Accidentally Knocking your Ball off the Tee

Accidentally Knocking Your Ball off the Tee

Most of us have accidentally knocked our ball off the tee when setting up for our drive.

Then, there’s always somebody in your group who shouts’, “One”.

 But is it actually a stroke? Does it count? NO!

Rule 6.1a tells us that we start a hole by making a stroke and a stroke, by definition, is the forward movement of the club with the intent to hit the ball. Knocking the ball off the tee by accident is not an intent to hit the ball, so it doesn’t count as a stroke. You can put the ball back on the tee and hit away with no penalty.

The teeing area is a special part of the golf course. The teeing area is a rectangle with the corners being the front edges of the tee markers and two club lengths backwards.

You can alter the surface, move bend or break grass, remove dew or press down grass or dirt within the teeing area before you start the hole.

If you make a stroke with the intention of hitting your ball, then that stroke counts even if you barely make contact with your ball or even whiff it (air-shot).

If your ball moves outside the teeing area you must play your ball as it lies.

However, should you barely make contact with your ball or even whiff it (air-shot) and your ball stays within the teeing area you have many more options than you had before the 2019 rules changes.

  1. You can play your ball as it lies, pick it up and move it anywhere within that teeing area with no penalty to make your next stroke. (Rule 9.4b).
  2. You can even tee it up again or substitute a new ball!

The new rules have made the teeing area a free for all in many respects and knowing this rule can be used to your advantage.

But when is your ball in the Teeing Area?

Your ball is in the teeing area when any part of your ball touches or is above any part of the teeing area.

See the diagram below:

Image detailing when a ball is in the teeing area
WHEN BALL IS IN TEEING AREA The dotted line defines the outside edges of the teeing area (see Definition of Teeing Area). A ball is in the teeing area when any part of the ball touches or is above part of the teeing area.

Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) – Updated August 2022

Update on the Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) August 2022

At the end of each day, the playing conditions calculation takes place automatically to determine if scores made at the course were significantly higher or lower than the expected scores of the players who made them, primarily due to weather and/or course set up.

If scores were abnormally low or high, a PCC adjustment between -1 and +3 will be applied in the calculation of Score Differentials™ of everyone who played that day. A negative (-) adjustment means the course played easier than expected and a positive (+) adjustment means the course played more difficult than expected. A PCC of 0 means the course played as expected, which will be the case on most days.

The PCC:

  • Uses scoring data so no action is required by the club/course staff or golfer (except for posting scores),
  • Includes only scores made by players with a Handicap Index® of 36.0 or below,
  • Considers both 9-hole and 18-hole scores in the calculation, and
  • Only takes place if at least 8 scores were posted on a given day.
  • (Rule 5.6, Rules of Handicapping)

Date published: 22 Aug 2022

Since the launch of the World Handicap System in November 2020, England Golf has received feedback from golfers, clubs and counties on a wide range of topics.

One of the most talked about aspects of WHS has been the Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) and its lack of movement compared to the old Competition Scratch Score (CSS).

England Golf have been analysing this very carefully across GB&I and have presented this to The R&A to help with their own research and that of other countries on this topic. As a result of this work, we can report that a change will be made to the algorithm that calculates PCC.

Statement from The R&A/USGA

Analysis of scoring data provided from 24 countries around the world indicates that a change to the rounding method used within the current PCC algorithm would increase the instance of an adjustment for abnormal conditions by an average of 5%.

For example, in countries where an adjustment for PCC only occurs on average 10% of the time on eligible days, this change will increase the average to about 15%.

This small change, recently approved by the Handicap Operations Committee, is in response to feedback from national associations that the current PCC algorithm is too conservative.

While this may feel like a small change, we expect the impact to be significant in highlighting days where a player’s performance was significantly different from that expected by the system.

Please note that there will be no change to the visibility of the calculation. This is an algorithm built within the WHS and is not available to clubs.

This change will not be made retrospectively and will take place on or around Monday 22 August 2022.

Mobile Score Input – Update

Mobile Score Input – Update

We were informed, by England Golf, in August 2022, that a World Handicap System scheme has launched allowing golfers across the UK to submit their scores online via a Mobile Scoring App when playing outside their respective countries.

