Sunday, 24 May 2009

My Book - '999 Questions on the Rules of Golf'

The reactions that I am receiving from the early purchasers of my book are very encouraging. Without exception, readers have told me that they have already learned a lot about the Rules that they were previously unaware of. I am delighted with this response as my whole purpose for writing these 999 questions, answers, references and explanations was to assist golfers of all capabilities to understand the Rules better.

Special Offer
Free delivery worldwide
personally signing by the author
to anyone purchasing a copy of

‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’
using Paypal, postal order, or pre-cleared cheque

Price: $19,99 / £12.99 / €14.99
email: rules at barryrhodes dot com

This is a unique golfing product at an affordable price. Why not purchase additional copies for friends, relatives, or for golf competition prizes?

Along with all the comments that I have received about my book (thanks everyone) I am still working out whether this was a compliment, or not; “Hi Barry, I fell asleep reading your book in bed last night”.

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes
Rules at barryrhodes dot com
999Q on Twitter


Thursday, 21 May 2009

Was a Penalty Incurred When Rory McIlroy Gave Advice to Shane Lowry?

Amateur Shane Lowry triumphs in a play-off at
The 3 Irish Open Photo: GETTY IMAGES

It was reported that as Shane Lowry left the 18th green at Baltray, Co. Louth, last Sunday, to prepare for his play-off against joint leader, Robert Rock, his good friend Rory McIlroy whispered some motivational comments in his ear. Did this constitute advice? Supposing that Shane had asked for a personal mind coach to ‘train his brain’ during the time preceding the first play-off hole, would this have been against the Rules, thereby incurring a penalty?

The answer to both of these questions is, “No”. Rule 8-1 states,
During a stipulated round, a player must not:
give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner, or
ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies.
Shane Lowry’s stipulated round had finished after he left the 18th putting green and he was therefore able to ask for and give any advice prior to commencing the play-off. In fact, there have been several professionals who have sought out their mind coaches in these circumstances, to prepare them for the stressful play-off holes in the short time available to them.

Congratulations and best wishes for the future to Shane Lowry, who turned professional today.

Barry Rhodes
Rules at barryrhodes dot com
999Q on Twitter

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Did Kenny Perry Improve His Lie?

Kenny Perry has been cleared of any wrongdoing for his pre-shot actions during his playoff victory at the FBR Open back in February, but the debate continues amongst those of us that take an interest in the Rules of Golf. Take a look at the 14 seconds video clip of him preparing to make a stroke from the rough.

Now, let me give you some assistance to make up your mind on this issue by quoting the relevant words of Rule 13-2, Improving Lie;

"A player must not improve or allow to be improved:

  • the position or lie of his ball……by any of the following actions:
  • pressing a club on the ground……
However, the player incurs no penalty if the action occurs:
  • in grounding the club lightly when addressing the ball…..”
So, the question revolves around whether Kenny merely grounded his club lightly in addressing the ball, or whether he improved his lie by pressing his club on the ground. I will leave you to make your own decision on this, but am drawing it to your attention to highlight how easy it is to fall foul of the Rules, unless you are aware what you are permitted, and are not permitted, to do.

Learning the Rules save you strokes,

Barry Rhodes
rules at barryrhodes dot com

P.S. Thanks to those of you who have recently subscribed to the feed that automatically delivers my blogs to your email inbox. If you haven’t done so yet please enter your email address in the top right corner of my home page.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Two Disqualified at Irish Open in Baltray

County Louth G.C. 'Baltray'

Despite having a ticket I didn’t make it to Co Louth Golf Club, Baltray, yesterday for the opening day of The 3 Irish Open event on the European Tour. Rain was forecast for most of the day and I am still very stiff and achy after four days of wet golf in the West of Ireland last week. So I decided to watch it from the comfort of my living room.

When I turned on the television this afternoon I was surprised to learn that two players had been disqualified earlier in the day. What a change in fortunes for 26-year-old Italian, Francesco Molinari. Yesterday, he broke the course record with a 63, to lead the tournament overnight, and today he has been disqualified for having signed for a wrong score. Apparently, he had a par on the 12th and then double-bogeyed the 13th, both par 4s, but signed for a 6 on the 12th and a 4 on the 13th. Of course, although his total score would be the same, Rule 6-6d states, “The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified.” Had Francesco noticed, or been advised, of his mistake before he left the designated scoring area he could have changed his card and would now be lying just a couple of strokes off the lead. However, just like Michelle Wie last year, he had left the area before the mistake was noticed.

Belfast’s Michael Hoey disqualified himself when he realised that he had 15 clubs in his bag. Wait! I can almost hear you say, “The penalty for that is limited to two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred, with a maximum penalty of four strokes per round. Yes, but unfortunately Hoey realised that he must have played the whole of yesterday’s round with 15 clubs, as his caddie had left both his rescue club and his 2-iron in the bag and he always leaves one of them out. This meant that he had signed for a wrong score yesterday, having not added the four penalty strokes incurred, as above. I hope that his caddie survives longer than Ian Woosnam’s caddie, Myles Byrne, who was ‘let go’ just two weeks after he had left two drivers in his players bag at the 2001 Open Championship in Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s. You can listen to what Michael Hoey had to say about it here.

