it states that the ball needs to be “at rest within the circumference of the hole.” By picking up the ball before it was at rest within the hole, was the competitor actually “holed out?”

    • Ryan Farb

      Tyler,
      The ball was holed. See Decision 16/5.5.

  • Saratoga CC Proshop

    If a caddie may be employed by more than one player, would there be any prohibition under the rules that he be employed by two players who were playing individual matches in the same grouping (four players total), i.e. not Four-Ball, Foursomes, or any other partnership format matches, but were on the same “team” in the overall competition comprised of such individual matches? The competition format keeps the team mates from being partners or part of a side. Both the definition of caddie and Decision 8-1/12 (which specifies only that the two players sharing the caddie are not partners and does not reference either form of play, match or stroke) seem to imply that this is allowed. If you could confirm that for me, I’d be grateful, so that I may head off any possible arguments!

    Micah Hall, PGA Head Professional

    • Ryan Farb

      Micah,

      Form of play does not matter. A caddie may be employed by any two (or more) players regardless of format, team or partnership and each player is entitled to any information the caddie has (Dec. 8-1/12). It would be recommended, if the players are opponents in a single match, that they inform the caddie not to inform opponents of club information to avoid arguments, even though it would not be a breach of the Rules.

  • Steve Detjen

    My opponent’s partner drives up to the 18th green and parks their cart outside of the out of bounds stake on the left side of the green. My partner hooks his ball and it strikes the cart and comes back into play. We contend that our opponents should receive a 2 stroke penalty for their equipment interference. They disagreed.

    • Ryan Farb

      Steve,
      While your partner’s ball did strike your opponent’s equipment, there is no penalty. Your partner was entitled to immediately cancel and replay the stroke without penalty or play the ball as it lay where it came to rest. See Rule 19-3.
      Also note that in match play there are not two-stroke penalties. In most cases (but not all) breaches that would be two-stroke penalties in stroke play would be loss of hole penalties in match play.

      • Steve Detjen

        What if it was my cart and not the opponent’s, does that make a difference?

        • Ryan Farb

          Steve,

          Yes. If your partner’s ball had struck your cart, your partner would have incurred a one-stroke penalty and must play the ball as it lay. See Rule 19-2.

  • Johnny

    A player hits his ball into a bunker. He walks up to it and notices that it lies on
    a mesh, placed there by the course. He asks
    the other players if he can get relief. The other players tell him that he
    can’t. He then asks them if he should play two balls but they keep insisting
    that a player should never get relief from a hazard. The player then says fine, I will play the shot
    as it lies. He hits the ball onto the
    green and begins to walk to green. Then the group decideds that he should play
    a second ball “just in case”. So he does and puts it on the green as
    well. He then putts the original ball
    first and makes it. He states that he wishes to play original ball and picks up
    the second ball (doesn’t putt the second ball).

    What is the ruling here?

    • Ryan Farb

      Johnny,

      To proceed under Rule 3-3 and play two balls, the player must do so before proceeding from the doubtful situation. Since he played the original before he officially decided to play two balls, the original ball has to count regardless of the further actions. See Decision 3-3/6.

      I cannot tell the nature of the mesh from the question, therefore here are some possibilities for future reference: A player is entitled to relief from an immovable obstruction in a bunker (but not a water hazard), however for relief without penalty the relief must be taken in the bunker (Rule 24-2b(ii)). If it were movable and the ball lay on top of it, the player could have lifted the ball, removed the mesh and dropped the ball on the spot directly underneath where it lay on the mesh (Rule 24-1b). In some cases, courses have declared mesh linings of bunkers to be integral parts of the course in which case no relief would be available.

      • Johnny

        Is there a penalty or disqualification for playing second ball and not putting out?

        • Ryan Farb

          Not in this situation. See Decision 3-3/6.

          • Johnny

            Thank you for your time. One side reads the rules one way and the other reads it another way. Nice to have an UNBIASED decision.

  • David F

    Is a player entitled to relief from an interior fence separating the golf course from an equipment storage yard? Or would this be considered a boundary fence?