A pilot scheme allowing golfers in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales to put in scores when playing across their respective countries has gone live.

Nearly two years after its launch, players across the Home Nations, in GB&I, can finally submit their scores via their jurisdiction’s App on a Mobile Device.

The project, being shepherded by England Golf and Scottish Golf on behalf of the R&A and USGA, means you should now be able to easily submit scores from rounds played and submitted in one country to your WHS record.

It’s been one of the weaknesses since the system launched in November 2020 that players have had to go through a convoluted process if they wanted to, for example, have general play scores from Scottish courses count towards their English handicaps.

But, Richard Flint, England Golf’s chief operating officer, said the ability to automatically transfer scores is now possible across the home nations – and the governing body is hoping to soon add more countries across the world.

“We feel we’re in a good place with WHS, but there’s more that can be done,” “Interoperability is another thing we’re conscious of and we’re really pleased with Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, that we now have that in place across borders in terms of handicap lookup and submitting scores through GB&I.

“That’s been the test case for the rest of the world and so we’re really eager that we can take that on and have that interoperability with the rest of the world because then it is truly a worldwide handicap system.”

But how many of you had the experience when you tried to submit your score of being presented with a blank screen, suggesting nothing had changed.

If you’re a member of an English club, for example, and have played a round in Scotland and want it to count towards your handicap, what do you have to do?

A score has to be entered by the host venue into the WHS platform. Scores still cannot be posted by the MyEG App when played outside England.

Although software companies have been given the specification to develop a link, they are only at a testing stage for Mobile Devices.

This is not ideal, but it’s probably less of a nuisance than what you had to do before, where you had to tell your own club you were going to put in a score, then tell the host club, give your card to that club when the round was over so that you knew the PCC, if one was applied, take a copy of that card and return it to your own club, who would finally submit the score to the WHS platform.

In time, you should be able to enter your scores into your Mobile App and in the club computer at the course you are playing, in the same way that you would do at your home Club when playing a competition or putting in a general play score.

New regulations for the returning of General Play Scores

The GB&I Golfing governing bodies have introduced new regulations for the returning of General Play Scores for the purpose of “Safeguarding Handicap Integrity”.

These regulations stipulate a maximum distance that the player can be from the club when a round is pre-registered, and a score is returned using a mobile device. They are also stipulating a minimum duration between pre-registration and score submission.

These distance/time limits are as follows for the different home unions:

  • England 2 Miles/3.2km – minimum 1 hour for 9 holes, 2 hours for 18
  • Ireland 1.86 Miles 3Km – minimum 1 hour for 9 holes, 2 hours for 18
  • Scotland 1 Mile/1.6Km – minimum 45 minutes for 9 holes, 1 hour 30 minutes for 18
  • Wales 1.86 Miles/3Km – minimum 1 hour for 9 holes, 2 hours for 18

“Pre-Registration” equals “Sign-In”.

What is Stroke Index?

Stroke Index

Stroke Indexes are designed to allow for handicap Match Play games. In Strokeplay between players of unequal handicaps, it is simple to determine a winner – deduct each player’s handicap from the gross score and you get the net score and lowest net score wins.

But in Match Play, when the competition is to win individual holes, on which holes should the handicap be applied? This is where we need Stroke Index, For example:

With a difference in Playing Handicaps between Tony and John, Tony  has to give John 4 shots during the round – but on which holes? The answer is on the stroke index 1, 2, 3 and 4 holes.

Stroke index is also used in other competitions, prime among them Stableford competitions. Here points are earned on each hole in relation to each golfer’s net par for the hole. To work out the net par for each hole you need the stroke index. For example:

If Sarah has a playing handicap of 10, she will get one extra shot on the holes with stroke index 1 to 10 inclusive. Ann, with a playing handicap of 19 will get two extra shots on SI 1 and one extra shot on each of the other 17.

Although The ‘Handicap Stroke Index’ was designed for Match Play, because it is also used widely for Stableford, Par and Bogey competitions in these forms of stroke play competition the need to have a uniform and balanced distribution of strokes is less compelling. There is therefore a strong case for the Index in such competitions to be aligned to the ranking of holes in terms of playing difficulty irrespective of hole number.

