May a Committee Adopt a Local Rule for Free-relief for a Lost Ball in Standing Water or Under Fallen Leaves?

May a Committee Adopt a Local Rule for Free-relief for a Lost Ball in Standing Water or Under Fallen Leaves?

With the weather conditions that many golfers are experiencing at the moment there are some playing conditions that make a round of golf not only difficult but not that enjoyable to play.

The most frustrating thing is having played a reasonable shot, knowing where your ball has landed only to then be faced with the fact that you cannot find your ball.

Because you do not consider it is your fault you feel that under the circumstances you should not be penalised but be allowed some form of relief.

I received a request along these lines to consider if a local rule could be adopted allowing free relief.

‘Do you consider that a temporary local rule should be put in place when the following situations arise: During the winter months, especially late November and December, my golf Course suffers badly from a lot of standing water and fallen leaves. Very often a player’s ball, invariably from a tee shot, becomes imbedded in soft ground and will be lost, or becomes lost under a carpet of leaves. The new three-minute rule of course does not help the searching in these situations. Very often the player feels hard done by because the lost ball is none of his making, but due to the abnormal conditions. Also, because it is winter, the walk back to where the original shot was played, is not a high priority when playing stableford. Therefore, do you consider that a temporary local rule is warranted allowing a free-drop in the area where the ball is considered lost, with of course full agreement of the other players?’

Golf is an outside sport and so subject to many and varied playing conditions especially those created by nature, which many players accept as being part of the challenge of playing different courses at different times of the year along with the frustration that the conditions bring.

A Committee does have the freedom, within reason, to adopt its own local rules so long as it does not change a Rule of Golf or reduce a penalty that would be imposed by a Rule of Golf and if thinking of adopting a Local Rule, it will have to decide on what status a golf round will have; will it be a Qualifying Round or one for General Play only?

The reason for this is because of the impact that a Local Rule can have on the status of a Round of Golf.

A Committee will also have to ensure that all players know as and when the Local Rule is in operation.

In considering the question I will divide it into two parts:

  1. Problem with Standing-water
  2. The problem with Fallen Leaves

 

  1. Standing-water

When you go out to play a game of golf it is understood that you accept the central principles of the game stated in Rule 1.1 of the Rules of Golf and:

  • Play the course as you find it and the ball as it lies
  • Play by the Rules and in the Spirit of the Game
  • You are responsible for applying your own penalties if you breach a Rule, so that you do not gain any potential advantage over your fellow players or opponents

The Rule, however, does provide for exceptions where the Rules allow you to alter conditions on the course and require or allow you to play the ball from a different place from where it lies.

One such circumstance is Interference from Abnormal Course Conditions, which the R&A and USGA do not regard as part of the challenge of playing the course and free-relief may generally be allowed, except in a Penalty Area.

The Standing-water (known now as Temporary Water) is accepted as an Abnormal Course Condition and so Free-relief may be obtained from it.

An important point, especially in this case, is that you may get Free-relief for a Ball that is not found but is in the Temporary Water.

This is covered by Rule 16.1e. and the Rule applies in both Qualifying Rounds and General Play.

The only proviso is that you must ‘Know or be Virtually Certain’ that your ball came to rest in the Temporary Water; if that is the case then you may take Free Relief using an estimated point where you think your ball came to rest in the Temporary Water and use this relief instead of Stroke and Distance.

So, no real need to adopt a Local Rule for these situations.

  1. Fallen Leaves

Now these are a different problem because the R&A and USGA do not regard them as Abnormal Course Conditions, and so no Free Relief can be obtained from them in Qualifying Competitions.

Rule 18.2 provides advice on dealing with Lost Balls in these circumstances and if you have not played a provisional ball, in the expectation that your ball may be difficult to find or indeed be lost, then you have no alternative than to go back and play another ball under Stroke and Distance.

Unfortunately, you may not adopt a Local Rule to give relief from the fallen leaves, especially one that would reduce a penalty that would normally be incurred.

