Friday, 20 February 2009

Golf Rules - Asking For and Giving Advice

Most golfers know that they are not allowed to ask for, or give advice, during their round of golf, but they are not always sure as to what constitutes advice. Later in this article I will give practical examples on what is permitted and what is not. First, let us consider the Rule book definition, which states;

"Advice is any counsel or suggestion which could influence a player in determining his play, the choice of a club, or the method of making a stroke. Information on the Rules, distance, or matters of public information, such as the position of hazards, or the flagstick on the putting green, is not advice."

The word ‘distance’ was added to this definition from 1st January 2008, to allow the exchange of information on distance, as this is not now considered to be ‘advice’. In a related matter, a clarification was published at the same time confirming that Local Rules may be introduced to allow the use of distance measuring devices. However, it seems that most Clubs have not adopted such a Local Rule and these devices are not permitted in their competitions.

The subject of advice is further developed in Rule 8-1, which states;

"During a stipulated round, a player must not:
a) give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner, or
b) ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies."

Note that in golf a ‘partner’ is a player associated with another player on the same side, as in a four-ball or foursomes competition, and is not a fellow competitor.

Rule 8-2 deals with anyone indicating the line of play to a player, which is permitted, unless the ball lies on the putting green. However, any mark that is placed to indicate a proposed line of play by the player, or with the player’s knowledge, must be removed before the stroke is made. An example of this would be that if a player drops his glove at a position on a hill marking the line over which he intends to play, and then makes his stroke, he is penalised two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play. Similarly, if someone has positioned themselves so as to indicate a line of play to a player, they must move away from that point before the stroke is made, to avoid the player incurring a penalty.

The following are ten examples of what is allowed within the Rules;
"What distance do you think it is from my ball to the flagstick?"
"Do you think that the 150-metre marker is accurate?"
"Now that we’ve both played our tee shots, tell me which club did you use?"
"What are the options if I declare my ball unplayable?"
"What is my line of play for this blind tee shot?"
"Is there a ditch between my ball and the hole?"
"Is that a sand bunker or a grassy hollow at the side of the putting green?"
"Could you please position yourself on top of that mound to show me my line of play to the green?" (But the marker must move before the player makes their stroke).
"When you lift your ball because it’s interfering with my next stroke you must not clean it."
“There are red stakes here, so you can drop your ball within two club-lengths of where it crossed the margin.”
None of the above incurs any penalty.

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."

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"!

Barry Rhodes
http:www.barryrhodes.com

90 comments:

swissonwry said...

Greetings:

The kid who shot a 57 (Bobby Wyatt)reportedly had this conversation with his FC (Mullinax) during the round:

“He (Wyatt) goes, ‘Holy (bleep), I’m 11 under through 11 holes,’ ” Mullinax said. “I said, ‘Play like you’re 10 over. Battle. Don’t start playing for pars. Play aggressive like you have been.’ ”

Strictly interpreted, might this have been a penalty for Mullinax for "influencing his play?"

Or is "play" defined as a specific strategy pertaining to a specific hole insofar as this rule applies?

And finally, can you elaborate on your "allowable" question that I can ask, "What is my line of play on this blind tee shot?" Seems dicey.

And if the response is "If you hit toward that tree you'll have an awkward sidehill stance for your approach, but if you hit it toward that other tree you'll have a level lie and a perfect angle to the green," is there a violation?

Thank you.

Barry Rhodes said...

Swissonwry,

It's a good point and in my opinion Mullinax did breach the Rule for giving advice, if what you say is correct. The definition of advice is not restricted to the player's next stroke or the current hole that is being played. However, no doubt this reported conversation came to light after both players had signed their cards and no penalty should be retrospectively applied, unless they were aware that a Rule had been broken at the time the comment was made.

Except on the putting green, a player may have the line of play indicated to him by anyone (Rule 8-2). However, the reply given in your example goes further than merely pointing out the line and would definitely incur a penalty for giving advice.

Regards,

Barry

Anonymous said...

I was playing in a high school golf match. We play stroke play, foursomes with two players from each side, 8 players a side, top 5 scores count. My partner and I were walking up to the tee "5 iron should do it" my partner says to me. we both hit our shots, both par the hole and continue to the next tee. After all 4 of us tee off our opponents tell us that we have breached a rule by talking about a club the previous hole, and asses 2 strokes to my playing partner. I was wondering if this would be considered a breach in the rule because we were technically playing partners which means we could advise each other. Is this the correct interpretation of playing partners?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

First, I think that you are using 'foursomes' in the wrong context. In golf a foursome (sometimes referred to as a greensome, especially in the USA) is a match in which two players play against two other players, and each side plays one ball.

