Monday, 31 August 2009

Jim Furyk Penalised 4 Strokes For Carrying 15 Clubs

Jim Furyk and his caddie, 'Fluff' Cowan

When Ian Woosnam was penalised 2 strokes for carrying 15 clubs, as he led the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s, I thought that it would never happen again in tournament play, especially after he fired his caddie two weeks later. Well, on Saturday, at Liberty National, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, Jim Furyk’s experienced caddie, Mike ‘Fluff’ Cowan, who most of us will remember from when he was Tiger’s caddie, also forgot to count his player’s clubs on the first tee. Jim Furyk was penalised 4 strokes, which cost him a lot of prize money as he ended up in 15th place, just 6 strokes behind the winner.

So, why was Ian Woosnam penalised only 2 strokes and Jim Furyk penalised 4 strokes? It is Rule 4-4 that stipulates that a player must not start a round with more than 14 clubs. In stroke play the penalty, regardless of the number of excess clubs carried, is two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred, with a maximum penalty per round of four strokes. In match play, at the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred with a maximum deduction per round of two holes. As the Woosnam breach was discovered on the 2nd teeing ground, before a stroke had been made, he incurred a penalty of only two strokes for the breach of the Rule on the 1st hole. At the Barclay's Jim Furyk had already played his tee shot to the par-3 2nd hole when he realised that he had an extra wedge in his bag, which meant that he was carrying 15 clubs. If he had not discovered that he had more clubs in his bag than is permitted until after commencing play of the 3rd hole it would not have affected the penalty, which is capped at four strokes per round in stroke play. However, when a player realises that he is carrying more than 14 clubs he has to immediately declare which club(s) he is taking out of play and if he uses that club or clubs during the remainder of the stipulated round he will be disqualified.

The moral is to always count your clubs on the 1st teeing ground!

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’, a book that will help you understand the Rules the easy way.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Caddies at Solheim Cup

I was interested to see that some of the caddies at the Solheim Cup in Sugar Grove, Illinois, were lining-up their players, not just on the putting greens but for all shots. This is permitted by the Rules, of course, but it brings up an interesting Rules point, that many players are unaware of.

In January 2000 there was a change to Rule14-2, which now reads;
14-2. Assistance
In making a stroke, a player must not:
a. Accept physical assistance or protection from the elements; or
b. Allow his caddie, his partner or his partner's caddie to position himself on or close to an extension of the line of play or the line of putt behind the ball.
Most players are aware that their caddie, partner or partner’s caddie cannot stay behind them while they make a putt on the putting green, but that restriction now applies to strokes made from anywhere on the course. If you were watching the Solheim Cup matches you may have noticed that after checking the line of their player’s set-up, the caddies moved to the side before the stroke was made. If they had stayed where they were, behind the line of play, the player would have incurred a loss of hole penalty (two strokes in stroke play).

For amateur players, who rarely have the luxury of a caddie, this Rule is most often breached in 4-balls, foursomes or team competitions, when a player is playing a stroke into the setting sun and their partner stands immediately behind them, so as to follow the flight of the ball. This shouldn’t really be a problem, as you are permitted to stand behind your partner providing you stand just a pace or two off the line of play, or line of putt. Presumably, the reason for this seemingly harsh Rule is the same as for Rule 8-2, which requires a player to remove any mark indicating a line, which either they have placed, or that has been placed with their knowledge, before they make their stroke.

As I write this blog the 2009 Solheim Cup is all square at 8 matches to USA and 8 matches to Europe, with the singles to play. It has been great competition so far and I am looking forward to watching the final day’s play.

Barry Rhodes

For information on my book - ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’, or my iPhone application – ‘Golf Rules Quiz’, please email me at rules at barryrhodes dot com.