For this reason, some clubs have two sets of stroke index, one for Match Play and one for Stableford. The Stableford ranking is more a straightforward ranking of the difficulty of each hole.

Stroke Index Allocation

The recommended procedure for the allocation of stroke index values in the Rules of Handicapping under the World Handicap System (WHS) has changed from the recommendations found in the previous USGA and CONGU Handicap Systems.

For the WHS a simple, consistent and data-based approach is used that can be applied to any course in the world, regardless of the number or type of players at the course.

Because stroke allocation is used in match play, but also in certain forms of stroke play such as four-ball stroke play and Stableford. It was not preferred to maintain a separate stroke index table for both Match Play and Stroke Play for a number of reasons, keeping things simple was the primary factor.

The conclusion was to base the stroke index table on overall hole difficulty relative to par as a starting point, then use the procedures that work well to provide equity in match play, including placing odds and evens on different sides, avoiding consecutive low stroke index holes, and avoiding low stroke index holes at the beginning or end of a nine. It was also a recommendation to have separate stroke index tables for women and men, but not have multiple stroke index tables per gender as that can lead to players selecting tees in order to gain an advantage, especially if trying to maximize strokes between partners in team events.  

From worldwide research, in match play, the stroke index order is not really important in producing equitable results as long as the strokes are spread out, consecutive low strokes are avoided, and low strokes at the beginning or end of each nine are avoided. So, applying the triad concept of using three-hole clusters (with the lowest stroke hole on each nine in the middle of the nine), spreading out low stroke holes, and avoiding consecutive low stroke holes produces a simple but effective method for allocation.

As stroke index values are also used in stroke play or Stableford play, it was important to generate an allocation based on overall difficulty, which is where the Course Rating data is used. Using Course Rating data, which factors in both effective playing length and obstacle ratings, provides a consistent method regardless of the makeup of players at the course. While the stroke index values are ultimately adjusted to accommodate the recommended procedures for match play, they are generally consistent with the order of difficulty as ranked using Course Rating data. Stroke Indexes also play a part in Handicap Index Calculation, because it is used to determine the maximum score that can be recorded for a player on each hole.

Since the maximum hole score allowed for handicap purposes is based on a net double bogey, which is tied to the stroke index value, it is important to have the holes ranked in a general order of difficulty. 

As with the previous Handicap Systems, stroke index allocation is a recommendation and courses are free to use whichever method they choose. There is no recommendation for a course to run a new allocation solely due to the move to the WHS. However, for courses that are looking to run a new allocation, the new WHS method produces consistent and acceptable values without the need to find specific players and collect hundreds of scores from a common tee.  

For more information on Stroke Index Allocation under the World Handicap System Click Here.

Why do Golf Clubs have a Dress Code?

Why do golf clubs have a dress code?

There is, in fact, no set or fixed golf dress code, except in professional golf tournaments, e.g.:

‘At all PGA Golf Management tournaments, players shall present themselves with a neat and clean appearance. Shorts or denim are not permitted to be worn by male competitors. Khakis or slacks and collared shirts must be worn by all male players. Female competitors may wear shorts or skirts’.

A golf club’s dress code is whatever the club decides. Some clubs are happy to have none, others can have some highly complicated regulations. However there is some broad consensus among golf clubs which have chosen to have dress codes as to what is and is not acceptable.

If you are in any doubt as to  what to wear, check with the Golf Club beforehand.

Many golf courses require golfers to wear particular clothing because this instils a sense of professionalism and respectability. It’s important for players to look their best, so they maintain the reputation of the club.

If in doubt, wear chinos and a collared shirt. No club is going to object to that. Well not if the shirt is tucked into the trousers anyway, as some clubs have prohibitions on untucked shirts.

What is acceptable on the course and in the clubhouse can be different, too. If you have ever wondered what a spike bar is, this is a bar that players can go into straight off the course without having to change out of your spiked golf shoes.

Why Do Golfers Have A Dress Code?

When you start thinking about playing golf, you’ll come across a lot of new rules.

Not all of them have to do with how you play golf, your swing, choosing a club, playing a stroke, birdies, pars, or eagles. One of the things many of you may feel concerned about is a dress code.