I suspect that you mean that there were four players in a group, each playing singles strokes format. In this case the other player in your group that was on your team was not your partner and therefore you did incur a penalty for giving/receiving advice. You may not give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than your partner.

Barry

J Tearney said...

If your opponent goes up to hit a ball that you know is "not" his ball are you wrongly giving advice if you inform him of his looming mistake?

Barry Rhodes said...

J Tearney,

No, information on the Rules is not advice. In fact, players are encouraged to prevent other players from breaching a Rule. It is good etiquette and helps spread knowledge of the Rules of golf.

However, be careful only to provide advice on the options within the Rules. For example, you may tell the options that they have if they deem their ball unplayable but you may not say, "If I were you I would declare your ball unplayable for a penalty stroke and drop it within two club-lengths".

Barry

Anonymous said...

My son was playing in a tournament and had marked his ball on the green. Another player asked him to move his marker. When it was his turn to putt, I noticed that he did not move his marker back so I said "move your marker back" prior to his putt. Another father said I breached the advice rule and was acting as a caddie thus incurring a two stroke penalty. What is the rule and where can I find it?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

From the Definition of Advice;

Information on the Rules..... is not advice..

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I may have been a bit hasty with my previous comment. On thinking about it, what you should have said as a spectator is, "Not replacing your ball where it was before marking to the side incurs a penalty". Your exact words, "Move your marker back", could have been interpreted as advice by a Rules Official, but in my view deserved a warning for you not to make any more interventions, rather than penalising the player.

Barry

Manju Dangi said...

I want to know about Matchplay rules .. can you please tell me ?

Barry Rhodes said...

Manju,

I have written two blogs on the differences in match play Rules. If you scroll to the top of my blog home page (www.barryrhodes.com) and enter "Differences in match play" in the box titled 'Search This Blog', you will receive the two links to this useful content.

Coincidentally I have just written a new document titled 'So You Are Going to Play Match Play', which is for sale at €5. Email me directly if you are interested; barry at barry rhodes dot com.

Barry

Anonymous said...

During a stroke play event against 2 friends, while one of my friends was in the process of taking is stance to putt, I noticed a clump of mud about 2 feet in front of his ball, and stated, "There is a clump of mud in front of your ball." My friend said nothing but instead promptly proceeded to remove the clump of mud and hit his putt. After he hit the putt, the other friend claimed that my statement to the friend putting was prohibited "advice". My friend that putted replied that my statement was not prohibited "advice" because I never suggested, recommended or encouraged that the mud be removed (or that anything be done with the regard to the mud in question) - I simply pointed out its existence, the existence of which was public knowledge (just like the existence of the water hazard on the same hole). What is the ruling? Thanks!

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Your statement did fall within the Definition of Advice;

“Advice’’ is any counsel or suggestion that could influence a player in determining his play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke.

Bringing a player's attention to a matter of public information, such as the position of a water hazard, is not advice but the presence of a lump of mud in front of their ball clearly does not fall in this category.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mr. Rhodes for your response. However, we are still having trouble with two matters:

1. we didn't think that my statement was a "suggestion" (as that term is defined in a dictonary) since I did not suggest that the putter take any action with respect to the mud or his putt (e.g., "I think you should remove that lump of mud", or "You should make sure your intended putt line is not in line with the mud" or "I suggest you leave that mud on the green to assit you in lining up your putt"). We agree that the statement likely did influence him, but are having trouble understanding how the statement was considered a "suggestion". The definition of advice is pretty specific - is says "counsel or suggestion" and does not use the more general and broad term "any statement". What if I had said instead, "It rained an inch this morning" and the player decided to hit his putt a little harder based on that statement?

2. If we assume my statement was a suggestion, why would the existence and location of the mud not be considered public information? How do we distinguish public information from information that is not public information?

Thanks again.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

In my opinion you are paying too much attention to the words 'counsel' and 'suggestion' when it is the phrase 'that could influence a player in determining his play' that is more important. Decision 8-1/8 tells us that if, after playing a stroke on a par-3, a player says to another player that has yet to play, "I should have used a 5-iron" there was a breach of Rule 8-1/8. This does not meet your dictionary definition of 'suggestion', but the statement could definitely influence the player in the selection of their club.

'Public information' is the type of information that you would find on a stroke-saver, e.g distances, location of hazards and position of flagsticks. The location of a lump of mud on the course is definitely not public information!