Two great tips from my CD '99 Golden Nuggets Demystifying the Rules of Golf'; always count your clubs on the first teeing ground and always check your score for every hole before signing your score card. Don't think that it couldn't happen to you!

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes
Rules at barryrhodes dot com
999Q on Twitter

Don’t forget to subscribe (top right of this page) for email updates of my blogs.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

What Is the Procedure for Identifying Your Ball - Rule 12-2?

It happened to me again at the weekend, during a match play competition. It also happened last week, and it will probably happen at least once a month in rounds of golf that I play in the future. An opponent’s ball had nestled in grass about three inches deep and when he reached it, he wasn‘t absolutely sure that it was his ball. I was walking to my ball on the other side of the fairway. He bent down and picked it up, checked his identification marks, and replaced it carefully. I am sure that he did not gain any advantage from doing this and I chose to ignore his breach, as I am entitled to in match play. However, if we had been fellow competitors in a stroke play competition the Rules require that I must bring it to his attention that he has incurred a penalty of one stroke for moving his ball at rest, Rule 18-2a(i).

So, what is the correct procedure under Rule 12-2 when you want to positively identify your ball in play without incurring a penalty?
  • Before lifting the ball, you must announce your intention to your fellow-competitor in stroke play, or your opponent in match play.
  • You must mark the position of the ball.
  • You may then lift the ball and identify it, provided that you give your fellow-competitor, or opponent, an opportunity to observe the lifting and the subsequent replacement.
  • Note that the ball must not be cleaned beyond the extent necessary for identification when lifted under this Rule.
This leads me to one of the best tips that I can give to any golfer who wants to reduce their scores through a better understanding of the Rules. Make sure that you put clear, personalised identification marks on every golf ball that you play. If you always mark your balls in the same way, the likelihood is that you will never make the mistake of playing a wrong ball, which incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play. It is not good enough to say that you are playing a Tiltleist Pro V1 2. There could be at least 10 such balls abandoned on any golf course at any one time. And for those of us who play whatever brand of balls we are lucky enough to find, or get given, it can be difficult to remember which ball we are playing if we have already lost half a dozen balls in water or the rough. There is another advantage to putting personalised identification marks on your golf balls. Now and again you may benefit from a benevolent Club member who finds one of your lost balls on the course, recognises who it belonged to, and returns it to you, probably with a lot of derision and banter!

Here’s a little story to illustrate how careful you have to be;

Paddy is very particular with the identification marks that he puts on his golf balls. He always purchases Tiltleist Pro V1s with an R&A logo, and then fills in three of the dimples in green with a black stalk, to resemble a shamrock.

On a windy day Paddy takes a brand new ball from his bag and slices his tee shot into bushes on the very first hole. After playing a provisional ball he spends 3-4 minutes searching for the original and then gives up and continues play of the hole in a very dark mood. From there his round improves and he is playing well when he strikes a three-wood 220 yards, just off the fairway and into the rough on the thirteenth. As he approaches what he is certain is his ball, a player on another hole walks straight up to it and starts taking his stance.
Paddy’s dark mood returns and he shouts at the player, telling him that he is about to play a wrong ball.
“No I’m not, this is my ball” is the response.
“Not unless you’re playing a new Titleist Pro V1 with an R&A logo, and a green shamrock with a black stalk on it”, Paddy says sarcastically.
“Yes, that’s exactly the ball I’m playing, I found it on the first!”

Barry Rhodes
Rules at barryrhodes dot com
999Q on Twitter
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Saturday, 2 May 2009

Rub of the Green

The term ‘rub of the green’ is widely used, usually in a sporting context, to mean luck, particularly bad luck. Its origins would appear to have been in lawn bowls where a ‘rub' is any hindrance or impediment that diverts the bowl from its proper course. Early in the seventeenth century Shakespeare used the words, ‘the rub’, in Hamlet’s famous ‘To be or not to be?’ speech; “To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub”, meaning ‘an obstacle’.

According to The Phrase Finder, the first golfing use of the term was in ‘Golf, A Royal & Ancient Game’, edited by R. Clark and published in 1875; "Whatever happens to a ball by accident... must be reckoned a rub of the green." Over time, a 'rub' has altered in meaning from a physical bump, depression or other imperfection on the green's surface to 'a stroke of good or bad fortune'.

Within the Rules of Golf, a rub of the green occurs when a ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency. Rule 19-1 starts, “If a player's ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies”. There are exceptions to this Rule if the ball comes to rest in, or on, an outside agency that is moving.

So, what is an outside agency? Well, I’ll leave you to check the Definition at the front of the Rules book for yourself, but typical examples on the golf course are direction signs, ball washers, seats, course maintenance vehicles, animals, birds, spectators and fellow competitors.

To conclude, if your perfectly hit 5-iron stroke sends your ball on its way to the putting green when it hits a rake that has been left lying outside of a bunker and it bounces at right angles into a greenside water hazard, you will have experienced a ‘rub of the green’!

Good Golfing

Barry Rhodes
999Q on Twitter
rules at barryrhodes dot com