Must I Use the Same Make and Model of Golf Ball to Play Out a Hole or a Whole Round of Golf?

A reader of my Blog recently asked:

‘If you play a mixed Match Play competition and the Men tee off first with their ball of their choice, is it cheating when it comes to the Ladies teeing off with their own ball, or must they tee with the ball used by the man on the first tee?’

Provided the competition does not have a ‘One-Ball’ local rule in operation then it is quite permissible to play with different balls.

It does not mean that you have to literally play with the same ball as your partner, only a ball of the same make and model.

In formats where players play one ball, often partners may agree to play a particular make and model of ball that one partner prefers, but this does not tie them to having to use that specific make and model to play out the hole or the whole round. There may be times when the ball has to be substituted and players do not necessarily have the same ball in their bag.

The one ball rule is an optional condition that Committees may choose to use. If this rule is in effect, you must play with the same brand, make and model of golf ball that you started the round with. This means that if you start playing with a Titleist Pro V1, you must play a Titleist Pro V1 for the remainder of the round and may not switch to another brand or even another model of Titleist golf ball (see Committee Procedures; Model Local Rule G-4).

This rule is usually reserved for elite competitions especially those played by the professional golfers, normal Club and County Competitions do not adopt this rule.

Enjoy your golf,

Tony

Rules of Golf Blog: www.my-golf.uk

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

May a Player Ask for Advice or Help During a Round of Golf?

Asking for Advice or Help During a Round of Golf

I recently received the following question:

‘I was out with a Junior and her Dad in a Medal Comp .
On one hole she asked her dad if she should use her 6 iron and I immediately told her she cannot ask him any questions like this during a round of golf of in which he was not paired with her or working as her caddy ? I did not see if he then gave any visible indication (a nod or similar) as I went to play my ball

On another hole, played over water, the parent reminded her to take account of the wind.

When I have looked at this I found the following old ruling and would ask if this is still a ruling now following various changes ?

“The following ten questions and statements, do incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for the player asking for, or giving the advice:
“Do you think that an 8-iron will get me to the green?”
“Am I swinging too fast?”
“I think that this putt is dead straight, what do you think?”
“Should I try and play this ball out of the water hazard or take a penalty drop?”
“That was my 7-wood, what are you going to use?”
“Keep your head still as you putt.”
“You haven’t really got a shot; if I were you I’d declare your ball unplayable.”
“The wind is against us, you need at least one extra club.”
“Don’t use your driver here or you may end up in the water hazard.”

Finally, there is one statement that many of us regularly use but probably shouldn’t if the Rule on Advice is very strictly interpreted. When a fellow competitor’s putt just lips out and he goes charging up to the hole to tap it in we should try and refrain from saying ……….… “Take your time”’

Firstly, we have the definition of Advice under the Rules of Golf 2019:

Advice
Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:
• Choosing a club,
• Making a stroke, or
• Deciding how to play during a hole or round.
But advice does not include public information, such as:
• The location of things on the course such as the hole, the putting green, the fairway, penalty areas, bunkers, or another player’s ball,
• The distance from one point to another, or
• The Rules.

Interpretation Advice/1 – Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Advice
Examples of when comments or actions are considered advice and are not allowed include:
• A player makes a statement regarding club selection that was intended to be overheard by another player who had a similar stroke.
• In individual stroke play, Player A, who has just holed out on the 7th hole, demonstrates to Player B, whose ball was just off the putting green, how to make the next stroke. Because Player B has not completed the hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 7th hole. But, if both Player A and Player B had completed the 7th hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 8th hole.
• A player’s ball is lying badly and the player is deliberating what action to take. Another player comments, “You have no shot at all. If I were you, I would decide to take unplayable ball relief.” This comment is advice because it could have influenced the player in deciding how to play during a hole.
• While a player is setting up to hit his or her shot over a large penalty area filled with water, another player in the group comments, “You know the wind is in your face and it’s 250 yards to carry that water?”