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry, thanks for keeping up with this blog. My question: As I watch the US Open opening round, I wonder if the players with late tee times need to avoid TV on the earlier rounds and getting to see putting green spots with tricky reads and see club selections.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

No, the restriction in Rule 8-1 relating to giving or receiving advice only applies during a player's stipulated round. Tour golfers may pick-up as much information as they like from TV broadcasts before they start their round.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Gary, Can I ask a question about the rules please?
I was playing a match play competition against a fellow member in a club comp. On the 18th hole which is a par 3, we were all square, I put my ball on the green 60ft from hole. My playing partner put his ball close to the out of bounds in some bushes, he played another ball and didn't declare it was a provisional ball and the ball ended in the hole for a "3". We went to the green and Im thinking I needed a 2 putt for a half, but I went to the bush and found his first ball in 3 mins. He said it was lost ball because he didn't mention a provisional for his second. What was the proper outcome?
Regards
Mike

Barry Rhodes said...

Mike,

Your opponent was correct, he had holed out for 3 and you had 1 putt for a win or two putts for a half. His second ball from the teeing ground was in play and the original ball was lost, as soon as he made a stroke at it without announcing that it was being played provisionally (Rule 27-2a.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
I recently played a round of golf with a guy playing off 19. I have come in from 17 to 10 in the last 8 weeks and he was very interested in how I did this during our round. He kept asking for advice on how I had done this. For example. "What's been the difference in the last eight weeks?" "How are you hitting so many fairways?" "How has your putting improved so much?" "What clubs are you using and why?" "Do you think clubs are important?" "Are my clubs any good?". The first few question I felt it was possible that it could make a difference to how he may have played in the round if I answered it. The latter questions I did not, but didn't really give much of an answer anyway as I was fearful of giving advice which may influence his play and opening up the possibility of incurring a penalty, which I did not want as I was playing very well. If I had answered these questions, would I have incurred a penalty?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

You would almost certainly not have incurred a penalty in the circumstances that you describe. I can understand why you were wary of answering the questions, though it seems to me that they he was genuinely interested in how you had reduced your handicap so effectively. It is always safer not to answer any questions that you think could possibly be a breach of Rule 8-1 by drawing the other persons attention to this Definition;

“Advice’’ is any counsel or suggestion that could influence a player in determining his play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi,

If someone asks for advice, e.g., what club did you use for that shot? How should you answer, and is "I cannot answer that question acceptable"?

Secondly, is it asking asdvice if Player A asks "did you see if my ball went out of bounds" and would Player B also be penalised if he replied "yes it went out of bounds or no it did not go out of bounds"?

Many thanks,

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Yes, the reply that you suggest is good enough to avoid you incurring a penalty. However, I would remind the other player that seeking the information has cost him a penalty under Rule 8-1b.

Regarding your second question, a player is permitted to ask information of this kind, as it will not influence them in determining their play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke.

A player may also tell another player that they think their ball may be out of bounds and they have the option of playing a provisional ball.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry, so an opponent is joking around and says he's going to hit his tee ball into a lateral water hazard. I say, "I recommend not doing that." Obviously, "I recommend" isn't helping me but is that advice since I'm saying it's not a benefit and not how to play the shot? "determining his play" is the only part of the rule that I'm not 100% sure I didn't violate.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Your remark would obviously not incur a penalty, because the exchange was in fun. However, if the player said that he was going to attempt to hit his ball over water 200 yards onto the green and you said, "I recommend that you don't try that shot as you will never make the carry", then you would incur a penalty for offering advice.

Barry

Anonymous said...

We play a weekly four ball match. The team we play against routinely give each other advice while reading their putts. " Left edge " " Dead straight" etc. Is this legal ?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Partners are permitted to ask and give advice to each other, Rule 8-1.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry a very similar question to an earlier query.
Playing a individual competition a competitor who has just teed off asks me (because I was standing in a better position to see around a dog leg)if I thought his ball was safe or should he play a provisional ball? The question of course is the second part "should I play a provisional ball"?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

"Should I play a provisional ball?" is not asking for advice that would breach Rule 8-1b. Provisional balls are played to save time if a ball may be lost outside of a water hazard or out of bounds and any answer to that question will not "influence a player in determining his play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke."

Barry

Anonymous said...

Today I was playing a competition between me and my father. We both carried less than 14 clubs and sticks, I say this because later on during the middle of playing the hole, he takes my stick and uses it to hit his ball. If he had 14 clubs and sticks it would have been an easy desicion because you are not allowed more than 14 sticks, but he had less than 14 sticks,. So would that be a penalty?
Note that at the end he won me by 1 stroke so this is a very critical part of the game.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Your father incurred a penalty of two strokes for a breach of Rule 4-4, part of which states;

... and the player must not add or borrow any club selected for play by any other person playing on the course ...