This is dealt with under Committee Procedures 8L – Unauthorised Local Rules:

  • A Committee does not have the authority to adopt rules to fit particular needs of a course or competition and any Local Rule must be consistent with policies established din Section 8, Model Local Rules.
  • If a Committee authorises players to play under Local Rules that differ from the Rules of Golf, the player may not post her/his score for handicap purposes and their round will be considered to be one of General Play

However, if your game is one of general play only and you lose your ball under fallen leaves, or anything else, or is Out of Bounds, and YOU HAVE NOT PLAYED A PROVISIONAL BALL, then your Committee could adopt an Alternative Rule to the Stroke and Distance as a Local Rule, intended to help with Pace of Play.

This is covered by Committee Procedures Model Local Rule – 8E – Special or Required Relief Procedures

E-5 Alternative to Stroke and Distance for Lost Ball or Ball Out of Bounds

Purpose. When a provisional ball has not been played, significant issues with pace of play can result for a player needing to take stroke-and-distance relief for a ball that is out of bounds or cannot be found. The purpose of this Local Rule is to allow a Committee to provide an extra relief option that allows a player to play on without returning to the location of the previous stroke.

The Local Rule is appropriate for general play where golfers are playing casual rounds or playing their own competitions. The Local Rule is not appropriate for competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional competitions and elite amateur competitions). For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes, consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.

Where a Committee has introduced such a Local Rule for general play, and removes it for competitions, it should ensure that all players are aware of this before play begins.

A Committee may introduce such a Local Rule for all play on the course or only for one or two specific holes where it may be especially useful (for example, where players are unable to see the landing area and therefore may not know whether or not to play a provisional ball).

This option allows the player to drop in a large area between the point where the ball is estimated to have come to rest or gone out of bounds and the edge of the fairway of the hole being played that is not nearer the hole.

The player gets two penalty strokes when using this relief option. This means that the relief is comparable to what could have been achieved if the player had taken stroke-and-distance relief.

This Local Rule cannot be used for an unplayable ball, or for a ball that is known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area.

If a provisional ball is played and neither the original ball nor the provisional ball can be found, then the Local Rule may be applied for the provisional ball that cannot be found.

Model Local Rule E-5

“When a player’s ball has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds, the player may proceed as follows rather than proceeding under stroke and distance.

For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):

Two Estimated Reference Points:

(a). Ball Reference Point: The point where the original ball is estimated to have:

  • Come to rest on the course, or
  • Last crossed the edge of the courseboundary to go out of bounds.

(b). Fairway Reference Point: The point of fairway of the hole being played that is nearest to the ball reference point, but is not nearer the hole than the ball reference point.

For purposes of this Local Rule, “fairway” means any area of grass in the general area that is cut to fairway height or less.

If a ball is estimated to be lost on the course or last crossed the edge of the course boundary short of the fairway, the fairway reference point may be a grass path or a teeing ground for the hole being played cut to fairway height or less.

Size of Relief Area Based on Reference Points: Anywhere between:

  • A line from the holethrough the ball reference point (and within two club-lengths to the outside of that line), and
  • A line from the holethrough the fairway reference point (and within two club-lengths to the fairway side of that line).

But with these limits:

Limits on Location of Relief Area:

  • Must be in the general area, and
  • Must not be nearer the holethan the ball reference point.

Once the player puts a ball in play under this Local Rule:

  • The original ball that was lostor out of bounds is no longer in play and must not be played.
  • This is true even if the ball is found on the coursebefore the end of the three-minute search time (see Rule 6.3b).

But the player may not use this option to take relief for the original ball when:

  • That ball is known or virtually certainto have come to rest in a penalty area, or
  • The player has played another ball provisionally under penalty of stroke and distance(see Rule 18.3).

A player may use this option to take relief for a provisional ball that has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds.

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

Ball Not Found
Ball Not Found

MLR E-5 DIAGRAM 1: BALL NOT FOUND

Ball out of Bounds
Ball out of Bounds

MLR E-5 DIAGRAM 2: BALL OUT OF BOUNDS

Ball Not Found or Out of Bounds Close to Green
Ball Not Found or Out of Bounds Close to Green

MLR E-5 DIAGRAM 3: BALL NOT FOUND OR OUT OF BOUNDS CLOSE TO GREEN

As a personal comment, but something my Golf Club has done recently, if the problem is a perpetual problem, then the Club should try to address the problem of the Standing Water by improving drainage in the affected areas and with fallen leaves clear them on a regular basis, even by just using a leaf-blower or more sophisticated Leaf Collection Equipment.