P.S. For those of you that have subscribed to receive notification of my new blogs by email I apologise for the superfluous 'Technorati' emails. I am having a problem with them recognising my content and have had to repeat the process three times.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Errata - '999 Questions on the Rules of Golf'

I am extremely grateful to those who have recommended changes to the first edition of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’ to help clarify, and in a few cases correct, my questions, answers and explanations. In particular, UK-based, Rules enthusiast, David Cladingboel, was most helpful. Of course, these changes will be incorporated in future reprints of the book.

Barry Rhodes
September 2009


Errata last updated: 7th January, 2011

Amended 7th January 2011 (G2 reprint)
Q.6: Replace Rule “24-1” with Rule “24-2”.

Q.35: At the start of Note change the first word “A” to, “In most cases a” and add a new sentence at the end, “However, it is important to note that there are three exceptions listed in Rule 20-2c(vii).”

Q.50: In the second line of the Question remove the word “putting”.

Amended 7th July 2011 (G2 reprint)
Q.81: After the 4th word of the Question, "touches", add "the course side of a white", and change the Note to "A ball is not out of bounds when any of it is on, or overhangs the course,")

Q.114: In the last sentence of the Answer change “…may be removed” to “…may not be removed”.

Amended 20th October 2010 (G2 reprint)

Q.217: From the Note remove the words “if the ball does not lie in or on the obstruction.”

Amended 20th October 2010 (G2 reprint)

Q.270: From the Question remove “and is about to drop the ball over his shoulder behind him when his caddie says that he will be penalised if he continues in that manner.” and replace with “drops the ball over his shoulder and addresses his ball when his caddie says that he will be penalised if he makes the stroke.”

Q.249: Add the word “Rule” after the Answer and before “17-3.

Q.284: In the answer change “…penalty of two strokes” to “…penalty of one stroke” (N.B. This has already been corrected in some books).

Q.299: Add the word “free” before the word “relief” in the four question options A), B), C) and D) and also to the Answer C).

Q.304: In the last line of the Answer add, “and playing out the hole” after “…the correct spot”.

Q.325: Change the first line of the Question from “Which of the following is an obstruction?” to “Which of the following is defined as an obstruction in the Rules of Golf?”.

Q.358: In the Note Change “Rule 13-02” to “Rule 13-2”.

Q.382: Change the Answer from “True. Rule 2-4” to “False. Decision 2-4/9”; change the Note from “Once the concession has been made it cannot be withdrawn” to “Callum had already lost the hole before Stuart conceded it to him (Rule 15-3a)”.

Q.415: In the first line of the Note remove the word “also” between “…ball might” and “outside the”.

Q.426: In the Question change “V Par” to “Vs Par”.

Q.435: In the first line of the question remove “resting on his ball” and replace with “hovering close to his ball”

Q.502: In the final sentence of the Note change “Ella incurs a penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play.” To “Ella incurs a penalty of one stroke in either match play or stroke play.”

Amended 23rd November 2010 (G2 reprint)
Q.534: In the Question add, “to identify that a ball is his,” after “In match play”.

Q.558: In the Answer add the word “in” four words from the end.

Q.572: In the third line of the Question change “initialise” to “initial”.

Amended 23rd November 2010 (G2 reprint)
Q.614: In the Question add the word “accidentally” after “While in a hazard Zak”.

Q.619: In the Note, after “….or lie of his ball,” add “the area of intended stance or swing, or his line of play,” and remove the final sentence commencing “In other words….”.

Q.642: Remove the whole Q&A and Note and replace with;
Roger has been searching for his ball for three minutes when play is suspended. How much time is he allowed for further search when play resumes?
A) Five minutes.
B) Two minutes, providing he does not continue searching during the suspension of play.
C) Two minutes, even if he continues searching during the suspension of play.
D) No additional time, as the player could have been searching for his ball during the suspension of play.
Answer: B) Two minutes, providing he does not continue searching during the suspension of play. Decision 27/1.5.
Note: The suspension of play has no effect on the five-minute search period. So, even if Roger continues searching for his ball during the suspension of play, he is still only permitted a total of five minutes.