Congratulations on your win!

Barry

Anonymous said...

Barry
Could you clarify whether the following situation is a breach of the rules please.
I was refereeing a foursomes match and a players partner physically adjusted his playing partners club to square him up to the hole and then stood behind him to make sure he was lined up to the flag. I penalised them, loss of hole. Who is right?
Many thanks.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

No penalty is incurred by a player for aligning their partner's stance or club to their line of play, providing they move away before the stroke is made. But if a player is positioned on or close to an extension of the line of play while their partner makes a stroke they incur the loss of hole penalty in match play, for a breach of Rule 14-2b.

Barry

Anonymous said...

In a stroke play comp today one player told another after she had cleaned her ball that she was not allowed to do that... The player who cleaned her ball then went on to have a disastrous hole due to the reprimand. It turned out that winter rules were in place and marking and cleaning ball was permitted.
Does the player who made the comment need to be penalised?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

No penalty was incurred. I wish I had a Euro for every time I heard about a wrong ruling being given on a golf course. It could be argued that the player was at fault herself for not knowing the Local Rule that was in place. Had she bothered to read and understand the winter rules she would not have been upset by the "reprimand".

Barry

Anonymous said...

An interesting one occurred today - player A chipped first onto a green then walked up, as most people do, and marked his ball. Player B was then due to chip onto the green and asked player A to replace his ball. What is the correct answer (i) if player A's ball is directly on B's line of play but behind the hole and (ii) slightly off B's line of play.

My opinion is that player B was trying to use A's ball as a marker (not allowed) or backstop, but what is/are the correct rulings? Thanks.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Rule 22-1a states that if a player considers that their ball might assist any other player, they may lift the ball.

Decision 22/6 clarifies that in the circumstance that you describe if player A agreed to replace his ball that might then assist player B, both A and B are disqualified.

If you enter "backstop" in the 'Search This Blog' box in the top right corner of this web page it will link you to a blog of mine on this subject.

Barry

Anonymous said...

This rule makes golf so antisocial. We all have to be careful not to speak in case we break a rule.

Anonymous said...

Andy and Graham are on a par 3 and graham is hitting first. Graham makes it in the hole on his first shot and Andy asks him what club he used. Graham says 7-iron. Who get's penalized? Both Graham and Andy? Just Andy? Just Graham? Or nobody gets penalized?

Thanks
Sean

Barry Rhodes said...

Sean,

Assuming that they are fellow competitors, Andy is penalised two strokes for asking for advice and Graham is penalised two strokes for giving advice, Rule 8-1.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the previous answer! I have a few other questions.

1. Before, you putt, can you smooth out a scuff mark on the green made by someone's shoe if it is my way?
2. Andy and graham are on a par 3 and graham is hitting first. Graham makes it in the hole on his first shot and I ask him what how far did you play this shot. Graham says 130 yards. Who gets penalised? Or does nobody get penalised?
3.Bob and Todd are hitting chip shots in a match. Bob chips it close to the hole and doesn’t mark his ball before Todd hits. Todd chips his ball and hits Bob’s ball, moving
Bob’s ball off the green. What happens? Does Bob get a penalty for not marking his ball?
4.Nick and Chris are on the putting green. Nick is about to putt and Chris pulls the flagstick out for him. Since Chris wasn’t thinking he put the flagstick down right behind
the hole. Nick putts and hits the flagstick. Does anyone get a penalty?
Thanks again,

Sean

Barry Rhodes said...

Sean,

In future can you please email me directly with off topic questions, preferably after you have searched my 5+ years of blogs first (barry at barry rhodes dot com).

1). No, breach of Rule 16-1c.
2) If it was Andy that asked the question (who is I?) he is penalised. Graham is also penalised if he answers the question. (Didn't I answer this above?)
3. Neither player is penalised Bob's ball must be replaced where it was and Todd must play his next stroke from where his ball comes to rest, Rule 18-5. It is up to Todd to ask Bob to lift his ball if he thinks that it interferes with his stroke, Rule 22-2.
4. In stroke play, Nick is penalised two strokes when his ball hits the removed flagstick, Rule 17-3. He should have waited to see where the flagstick was placed before making his putt.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

I have a weekly four ball where myself and my friend plays against 2 other friends.

I want to know when the opposing team is on the green player 1 is on the green for 2 shots and player 2 is on for 3 shots.

Both balls are behind each other and in line with the hole.

Player 2 is closer to the hole for more shots played.

Player 2 decides that he will put first so that player 1 can read the line.

Player 1 stand directly behind him when he puts to see the line player 2 puts.

