Can I Get Free Relief from a Flooded Putting Green or Bunker?

Bunkers Filled with Temporary Water

Under normal circumstances Rule 16.1c deals with the problem of Temporary Water in Bunkers.

However, on some occasions, when the amount of water is great and a bunker is flooded, it may not be enough to ensure fair play.

A Committee may, under these circumstances choose to treat that bunker as Ground Under Repair (GUR) in the General Area from which, free-relief would be allowed outside the bunker.

This they may do under a Local Rule, but should only use this rule on a case-by-case basis; it is not permitted to to make a Local Rule that would declare all flooded bunkers as GUR.

Model Local Rule F-16).

Bunker Filled with Temporary Water

Purpose. If a bunker is flooded, free relief under Rule 16.1c may not be sufficient to allow for fair play. A Committee can choose to treat that bunker as ground under repair in the general area from which free relief is allowed outside the bunker.

The Committee should only use this Local Rule on a case-by-case basis and is not authorized to make a Local Rule providing generally that all flooded bunkers are ground under repair. See Model Local Rule F-16.

Model Local Rule F-16

“The flooded bunker on [insert location of bunker; for example, left of 5th green] is ground under repair in the general area. It is not treated as a bunker during the round.

If the player’s ball lies in or touches this ground under repair or the ground under repair interferes with the player’s stance or area of intended swing, the player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b .

All other bunkers on the course, whether they contain temporary water or not, are still bunkers for all purposes under the Rules.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.

Should a Committee not adopt this Local Rule, when necessary, then Rule 16.1c must apply, which can lead to some confusion when a bunker is flooded.

I was asked recently to clarify the ruling on relief from flooded bunkers following a player’s recent experience which he describes as follows:

‘The green-keeper forgot to put GUR in a bunker that was 95% under water.
There was a very small bit of dry sand at the edge but I would have had to stand in the water to hit the ball.
I Ended up taking a penalty shot outside the bunker.
Should I have had a free drop?
The rule book is not very clear’.

I understand the problem and agree that the rule, especially in the Players’ Edition is too concise and not clear on how you may take relief in these situations.

We all understand that, normally, when taking relief from an abnormal course condition we must play from an area that provides us with complete relief from that condition, and this applies to position of the ball, stance and area of swing.

In the situation described, in order to have had free relief, the player would have had to have played his ball from within the bunker, either as it lay or by dropping it in the only dry area of sand; but he knew he could not play a stroke when his stance would still be in the abnormal course condition without incurring a General Penalty of 2 Strokes, you must take full relief from the temporary water.

Under the circumstances the player chose a quite reasonable option which, unfortunately, carried a 1-stroke penalty.

However, when your ball comes to rest in an abnormal course condition, as his did in temporary water, in a bunker or on the putting-green and there is no ‘nearest point of complete relief’, the Rules of Golf allow another option in these situations where you can still get free-relief and play your ball from or take a stance at a point that offers the least interference from the abnormal course condition, which could still be in the abnormal course condition.

This is where confusion can arise because not many players know about this option nor, if they do, understand its application fully.

This option is known as taking ‘the Nearest Point of Maximum Available Relief’ and is defined in the Rules of Golf as:

‘The reference point for taking free relief from an abnormal course condition in a bunker (Rule 16.1c) or on the putting green (Rule 16.1d) when there is no nearest point of complete relief.
It is the estimated point where the ball would lie that is:
• Nearest to the ball’s original spot, but not nearer the hole than that spot,
• In the required area of the course, and
• Where that abnormal course condition least interferes with the stroke the player would have made from the original spot if the condition was not there.
Estimating this reference point requires the player to identify the choice of club, stance, swing and line of play the player would have used for that stroke.
The player does not need to simulate that stroke by taking an actual stance and swinging with the chosen club (but it is recommended that the player normally do this to help in making an accurate estimate).
The point of maximum available relief is found by comparing the relative amount of interference with the lie of the ball and the player’s area of intended stance and swing and, on the putting green only, the line of play. For example, when taking relief from temporary water:
• The point of maximum available relief may be where the ball will be in shallower water than where the player will stand (affecting the stance more than the lie and swing), or where the ball is in deeper water than where the player will stand (affecting the lie and swing more than the stance).
• On the putting green, the point of maximum available relief may be based on the line of play where the ball will need to go through the shallowest or shortest stretch of temporary water.