Q.650: In the questions A), B), C), D) and the Answer C) change the word “may” to “must”.

Q.655: Remove the whole Note and replace with, “Note: If it were match play Farrell has the option of replaying her stroke without penalty, or playing the ball as it lies under penalty of one stroke, as her ball had struck her own trolley.”

Q.665: Delete option B) of the Question and replace with “B) A player may exchange his ball with a different ball once he has declared it unplayable.”

Amended December 31st, 2010 (G" reprint)
Q.701: In the second line of the Note replace "opponent" with "player's caddie".

Q.714: Remove the whole Q&A and Note and replace with;
"A ball used by a player during his play of a hole is equipment when it has been lifted and not put back into play at that hole. True or False?
Answer: True. Definition of Equipment.
Note: A note to the definition confirms that a ball played at the hole being played is equipment when it has been lifted and not put back into play."

Q.715: In the Note add the words “so the stroke is cancelled” between “…outside agency” and “and the ball…”.

Q.740: Change the 5th word, “competitor” to “opponent”.

Q.762: Change the first words, “In a foursome competition Jan and Judy” to “Foursome partners, Jan and Judy,”

Q.772: Add to the Note before the final period “, except when the ball is in a water hazard or lateral water hazard”.

Q.774: In the third line of the Question change “Rule 28a” to “Rule 28c”. (N.B. This has already been corrected in some books).

Q.778: Change the Answer from “KK is disqualified.” to “KK incurs a penalty of four strokes.”; change the second sentence of the Note from “It does not matter that the non-conforming club was not used during the round the disqualification penalty still applies” to “The penalty in stroke play is two strokes for any hole at which the breach occurred, with a maximum penalty per round of four strokes. If KK had used the non-conforming club he would have been disqualified.” (N.B. This has already been corrected in some books).

Q.782: Replace the word “wrong” with the word “substituted” in all three occurrences, once in the question, once in the answer and once in the note.

Q.788: Remove the 1st sentence of the Question and replace with “During the 1st hole of a match Peggy has her daughter carrying her golf bag and her husband cleaning her ball, holding her glove and umbrella, assisting her to line up her putt and attending the flagstick.”

Q.791: Remove “If an opponent or his caddie, lifts a player’s ball without authority he incurs…” with “In match play, if a player or his caddie lifts an opponent’s ball without authority, the player incurs….”. Also, add “in stroke play” between “including a fellow competitor” and “, there is no penalty...”.

Q.800: After the first three words of the Question. “In match play,” add “through the green,”; at the start of the Note remove “The” and add “Through the green the”.

Q.812: Change the wording of the whole Question, Answer and Note as follows; “In a strokes competition, Roger wrongly thought that he could take relief for an embedded ball in the rough, picked up his ball, cleaned it and dropped it at the nearest point to where it was embedded. After completing his round he and his marker signed for his score and he returned the score card, which did not include the penalty. Before the competition closed the error was brought to the attention of the Committee. How should they rule?
Answer: The Committee must disqualify Roger as by omitting a penalty incurred he has returned a card with a score lower than it should have been. Rule 6-6d.
Note: Rule 6-6c does not permit any alteration of the score card after it has been returned to the Committee, and this includes any alteration by the Committee themselves.”

Q.818: Remove the Note and replace with “Chris may smooth sand or soil in the hazard, providing nothing is done to improve the position or lie of his ball, the area of intended stance or swing, or his line of play, with respect to his next stroke.”

Q.887: In the first sentence of the Question replace “Sarah notices” with “Adrienne notices” and then later in the same sentence “Adrienne’s line” with “Sarah’s line”. At the end of the first line of the Note remove Adrienne’s ball” with “Sarah’s ball”.

Amended 10th March 2011 (G2 reprint)
Q.899: Remove the third word, "lying".

