Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Traditional Use of Equipment

I understand that Jason Duffner, who was the play-off winner of last week’s CareerBuilder Challenge at La Quinta, California, was observed making practice swings holding his golf glove underneath his armpit. How does this compare with these three similar situations? 
  1. DJ Points, was penalised for holding a spongy green ball under his arm to make practice swings while waiting to play on a tee box? 
  2. Jeff Overton, was penalised for using alignment rods to practice putting on the 10th tee while waiting for a back-up of players to clear, resulting from both the 1st and 10th having been used as starting holes following a weather-suspended round.
  3.  Julie Inkster, was penalised for making practice swings with a weighted donut device attached to one of her clubs in similar circumstances to Jeff Overton above.
I am using Decision 14-3/11 as a reference to illustrate why Jason Duffner did not breach Rule 14-3, whereas, DJ Points, Jeff Overton and Julie Inkster did, and were penalised for their breaches; 
Q. Is a plumb-line, i.e. a weight suspended on a string, an artificial device within the meaning of the term in Rule 14-3?
A. Yes. If a player uses such a device to assist him in his play, he is in breach of Rule 14-3.
Now we have all seen players use their putter as a plumb-line, e.g. Ricky Fowler in the photo above; this is permitted, because they are using their equipment in a traditionally accepted manner, but if they use anything that was originally designed as a plumb-line they are in breach of Rule 14-3, as in the Decision above. So Jason Duffner was permitted to use a glove under his arm while making practice swings, because the glove was part of his equipment and was obviously not designed as a swing aid.

Expanding on this difference, a player is permitted to use their equipment (e.g. ball, glove, club or towel) in an abnormal manner for practice swings and practice strokes that are permitted by Rule 7-2, but not for making strokes that count in their score. This permission also includes; swinging two clubs together; holding a pencil at arms-length to gauge distance (Decision 14-3/2); using binoculars to find and identify a ball (Decision 14-3/3); referring to a strokesaver or other booklet to determine distances (Decision 14-3/5.5); holding a ball against the grip of the club (Decision 14-3/6.5); and placing a club on the ground to align the feet and removing it before making a stroke (Decision 8-2a/1).

However, a player may not use any artificial device that was originally designed to assist golfers in making a stroke, or in their play. This includes, spongy balls, alignment rods and weighted donuts, as in the three penalty situations referred to above.

There is a further complication when we consider what a player may use to aid them stretching during a round. Decision 14-3/10.5 is relevant;

Q. Rule 14-3a prohibits a player, during a stipulated round, from using any artificial device or unusual equipment, or using any equipment in an abnormal manner, that "might assist him in making a stroke or in his play." Would the use of a stretching device during a stipulated round be a breach of Rule 14-3?

A. During a stipulated round, it is permissible to use a device designed for stretching unless the device is designed specifically to be used in a golf swing and is used during a golf swing (see Decision 14-3/10). For example, the following stretching devices may be used:
Items designed specifically for golf but not used in a golf swing (e.g., a bar to place across the shoulders);
Items designed for general stretching (e.g., rubber tubing); and
Items not originally designed for stretching (e.g., a section of pipe). (Revised)
The salient point here is that during a round players may not use commercial stretching devices that were designed to assist with a golf swing, but they can uses items designed for general stretching purposes. This is a fine distinction. If you are having trouble interpreting the difference, my advice is not to use anything other than a club across your shoulders to stretch with.

(Note: This paragraph was edited 3rd February 2016) I can confirm that any artificial device that is not a club (e.g. a swing trainer or alignment rods) may be carried during competition; a breach of Rule 14-3 only occurs if one is used during a stipulated round. But anything that has a shaft and a clubhead, even if non-conforming as a club, may only be carried (and not used) if the player is carrying less than 14 clubs.

Finally, a reminder that following an amendment effective 1st January 2016, the penalty for a player’s first breach of Rule 14-3 (Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Abnormal Use of Equipment) during a round has been reduced from disqualification to loss of hole in match play, or two strokes in stroke play. The penalty for any subsequent breach of Rule 14-3 remains as disqualification. In the event of a breach between the play of two holes, the penalty applies to the next hole.