Is this against the rules?

Your advise is much appreciated.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Four-ball partners are permitted to play the hole in the order they choose, providing it is their side's turn to play. However, in the circumstance that you describe, player 1 incurs a penalty of two strokes for standing immediately behind his partner as he putts, which is a breach of Rule 14-2.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry, I was recently playing in a singles stroke play competition in a 4 ball. It was being played over 2 days and we were playing on the second day. We had discovered the score that was leading after the first day and towards the end of the round only one of us was in contention. 2 of the other players in the group offered supporting advice to this player on several occasions e.g. keep your concentration, play within yourself, and discussed lines of his putt openly in front of him. The player himself didn't ask for the advice but it went on over the last 3 holes. Was this legal and if not who should be punished?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The player(s) giving advice should certainly be penalised for each separate occasion that they gave advice during a competitive round. The player that was offered advice should have taken action to stop any unsolicited advice being offered to them. If they failed to do so, the Committee would be justified in penalising them. See my blog of 18th July 2013, 'Advice From a Spectator During a Round', replacing "spectator" with "fellow competitor".

Barry

Michael Hudson said...

I play a match play against my opponent who is a friend. Two others come along to watch and play but not involved in the match. On the first tee, they declare they would not interfere but by hole 5 one is giving advice and by hole 7 he declares that he is the caddie. Is this a violation of the match play on giving advice?

Barry Rhodes said...

Michael,

In match play, you have to make a claim immediately a suspected breach occurs. It is too late to make a claim on a hole as soon as the players have played from the next teeing ground. What you should have done after the first occurrence of advice being given to your opponent by a spectator, is to ask your opponent to request that the spectator desists, otherwise you will be calling a penalty on them. If they do ask the spectator not to give them advice, there is not much that you can if they continue, except repeat the request more forcibly.

Of course, caddies may give advice to their player, but it is poor etiquette to accept the services of a caddie during a round in the circumstances that you describe. It may also be against the Conditions of the Competition to have a caddie in this type of Club match play competition.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry. I played in a club competition at the weekend (36 holes over the two days), and my playing partner on the second day was a 13 year old (who is has a 6 handicap, and was joint leader after the first round).
I now have two questions:
(1) I was giving general encouragement for most of the round...does this constitute 'Advice'
(2) On one particular hole his drive finished in a bunker, and before playing out he hesitated and said "I'm not sure what to do", meaning which club to take, and because he had a good score going I said (for encouragement) "take your punishment, a bogey won't be a disaster"; he didn't change his club and played out...does that constitute 'Advice'
He went on to finish his round and we signed the cards (not even thinking we'd infringed any rules, but it was only after that I mentioned it in the clubhouse and was told that it had been an infringement.
As it happens, he won the competition by 4 shots.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The question is whether you gave any counsel or suggestion that could influence the player in determining his play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke.

In the circumstances that you have described, you may have incurred a penalty, but not the young player, whose comment, "I am not sure what to do" should not be construed as asking for advice.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Thanks Barry
I must stress that on no occasion (during the whole round) did my playing partner ask what to do.
I'm afraid that I may have also incurred another penalty on the 18th hole when I said "forget the pin position, just go for the middle of the green"; as it happens he played a great shot in and sank a 6ft putt for a birdie. Afterwards I asked if he'd gone for the centre and he replied "No, the ball was sitting perfectly and I knew that I could get it to stop quickly so I attacked the pin".
I'm not going to take any further action (ie. report to the committee) but it has been very enlightening reading this thread, and one or two of your other blogs; as you say, probably everyone at the club is culpable of 'giving advice' by saying "Take your time".
I now know for the future, and I will also 'advise' my playing partners that even saying "Take your time" would be a 2-shot penalty!

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Please do not tell your friends that Barry Rhodes says that it is definitely a penalty if you say, "Take your time", to someone about to make a stroke. There are many Rules enthusiasts that argue that no penalty is incurred by making this casual, courteous remark. Personally, I have never met anyone that has been penalised for doing so.

Barry

Anonymous said...

OK Barry, I understand....but I think many of my friends and members of my club will be unaware that they too should be penalized 2 shots for giving advice, whether it was asked for or not.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

I was playing in foursome and had a put and my partner put the putter down outside the hole to indicate what line I should use in order to sink the putt. The ball would move from left to right on its way to the hole and my partner was only indicating I should aim 15cm outside the hole. Our competitors told us it was not allowed and a lost hole for us. What is the right decision?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Your opponents were correct. Touching the putting green with anything to indicate a line for putting is a breach of Rule 8-2b, with the penalty of loss of hole in match play.