Q.913: Remove “Rule 13-4 and Decision 1-4/12” and replace with “Decision 13-4/0.5”; remove the first two sentences of the Note and replace with this sentence, “Hilary’s digging into the sand with her feet several yards from where her ball lies to simulate her stance does not constitute testing the condition of the bunker, but her caddie smoothing her footprints by raking does.” Also, change the start of the second sentence of the Note from “Hilary plays four...” to “Hilary played four...”.

Q.919: Remove "Decision 7-1b/5" with "Decision 6-4/8."

Q.938: Remove the whole of the Note and replace with “Borrowing a club that has been selected for play by any other person on the course is not permitted. James incurs a penalty of two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred with a maximum penalty per round of four strokes.”
Amended 21st February 2011 (G2 reprint)
Q.939: Remove the whole of the Note and replace with “When Sheila had her fresh air her ball was in play. By pushing her tee further into the ground, she moved the ball, incurring a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a and was required by that Rule to replace it. However, when she made her next stroke at the ball without replacing it, she effectively played under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1a) overriding the penalty of one stroke. Her next stroke from the tee was her third.”

Q.945: In option C) remove the end phrase “choose one of the options for relief as per Rule 28.” and replace with “proceed in accordance with Rule 28.”

Q.946: At the end of the last sentence of the Question after “…Barak lie” add “if he finds his original ball”; at the end of the Note after “…another ball” add “,which would be his 5th stroke”

Q.947: At the start of the Question add “Having addressed his ball” before “Chip”.

Q.962: At the end of the first sentence in the Question remove “as he makes a stroke at his own ball”. Also, change the 5th word of the Note from “agent” to “agency”.

Q.969: In the first sentence of the question remove “putting” from between “…through the” and “green”.

Q.974: In Option C) change the 2nd word from “must” to “may”. Also, remove option D) and replace with “Robin must play out the hole with both balls and report the situation to the Committee.”

Q.979: At the end of option C) remove “a wrong ball” and replace with “an incorrectly substituted ball”; make the same change in the Answer; in the Note insert “, under Rule 18,” after “…substituting a ball”.

Q.997: In the first word of option D) remove “Replace” and insert “Place”; repeat the same removal and replacement for the Answer.


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Global Talk Radio Interview

Tomorrow, Friday 21st August, at 17.00pm GMT (12.00 noon BST), I am pleased to be guesting on Alan Martin's Global Talk Radio Show, discussing the Rules of Golf. Sorry for the short notice, but if you are interested in what Alan and I have to say, but cannot tune in at that time, then you will be able to catch it later as the programme will be archived at Alan Martin is the inventor of 'Thumbs Down, the Power Move' and author of 'Thumbs Down, Golf Instruction Made Simple.'

Barry Rhodes

My Book:
'999 Questions on the Rules of Golf'
My CD: '99 Golden Nuggets Demystifying the Rules of Golf'
My iPhone Application: 'Golf Rules Quiz'

Please contact me at if you need more information on any of the above.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Rules Relating to Score Cards

It seems that almost every golfer has a hard luck tale to recount about a prize that they would have won, had they not been disqualified for a mistake concerning their score card. Of course, there is no requirement to complete a score card in match play, so the following only applies to stroke play situations. Rule 6-6 and the Decisions thereon contain most of the important information concerning the score card.

It is the Committee’s responsibility to provide each competitor with a score card containing the date and the competitor's name or, in foursomes or four-balls, the competitors' names (Rule 33-5). The competitor must ensure that their handicap is recorded on his score card. If there is no handicap on the card before it is returned to the Committee following completion of the players’ round, or if the recorded handicap is higher than that to which they are entitled and this affects the number of strokes received, they are disqualified (Rule 6-2b). If they enter a handicap that is lower than that to which they are entitled the Committee will use that handicap to calculate their score. Note that the Rules require the full handicap to be shown on the card, notwithstanding the number of holes in the stipulated round or the competition format (e.g. four-balls are often played at ¾ handicap). Decision 6-2b/0.5 makes this clear. The player should hand their card to their marker at the beginning of the round and after each hole the marker should check the score with the competitor and record it.