Good golfing,


My new eBook, '999 More Questions on the Rules of Golf - 2016' is now finished and will soon be ready for publication. For those that wish to receive an early copy email me at ( rules at barry rhodes dot com ) and I will send you a .pdf file for computers. The .mobi file (Kindle) for eReaders, smart phones and tablets will be ready soon and I will send it on. The eBook price is the same as for my original 999 Questions eBook, i.e. US$9.99, Eu€8.99, St£7.79. I will give you my PayPal account details when you email me with your order. The format of 111 sections of 9 questions on different Rules subjects is completely different from my first eBook.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes ©2016 and may not be copied without permission.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Status of Ball on Putting Green

In a previous blog  I confirmed that when a ball is moved by wind the player must play the ball from where it comes to rest, even if their ball-marker still marks its original position, because wind is not an outside agency, Definition of Outside Agency. Also, I have previously clarified that a player is not penalised if they forget to remove their ball-marker before making a putt, providing they are not using the marker to assist their line of putt. This is because part of Rule 8-2b states;
A mark must not be placed anywhere for the purpose of indicating a line of putt.
Another oft asked question concerns the status of a ball that is on a putting green against the ball-marker that marked its position. Part of Rule 16-1b states;
A ball on the putting green may be lifted and, if desired, cleaned. The position of the ball must be marked before it is lifted and the ball must be replaced (see Rule 20-1).
The question that some players have is whether a ball that has been replaced at the ball-marker is in play even if the ball-marker has not been removed. The short answer is that it is. There is no restriction as to how many times a player may mark, lift, clean and replace their ball on a putting green. So, when a ball is replaced at a ball-marker it is in play, even if the ball-marker is not removed, but as soon as the player touches it again, perhaps to align it, it is out of play and as soon as they let go of it, at rest against the ball-marker, it is back in play, etc.. Whether the ball marker is removed or not is not relevant to whether the ball is in play.

Lost Ball-Marker:
Here is an interesting question which I had not thought about before;

“Having marked my ball on the green with a fairly transparent green marker I couldn’t find it when it came to my turn to putt. If I couldn’t find it within 5 minutes is it a lost ball situation?”

I have to admit that I had to resort to the Decisions book (the revised edition is now available to purchase at this link) to work out the answer to this seemingly simple query. Decision 20-1/5.5 does not deal with this exact circumstance, but I believe that the principle in the answer is relevant;

Q. A player marked the position of his ball on the putting green and lifted the ball. When it was the player's turn to play, he could not find his ball-marker. Subsequently, he found the ball-marker stuck to the sole of his shoe. He concluded that he had accidentally stepped on it while assisting his partner in lining up a putt. What is the ruling?

A. The player incurs a penalty stroke under Rule 20-1 which requires that the position of a ball be marked before it is lifted, and contemplates that the ball-marker will remain in position until the ball is replaced. The player must place the ball as near as possible to its original position but not nearer the hole - Rule 20-3c.
Under the last paragraph of Rule 20-1, a player is exempt from penalty if his ball-marker is accidentally moved in the process of lifting the ball or marking its position. In this case the ball-marker was not moved during such process.

So, returning to the original question, if the player cannot find their ball-marker they incur a penalty of one stroke and they must estimate where their ball was at rest before being marked and place the ball there, ensuring that it is not placed nearer to the hole. In other words, the player should err on the side of caution when estimating the place to replace their ball, to ensure that they are not taking an unfair advantage. Note that there is no five minute time allowance in The Rules relating to a player searching for a ball-marker. Depending on the circumstances, it is probable that a player who does spend several minutes looking for their ball-marker should incur the general penalty under Rule 6-7, for undue delay.