Interpretation Advice/2 – Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Not Advice
Examples of comments or actions that are not advice include:
• During play of the 6th hole, a player asks another player what club he or she used on the 4th hole that is a par-3 of similar length.
• A player makes a second stroke that lands on the putting green. Another player does likewise. The first player then asks the second player what club was used for the second stroke.
• After making a stroke, a player says, “I should have used a 5-iron” to another player in the group that has yet to play onto the green, but not intending to influence his or her play.
• A player looks into another player’s bag to determine which club he or she used for the last stroke without touching or moving anything.
• While lining up a putt, a player mistakenly seeks advice from another player’s caddie, believing that caddie to be the player’s caddie. The player immediately realizes the mistake and tells the other caddie not to answer.

Secondly, we have the Rule of Golf itself, Rule 10.2 which deals with the limits to the advice or help a player may get during a round and who may give it.

Rule 10.2: Purpose: A fundamental challenge for the player is deciding the strategy and tactics for his or her play. So there are limits to the advice and other help the player may get during a round.
a.
Advice
During a round, a player must not:
• Give advice to anyone in the competition who is playing on the course,
• Ask anyone for advice, other than the player’s caddie, or
• Touch another player’s equipment to learn information that would be advice if given by or asked of the other player (such as touching the other player’s clubs or bag to see what club is being used).
This does not apply before a round, while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a or between rounds in a competition.
See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player may give advice to his or her partner or the partner’s caddie and may ask the partner or partner’s caddie for advice).
b.
Other Help
(1) Pointing Out Line of Play for Ball Anywhere Except on Putting Green. A player may have his or her line of play pointed out by:
• Having his or her caddie or any other person stand on or close to the player’s line of play to show where it is, but that person must move away before the stroke is made.
• Having an object (such as a bag or towel) set down on the course to show the line of play, but the object must be removed before the stroke is made.
(2) Pointing Out Line of Play for Ball on Putting Green. Before the stroke is made, only the player and his or her caddie may point out the player’s line of play, but with these limitations:
• The player or caddie may touch the putting green with a hand, foot or anything he or she is holding, but must not improve the conditions affecting the stroke in breach of Rule 8.1a, and
• The player or caddie must not set an object down anywhere on or off the putting green to show the line of play. This is not allowed even if that object is removed before the stroke is made.
While the stroke is being made, the caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play or do anything else (such as pointing out a spot or creating a shadow on the putting green) to point out the line of play.
Exception – Caddie Attending Flagstick: The caddie may stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play to attend the flagstick.
(3) No Setting Down Object to Help in Taking Stance. A player must not take a stance for the stroke using any object that was set down by or for the player to help in lining up his or her feet or body, such as a club set down on the ground to show the line of play.
If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away from the stance and removing the object.
(4) Restriction on Caddie Standing Behind Player. When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made:
• The player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.
• If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away.
Exception – Ball on Putting Green: When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.

See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player’s partner and the partner’s caddie may take the same actions (with the same limitations) as the player’s caddie may take under Rules 10.2b(2) and (4)).
(5) Physical Help and Protection from Elements. A player must not make a stroke:
• While getting physical help from his or her caddie or any other person, or
• With his or her caddie or any other person or object deliberately positioned to give protection from sunlight, rain, wind or other elements.
Before the stroke is made, such help or protection is allowed, except as prohibited in Rules 10.2b(3) and (4).
This Rule does not prohibit the player from taking his or her own actions to protect against the elements while making a stroke, such as by wearing protective clothing or holding an umbrella over his or her own head.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 10.2: General Penalty.

Taking what the correspondent described, I am assuming that the Girl and her Dad were competing in the same competition as fellow competitors and not partners, if so, this will be interpreted as:

1. ‘On one hole she asked her dad if she should use her 6 iron’. General penalty of 2 strokes to the Girl for asking for advice.

2. ‘I did not see if he then gave any visible indication (a nod or similar)’. If he did then he would receive 2 penalty strokes for giving advice.