    • Ryan Farb

      David F,

      That is for the Committee to decide. The Committee may deem the equipment storage to be out of bounds defined by the fence, in which case the fence would not be an obstruction. In other cases, the Committee may deem the equipment storage area defined by the fence to be an immovable obstruction, in which case relief would be available from the fence under Rule 24-2.

  • Greg McIntosh

    I hit my ball into a hazard and it came to rest in an area of matted grass. When I hit my ball it only popped a couple of feet in the air – along with 3 other balls that were hidden under mine. Is there a rule that applies here?

    • Ryan Farb

      Greg,
      There is no penalty. See Decision 15/2 for a stroke at own ball dislodging concealed golf balls.

  • Larry

    My opponent’s ball landed in a lateral hazard. The hazard is a hill that comes down to the cart path. To hit his ball where it lies, he would have to stand on the cart path. Does he have any free relief options? What are his options. What is the rule so I can share this info.

    • Ryan Farb

      Larry,
      If the ball lies in a lateral water hazard, a player is not entitled to relief from an immovable obstruction, even if the obstruction lies outside the water hazard. See Rule 26-1. He can play the ball as it lies or take relief from the water hazard under penalty of one stroke in accordance with Rule 26-1.

  • Ed

    Playing a course that is not well groomed, I find my ball in a bunker but sitting on top of a weed patch. By rule is the ball really in the bunker? Can I touch sand on my backswing, etc.?

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,
      In such a situation, the Committee should determine in advance that ground covered by weeds in a bunker is to be considered part of the bunker (see Decision 33-8/39.5). In the absence of such a determination, a ball that is at rest on grass-covered ground, a bush, tree or in this case, weed, but not touching the sand is technically not in the bunker.

  • Charlie Christensen

    My opponents tee shot was up against a fence which prevented him from getting a stance to advance the ball toward the hole. However, he could get a stance hitting the ball back toward the tee box – in doing so however, he was now standing on the cart path and then took nearest relief on the other side of the path and was now able to get a stance and hit it toward the hole. Is this legal? It seemed so… but tricky nonetheless…

    • Ryan Farb

      Charlie,

      To understand the facts I will answer with the assumption that the fence you are describing is a boundary fence, which is not an obstruction.
      If the stroke back toward the teeing ground was his best shot and was reasonable, then he was entitled to relief for that stroke. That does not guarantee, however, that his relief would be on the other side of the path. Without seeing the specific situation I cannot say for sure that the relief was correct, however I can say from the facts given that he was entitled to relief for the stroke toward the teeing ground and if after relief he was then able to turn around and play toward the hole that was permissible as well. See Decision 24-2b/17. Also see Decision 24-2b/9.5 which is similar but has a diagram that helps explain this kind of unusual relief.

  • Tyler Vergho

    Two balls lie on a putting green; mine and my fellow-competitor’s. I accidentally mark my competitor’s and pick it up. I replace the ball at its mark and hole it out. What is the ruling?

    • Ryan Farb

      Tyler,

      You have substituted a ball when not permitted and as a result played from a wrong place in breach of Rule 13-1 which required you to play your original ball as it lay. You incur a two-stroke penalty and unless a serious breach of playing from a wrong place is involved (highly unlikely with both balls on the putting green), the ball is holed. There is no penalty to the fellow-competitor provided he replaces his ball at the original spot and plays it.

  • Ed

    HI,
    Decision 18-2b/2 says “…generally the player cannot address his ball in a hazard without…penalty.” What would be an example of addressing a ball in a hazard and not getting the penalty?

    • Ryan Farb

      Ed,
      If your ball lies on a bridge over water in a water hazard and you ground your club immediately behind the ball on the bridge, you have addressed the ball in a hazard without penalty. See Decision 13-4/30.

  • Bruce Hoffman

    My understanding is that the tee box is two club lengths back. I was on a par three, I was going to use my seven iron to hit with, but used my driver to measure the two club lengths. My opponent claimed that the measurement must be done with the club I intend to use. Was I in the wrong?

    • Ryan Farb

      Bruce,
      As the Definition and Rules do not specify, any club may be used.