Many municipal golf courses don’t have any rules about the way you should dress. However, when it comes to private golf clubs, you can face a dress code. Each club may have its own dress code, but the basic points are usually the same.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why some golf clubs are strict about maintaining a dress code.

A Respect for Tradition

A dress code is steeped in tradition

The first games of golf as we know them date back to the 15th century. Although there is evidence that golf may have originated much earlier than that; the game has had several centuries to grow and develop and so have the traditions around it.

Golf, initially, was played by royalty and the elite. Each game being a special event at which the nobility didn’t just have fun. They used it as an opportunity to discuss important matters and arriving at a golf course inappropriately dressed was absolutely out of the question.

If you were to arrive at the golf course looking less than impeccable, the consequences could be dire, starting from unpleasant rumours and ending with the dissatisfaction of the king.

That’s why with time, a certain dress code has emerged, and Golf Clubs and players have continued to ensure that they follow it closely.

As time has passed, and although the game of golf has turned into an entertaining event accessible to more and more people, players haven’t really wanted to change tradition.

Comfort and Safety

If you look at old photographs of golfers, it will seem that the comfort of the players was rarely considered, with time however, it has become more and more important. What may at first appear to be a tribute to tradition is, in fact, a sensible way to add comfort and safety to the players.

  • Golf hat or cap – protects the player from the sun while the visor shields the eyes from direct sunlight to help make a good swing.
  • Collared shirt or polo – a collar is an excellent way to protect your neck from the sunshine and avoid sunburn.
  • Special golf shoes – ensure comfort on the course for hours without slipping or damaging the grass.
  • Slacks, pants, trousers, shorts, skirts – provide freedom of movement, protection from the sunrays and undergrowth and proper ventilation.

So, even if a club doesn’t demand it, it makes sense to follow the common dress code. Wearing clothing made specifically for playing golf, can make your game comfortable and increase your chances of achieving better results.  

Following the Dress Code

In the 21st century, following the golf club’s dress code is easier than it may seem. If you wear a collared shirt, trousers, tailored shorts, skirts and golf shoes without metal spikes, you are likely to be accepted at most golf clubs.

Also bear in mind, that besides following the dress code, you must protect your skin from the sun and also dress appropriately in cold or rainy weather. No matter how strict your club is about the dress code, it’s likely to relax its rules when it comes to rain suits or overcoats.

A Final Comment

When you are planning for your next game, consider having a change of clothing with you, especially when there is a threat of inclement weather.

A day at the golf club may entail a dinner or a cup of coffee inside the building. You don’t want to sit at the table sweaty with your clothes dripping wet or stained by grass. That’s why you should have a change of clothing that suits the club’s dress code.

No matter how well you know the dress code, it’s important to call the club in advance or visit the website to check the details. Each golf club, especially well established ones, may have its own dress code nuances, which could become the cause of ruined plans.

Cheating in Golf

Hi,

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy lots of golf now that the weather is better and more settled.

It would appear that many of you are organising and entering Open Competitions and I have been informed of some suspicious actions by players during a round.

I have received several emails asking for my advice on how to deal with cheating in Golf.

Perhaps your initial feeling is that you cannot tolerate it and the offender should be disciplined and kicked out of the Club.

But, because of the repercussions of accusing a player of cheating, you need to keep a level-head and carefully assess your approach before you do anything.

What follows are my own ideas on how to approach cheating.

You may not agree with them but I feel they will allow you to deal with a situation without affecting your round, enjoyment of your game or relationship with your playing partner.

A central principle of the game of golf is that players play by the Rules and in the spirit of the game; it makes the game more enjoyable for everyone.

According to studies by the National Golf Foundation, approximately 90% of golfers claim that they play by the rules. So why are there still lots of golfers that sweep away two-footers , improve a lie or take extra tee-shots and don’t add extra strokes?

This is because, basically, although there are players who will always cheat, there are a number of players who don’t even really know they are cheating. So, instead of berating them for it, you should extend them the benefit of the doubt that they are unaware of the cheating – don’t go full pelt into disciplinary action but use the moment to teach them.

You could simply say, ‘You know you’re not supposed to do that?’ and generally, many will thank you for your input and change their behaviour. However, if this isn’t the case and they continue to play the same way, then you simply never play with them again.

