Sunday, 30 November 2008

Useful Links on the Rules of Golf

Here are some of the web sites that I have found useful in pursuing my interest in the Rules;

The R&A Rules of Golf
An online version of the current Rules of Golf book.

The R&A Decisions on the Rules of Golf book online
An online version of the current Decisions on the Rules of Golf book

The USGA Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf books online

An online version of both the Rules of Golf book and the Decisions book formatted side by side on each web page, which I personally find easier to navigate and use than the R&A site. Of course, the content is the same except for some of the spellings!

Golf Rules Discussion Board
A friendly discussion board with a small, but well-mannered and knowledgeable group of posters. I occasionally contribute to this site as ‘999Q’.

The Leith Society
Questions, discussion and analysis on the Rules. This is definitely, a site for Rules aficionados only. The content can be very philosophical and heavy.

The Golf Channel Discussion Boards
This site contains discussion on all things golf, including a section on Rules & Rulings. It is very American, with many inflated egos and a lot of coarse criticism.

USGA - Our Experts Explain
USGA rules experts provide insight and explanations on Rules decisions and interpretations. They also address commonly asked rules questions.

And of course……

Andy Brown’s Number One Golf Blog
This site is where Andy posts my answers to the Rules questions that he receives from his subscription list. Well, I think that it’s good!

I hope that this list may save you some time in finding the best resources for following the Rules of Golf.


Barry Rhodes

Friday, 28 November 2008

Hole-in-one with two balls!

Here’s a highly unlikely situation that nevertheless provides good material for testing your knowledge of the Rules. I have eight possible scenarios to the following question.

On a par 3 a player scores a hole-in-one with a ball other than the original ball that he played on that hole. How can this happen within the Rules of Golf?


1. In match play, player A plays his tee shot out of turn. When his opponent, B, sees that A’s ball has come to rest close to the flagstick he requires him to cancel his stroke and play again, in turn, under Rule 10-1c. A scores a hole-in-one with his next stroke.
2. Following player A’s stroke from the teeing ground his ball strikes a path, breaking into several pieces. Under Rule 5-3 he must play another ball from the teeing ground, without penalty. A scores a hole-in-one with his next stroke.
3. Player A’s stroke from the teeing ground is deflected by an overhead power line. A Local Rule requires that in these circumstances the player must play a ball from as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was played, as in Decision 33-8/13. A scores a hole-in-one with his next stroke.
4. When players A and B arrive at the teeing ground they find that the blue markers are nearer the hole than the white markers. The competition is being played from the blue markers. They suspect that they may have been moved during the competition by some youths playing nearby. As they are unsure how to proceed they decide that each will play a second ball under Rule 3-3a. A announces that he wants his ball from the blue markers to count if the Rules permit. His first ball from the white tees is played onto the putting green and then he scores a hole-in-one with his ball played from the blue tees. Having interviewed other competitors the Committee ruled that A’s score from the blue markers should stand.
5. On a windy day player A thins his tee shot badly, but it still comes to rest a few inches from the hole. When he gets to his ball he sees that it is badly cut. He announces his intention to examine the ball to his fellow-competitor and asks him to observe the marking, lifting and replacement of his ball. They both agree that the ball is unfit for play and he replaces it with another ball. Before A addresses his ball for the short putt a sudden gust of wind blows it into the hole. He is deemed to have holed out with his last stroke for a hole-in-one (Rule 18-1/12).
6. On a windy day, after a well hit tee shot, player A’s ball lies at the top of a slope three feet from the hole. His fellow competitor’s ball lies close by. Without authorisation, his fellow competitor’s caddie marks both balls and lifts them from the putting green to clean mud of them. When he replaces A’s ball he mistakenly substitutes a different ball and picks up the marker. A few seconds later the wind blows the ball off its spot and it rolls down the slope and into the hole. A is not penalised and has scored a hole-in-one (Decision 20-1/5).
7. In match play, player A shanks his tee shot and it is deflected off his opponent’s golf trolley into a water hazard. Under Rule 19-3 player A opted to cancel the stroke and play another ball without penalty, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played. A scores a hole-in-one with his next stroke.
8. In match play, player A plays his tee shot from in front of the tee markers and his ball comes to rest close to the hole. Under Rule 11-4a his opponent requires him to cancel the stroke and play again. A scores a hole-in-one with his next stroke.

I wonder if I missed any. I’ve never had a hole-in-one, but I have witnessed three.


© Barry Rhodes, 2008 –Please contact me if you would like to use this original content for any purposes.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Rule 26-1. Relief for Ball in Water Hazard

I am surprised how even seasoned golfers don't always know what to do when their ball is unplayable in a water hazard. How many times have you seen someone put their ball straight in the water on a Par 3 and then immediately tee up another ball on the teeing ground? Or, are confused as to what their options are when their ball crosses the water and then spins back off the putting green into the hazard? Well, this is a good example of where it is easier for me to explain the Rule visually, with the help of a whiteboard, rather than try and explain it in writing.