(Edit 22nd January 2015: I have received a few comments from Rules enthusiasts that do not share my opinion that the player who lost their ball-marker on the putting green should be penalised one stroke, although there is unanimity that they are penalised one stroke if they cause their ball-marker to move, other than in the specific action of marking or lifting their ball. I must admit that I now have doubts as to the ruling, but offer this as something for you to think about. If a player was silly enough to mark their ball with a leaf, or a twig (which is permissible under the Rules), and when they returned to where they thought their ball had been marked they could not distinguish which leaf or twig was the marker, should they be permitted to just estimate where it had been marked and replace their ball without penalty?)

Good golfing,


As I recently mentioned, I now intend to blog every two weeks rather than weekly, unless something really interesting happens at a Tour event that I cannot let pass. However, many readers will continue to receive my separate Rhodes Rules School emails every week; I am just starting the 4th series. If you are not yet subscribed and would like to improve your knowledge and understanding of the Rules of Golf, then click on this link to subscribe  or click on this link for more information.
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2016 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Dropping a Ball on a Putting Green

Ball located within putting green; Doonbeg and Riviera
I am starting the New Year by addressing the often heard myth that within the Rules of Golf there is no occasion where a ball may be dropped on a putting green. In fact, there are six different Rules that permit a ball to be dropped directly onto a putting green. However, most players are unlikely to encounter any of these situations, so this blog will definitely be of more interest to Rules enthusiasts than to the average weekend golfer.

This is my overview of the six occasions when a ball may be dropped on a putting green. You may find it useful to have a Rule book handy to reference the Rule numbers.

Rules 28b and 28c:
If a player has deemed their ball unplayable and there is an area on a putting green that meets the requirements of either option b or option c of Rule 28, they may drop their ball there. Note that I have said a putting green, which means that it is not necessarily the putting green of the hole being played. If a ball is dropped and comes to rest on a different putting green the player would then have to follow the procedure in Rule 25-3, Wrong Putting Green, as a ball may not be played from this place.

In fact, Decision 28/11, describes a situation that allows a player to drop a ball on a putting green, the only time that this action is referred to in the Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2016-2017.

Q. A player's ball is eight feet off the ground, lodged in a tree. The player deems the ball unplayable. May the player proceed under option c of Rule 28 which permits him to drop a ball within two club-lengths of where his ball lay unplayable?

A. Yes. The player would be entitled to drop a ball within two club-lengths of the point on the ground immediately below the place where the ball lay in the tree. In some instances this may allow the player to drop a ball on a putting green.
Rules 26-1b and Rule 26-1c:
There are many courses where the margin of a lateral water hazard runs close to a putting green. This could mean that the permitted area of drop is on the putting green of either the hole being played, or another putting green. In these cases the player may drop the ball on the putting green, in fact they may not place a ball on the putting green, as the Rules do not permit. As above, a ball dropped on a wrong putting green that comes to rest on it must then be lifted and dropped according to Rule 25-3.

R25-1b(ii)b and 25-1c(ii):
These are undoubtedly the strangest situations in which a player may drop a ball on a putting green. They relate to the extremely unusual circumstance where there is a bunker located within a putting green and there is either interference from an abnormal ground condition, typically casual water, or the ball is lost in an abnormal ground condition. If these circumstances prevail, and the player chooses to drop outside the bunker under penalty of one stroke keeping the point where the ball lay directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the bunker the ball may be dropped, it could mean dropping on the putting green.

Note that a player may not drop on a putting green under R27-1a, Ball Lost, or R26-1a, Water Hazards, as they both refer back to Rule 20-5, Making Next Stroke from Where Previous Stroke Was Made, part (d) of which states that the ball must be placed if it was last played from anywhere on a putting green.

(Edit: 6th October 2016: My attention has been drawn to three other possible situations where a ball may be dropped on a putting green; Rules 24-2b(ii)(b), 24-3b(ii), and Decisions 1-4/9 and 1-4/10, all of which are similar situations to Rule 25-1b(ii)b where the player’s chooses to take relief for a ball that they do not want to play from a bunker.)
Thanks for reading this far. I promise that my next blog will be on a Rule that is encountered more often. Incidentally, my blogs will now be two-weekly rather than weekly, unless something really interesting happens at a Tour event that I cannot let pass.