3. ‘On another hole the parent reminded her to take account of the wind’. Parent receives 2 stroke penalty for giving advice. The Girl does not get a penalty because she did not ask for it, however she must endeavour to stop her Dad from offering advice, otherwise she is regarded as having asked for the advice and receives a 2-stroke penalty each time. Difficult for her at her age and it being her Dad giving the unsolicited advice, but Rules are rules, especially in competitions where you are competing against other players.

( I have also been made aware of Dads lining their children’s putts for them, which again carries the General Penalty if they are not playing partners or acting as caddies)

Note Rules of Golf Interpretation 10.2a/2

Player Must Try to Stop Ongoing Advice that Is Given Voluntarily
If a player gets advice from someone other than his or her caddie (such as a spectator) without asking for it, he or she gets no penalty. However, if the player continues to get advice from that same person, the player must try to stop that person from giving advice. If the player does not do so, he or she is treated as asking for that advice and gets the penalty under Rule 10.2a.
In a team competition (Rule 24), this also applies to a player who gets advice from a team captain who has not been named an advice giver.

With the following:

However, the following ten questions and statements, do incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for the player asking for, or giving the advice:
“Do you think that an 8-iron will get me to the green?”
“Am I swinging too fast?”
“I think that this putt is dead straight, what do you think?”
“Should I try and play this ball out of the water hazard or take a penalty drop?”
“That was my 7-wood, what are you going to use?”
“Keep your head still as you putt.”
“You haven’t really got a shot; if I were you I’d declare your ball unplayable.”
“The wind is against us, you need at least one extra club.”
“Don’t use your driver here or you may end up in the water hazard.”

The answer is yes, the General Penalty would apply to either the player giving the advice or the player asking for it.

The same is true for:

Finally, there is one statement that many of us regularly use but probably shouldn’t if the Rule on Advice is very strictly interpreted. When a fellow competitor’s putt just lips out and he goes charging up to the hole to tap it in we should try and refrain from saying ……….… “Take your time”

Otherwise someone could have stopped Rory, in the first round of the Open 2019, rushing his tap-in putt and he would have been there, playing on the weekend.

A final point is that if this ‘giving or asking for advice situation’ continues during a round then the players should be disqualified from the competition and if their actions persist into other competitions, then the Committee would have every right to suspend them from entering competitions for a period of time determined by the Committee. They would obviously require third-party evidence of this happening.

I know this is a little long-winded, but I hope it clarifies the situation of asking for or giving advice from a player, other than a playing partner

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules Blog: www.my-golf.uk

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 30 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 21 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.

Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play

Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play

Have updated the Rules of Match Play page, and downloads, to include the Match Play ruling on players requesting to have  a ball left or leaving a ball on the Putting Green that may help a player’s play.

In Stroke Play this would normally lead to a General Penalty being imposed, but in Match Play is perfectly permissible.

In a match, a player may agree to leave his or her ball in place to help the opponent since the outcome of any benefit that may come from the agreement affects only their match.

You may download the updated Rules of Match Play by clicking on the Buttons :

Download “Rules of Match Play - Word” Match-Play-2019-1.docx – Downloaded 122 times – 101 KB

Download “Rules of Match Play - PDF” Match-Play-2019.pdf – Downloaded 434 times – 267 KB

 

Enjoy your golf!

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules of Golf Blog: www.my-golf.uk

New Local Rule available as of April 2019: Back-on-the-line Relief

Would you believe it, another Rule Change?

As of April 2019, the R&A and USGA have issued a new ‘Rules Clarification’ making a new Local Rule available to all Golf Clubs.

The Local Rule relates to the ‘back-on-the-line’ relief option available under Rule of Golf –  17 (Penalty Area) and Rule of Golf – 19 (Unplayable Ball).

The Rules of Golf state that you must drop within one club-length of the line, which can be done in one of two ways:

1. a) Find a spot on the line, mark it (e.g. with a tee) and drop a ball within one club-length of that spot, not nearer the hole. (This is the recommended procedure).
1. b) Drop a ball on the line, or within one club-length of the line (i.e. without marking a spot).

How you find the relief area (i.e. the area in which the ball must land and must remain) depends on which of the two above procedures, you have used:

Procedure a): The relief area is one club-length from the marked spot on the line, not nearer the hole.