Therefore in the situation described, the player could have dropped his ball in the small area of dry sand, taken his stance in the temporary water and played his ball, without penalty.

In my opinion, there are six relevant points that you should bear in mind about taking ‘Maximum Available Relief’:

1. This option only applies to situations where there is no ‘nearest point of complete relief’ from an abnormal course condition on a putting-green or in a bunker.

2. Estimating this reference point, where that abnormal course condition least interferes with the stroke you would have made from the original spot if the condition was not there, requires you to identify the choice of club, stance, swing and line of play you would have used for that stroke.
You do not need to simulate that stroke by taking an actual stance and swinging with the chosen club (but it is recommended that you normally do this to help in making an accurate estimate).

3. There is a difference between the options for on the putting-green and in a bunker; in a bunker the reference point must be in the bunker not in the General Area, whereas on the putting-green the reference point could be in the General Area, because in this situation line-of-play comes into play.

4. If you take maximum available relief, you will still have interference, although hopefully reduced, from the abnormal course condition and if you are still not happy with the lie, you still have the option to take back-on-the-line relief with 1-stroke penalty. If you do this the reference point for taking this relief is where your ball came to rest after taking the maximum available relief.

5. If you drop your ball in an area that provides the least possible interference to your stance or stroke and the ball rolls back into an area of the abnormal course condition that does not provide the same level of relief, then you may re-drop your, should it again roll into the abnormal course condition then you may place it where it contacted the ground on the second drop.

6. If you take maximum available relief from temporary water, for example, and drop your ball in a shallow part of the temporary water, say a depth of ¼ inch, and your ball rolls into a deeper part of the temporary water, say ½ inch, you may lift and re-drop your ball, if it again rolls into the deeper water then you may place your ball at the point where it was last dropped.

I hope this helps to clarify the situation of dealing with relief from flooded bunkers and putting-greens.

Enjoy your golf.

Best wishes

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules Blog: www.my-golf.uk

Submitting Non-qualifying Away Scores.

Reporting Non-qualifying Away Scores.

Some players seem a little concerned about England Golf’s decision to enforce CONGU Clauses 4.5b and 8.12 of the CONGU Unified Handicapping System and the effect it may have on their handicap.
– Clause 4.5b allows the Union to require a player to return to the Home Club information regarding scores in Non-Qualifying Competitions as provided by Clause 8.12.
– Clause 8.12 states that the player must provide to his Home Club information regarding scores in Non-qualifying Competitions.

In a statement made by Gemma Hunter, Handicap and Course Rating Manager of England Golf, players should not be overly concerned because the submission of theses away scores do not impact directly on their handicap.

The reason for making players submit these away scores is to gather evidence on the performance of players playing Competitions away from their home club.

Over recent years, England Golf has been aware of a number of cases of players who protect inflated handicaps, only to repeatedly collect high-value rewards when playing in competitions away from home and at this stage it is
purely an information gathering exercise to provide clubs with evidence to support handicap reviews.

The ruling has been introduced for members of English golf clubs to stop what England Golf calls rogue players manipulating the system to their advantage.

Because it is difficult to identify individual players the new stipulation requires that everyone playing in non-qualifying competitions away from home must return their scores to their home club. Players who ignore this responsibility could even have their handicap suspended.

England Golf has introduced this clause of the CONGU handicapping system to provide clubs with evidence to support handicap reviews.

The new system will highlight players who, for example, take part in as many competitions as possible at home and whose handicaps creep up 0.1 on every occasion – but who repeatedly win prizes away from home. Similarly, it will
show up the players who play the bare minimum of competitions at home, but who are known for their away successes.’