Good golfing,

I am pleased to report that my eBook and eDocuments have now been updated for the amendments that became effective on 1st January. They can each be purchased at my Rhodes Rules School web site. http://www.rhodesrulesschool.com/

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2016 and may not be copied without permission.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

New Year Rules Teaser

Four years ago, my New Year Rules Teaser posed the question as to how a player in a match could be 7 holes down without having struck a ball. Here is a link to the blog, which links to my answer. Well, thanks to Kathryn Belanger, Assistant Manager, Rules Communications at USGA, we now have an ‘official’ answer to the often asked question, “What is the earliest hole that a match can be won?”

Obviously, this is of academic interest only; it will never happen - but it could!

A player carries a non-conforming club (Rule 4-1). He changes the weight of his driver after teeing off, but he does not make a stroke with the club after the adjustment (Rule 4-2). He starts his round with 15 clubs (Rule 4-4a). He has two caddies (Rule 6-4). He violates the one-ball condition on the opening two holes (Appendix I, Part C, Item 1c). He has a parent as a caddie when they are not allowed (Appendix I, Part C, Item 2). He takes an unauthorized ride in a cart on both holes (Appendix I, Part C, Item 8).

If all of these violations are discovered on the second hole, each would carry a two-hole adjustment to the state of the match. That's 14 holes. Assuming the player also loses the first two holes, he now is 16 down with 16 to play.

His opponent could win the 18-hole match on the 3rd hole by a score of 17 and 15.

And now for something much easier!

10 Questions on the 10 Golden Rules of Golf
George Peper estimated that if golfers learned the ‘10 Golden Rules’ (see this blog of mine), they would be able to resolve 90% of the situations routinely encountered on the course. So, for this year’s New Year Teaser I am posing 10 questions on these ‘10 Golden Rules’ in the hope that they might also highlight some common misconceptions.

1. Play the ball as it lies.
A player’s ball is at rest in a bunker. As they walk into the bunker a twig is blown from a tree and comes to rest over their ball. They may remove the twig without penalty. True or False?

2. Improving a lie or stance by bending or breaking anything growing or fixed.
Prior to chipping to the hole a player may repair damage made by a ball to the fringe of the putting green that is two club-lengths in front of where their ball lies and on their line of play. True or False?

3. Loose Impediments
Before dropping a ball under the Rules a player may sweep away twigs, leaves and loose soil with their hand to clear the area of drop. True or False?

4. Movable and immovable obstructions.
If a player is not able to move an obstruction on their own it is an immovable obstruction. True or False?

5. Abnormal ground conditions
A player may take relief from footprints made by a burrowing animal in a bunker. True or False?

6. Touching the ground in hazards
A player may not touch the sand on the back slope of a bunker during their backswing. True or False?

7. Relief from (lateral) water hazards
If you cannot find a ball that is known to have come to rest in a lateral water hazard there are options to drop a ball under penalty of one stroke on either side of the hazard. True or False?

8. Ball lost or out of bounds
A player finds their ball lying 6 inches beyond an out of bounds margin. If they have not played a provisional ball they may drop the ball within two club-lengths of where it crossed the boundary for a penalty of two strokes, so as not to delay play.

9. Deeming a ball unplayable
A player may deem their ball unplayable anywhere on the course, except when it is in a water hazard, even if it is quite obviously playable, e.g. at rest on a putting green. True or False?

10. Repairing damage on the putting green
Players may repair spike damage to a hole providing it is not on their line of putt. True or False?