Procedure b): The relief area is one club-length from, and not nearer the hole than, the spot on the line, which is in the same distance from the hole as the spot, where the ball landed in the drop. This way seems a bit complicated – but may be to ensure that the ball is never dropped more than one club-length from the line!

If you play your ball from outside this relief area, you play from a wrong place (Rule 14.7), which will cost you two penalty strokes in Stroke Play and Loss of  hole in Match Play.

The New Local Rule.
The new Local Rule states, that there is no penalty for playing from a wrong place, as long as the ball, dropped  inside the correct relief area, does not end up, and is not played from, a spot more than one club-length from the spot where it landed in the relief area.

Note:  1. This remains true even if the ball rolls nearer to the hole! and

  2.  This Local Rule only applies to Back-on-the-line Relief and not Stroke-and-distance or other relief situations!

The complete wording of the Local Rule is this:

When taking Back-On-the-Line relief, there is no additional penalty if a player plays a ball that was dropped in the relief area required by the relevant Rule (Rule 16.1c(2), 17.1d(2), 19.2b or 19.3b) but came to rest outside the relief area, so long as the ball, when played, is within one club-length of where it first touched the ground when dropped.

This exemption from penalty applies even if the ball is played from nearer the hole than the reference point (but not if played from nearer the hole than the spot of the original ball or the estimated point where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area).

This Local Rule does not change the procedure for taking Back-On-the-Line relief under a relevant Rule. This means that the reference point and relief area are not changed by this Local Rule and that Rule 14.3c(2) can be applied by a player who drops a ball in the right way and it comes to rest outside the relief area, whether this occurs on the first or second drop.

I personally do not understand why the principle that you must not play your ball from outside the relief area is being departed from, nor why it should only apply to Back-on-the-line relief and am not sure as to whether I could recommend its adoption, firstly because I think a Golf Club should have as few Local Rules as possible, secondly because the Local Rule as it stands is  difficult to understand and apply and goes against the premise that the R&A and USGA were  going to make the Rules of Golf easier to understand and apply and thirdly the R&A and USGA have not made it clear as to why this Local Rule has been made available and then only under the Back-on-the-line relief option, and not also under the ‘stroke-and-distance’ or under the lateral-relief option.

May it be to ensure that players dropping on a line without marking a reference point, something I see frequently, play their ball within a one club-length area and not be penalised for playing from a wrong place.

I am not sure and neither are the R&A nor the USGA seem to want to explain their decision.

You can download a copy of the Rules of Golf Clarifications, Updated 23 April 2019 by clicking on the button below.

Download “Clarifications of the Rules of Golf Updated April 23 2019” – Downloaded 0 times –

If you have any thoughts on this Local Rule, please let me know.

Meanwhile,

Enjoy your weekend golf,

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules of Golf Blog: www.my-golf.uk

England Golf Update on Golf World Handicap System – 2 May 2019

England Golf Update on Golf World Handicap System – 2 May 2019

Golf’s new World Handicap System (WHS) remains on track for implementation starting in 2020, according to The R&A

However, it is now  anticipated that England will not implement it until the Autumn of 2020.

The system is designed to bring the game of golf under a single set of Rules for handicapping and provide a more consistent measure of players’ ability between different regions of the world,

Education has begun with events being held in Singapore, South Africa, Great Britain and Ireland, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Continental Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and the USA.

A secure resource portal, accessible via whs.com, has also been launched to provide national associations with a library of materials that they can use to help support their own education efforts.

Coinciding with this release, The R&A and the USGA are launching a social media video campaign to remind golfers of the eight key features of the new Rules of Handicapping and to reveal more details.  These features include:

  • Minimum number of scores to establish a Handicap Index and maximum Handicap Index of 54.0
  • Basis of calculation of Handicap Index
  • Acceptability of scores for handicap purposes
  • Course Rating and Slope Rating
  • Calculation of a Playing Handicap
  • Maximum hole score for handicap purposes
  • Adjustments for abnormal playing conditions
  • Frequency of updating a Handicap Index

Significant progress has been made in preparation for the rollout of the new system, which includes building a library of education materials, finalising the new Rules of Handicapping, release of the technical specifications and the continuation of testing. Many national associations around the world are busy ensuring that their golf courses are rated in accordance with the Course Rating System and working to update local software platforms so that they are ready to apply the new Rules of Handicapping.