Committees and Clubs should be mindful of creating courses where players can enjoy a reasonable round of golf under all conditions.

Still, enjoy your golf

Tony

Will cards for social games need to be kept for handicap purposes under the new world handicapping system?’

Will cards need to be kept for handicap under the new world handicapping system?’

With the World Handicap System being just around the corner, for some countries anyway, questions are being raised about some points that golfers have heard of or have become aware of and are wondering what, if any, impact they may have on their golf.

One such question is how social games will be affected and whether scores from these games will need to be submitted.

I received the following query the other week:

‘We currently have a weekend roll up at our club, we play for £3, off the yellow tees. Will cards need to be kept for handicap under the new world handicapping system?’

The situation with the , World Handicap System, as it stands to date, is that ,in GB&, the date for its introduction is 2 November 2020 and information from England Golf, at the moment, is at best sketchy.

Being an average-based handicap system, as opposed to our present potential ability-based system, England Golf will be encouraging players to submit as many scores as they can.

The requirement, at the moment, for submitting the results of any Club roll-up, as suggested by England Golf, is that the roll-up must be organised by Club Members under the Rules of Golf and must consist of at least 12 players who have paid to play in the Roll-up and prizes are to be awarded.

The more scores that are submitted means a better representation of a player’s current playing ability.

England Golf are busy running WHS Workshops Nationally and hope to provide all Clubs with full information packs early in 2020.

Meanwhile the information that I have been able to elicit to date, on what will be considered as an Acceptable Score – similar to the current Qualifying Score, is that it will include any:

  1. Singles competitions,
  2. Social Scores (the new name for Supplementary Scores), and can include
  3. Scores submitted in Society events (if conforming with the Rules of Golf) and
  4. informal roll-ups/swindles organised by members if conforming with the Rules of Golf, have at least 12 players who have paid to play and prizes, of some description, are awarded.

CONGU will not, however, be making it mandatory to submit scores from casual golf, as is currently the case in the USA; this may change in the future to bring GB&I into line with the rest of the world.

Players must pre-register on the computer, at the Club where the round will be played, prior to the round for a score to count. it is anticipated that scores from better-balls competitions may be included at some point in the future.

I am working on publishing more information on the WHS on a webpage on My-Golf.uk, and will email you details as soon as it is complete but hope this information helps to answer any questions you may have on submitting scores from social games

Enjoy your golf!

Tony

Is There any Relief Available in Order To Protect The Aprons of Putting Greens During Adverse Weather Conditions?

This time of year, is the time when man Clubs have to deal with Golf in Adverse Conditions, and when I receive many requests regarding possible relief whenm conditions are wet or verging on unplayable.

A question that I was asked this week was:

In winter, aprons can be very wet and chipping or pitching are sometimes necessary to avoid trying to guess the slowing effect of water on a putted ball. My playing partner was concerned about damaging the green and thought there may be a rule covering it? I was unsure.

Note – there was not ‘standing water’.

Secondly a ball landing on a summer green apron when the temporary winter green is some distance away raises the same question about damaging the apron with a large divot. Free relief like it had landed on the summer green? or is that only if a local rule has been adopted? 

PS I suppose the same concern could be applied to landing on the correct green (not apron) but a long way from the hole and considering a pitch shot over very wet grass rather than risking a putt up the green to the normal summer hole.

Under the Rules of Golf, the ‘aprons/fringes’ of putting greens are regarded as part of the General Area of a Golf course and therefore, under normal conditions, there are no general relief options available for balls lying in these areas and they must be played as they lie.

Point Number 1:

In winter, aprons can be very wet and chipping or pitching are sometimes necessary to avoid trying to guess the slowing effect of water on a putted ball. My playing partner was concerned about damaging the green and thought there may be a rule covering it? I was unsure.

Note – there was not ‘standing water’.

Where there are ongoing problems relating to wetness of, or damage to, the course most can be addressed by introducing Preferred Lies, marking affected areas as GUR and/or the introduction of Local Rules.

Relief under Rule 16-1b for Abnormal Course Conditions is optional and wherever practicable, particularly during the playing season, players are given the option to play the ball as it lies if they so wish.