1.    False. Decision 13-4/18 The principle that a player is entitled to the lie that they had when their ball came to rest, only applies in cases where the lie of a ball has been altered as a result of an act by another player, caddie, spectator or other animate outside agency, not when the lie was altered through natural causes.
2.    False. Decision 13-2/0.5. A player must not improve their line of play by eliminating an irregularity of surface, except that damage on a putting green made by a ball, or an old hole mark on a putting green, may be repaired.
3.    False. Definition of Loose Impediments. Twigs and leaves may be carefully removed, but not loose soil, which is not a loose impediment unless it is on a putting green.
4.    False. Definition of Obstruction. Providing the obstruction can be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage the player may obtain the assistance of others to move it.
5.    False. Decision 25/19.5. A footprint is an irregularity of surface from which there is no relief without penalty.
6.    True. Rule 13-4b and Decision 13-4/31.
7.    True. Rule 26-1c(ii).
8.    False. The player must return to where they last played from under penalty of stroke and distance.
9.    True. Rule 28.
10.    False. Decision 16-1c/4. A player may not repair any spike mark anywhere in the vicinity of the hole, as it might assist them in their subsequent play of the hole.

How did you do?

Good golfing,


I have completed the update of all my eDocuments and will send new files to all those that purchased from me after 1st April 2015, as promised. However, I am still waiting for the updated .mobi version of my eBook, ‘999 Questions’, so bear with me, as these will take a little longer to deliver.
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2016 and may not be copied without permission.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Special

www.geofftoons.com - Geoff Hassings
For my Christmas blog I am once again borrowing material from the regular tweets of a very funny Twitter account, @golfclubwankers, which I can recommend to all of you that can see a humorous side to golf and are not get easily offended by bad language, or non-politically correct comments. I think that you will recognise many of the following actions; if not in yourself, then in those that you play with.
  • Thinning your first chip on the practice green, ending up stone dead at the wrong hole, then chipping the rest of your balls to that hole.
  • Rushing to get something out of your golf bag and getting a tee right under the fingernail!
  • Checking the hole in desperation when you can't find your ball in the rough around the green. 
  • Chasing after an electric trolley that wasn’t quite turned off. 
  • When you are looking for a fellow competitor’s ball saying unhelpful things like; “What ball are you playing?”, “Did you get a line on it?”, “I didn't see it come down”, “You’re probably better off not finding it”, “That’s very strange, it shouldn’t be lost here”. 
  • Calling a fellow competitor by the wrong name for most of the round.Telling yourself to play safe before the round…. then hitting driver off every tee and lob wedge around every green. 
  • Smashing the ball into the dividing partition at the driving range and looking round to see if anyone notice. 
  • Cleaning your clubs in the kitchen sink on the night before you are due to go on a golfing vacation.Hearing golf balls rolling around your car boot when you go around a corner. 
  • Before going to sleep on Saturday or Sunday, reliving three missed putts, two knock downs and one duffed chip and thinking about what you should have shot this weekend. 
  • Practicing your swing in front of a mirror using a TV remote control for the grip. 
  • Realising that you are addicted to golf, as you start looking for golf courses through the aircraft window as you take off and land.
  • After good round: “I love golf, it’s my passion in life”. After bad round: “golf is sh1t, don't know why I bother”.
I have to admit that there is only one of the above that I haven’t committed!

Pros Playing Bad Shots
If you are interested in seeing Pro Tour golfers playing poor shots just like you (well most of us!), then you might be interested in watching this 11 minutes YouTube video compilation of 51 bad golf shots from Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Branden Grace, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and several others from the 2015 PGA Championship events. It might make you feel a little better the next time you thin a stroke, or hit it fat. Click here for the video. 

Happy Holidays to all my readers, wherever you may play your golf.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Winter Rules (Again)

I am pleased to be able to report that the ‘Search This Blog’ feature has been restored on every page of my blog site. If you have any query on the Rules of Golf Just enter a short search term in the box (at the top right corner) and then click on the title of the blog that seems to be most relevant to your query.