  • Jim Enos

    The #2 fairway on our course is torn up for pipe work and has tractors, pipes, etc on it with a chain link fence surrounding this area. They have put in a temporary tee for #2 and all is good there. Problem is when you tee off on #8, if you push your drive, you may end up in the construction area or against the chain link fence on #2. Can our club/committee deem this area as a “TEMPORARY” Immovable Obstruction versus just an I.O. only because T.I.O. also brings in “Line of Sight” relief which definitely comes into play as an advantage? Or am I wrong about T.I.O./I.O. and is it just an abnormal ground condition situation? Or none of the above, lol?? Thanks.

    • Ryan Farb

      Jim,
      From your description it sounds like it would be appropriate to make the fence a Temporary Immovable Obstruction which would give relief in accordance with the Local Rule in Appendix I (which includes intervention on line of play). It would not be appropriate to do so if the chain link fence is intended to be a permanent addition.

  • Steve Jenkins

    Four ball match play.
    If best score on each side is the same, go to second player to break tie.
    Player hits into hazard, does not say anything, but moves to green with
    other three players,assuming he is out of hole. Ten minutes after “abandoning”
    ball, decides second player situation may happen and wants to go back to
    hazard, drop ball and finish hole. Can he? Seems like there should
    be a time limit, but I can’t find one. Can you reference the Rule or
    Decision?

    • Ryan Farb

      In four-ball, there is no “tie-breaker” by using the second ball, so a Rules reference doesn’t really apply. However, in a situation where one player has “picked up” and then realizes he needs to finish the hole, he may do so without penalty only if in doing so he does not unduly delay play. There is no official time limit for “unduly delaying play”, but generally returning from the green to the spot of a full approach shot would constitute delaying play.

  • BobG

    A player makes a practice swing to the side of his ball and in doing so creates a divot between himself and the ball. The divot was not there when his ball came to rest. The player then taps down and compresses the divot with his foot and addresses his ball. I originally thought that no penalty applies because a player is entitled to the lie he got when the ball came to rest. However, I think I read that rule only applies if something other than the player creates the disruption, like a leaf or other player. What is the ruling when a player fixes the disturbed ground next to his ball created by his practice swing?

    • Ryan Farb

      BobG,

      If his lie, area of intended stance or swing, or line of play were improved by replacing the divot the player would incur the general penalty (two strokes in stroke play, loss of hole in match play) for a breach of Rule 13-2. While the player is entitled to the lie/line he had when his ball came to rest, he is not entitled to restore that condition if he worsened it himself. See Decision 13-2/29.

  • BobG

    When a fellow competitor notices a possible rules infraction that can not be corrected (knocking leaves off branches during practice swings) should the fellow competitor:
    Say something immediately to the player?
    Wait until the group holes out in order to not rattle the player?
    Wait until the end of the round?
    Ask the player to go the rules committe together with the observer to review the situation?

    This is always an akward situation.

    • Ryan Farb

      BobG,
      In stroke play it is the fellow-competitor’s responsibility to protect the field. If you witness a Rules infraction it is important that your bring it to the player’s attention as soon as possible. Typically, between the play of two holes is soon enough but it also depends on the nature of the breach. For example, if a player has played from a wrong place and it was a serious breach, it needs to be corrected prior to playing from the next tee. Same with a wrong ball. Those need to be addressed immediately.

      Also remember Rule 20-6. If you notice a breach ABOUT to happen, you need to speak up. A player can correct an incorrectly dropped or substituted ball prior to playing it and avoid penalty altogether.

      If you notice an infraction like grounding your club in a hazard, while it may seem nicer to wait until scoring to bring it to the player’s attention, what if he does it again throughout the round? It may be an awkward situation, but it is necessary to protect the field. The key to handling this situation is the approach. Using a non-officious manner and re-framing it to show that your intent is to help the player avoid a worse penalty (either repeating the offense or potential disqualification) will ensure a more amicable outcome.

  • Larry Preszler

    The golf course I regularly play has dug drainage channels inside the bunkers leading to the outside of the bunkers. If my ball lands in this channel or the mounds of sand created by this digging may I get ground under repair relief inside the bunker?

    • Ryan Farb

      Larry,
      A hole made by a greenskeeper is ground under repair by definition. It is unclear whether the channel would automatically fall under that category, however the Committee (in this case the course staff) would be justified in declaring the channels and surrounding mounds as ground under repair with relief available under Rule 25-1.