Calculate the costs of your actions and always act with a level head. 

Golf is seen by many as not just a fun pastime, but also a social event. So, any accusations of cheating in golf can have implications that go way beyond the golfing green. You may accuse a golfer of cheating on the fairway – and then be expected to have a meal and drinks with him/her later… maybe with partners and children.

If the match is of low importance and no one is really losing out greatly by the cheating – and making accusations can cause difficult situations in the future, then it might simply be best just to let things slide. However, if it’s a tournament or important competition, then it’s different. So, are you playing for high stakes or low stakes, or is there more to lose than gain by confrontation?

Calculate what your accusation may cost overall and work out whether it’s worth it.

So, what advice can I offer you?

In 2016, before the New Rules of Golf were introduced in 2019, it was advocated that all Clubs should have both a Code of Conduct and Pace-of-play Policy in place and in the public domain. Unfortunately, not every Club followed the advice.

A policy would provide a reference for players and visitors as to what kind of behaviour was expected from them and, should a player or visitor be guilty of misconduct, a reference to why they were considered to have been in breach of the Code of Conduct and what penalties they might face.

Rule 1.2 is an important Rule in the Rules of Golf as it details the conduct that is expected of all players and what is meant by spirit of the game but on its own it is weak and can be difficult to impose.

There is no penalty under the Rules for failing to act in this way, except that the Committee may under Rule 1.2a, disqualify a player for serious misconduct for acting contrary to the spirit of the game. This applies whether, or not, there is a Code of Conduct in place for a competition.

When considering whether a player is guilty of serious misconduct, the Committee should consider whether the player’s action was intentional and whether the act was significant enough to warrant disqualification without first giving a warning and/or applying other penalties when a Code of Conduct is in place

A Committee, or individual, should also be mindful of a person’s reputation and the far-reaching effects of an accusation outside of the golf course or Golf Club.

Any accuser or attestor to an incident must be 100% certain of the facts, it is no use just having a suspicion.

Examples of actions that could warrant disqualification under Rule 1.2a and further guidance on what is meant by serious misconduct, can be found in Interpretation 1.2a/1.

However, a Committee may set its own standards of player conduct in a Code of Conduct adopted as a Local Rule.

See Committee Procedures, Section 5H (explaining the standards of player conduct that may be adopted).

Penalties other than disqualification may be imposed for player misconduct only if those penalties are adopted as part of a Code of Conduct under Rule 1.2b.”

A suggested Code of Conduct Policy is available on my Website, click on the link below:

Code of Conduct Policy • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf and Handicapping (my-golf.uk)

Also for consideration is an example Pace-of-play policy available by clicking on the link below.:

Sample Pace of Play Policy • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf and Handicapping (my-golf.uk)

Summary

So, in summary, some points that come to mind, for consideration when it comes to suspecting an individual, or group of individuals, of breaching Rules are, in no particular order:

  1. Cheating is a matter of fact it has always gone on and always will with some individuals, professional or amateur.
  2. You must be 100% certain of your facts, be careful to avoid using the word ’cheat’
  3. A mere suggestion could have serious repercussions outside the Golf Course for the ‘guilty’ party, the accuser and the Golf Club
  4. If only a suspicion that an individual is breaching a rule, keep a close eye on them but do not call them out until you have definite evidence.
  5. Is the misdemeanour serious or just a minor infraction?
  6. Is the infringement intentional or accidental?
  7. Could a player handle the situation without resorting to informing a Committee, better this way if it can be done?
  8. Try to use any trespasses as a means of education and avoid any confrontations.
  9. Depending on the status of the competition, if 100% certain of a breach of the Rules, call the player out immediately or could you leave it until you get to the clubhouse and talk it over with him/her. Picking a player up on his/her behaviour may cause an atmosphere for the rest of your round.
  10. Again, depending on the status of the competition, impose a penalty there and then or just give them a reminder of their actions and the correct procedure to follow.
  11. If the individual is a persistent offender or the offence considered really serious, then, having called them out during a round, refuse to mark their scorecard, inform the committee of both your and the player’s actions and let the Committee handle the situation.
  12. Ensure the committee has a sound policy in place for dealing with disciplinary actions.