For example, if you search “Winter Rules / Preferred Lies” you will receive 10 links to previous blogs of mine that contain relevant information on this subject, the first of which, at this link, contains this important paragraph (particularly for Golf Club Committee members);

It is definitely not good enough to post a notice that says ‘Winter Rules’, Preferred Lies’ or ‘Lift, Clean and Place Everywhere’. Wherever possible, it is recommended to reproduce one or more of the specimen Local Rules that are provided in Appendix l, Part B, section 4 of the Rules book.
So, whilst it is OK to draw players’ attention to the fact that a temporary Local Rule has been introduced to protect the course, or to promote fair and pleasant play, this must be backed up with a detailed Local Rule, preferably worded exactly the same as the specimen(s) in the Appendix l, Part B. Otherwise, there could be confusion amongst players on many matters, including the following;

•    Whether the temporary Local Rule permits placing a ball that lies through the green or just on a closely mown area.
•    How far the player is allowed to place their ball from where they picked it up (e.g. 6 inches, the width of a score card, or a club-length).
•    Whether a ball that is lying in the rough can be placed within the permitted distance on the fairway and vice versa.
•    Whether a ball must be marked before it is lifted, cleaned and placed within the permitted distance.
•    Whether a ball that has been placed is in play, so that it may not be replaced if it subsequently moves off its spot, or if it has not been cleaned or aligned to the player’s satisfaction (this should always be the case).

Players should be able to play in competitions, even those that are not counting for handicaps, in the knowledge that all competitors are playing to the same Rules.

Good golfing,


This is the last chance to help a friend, relative, or even yourself, to get a better understanding of the Rules of Golf over the Christmas Holiday with a Rhodes Rules School eDocumant gift: : '999 Questions' eBook', '99 Tips on the Rules', 'So You Are Going to Play Match Play!', 'Photo Series' or 'How Many Strokes?'

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

December Miscellany

Ball Embedded in Lip of Hole
I have received these two photos so many times now that I thought I should offer this ruling on them. Neither ball is holed, as part of each ball remains above the level of the lip of the hole. Definition of Hole;
A ball is "holed" when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip of the hole.
The player must mark and lift their ball and, in the unlikely event that a member of the Committee is on hand, request that the hole (and in the right hand photo, the hole liner) is repaired. Otherwise, the player may repair the damage as best they can, without penalty. The ball must then be replaced on the lip and putted out. Decision 16-1a/6 clarifies the procedure for a player when a hole is damaged.
Q. Prior to putting, a player discovers that the hole has been damaged. What is the proper procedure?

A. If the damage is not clearly identifiable as a ball mark, then:

(a) If the damage is such that the proper dimensions of the hole have not been changed materially, the player should continue play without repairing the hole. If he touches the hole in such circumstances, a breach of Rule 16-1a occurs.

(b) If the proper dimensions of the hole have been changed materially, the player should request the Committee to have the hole repaired. If a member of the Committee is not readily available, the player may repair the damage, without penalty.

If a player repairs a materially damaged hole when a member of the Committee is readily available, he incurs a penalty for a breach of Rule 16-1a.
Incidentally, the speed at which the ball must have been travelling to make the damage shown in the right-hand photo, leads me to the conclusion that there is no way that it would have finished at rest in the hole. This assumes that the photo is genuine; it has been doing the rounds and I suspect that the situation may have been manufactured to give us Rules experts something to talk about!

Zach Johnson

My attention was drawn to an incident concerning Zach Johnson at the Hero World Challenge in in Nassau, Bahamas last Thursday. His approach at the 18th hole missed the green, leaving him with an up-slope chip shot. As he considered how to play the chip he rubbed the grass near his ball, to get a sense of the grain in the grass. He was certainly testing the surface, but this action does not incur a penalty anywhere other than on putting greens (Rule 16-1d), or hazards (Rule 13-4). Part of Rule 16-1d states;

During the stipulated round, a player must not test the surface of any putting green by rolling a ball or roughening or scraping the surface.
Exception: Between the play of two holes, a player may test the surface of any practice putting green and the putting green of the hole last played, unless the Committee has prohibited such action (see Note 2 to Rule 7-2).
Johnson’s comments after the round were interesting;
“I get called on that at least two or three times a year from television. The problem is the camera, the angle where it is, I can't go in front of my ball and test the surface in my line, but I was about a yard, yard and a half to the left and behind.”
He is correct, a player may do nothing in front of their ball that may be construed as changing their line of play for the better, potentially giving them an advantage, Rule 13-2 and Decision 13-2/0.5.