Barry

Mike said...

Hi Barry,

In a strokeplay competition I and two of my fellow competitors were on the green. The fourth player played from a greenside bunker and his ball finished more or less on the line of the player who was furthest from the hole and who then started to line up his putt. Since the player who had played from the bunker wasn't arriving quickly enough to mark his ball I said to the bloke who was lining up his putt, "Do you want me to mark A's ball?". He said, "Oh, all right, yes please, mark his ball!".

Was I giving advice and was the player about to putt receiving advice?

Mike

Barry Rhodes said...

Mike,

No, there is no question of any Rule being breached by this action, which is a courtesy commonly offered by fellow competitors. Be aware that in match play a player has to receive permission before marking and moving their opponent's ball.

Barry

Mike said...

Thanks, Barry, I thought it was like that but needed your confirmation. A last point, the player who marks another player's ball should be the one who replaces it, not the owner of the ball, right?

Mike

Barry Rhodes said...

Mike,

Part of Rule 20-3a;

A ball to be replaced under the Rules must be replaced by any one of the following: (i) the person who lifted or moved the ball, (ii) the player, or (iii) the player's partner.

Barry

Michael Watson said...

Hi Barry,

Thanks for that.

When you say in matchplay one must have permission before lifting the opponent's ball, are you referring to rule 18-3b?

Mike

Barry Rhodes said...

Mike,

Exactly. If a fellow competitor moves a player's ball (i.e. in stroke play) there is no penalty, but if an opponent touches a ball on the putting green, without permission, they do incur a penalty of one stroke.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Question...a players ball is resting against the flagstick...a fellow competitor says "be careful removing the flagstick as it is not holed if it does not fall into hole....advice or good sportsmanship ? Also if player starts to tee his ball in front of markers, is it ok to tell him before he makes stroke at ball? Good etiquette/sportsmanship or advice?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymouus,

As mentioned in the blog above; "information on the Rules ... is not advice."

All golfers should be encouraged to stop a fellow competitor from breaching a Rule and thus incurring a penalty.

Barry

Rory G said...

I remember seeing a player on tv drive a green while the group ahead were about to putt. A player marked the ball so as to complete his putt and then replaced it. I doubt the player who drive the green even knew about it. Should the player who marked the ball have incurred a penalty as he did not have permission?

Barry Rhodes said...

Rory,

There is no penalty for touching, moving or marking a fellow competitor's ball in stroke play, Rule 18-4, but in match play the player must get permission before touching or moving an opponent's ball, Rule 18-3b.

Barry

Unknown said...

Barry, I attended the second round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee and followed Lydia Ko's group. On the par 5 2nd hole, Lydia hit her drive that bounced but settled down low in the rough on the left near where an attendant and a few spectators including myself were watching. As Lydia approached her ball, her caddie turned to the attendant and spectators and asked if the ball bounced or not. Obviously he was trying to determine if the ball was plugged or not.

Does this constitute 'counsel which could influence a player in determining his play'? Or would this information be considered 'public information'?

Barry Rhodes said...

Unknown,

The caddie was perfectly entitled to seek information about the flight/bounce of the ball; such information is public informatiuon and not advice.

Barry

chris carlisle said...

I just found this blog while searching for the following:

Is the player in the following scenario considered giving advice and therefore in violation of rule 8.1?

Four players (A,B,C and D) are competing in an individual stroke play competition. On a par three player A is first to tee off. He is holding three clubs. He chooses one of the three clubs and lays the other two clubs on the ground outside the teeing area. After playing his shot he picks up the other two clubs with his left hand and he is still holding the club he just used in his right hand. Player A then moves to stand beside C and D while B plays his shot. Player A, still holding the club in his right hand, tilts the club in such a way that players C and D can view the number on the bottom of the club. No words were spoken by any player at any time. Is A in violation of 8/1/a (or any other rule?)

Thanks! This site will help me better understand the rules.
Chris Carlisle, PGA

Barry Rhodes said...

Chris,

In my opinion, the player should not incur a penalty in the circumstance that you describe, at least on the first occasion that it happens. Decision 8-1/10 clarifies that Information obtained by observation is not advice. However, if I witnessed this situation I would warn the player that he should avoid the possibility that someone may think that his action could be construed as giving advice and should take care not to actively show which club he used in an overt way.

Barry

Michael Spence said...