While many countries will be ready to transition to the WHS early in 2020, given both the magnitude of the change for some jurisdictions and varying seasonality throughout the world, it is anticipated that some will need more time.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “There are many ways in which it is important for golf to modernise and become more appealing for people thinking of taking up the sport and handicapping is clearly one of them. The World Handicap System is a major new initiative for the sport which will establish a clearer and more consistent handicapping process for golfers throughout the world.

“We are working closely with national associations, as we do across all our core activities, to ensure they are fully prepared for the introduction of the new system as soon as possible after it becomes available for implementation.”

“The World Handicap System is the latest example of our work to make the game more welcoming,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “Golfers throughout the world will be able to play equitably, measure their success and more fully enjoy and engage with the game. After working with national associations across the world on Course Rating throughout the past 30 years and now the World Handicap System, this monumental collaborative effort will benefit everyone in golf.”

Since its conception, the development of the WHS has focused on three key goals: to encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a Handicap Index; to enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and nationalities to transport their Handicap Index to any course around the world and compete on a fair basis; and to indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.

The system has been devised following extensive consultation with the six existing handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA. The Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada have also been closely involved in developing the new system.

Widespread support for the WHS was expressed in an international survey of 52,000 golfers with 76% in favour of the new system and a further 22% saying they were willing to consider its benefits. Focus groups were also held in different regions of the world to elicit detailed feedback on the features of the new system, which have contributed to the finalised Rules of Handicapping.

You may read the England Golf Autumn Presentation by clicking on the link below:

England Golf Update on Golf World Handicap System – 2 May 2019

Or Download a copy by clicking on the Download Button below:

Download “England Golf World Handicapping System Autumn Seminar Presentation” – Downloaded 0 times –

Can you Get Lateral Relief from a Yellow Penalty Area?

Lateral Relief from a Yellow Penalty Area?

I recently experienced a situation, after a round of golf, where a member of my golf club suggested that I had allowed a player to take incorrect relief from a Yellow Penalty Area.

It was said that lateral relief was allowed instead of back-on-line and having to play over the Yellow Penalty Area.

The situation was similar to that shown in the diagram below:

In the previous Rules of Golf, back-on-line relief would indeed have required a ball to be dropped at a point on a line or extension of a line from the point of entry of the ball into the penalty area and the hole.

It would not necessarily, however,  have meant having to play over the penalty area, because the relief point would depend upon the point of entry of the ball into the penalty area, the position of the hole and the shape of the margin of the penalty area.

What you have to remember now, in the new Rules of Golf, is yes you have to determine a point on a back-on-line between the point of entry of the ball into the penalty area and the position of the hole and mark it, but that point becomes a reference point from which a 1 club-length relief area can be measured, and not the actual point at which you must drop your ball.

Therefore it is possible to measure the relief area laterally from the margin of the penalty area, and so give the impression that you are taking lateral relief.

So remember, that for all situations where relief is allowable by dropping a ball, you have a relief area in which to drop a ball, depending on the rule that applies that will be either a 1 club-length or 2 club-length area and not just a point.

Enjoy your golf!

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules of Golf Blog: www.my-golf.uk

PS:  Have added more questions to Advanced Rules of Golf Quiz

When is a Player Penalised for Accidentally Hitting their Ball with a Practice Swing?

When is a Player Penalised for Accidentally Hitting their Ball with a Practice Swing?

Well, there’s been another talking point about the Rules of.

This concerns hitting your ball and moving it during a practice swing.

If you were watching the second round of the Masters Tournament last Friday, you may have seen Zach Johnson accidentally strike his ball with a practice swing on the 13th teeing area at Augusta National Golf Club. Johnson then re-teed his ball and played on without penalty.

