Thursday, 4 June 2009

Penalty Situations that Confuse Many Golfers

I have noticed that many golfers who think that they may have breached a Rule, are uncertain whether it is one stroke, two strokes, or no penalty at all. Here are four questions from my recently published book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’. See if you know which penalty applies, if any.

1. In stroke play, Margarita leaves her bag between the 4th and 5th fairways, as she knows that she will be playing back to the same area from the next tee. As luck has it, her tee shot from the 5th hits her bag. What is the ruling?
A) Margarita incurs no penalty and she plays her ball from where it lies.
B) Margarita incurs no penalty but she has to replay her tee shot.
C) Margarita incurs a penalty of one stroke.
D) Margarita incurs a penalty of two strokes.
Answer: C) Margarita incurs a penalty of one stroke. Rule 19-2.
Note: If a player’s ball is accidentally deflected or stopped by herself, her partner either of their caddies or their equipment, she incurs a penalty of one stroke.

2. A player removes the flagstick from the hole and places it on the ground. When his fellow competitor putts too hard he sees that the ball might strike the flagstick. He is penalised one stroke if he moves the flagstick while the ball is in motion. True or False?
Answer: False. Neither player incurs a penalty. Decision 17-1/7.
Note: Rule 24-1 provides that anyone may move the equipment of any player or a removed flagstick, to prevent it being struck by a ball in motion.

3. In a singles match play competition Jan and June’s balls are side by side in a bunker. Jan plays first, but as she climbs out she sees her ball still in the bunker and realises that she has played the wrong ball. What is her penalty?
A) Jan incurs no penalty as you cannot play a wrong ball out of a bunker.
B) Jan incurs a penalty of one stroke.
C) Jan incurs a penalty of two strokes.
D) Jan loses the hole.
Answer: D) Jan loses the hole. Rule 15-3.
Note: In match play, if a player makes a stroke at a wrong ball, she loses the hole. In stroke play, the penalty is two strokes and she must correct her mistake by playing her own ball.

4. A player may not ask a fellow competitor the distance between his ball and the flagstick. True or False?
Answer: False. Decision 8-1/2.
Note: Information regarding the distance between two objects is public information and not advice.


Well, how did you do? I suspect not as well as you thought you might. There is some excuse for those of you that did not score too well, as the first three questions related to penalty situations that were changed at the last revision of the Rules of Golf, at January 1st 2008, and at the same time the definition of Advice was amended to exclude the exchange of information on distance.

If you have learned something from these four questions think how much more you will learn from the other 995 questions in my book. Treat yourself to a small purchase ($19.99 / £12.99 / €14.99) that will assist you to absorb and familiarise yourself with the Rules of Golf in an enjoyable and interesting way. Email me before 31st July and I will send a signed copy, to any address in the world, and will cover the mailing cost myself.

Remember, no Rules, no knowledge,
Know Rules, know knowledge.

Barry Rhodes
Rules at barryrhodes dot com
999Q on Twitter

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