During a club singles match I was playing a course I had never played before, the course but my opponent had, on 2 separate occasions on different holes he offered me unsolicited advice about the position of hazards. Both tee shots were blind, the first was the fact that he believed there was no hazard in the fairway and the yellow posts marked a hazard running into the rough on the RHS.
The second was that a ditch ran across the whole width of the fairway.
The first false statement was untrue as there were 3 ponds in the middle of the fairway which i assume i had driven into as I couldn't find my ball but couldn't be 100% certain so I conceded the hole.
The second false statement was untrue as the ditch didn't run across the fairway.
Has my opponent breached any rule by blatantly lying to gain an advantage?
Thanks

Barry Rhodes said...

Micahel,

There is no Decision directly relating to the circumstance that you describe, but the answer in Decision 8-1/9 does provide the principle that if an opponent makes a statement that is purposely misleading they lose the hole. However, it is obvious that it would be difficult to prove that the statement was purposely misleading and was not just a mistake.

Barry

Mark Buckley said...

Barry, 3 Questions about GPS Devices.
1) Must the use of GPS devices be covered by a local rule in Club competitions?
2) Can I ask an opponent who has a GPS for yardage to the green or a hazard (in either a stroke or match play situation)?
3) Do inter-club competitions allow use of GPS devices, e.g. Pierce Purcell?

Thanks,
Mark

Anonymous said...

In strokeplay your playing partner has your scorecard and besides himself they represent the field. My question is that in the event of a debate over a rules issue/procedure can a third competitor in the group(or even in another group) make comments/suggestions(nb not advice)? or is it deemed to be none of their business if they are not marking the card of the player seeking agreement on a drop etc ie is it up to the card marker (and player)only?? Thanks Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Mark,

1) Yes, Note to Rule 14-3.
2) Yes, information on distance is not advice, Definition of Advice.
3) Yes, all GUI competitions permit the use of distance measuring devices for obtaining distance information.

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

In stroke play, anyone can offer information on the Rules or give their opinion on such matters as where a ball last crossed the margin of a hazard. However, if the player is in doubt about any issue they should announce to their marker or fellow-competitor that they intend to play two balls and which ball they wish to count if the Rules permit the procedure used for that ball, Rule 3-3.

Barry

Markalus said...

Barry, I hope I didn't miss this in the previous comments but what information can I and can't I use during a round that I previously acquired myself? For instance, if I watch a video, read a book, read a forum, read a magazine, talk to a pro, etc. and takes notes can I use my notes on the course? I know I can determine my distances and put those on my clubs which got me thinking about other information. Thanks.
Markalus

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

Just wondering if you could clear something up please.
I was playing in a 4 ball with friends at the weekend (singles competition). One of the guys didn't enter the competition as he was under time pressure and was only going to play 9 or 12 holes before leaving the course. Anyway on one hole he asked me what club I'd hit. I sort of looked at him a little funny as he'd generally be well aware of not asking something like that, but he said, "its ok, I'm not in the competition". Does this mean it would have been ok for me to answer ?

Cheers !

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

There is no penalty for giving advice to someone who is not playing a competitive round. However, if there was another competitor in the group you would have to be careful that the information was not overheard or shared with them. In my opinion, it might be best to tactfully decline to answer the question.

Barry

Michael Spence said...

Hi Barry,
Wondered if you could help clarify the rule for relief from a staked tree please. I would like to know if you can take relief as far back from the tree keeping you and the tree in lie with flag. Does this also apply to GUR and paths etc.
Many Thanks
Mike

Barry Rhodes said...

Mike,

There is no relief from staked trees unless there is a Local Rule permitting relief. So you should check this first. However, I can assure you that I have never seen a Local Rule that permits any relief other than within a club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole, as in the specimen Local Rule in Appendix l, Part A.

The relief that you describe is only available from (lateral) water hazards (Rule 26-1) and when a ball is deem unplayable (Rule 28). It does not apply to GUR (Rule 25-1) or artificial paths (Rule 24-2).

I strongly recommend that you view my short, instructional videos on these subjects at www.rhodesrulesschool.com/videos/

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
I recently played in a girls high school individual state tournament. We were told the rules and as always in these events caddies were not allowed.  However there were many concern from all the parents and even some of the players including myself. On the course there was a man with bright oranges gloves and hat and he held an umbrella which had a big white X on the top. This man would stand out on certain points of the fairway with his umbrella facing the girls; mainly doglegs and blind shots, which allowed for that group to use their range finders to the umbrella and hit out to that point which enabled the best lie for the second shot.
This man was at the same even last year and followed a group which had only one of the same girls from this year. People know that the man was there to help one girl in particular but he was there and available by all the girls in that one group.
The rules officials took that group of girls aside afterwards and asked if the man definitively helped any one girl in specific. My thoughts is that he was there and available to the whole group which allowed for all the girls in that group to benefit. While all the other groups of girls were relying on basic knowledge of the course. Would the members of that one group of girls be disqualified?
Thank you.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I hope that the State Rules Officials followed up this disgraceful example to young high school golfers. I am reluctant to use the word, but if the circumstances were as you describe it can only be described as cheating. See my blog on spectator involvement dated 25th April 2011 (http://www.barryrhodes.com/2011/04/spectators-and-rules-of-golf.html).