There is also some advice on My Golf website on how to discipline a member, click on the link below to read more:

How to Discipline a Member (or Visitor). • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf and Handicapping (my-golf.uk)

There may be a few more observations that you can think of and I would like to hear them from you, but I hope you find these helpful at the moment.

Enjoy your Golf

Tony

Since the World Handicap System, does CONGU still exist?

Since the World Handicap System, does CONGU still exist?

Just to let you know what the position is with CONGU, now that the World Handicap System is in place.

The answer is yes, CONGU still exists but not in its previous format.

Originally formed on 14th February 1924 and known as The British Golf Unions Joint Advisory Committee, on 21st March 1960 the Committee’s name was changed to the Council of National Golf Unions (“CONGU”) comprising representatives of The English Golf Union, The Golfing Union of Ireland, The Scottish Golf Union, The Welsh Golfing Union and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.

Since that day CONGU has always maintained the Handicapping System in GB&I

The position with CONGU in 2022 is that following the introduction of the World Handicap System, which passes all maintenance of Handicapping to National Organisations, there is no longer a handicapping system that CONGU needs to support, so, as a handicapping system maintaining body, it no longer exists. 

However, because CONGU has signed the World Handicap System licence, on behalf of the home unions, and then delegates the authority to those home unions, those representing the home unions on the board of CONGU are now simply those employed by the home unions and there are no longer any formal committees (e.g., the Technical Committee which previously maintained the system and Website).

Strictly speaking, therefore, it does still exist, but the CONGU Website is now just a single page showing links to the four home unions and the R&A.

One thing I will point out is that all the resources that were previously on the CONGU Website are no longer available there.  Those documents should now be available on each of the home union Websites (e.g., the Mixed Tee Calculator, which is now certainly on the England Golf Website as I have checked that out).

England Golf have given an assurance that all the other relevant documents will also become available in the very near future (if not already). I can’t make any comment about the other three unions, although I have been assured that Scotland will publish most of those documents where there are variations because of their decision to use the exact Course Handicap in all Handicap calculations.

England, Wales and Ireland opted for the simpler approach, for players at least, to use the rounded Course Handicap (as that is what the player can easily determine by looking at the handicap boards which are displayed at her/his Golf Club).

Enjoy your golf

Tony

CONGU – Returning of Acceptable Scores – Update 17 July 2021

As our Governments reduce or repeal COVID restrictions, the advice from the Home Unions is changing in response.

The current advice is to remove situations where the touching of course furniture or score cards is not permitted, along with rule adjustments to accommodate this.

The new advice, as restrictions are lifted, is to once again allow those touchpoints – flagsticks may be touched/removed, bunker rakes are to be allowed and score cards can be exchanged once more. Accordingly, as each Home Union provides this updated advice, all adjustments to the rules (as set out on Page 2 onwards) are rescinded and play will be according to the Rules of Golf and Rules of Handicapping.

The updated advice on returning acceptable scores is shown below:

You can download a copy of the document by clicking on the download button below:

Enjoy your golf

Tony

Tee Time Booking Systems – Guidance for clubs following the end of COVID-19 restrictions.

England Golf has issued guidance for clubs on the benefits of tee time booking following the lifting of restrictions as of 19 July 2021.

Within its document, other examples are also provided for clubs who wish to maintain roll-ups. Read more:

If you wish to download a personal copy, please click on the download button below:

A Framework for Playing Golf – Updated for 19 July 2021

Looks like the time you have all been waiting for is about to happen on Monday 19 July 2021.

Following the government’s planned removal of national COVID-19 restrictions, and subject to any further changes, England Golf’s current ‘Play Safe, Stay Safe’ guidance will be updated from 19 July.

It looks as if we can return to playing golf as we did pre-COVID, even to removing Flagsticks for those who have been frustrated by having no choice but to leave the flagstick in and enjoy the social side, again, at the same time.

Beware, however, that the CONGU rule changes during COVID-19, such as not raking bunkers, modified holes or preferred lies within bunkers, will no longer be in operation post 19 July 2021.

For more information read the document below:

If you wish to download a personal copy of the Framework, please click on the Download button below:

Enjoy getting back to playing golf as we know it, but be vigilant and still Stay Safe and Play Safe.