Watch the video by clicking on Zach Johnson Accidentally strikes Ball with Practice Swing.

For many of you, this may raise the question about when exactly you may be penalised for accidentally striking and moving your ball with a practice swing.

The answer comes down to whether you may have played a stroke, your ball was in play and on what area of the course it may have occurred.

Let’s start by looking at a couple of definitions.

Firstly, the definition of ‘in play’, or the relevant part of the definition,

  • A ball first becomes in play on a hole:
    • When the player makes a stroke at it from inside the teeing area, or
    • In match play, when the player makes a stroke at it from outside the teeing area and the opponent does not cancel the stroke under Rule 6.1b.
  • That ball remains in play until it is holed, except that it is no longer in play:
    • When it is lifted from the course,
    • When it is lost (even if it is at rest on the course) or comes to rest out of bounds, or
    • When another ball has been substituted for it, even if not allowed by a Rule.

Secondly, the definition of ‘stroke’, or the relevant part of the definition,

The forward movement of the club made to strike the ball.

But a stroke has not been made if the player:

  • Decides during the downswing not to strike the ball and avoids doing so by deliberately stopping the clubhead before it reaches the ball or, if unable to stop, by deliberately missing the ball.
  • Accidentally strikes the ball when making a practice swing or while preparing to make a stroke.

For a stroke to be made you have to have the intention of wishing to hit your ball, therefore since you are making a practice swing you are not intending to hit your ball and it does not count as a stroke in the Rules of Golf, even if you strike your ball accidentally

Now we come to the outcomes for hitting your ball with a practice swing on different areas of the golf course, and this is where you will see inconsistencies in the Rule remembering the definitions I have just mentioned:

  • On the Teeing Area: When you are playing a ball from the teeing area, the ball is not in play until a stroke has been made at it. This means that when your ball is teed or on the ground in the teeing area and you make a practice swing that accidentally strikes and moves the ball, you have not made a stroke or moved a ball in play. The Rules of Golf allow you to re-tee the same ball, or another ball, without penalty. This is exactly what happened to Johnson. Note that there is also no penalty if this occurs when playing again from the teeing area after starting the hole (such as after hitting a ball out of bounds or hitting a tee shot that strikes a tree and ricochets back within the teeing area). This is covered under Rule 6.2b(5) and 6.2b(6). Please note that the “teeing area” does not include the entire tee box. It only includes the two club-length-deep area measured from the tee boxes on the tee you are playing.
  • On the Putting Green: Just as in the teeing area, the Rules of Golf are lenient if you strike and move your ball which is already on the putting green with a practice swing (or accidentally cause your ball to move in any other way), you can simply replace your ball on its original spot, or estimated spot, without penalty and play on. This is covered under Rule 9.4b Exception 3

Exception 3 – Accidental Movement on Putting Green: There is no penalty when the player accidentally causes the ball to move on the putting green (see Rule 13.1d), no matter how that happens.

  • Anywhere Else on the Course: This would include a ball that lies in a bunker, a penalty area, or anywhere in the general area (defined as anywhere on the golf course that is not the teeing area, the putting green, a bunker or a penalty area). When your ball lies in any of these areas, it is already in play. If you then take a practice swing and cause your ball to move, you still have not made a stroke, but you will get a one-stroke penalty for moving your ball in play. The ball must be replaced on its original spot. This is covered under Rule 9.4. If the player instead plays the ball from where it was moved to after their practice swing, it becomes a two-stroke penalty (or a loss-of-hole penalty in match play) and the player may or may not be required to correct their mistake (see Rule 14.7 for more information).

So, there we have it. The inconsistencies as I see them are:

  1. In the General Area, even though according to the definition of ‘stroke’ you have not made a stroke at your ball, you get a 1 Stroke-penalty
  2. On the putting green, even though your ball is in play, according to the definition of ‘in play’, you are not penalised.

Please let me know your thoughts on this, I may be wrong.

Enjoy your Golf,

Tony

Rules of Golf Blog: www.my-golf.uk

Email: tony@my-golf.uk