 

Because a player may play a ball as it lies this option, and Preferred Lies, do not solve the problem of preventing damage to an area of a course but Committees do, however, have the power to prohibit players from playing from GUR, by designating these areas as ‘No Play Zones’.

See, Definition of ‘No Play Zones’Rule 2.4 and Model Local Rule E-8.1.

It is recommended that white markings be reserved for GUR where relief is optional and that where play is to be prohibited from GUR (No Play Zones), be marked in an alternative manner e.g. blue lines or white stakes with green tops.

Whenever a Committee has a need for a Local Rule to cover a situation set out in Model Local Rules, it should make use of the relevant specimen Local Rule, the wording of which should conform entirely to that given in the Model Local Rule. Wording that does not conform exactly to the R&A’s specimen wording causes confusion amongst players, particularly visiting players, who are conversant with the R&A’s drafting. Note that Committees do not have the authority to modify a Rule of Golf without prior consent from the R&A.

Other options open to Committees for consideration in protecting the fringes of putting greens are:

Teeing up on the closely mown areas or general area – cannot run qualifying competitions if this procedure is in play.

Lifting from closely mown areas and placing or dropping in the semi-rough

A Local Rule that requires or permits players to lift a ball from a closely mown area and drop or place in the semi rough to protect the fairway is not within the Rules of Golf and any competition played under conditions cannot be qualifying for handicap purposes (CONGU® UHS Decision 1(d)).

Dropping Zones Option to taking relief from Abnormal Course Conditions, Model Local Rule E-1.2 – competitions using dropping zones may be run as qualifying competitions

Use of Fairway Mats

Decision 1(a) of the CONGU® UHS sets out the conditions under which the use of fairway mats is permitted in Qualifying Competitions. It is important that the specimen Local Rule therein is adopted in its entirety. In particular note that for Qualifying Competitions the use of mats is restricted to closely mown areas and that the ball must not be teed-up on the mat (the mat itself may, however, be pegged into the ground). The use of fairway mats for Qualifying Competition purposes is restricted to the period 1 October to 30 April inclusive.

Point Number 2:

Secondly a ball landing on a summer green apron when the temporary winter green is some distance away raises the same question about damaging the apron with a large divot. Free relief like it had landed on the summer green? or is that only if a local rule has been adopted? 

Normally, no relief, because the aprons/fringes and wrong greens are considered to be general area and so will be dealt with in the same way as point 1.

However, under these circumstances, a local rule may be introduced to prevent play from the fringe of a wrong green, Model Local Rule D-4.

Why a similar Rule cannot be applied to a putting green being played to, I do not know.

Regarding the PS:

PS I suppose the same concern could be applied to landing on the correct green (not apron) but a long way from the hole and considering a pitch shot over very wet grass rather than risking a putt up the green to the normal summer hole.

The same concern may apply to landing on the correct green, but there is no Rule of Golf preventing a player from using any club on a putting green, so chipping on a Putting Green is permissible.

Green-keepers may not be too happy if a player takes a divot on a putting green, but a Committee cannot introduce a local rule preventing a player chipping on a putting green.

Enjoy your golf,

Tony

Changing Your Decision When Taking Relief from Temporary Water in a Bunker.

The following question was put to me recently and could be one that many of you may come across during your rounds being played in the adverse weather conditions many are experiencing at this time.

The scenario is that, due to overnight rain, some of the bunkers have temporary water however there is still room to take relief in the bunker and drop and play the ball. The player decides that he still doesn’t like the lie in the bunker so decides to drop outside the bunker (back-on-the-line relief). Under rule 16.1c this would incur 1 penalty stroke. But as the ball would be playable in the bunker shouldn’t rule 19.3 option 4 apply which incurs a penalty of 2 strokes.

Which is correct and why?

The ruling that will apply, depends upon whether the player has or has not taken relief and put a ball into play.

I am reading this scenario as:

The player has decided to take free-relief from the Temporary Water and dropped a ball in accordance with Rule 16.1c within the bunker.

The player then decides that s/he does not like the lie in the bunker and decides to drop outside the bunker on back-on-the-line-relief.