2016 Updates to my eBook and eDocuments
I have almost finished updating my eBook and eDocuments with the amendments to the Rules and Decisions that are effective from 1st January, 2016. Anyone who has purchased from me since 1st April will automatically get the updated files sent to them, free of charge. The .mobi file for the '999 Questions' eBook (for eReaders, smart phones and tablets) may take a little longer, as I am dependent on an outside service for this. As soon as I do have it, I will update the file at Amazon for those of you that prefer a paperback version. Please watch my blog site for details.

I am also close to releasing my follow-up eBook, ‘999 More Questions on the Rules of Golf’. This is a collection of all 111 issues of ‘9 Questions About …’, my current weekly email ‘Rhodes Rules School’ series. For those of you that are not familiar with these series they are;
1st series of 99 issues: 'Photo series' (click here to purchase)
2nd series of 99 issues: 'How Many Strokes?' (click here to purchase)
3rd series of 111 issues: '9 Questions About …' (watch this space!)

Good golfing,


Unfortunately, my 'Search This Blog' widget (top right corner) has not been working for the past few days. However, if you use Google and enter a Rules search term followed by Barry Rhodes you can achieve similar resul (e.g. "Embedded ball Barry Rhodes").

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Penalty of Stroke and Distance

Ball out of bounds: penalty of stroke and distance
I am keeping this week’s blog short and simple, but it is important. If your ball is lost anywhere outside of a water hazard, or is out of bounds, and you have not played a provisional ball…..

You must proceed 
under penalty of stroke and distance

This means that the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (Rule 20-5). Despite what some golfers may tell you, there is no other option. In particular, it is not permitted to drop a ball close to where the ball went out of bounds, or where it was thought to be lost for a penalty of two strokes. Anyone who does so, will incur the penalty of disqualification, from the competition in a strokes competition, or from the hole in Stableford, bogey or par competitions.

Note also, that at anytime, anywhere on the course, a player may, under penalty of one stroke, play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played, i.e. proceed under penalty of stroke and distance. The consequence of this is that if you do not fancy your next stroke (e.g. in deep undergrowth, under the lip of a bunker, or behind a large immovable obstruction on the line of play) and the other two options under Rule 28, Ball Unplayable, do not provide you with a favorable dropping location, then you may choose this option of taking the penalty of stroke and distance.

Interesting Podcast from Golf.com

Rules enthusiasts may want to check out the Golf.com podcast, in which Alan Bastable chats with USGA Senior Director of Rules of Golf & Amateur Status Thomas Pagel. At 40 minutes (including ads), it is a long listen, but it does contain interesting detail on Pagel’s job, how the Rules of Golf evolve, the decision making behind the four significant changes that are effective from 1st January 2016 and, for the final 5 minutes, Pagel’s thoughts on the simplification of the Rules. Here is the link to this Golf.com podcast.

Good golfing,


I have almost finished upgrading my eBook and other eDocuments with the changes required following the amendments to the Rules and Decisions, effective January 1st 2016. So, don't hold back on ordering a useful Christmas present for golfers of all ages and handicaps. All my eDocuments can be accessed at RhodesRulesSchool.com.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Re-creating the Lie and Re-covering the Ball

Ball covered by loose impediments in a bunker
Rule 20-3b(iii) states that if the original lie of a ball to be placed or replaced in a bunker has been altered the original lie must be re-created as nearly as possible and the ball must be placed in that lie. This includes any irregularity that the ball lay in when it came to rest, not just a change that was caused afterwards.

There are two similar situations in Rule 12-1;
a)    If a player’s ball lying anywhere on the course is believed to be covered by sand they may, without penalty, touch or move the sand in order to find or identify it (Rule 12-1a).
b)    If a player’s ball is believed to lie in a hazard, but is covered by loose impediments to the extent that they cannot find or identify it they may, without penalty, touch or move loose impediments in order to find or identify it (Rule 12-b).

