Practising Before a Nine-Hole Competition.

Practising Before a Nine-Hole Competition.

This is an interesting point and one which has been discussed time and time again.

It has, however, been made clearer under the Rules of Golf 2023

As an example, on a day when a 9-Hole Stableford is due to be played on Holes 1-9 of a golf course, a group of players wonder if they could play 18 Holes starting on the 10th Tee and then play in the 9-Hole Competition which starts on the 1st Tee.

Under the Rules of Golf 2019, this was not allowed, because the meaning of ‘course’ was the whole area between the boundaries of a golf club and areas owned by a golf club.

Under the Rules of Golf 2023, this is now allowed.

Rule of Golf 5.2, still stands:

5.2a Match Play

A player may practise on the course before a round or between rounds of a match-play competition.

5.2b Stroke Play

On the day of a stroke-play competition:

  • A player must not practise on the course before a round, except that the player may:
    • Practise putting or chipping on or near their first teeing area.
    • Practise on any practice area.
    • Practise on or near the putting green of the hole just completed even if they will play that hole again on the same day (see Rule 5.5b).
  • A player may practise on the course after completing play of their final round for that day.

“Practising on the course” means playing a ball or testing the surface of the putting green of any hole by rolling a ball or rubbing the surface.

And,

On the day of a stroke-play competition:

  • A player must not practise on the course before a round, except that the player may practise putting or chipping on or near his or her first teeing area and practise on any practice area.

However, under Clarification 5.2/1 of the Rules of Golf 2023, the meaning of ‘Course’ is now clearly defined:

Clarification 5.2/1

Meaning of “Course” in Rule 5.2

For the purpose of Rule 5.2, the word “course” (when not used as a definition in italics) is used to mean the holes being used for any rounds of the competition to be played on that day. Examples of when practising is allowed before a round include when:

  • A player who is due to play a competition on one course may play on the other course earlier on the same day, even if both courses are situated on the same property with no boundaries between the two.
  • A player who is due to play a competition on holes 1–9 may play on holes 10–18 earlier on the same day.

This is the standard ruling; however,

There are many different considerations about whether to allow practice on the course, such as fairness to the players, possible interference with set-up of the course and maintenance activities, the amount of time before or between rounds, or when players are encouraged to play on the course outside the competition.

For these or other reasons, a Committee can choose to adopt a Local Rule that modifies these default provisions by either allowing or prohibiting such practice entirely or by limiting when, where or how such practice may take place.

Committees are at liberty to introduce a Local Rule (Model Local Rule I-1.1), preventing a player from playing on any course as well as the competition course or a Local Rule (Model Local Rule I-1.2) allowing a player to practise on the competition course before or between rounds.

NOTE: You would be wise to check with the Committee as to whether they have adopted any such Local Rules for a competition before you go out to play.