Barry

Joe two Putt said...

Hi,
I have a question. I played in a fourball competition last sunday and the other pairing kept talking about their club selection to each other which really annoyed my playing partner, to the point that he had no clue as to what club to pick as it was a strange course to us and it was very windy with quite a few shots over water. Is it within the rules of "advice" that the opponents also hear every club selection their competitors make before one drives off? It shouldn't be.

Barry Rhodes said...

Joe,

The four-ball pair were permitted to discuss their club selection with each other without penalty. However, they would incur a penalty if their comments were purposely misleading and were obviously intended to be overheard, Decision 8-1/9. In my opinion, your partner should have told the opponents that their conversation was distracting him and ask them to desist out of courtesy.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
Happy new year !

I'd love your opinion on two pretty trivial "advice or not" queries if that's ok.

1) player A hits his shot, pretty much tops it along the ground and exclaims "oh John, you were so fast into that". Player B, standing 20 yards away, says half aloud and to no one in particular "ohh yeah....". Personaly i don't really think it's advice, more a throw away remark with no intent.

2) on a par 3, player A hits his tee shot, flares it into up the air a bit and calls "go". Player B, says "I don't think that's going to get there, you were up and out of it". Again, my own view is that it's not advice per se, more a comment on the shot.

In terms of context, A & B in both cases are father and son who are genuinely just chatting/bantering with absolutely no intent to advise but I just though I'd get an opinion........

Thank you

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Strictly speaking either of these comments could be interpreted as possibly influencing the player in determining their method of making a future stroke.
However in my opinion, in the context that you describe, no penalty should be imposed for the first instance, but the player making the comment should be asked to desist.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,

I have two questions about comments from way back in 2010...

The first is someone asked about advice given by someone called an FC; what is that? I'm guessing "fore caddie," which I'm not sure what one is, but different from a regular caddie? Because a player may ask or receive advice from his or her caddie, correct?

My second question is about the term "partner," as used in the question and your comments below. My USGA rules book defines "partner" as a player on the same side, but then it defines "side" as players who are partners! In the situation below, it sounds like the players discussing clubs were on the same team/side, therefore partners, therefore allowed to give advice, but you said not. Can you please clarify?

Thank you for your column,
Barbara


I was playing in a high school golf match. We play stroke play, foursomes with two players from each side, 8 players a side, top 5 scores count. My partner and I were walking up to the tee "5 iron should do it" my partner says to me. we both hit our shots, both par the hole and continue to the next tee. After all 4 of us tee off our opponents tell us that we have breached a rule by talking about a club the previous hole, and asses 2 strokes to my playing partner. I was wondering if this would be considered a breach in the rule because we were technically playing partners which means we could advise each other. Is this the correct interpretation of playing partners?

30 September 2010 at 22:31
Barry Rhodes said...
Anonymous,

First, I think that you are using 'foursomes' in the wrong context. In golf a foursome (sometimes referred to as a greensome, especially in the USA) is a match in which two players play against two other players, and each side plays one ball.

I suspect that you mean that there were four players in a group, each playing singles strokes format. In this case the other player in your group that was on your team was not your partner and therefore you did incur a penalty for giving/receiving advice. You may not give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than your partner.

Barry Rhodes said...

Barbara,

Questions of this length are better addressed to my email address, rules at barry rhodes dot com.

FC almost certainly refers to fellow competitor. A fellow competitor may not give advice to another competitor without incurring a penalty.

Partners are two players playing on the same side in a fourball or foursome. They may give and receive advice from each other, or their caddies. The term is often misused in circumstances where two or three players are playing in a group in a singles competition; they are not partners in the group they are fellow competiotors.

Barry

Westley Gillard said...

Hi Barry

I've read through large amounts of your Q&A which is very helpful. Thank you! Forgive me If this is covered elsewhere. Can you tell me if it is illegal to note and stick the carry yardages of each golf club to the shaft of each respective club following a gap test? My understanding is that this is effectively no different to noting them in a booklet prior to commencing a round... also it does not adjust the characteristics of the golf clubs. Appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thanks!

Barry Rhodes said...

Westley,

You are correct, there is nothing in the Rules to stop you doing this, but your fellow competitors might give you a hard time!

Barry