Following a Continuous Assessment Report or an Annual Review, if there is suspicion over a player’s handicap and known playing ability then looking at a player’s submitted Non -qualifying scores may provide evidence that her/his current Handicap is not a true reflection of their playing ability and a Handicap adjustment is justified.

The new rule applies to all stroke play scores returned under competition conditions, including team events.
Individual scores or Team results must be returned in all Singles, Am-Am and 4BBB with the exception of Texas Scrambles, Foursomes and Greensome competitions, or casual social rounds.

Another comment by Gemma Hunter, states, “We’re not talking about a sleeve of balls. These are big prizes including luxury trips overseas, sets of clubs and electric trolleys. It’s essential to do this to protect the integrity of the system. We can’t sit back and let people manipulate the system, but without evidence clubs can’t take any action.

It’s not about recording every score in a Fourball Better Ball but returning the team score.

If the same individuals or teams keeping winning or coming near the top of leader boards at events away from home, that should at least indicate to their club’s handicapping officials that further investigations are required – and the only way to achieve that is by asking for all the scores
to be reported.

Social golf is not affected, but clubs are advised to be aware of performances in swindles which the handicap committee could take into account at the annual review.

England Golf also recommends that clubs which run non-qualifying open competitions should inform the prize winners’ home clubs of their scores.”

Individual scores or Team results must be returned in all Singles, Am-Am and 4BBB with the exception of Texas Scrambles, Foursomes and Greensome competitions, or casual social rounds, failure to return these scores by the
player could result in loss or suspension of handicap under clause 24.1.

If and when the New world Handicap System comes into operation these non-qualifying scores should be recorded automatically and rogue players identified by the Handicap Software ‘factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control’, which means it will pick up players whose recorded scores may indicate a playing ability different from that expected from their handicap, either better or worse.

You can download a copy of England Golf’s Recording of Non-qualifying Scores by clicking on the download button below:

Download “England Golf Recording of Non-qualifying Scores” Recording-of-Non-Qualifying-Scores.pdf – Downloaded 84 times – 215 KB

You can download a copy of England Golf’s Reporting Non-Qualifying Scores Q&A by clicking on the download button below:

Download “England Golf Non-qualifying Scores Q&A” Non-Qualifying-Scores-QA-2017.pdf – Downloaded 73 times – 256 KB

So enjoy your golf, but play fair and help root out these bandits.

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules of Golf Blog: my-golf.uk

Can Shotgun Starts be Run as Qualifying Competitions?

I received a question recently as to the status of Shotgun Starts and whether they could be run as Qualifying Competitons for Handicap Purposes

Under the Rules of Golf, a Committee is at liberty to set any teeing ground where a player will start her/his round and can stipulate the order in which holes are to be played in that round, so covering split tee starts and shotgun
starts.

Under the CONGU Unified Handicap System Decision 1(g) Shotgun Starts may be played as Qualifying Competitions so long as the course being played conforms to Competition Playing Conditions

Definition: Competition Play Conditions
Competition Play Conditions prevail during Stroke Play, Par/Bogey and Stableford competitions over 18 holes and for competitions played over a Designated Nine-Hole Course under the Rules of Golf from Competition Tees.
Competition Play Conditions shall not prevail when the length of the course played varies by more than 100 yards (91 metres) from the length of the Measured Course.
Note 1: Special rules apply when the length of a Measured Course has been temporarily reduced or increased – see Clause 13.
Note 2: Special rules apply to Nine-Hole Qualifying Competitions – see Clause 22.

Decision: Dec.1(g) Status of a competition in which shotgun starts are employed or competitors are authorised by the Committee to start other than at the first tee.
Competitions in which competitors are authorised by the Committee to commence play elsewhere than from the first tee will be Qualifying Competitions for handicap purposes provided all other requirements of the
UHS are satisfied. This includes ‘Shotgun Starts’.

So the answer is yes, Shotgun Competitons can be organised as Qualifying Competitions.