So, in the above situations how does the player continue if they find and identify their ball? 
a)    The player must re-create the lie as nearly as possible by replacing the sand. If the ball is moved during the touching or moving of sand while searching for or identifying the ball, there is no penalty; the ball must be replaced and the lie re-created.
b)    If the ball was entirely covered by loose impediments (e.g. leaves, as in the photo above), the player must re-cover the ball but is permitted to leave a small part of the ball visible.

One further situation where the lie of a ball must be re-created can be found in Decision 18-2a/21 in which a player plays a wrong ball from a bunker and changes the lie of their own ball lying nearby. The player incurs the general penalty for making a stroke at the wrong ball, but is not penalised for moving their own ball in this circumstance. They must replace the ball in play and re-create the lie.

Farewell Ivor Robson.
If you do not know who Ivor Robson is, the Golf Channel video clip link that follows will probably not be of interest you; but if you are a follower of the European Tour you will almost certainly want to click on this link, to hear some very famous professional golfers pay their humorous tribute to the legendary and highly popular starter with 41 years’ service to the game of golf.

Good golfing,


A reminder that I will be emailing updated files to everyone that purchased one after 1st April 2015, as soon as I have finished working through the amendments. 

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Bunker Liners and Missed Start Times

Branden Grace and the Bunker Liner
Several readers have brought to my attention a Rules incident concerning South African, Branden Grace, at the recent 2015 WGC HSBC Champions in China. Apparently, the TV commentators were confused as to why he was permitted to take a free drop when his natural stance for a stroke meant that he had to place one foot inside a bunker to play his ball lying just outside of the bunker. The explanation is that one foot of his stance would have been on, or touching, an exposed bunker liner (which is an immovable obstruction). As his ball was lying outside of the bunker, he was correctly permitted to take relief without penalty from the interference, under Rule 24-2. So he dropped his ball outside of the bunker within one club-length of the nearest point of relief that avoided the interference from the bunker liner, not nearer the hole and not in the bunker. Of course, if his ball had been in the bunker, he would still have been entitled to take relief, but would have had to drop his ball in the bunker. There may be readers that have not come across artificial bunker liners, so I have included the photo of one being installed. Of course, the question that one might ask, is why a course hosting an important international golf tournament has a bunker with an exposed liner?

LPGA Players Miss Their Start Time

Four LPGA stars missed their tee time last Saturday at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico City. Carlota Ciganda, Suzann Pettersen, Angela Stanford and Minjee Lee all left their Mexico City hotel on their short journey to Club de Golf Mexico, for the third round of the 36-player event, in a shuttle bus provided by the tournament organisers. However, due to heavy Mexico City traffic and road works, the shuttle driver, chose to take a detour. Unfortunately, that decision turned what should have been a 20-minute ride into a two-hour ordeal, resulting in the four players missing their tee times and other groups due to start behind them being delayed.

Quite rightly, the LPGA decided that the situation was wholly out of the control of the players, and did not disqualify them under Rule 6-3a, which states;

The player must start at the time established by the Committee.
In stroke play, the penalty for a breach of Rule 6-3 is as follows;
If the player arrives at her starting point, ready to play, within five minutes after her starting time, the penalty for failure to start on time is loss of the first hole in match play or two strokes at the first hole in stroke play. Otherwise, the penalty for breach of this Rule is disqualification.
However, the Committee was able to justify the waiving of any penalty by resorting to the Exception to Rule 6-3;
Where the Committee determines that exceptional circumstances have prevented a player from starting on time, there is no penalty.
Interestingly, Decision 6-3a/1.5 suggests that heavy traffic resulting in the journey to the course taking longer than expected is not a sufficiently exceptional circumstance to avoid disqualification. In this case the fact that the transport was being organised by tournament organisers meant that it was outside the control of the players and they were permitted to tee-off late.

Of the four players only Ciganda seemed to put the episode behind her once out on the course, shooting 69, compared to Stanford’s 76, Pettersen’s 75 and Lee’s 73.

Good golfing,


This is the link to purchase the Decisons on the Rules of Golf 2016-2017.

This is the link to print out the notice board document of the main amendments to the Rules of Golf, effective 2016. 

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.