Why don't you check out my short video on this subject;
N.B. I will cover lateral water hazards in a follow-up video

I hope that this has helped you to understand the options available.

Enjoy your golf and play by the Rules.

Barry Rhodes

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Common Misunderstandings about the Rules of Golf

Since I started taking an interest in the Rules of Golf I have come across all sorts of myths and misunderstandings about them. Here are my answers to some of the more common ones, which I hope will assist readers to sort out the fact from the fiction.

“You are not allowed to enter the clubhouse during a round”. Wrong - you may leave the course at any time providing you do not unduly delay your own play, that of your opponent, or any other competitor. Decision 6-8a/2.7.

“You cannot hold the flagstick with one hand and tap your ball into the hole with the other”. Wrong – you may hold the flagstick while you are putting. But make sure that you remove the flagstick so that your ball does not strike it, and do not lean on it for assistance. Decision 17-1/ 5.

“You can only have the flagstick attended if your ball lies on the putting green”. Wrong - you may have the flagstick attended when playing from anywhere on the course. Rule 17-1.

“You cannot ask a fellow competitor how far your ball is from the hole, as this is asking for advice”. Wrong – information regarding the distance between two objects is public information and not advice. Definition of Advice.

“You cannot hold an umbrella over your head while making a putt.” Wrong – but you may not get anyone else to hold an umbrella over you while you make a stroke, as this would breach Rule 14-2.

“If you accidentally hit your ball while making a practice swing the stroke counts and you play the ball from wherever it comes to rest”. Wrong – because you did not intend to move your ball with the practice swing no stroke has been made. There is no penalty for accidentally moving your ball with a practice swing before playing a stroke from a teeing ground, because the ball is not in play, but anywhere else on the course there is a penalty of one stroke. In all cases the ball must be replaced to where it was before you accidentally moved it. Rule 18-2a.

“If the wind, or gravity, moves your ball before you have addressed it you may replace it without penalty”. Wrong – there is no penalty, but the ball must be played from where it comes to rest, because wind and water are not outside agencies. The way that I remember this is that if I cause the ball to move it has to be replaced and I incur a penalty stroke, but if God moves it then I play it from where it comes to rest and there is no penalty. Decision 18-1/12.

“You can take relief from ruts made by tractors, animal footprints and cracks in the ground”. Wrong – none of these are abnormal ground conditions under the Rules and there is no relief. Rule 25-1.

“You may rotate your ball on the putting green without marking its position as long as you do not move it off its spot”. Wrong – if you purposely touch your ball in play, except with a club in the act of addressing it, there is a one stroke penalty. Rule 18-2.

“If you stand astride your line of putt you are penalised”. Wrong – there is no penalty if this type of stance is inadvertently taken, or is taken to avoid standing on another player's line of putt. The purpose of the Rule is to prevent the ‘croquet’ style of putting and in these two cases the player is not taking their stance for this purpose. Rule 16-1.

“There is always a penalty if a player takes a practice swing near his ball and knocks down leaves in the area of his intended swing”. Wrong – it depends on whether the area of the intended swing is definitely improved. In some cases, the knocking down of a number of leaves would not improve the area of the intended swing, as the player still has to swing through a number of remaining leaves when making his stroke. In such circumstances, there would be no breach of the Rule. In other cases, the knocking down of a single leaf might improve the area of the intended swing, incurring a penalty of two strokes. Unfortunately, it is always going to be a subjective call by the players involved. Decision 13-2/22.

Barry Rhodes
(Abridged from ’99 Golden Nuggets to Demystifying the Rules of Golf’, © Barry Rhodes and Andy Brown,

999 Questions on the Rules of Golf

November 2008

Hi Golf Rules enthusiasts,

I’m Barry Rhodes, a high handicapper living in Dublin, Ireland, with a passion for golf. I have recently finished writing my first book, '999 Questions on the Rules of Golf', to be published in March 2009 by Green Umbrella Publishing. My mission is that ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’ will assist all golfers, whatever their level of ability, to enjoy their game more, improve their scores and help maintain the integrity of the wonderful game that is Golf.

Naturally, I would be pleased to hear from anyone that may be interested in purchasing my book when it becomes available. I understand that it will probably retail for around £12.99 (US$17.99 or Eu€15.50). Of course I will be pleased to sign and dedicate any copies ordered as a result of enquiries received through this blog.

In the meantime, you may be interested in visiting another blog that I contribute to at, which is run by my good friend Andy Brown, of St. Andrews, Scotland. Click on my name in the Authors section on the right hand side of this web page for a multitude of interesting questions, answers and explanations arising from the Rules of Golf. Andy and I are about to launch an audio product, ’99 Golden Nuggets to Demystifying the Rules of Golf’, an 80 minute CD, divided into 11 sections, with priceless information to assist golfers avoid penalties and save strokes. More information as soon as this is available.

Until the next time,

Good golfing and play by the Rules,

Barry Rhodes