Under Rule 14.3c(1), if the player has dropped the ball in the correct way and it comes to rest within the relief area, then the ball is in play and must be played as it lies.

If the player, having dropped the ball, does not like the lie of the ball then s/he has the option to declare the ball unplayable and take relief under Rule 19.3a, under penalty of one stroke drop the ball within the bunker, or under Rule 19.3b, under penalty of two strokes, take back-on-the-line relief outside the bunker.

If the player takes relief incorrectly, e.g. drops the ball incorrectly, the ball does not come to rest in the correct relief area or dropped in wrong relief area, then the player must correct the mistake before playing the ball.

While being able to correct the error, the player may also change her/his choice of relief under the options available under the same rule that they have chosen to take relief under, which would mean s/he could change her/his mind and drop outside the bunker under back-on-the-line relief still under Rule 16.1c. (Rule 14.5b(2).

If, however, the player has dropped a ball and taken Maximum Available Relief, then decides to take Back-On-the-Line Relief outside the bunker, s/he may do so, because s/he will still have interference from the Temporary Water, for a one stroke penalty

Rule 16.1 Interpretation 16.1c/1: Player Takes Maximum Available Relief; Then Decides to Take Back-On-the-Line Relief

If the player takes maximum available relief, he or she will still have interference from the abnormal course condition and may take further relief by using the back-on-the-line procedure for one penalty stroke. If the player decides to do this, the reference point for back-on-the-line relief is where the ball came to rest after taking maximum available relief.

If, however, the player lifts her/his ball. To take relief under Rule 16.1c, but has not decided which relief option to take, then s/he may, before s/he puts a ball into ply may choose either of the two options available to her/him.

Rule 16.1c Interpretation 16.1c/2: After Lifting Ball Player May Change Relief Options Before Putting a Ball in Play

If a player lifts his or her ball to take relief under Rule 16.1c, he or she is not committed to the intended relief option under Rule 16.1c until the original ball is put in play or another ball is substituted under that option.

For example, a player elects to take relief from temporary water in a bunker and lifts the ball with the intention of taking free relief in the bunker (Rule 16.1c(1)). The player then realizes that where the Rule requires the ball to be dropped in the bunker will result in a very difficult shot.

After lifting the ball, but prior to putting a ball in play, the player may choose either of the two options of the Rule despite the original intention to take relief under Rule 16.1c(1).

Enjoy your golf, despite the weather conditions,

Tony

World Handicap System – England Golf Update 16 September 2019

World Handicap System – England Golf Update 16 September 2019

I must say that England Golf are slow in coming forward with any information useful to Golf Clubs regarding the introduction of the World Handicap System.

They have introduced National WHS Workshops, but even information from these doesn’t seem to filter down to Club Members.

On 16 September 2019, England  Golf issued the following statement:

England Golf sign licence for World Handicap System ahead of November 2020 start date

 

The governing bodies of amateur golf in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are delighted to announce they have signed the licence for the new World Handicap System which will come into operation on November 2, 2020.

As members of the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU), England Golf, the Golfing Union of Ireland, the Irish Ladies Golfing Union, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf have been driving forces in planning for the new system in alliance with The R&A and USGA.

The current Golf Handicapping System maintained by CONGU will be replaced by WHS which will unify the six different structures presently in operation throughout the world of golf.

With one single, global system in place for the first time, golfers will be able to obtain and maintain a handicap index and use this on any course around the world.

In additiont they will be able to compete or simply play a casual round with fellow golfers anywhere on a fair and equal basis.

As well as encouraging players new to the sport to obtain a handicap with ease, the WHS will also modernise the game for those already well versed in the game of golf.

Under the new system a player’s handicap will be based on the average of eight best scores from their last 20 rounds.

WHS will also take into account factors currently not fully represented in the existing handicapping procedure through a course and slope rating system.

“We believe the introduction of the new World Handicap System will have a hugely positive impact for golf around the globe,” said England Golf CEO Nick Pink.

“Our team are working hard to deliver the transition from the current system to WHS and will continue to confer with the clubs, counties and our technology partners to ensure that everything runs to plan ahead of the start date.”

Sinead Heraty, Chief Executive of the ILGU said: ‘The Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland are delighted that the new World Handicap System will come into practice in November 2020.

