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Stump the Rules Archives 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.