“The transition from an incremental system to an averaging one will be period of great change, however once a planned education process is complete, the new system will make handicapping much more consistent globally.”

Pat Finn, CEO of the Golfing Union of Ireland added: “We look forward to meeting with our member clubs over the coming months to outline the World Handicap System. With CONGU adopting the system for Ireland and Great Britain from late next year we need to ensure golfers across Ireland are prepared for the change.”

Andrew McKinlay, Chief Executive of Scottish Golf, commented: “Following recent education seminars across the country, Scottish Golf is pleased to confirm that the new World Handicap System will be implemented on time on November 2, 2020. We believe that moving to a more unified handicap system will be beneficial to all golfers.

“The team at Scottish Golf will continue to liaise with, and support clubs across the country to ensure the transition between now and next year is as seamless as possible for everyone involved.”

The CEO of Wales Golf, Richard Dixon, is also delighted to mark another step on the road to WHS.

He said: “A lot of hard work has been going on behind the scenes in preparation for the launch of the World Handicap System and we are delighted that we have reached this key stage of the process.

“We are very excited about the positive benefits WHS will have to the game of golf in Wales and across the golfing world.

“The Wales Golf team look forward to working with our clubs, fellow home Unions, technology partners and the R&A over the next year to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible for clubs and most importantly for golfers.”

CONGU, the United States Golf Association (USGA), Golf Australia, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA) and the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) represent around 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a handicap.

The aligning of all six handicapping authorities behind the WHS is a hugely significant step in the modernisation of golf across the globe.

WHS has been introduced under the auspices of the USGA and The R&A.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A said: “The R&A’s purpose is to ensure golf is thriving in 50 years’ time and the World Handicap System (WHS) is one of the key ways in which we can ensure the long-term health of the sport.

“We all want to encourage more people to take up golf and having a handicap which provides an accurate measure of playing ability is one of the best ways of achieving that.”

Further information about the new World Handicap System can be found on the England Golf website at https://www.englandgolf.org/article/world-handicap-system-whs and also via the R and A website at https://www.randa.org/WorldHandicapSystem

For details on England Golf’s educational workshops on WHS visit : https://www.englandgolf.org/handicaps-rules/whs-2020/whs-club-workshops/

I will post more information as soon as I hear any.

Tony

 

Can a player really take a Mulligan while playing an Official Round of Golf?

Can a player really take a Mulligan while playing an Official Round of Golf?

Normally not in Stroke Play, but there is an exception to Rule 11.1b which states that when a ball played from a putting green accidentally hits any person, animal or movable obstruction on the putting green “the stroke does not count and the original ball or another ball must be replaced on its original spot”. Note that this is a MUST not an option.

So, in this circumstance, you don’t count your stroke and replay your stroke from, or as near as possible to your ball’s original position.

Just recently two professional golfers, Jesper Parnevik and Paul Casey found themselves in this position.

Jesper Parnevik had a short bogey putt at the par-3 3rd at Prestonwood CC, in North Carolina, when his ball lipped out of the hole and struck his foot.

He then tapped in for, what he believed was, a double-bogey five.

Unfortunately, Parnevik breached Exception 2 to Rule 11.1b, his ball having been on the putting green when he first putted and he ended up having to take a treble-bogey six.

Why? The first putt didn’t count but he should have replaced his ball on its original spot. The second putt, the tap in, did count but, he has now played a ball from a wrong place and picks up the general penalty, which is two strokes.

Earlier in the season, Paul Casey, at the Porsche European Open, had a similar experience when video footage showed his ball had rolled over a moving insect as it dropped into the hole.

But Casey was not penalised for not replaying his stroke; why?

He avoided a penalty because he wasn’t aware of the incident Rule – a defence that, unfortunately, was not available to Parnevik.

Another unusual rule that applies in Stroke Play which you may not come across during your regular rounds of golf, but nevertheless bear it in mind.

However this does not apply should your moving ball, on a putting green, strike a flagstick that has been moved from the hole or a person holding the removed flagstick.

This incident is dealt with under Rule 13.2b(2), where there is no penalty for striking the flagstick or a person holding the flagstick, and in this instance you MUST play your ball as it lies.

Enjoy your golf

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

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

 

 

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 75 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 64 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