Before the card is returned to the designated area (e.g. in a scorer’s tent, the golf shop, or a competition box) the player must ensure that the gross scores for each hole are accurately recorded and the card has been signed by both the player and their marker. If a score lower than the actual score on any hole is returned, the player incurs the penalty of disqualification. However, if a score higher than the actual score is recorded, that score stands.

There are several common misconceptions about the score card. Here are the facts;
  • Only the marker and one player in a side have to sign the card.
  • Full signatures are not mandatory, initials are acceptable.
  • The marker and player may sign anywhere on the card, although obviously it helps the scorer if they sign in the correct spaces.
  • A different card from the one issued may be returned (e.g. when the original card has been saturated by rain).
  • No initials are required for alterations made to the card. The signature confirms all changes made.
  • It is not necessary to calculate the points scored in a Stableford competition as this is the responsibility of the Committee, as is the totalling of the gross scores for each hole and the application of the handicap. However, as someone who regularly checks competition cards at my club, I urge you to do so; it makes life so much easier for us scorers.
  • Surprisingly, there is no Rule making it mandatory for the competition date to be recorded on the card, but I recommend that it is, to avoid confusion.
  • A card may be marked by more than one person provided that each signs for the part of the round for which they are responsible.
  • The card must be signed by both the marker and player after the round has been completed.
Note that a Committee may not, as a condition of competition, require that competitors must enter their scores into a computer and so players cannot be penalised for failing to do so (Decision 6-6b/8). However, a Committee may introduce a ‘club regulation’ to this effect and provide disciplinary sanctions, such as ineligibility to play in the next club competition, for failure to enter scores in a computer provided for this purpose.

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes
Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’
999Q on Twitter

P.S. You can ensure that you don’t miss any of my weekly blogs on the Rules by entering your email address at the top right hand corner of my home page.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Why Did Padraig Harrington Cross the Water Hazard?

Well it is history now. Harrington lost his chance to beat Tiger in the Bridgestone Invitational Tournament last weekend when he suffered a four strokes swing on the signature 16th hole. However, the question that everyone is asking me is why he chose to walk all the way round the pond to drop a ball on the far side when he had played his ball into the water from the putting green side?

Relief from water hazards is one of the most misunderstood Rules in golf and I am going to take the opportunity below to link to my two videos on the subject, which I posted here back in November and December of last year. But first let me explain the Harrington decision.

Padraig overshot the green with his third stroke on the 667 yards par-5. He was faced with a very tricky shot from deep rough, down a slope onto the green with very little putting surface between the apron and the hole. He had to go for it because Tiger had played the shot of the tournament for a tap-in birdie, which would have brought him level if Padraig had achieved his par. With the pressure on, Padraig mistimed his lob and it went straight into deep water in the hazard, designated by yellow stakes and/or lines, immediately behind the flagstick. Now, as there was no chance of him playing from within the margin of the water hazard he had two options, both under penalty of one stroke, under Rule 26-1. The first was to take on the same, difficult shot that he had just made a mess of, by dropping a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which he last played. The second, which was the option he chose, was to drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped. He could not choose to drop a ball within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard as this option is only available when the hazard is designated a lateral water hazard by red stakes and/or lines.

It is important that players know the options from taking relief from water hazards as we will all face this situation many times. If you still do not fully understand exactly what they are I strongly recommend that you click on these two four minute videos;

Water Hazards - yellow stakes

Lateral Water Hazards - red stakes

Learn the Rules to better your scores,

Barry Rhodes
Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’
999Q on Twitter

P.S. You can ensure that you don’t miss any of my weekly blogs on the Rules by entering your email address at the top right hand corner of my home page.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Don't Forget to Replace Your Ball

Tim Clark

I think that most of us can sympathise with an incident that happened to South African player, Tim Clark on Saturday at the WGC-Bridgetone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, Akron, Ohio, on Sunday. It has probably happened to most of us on more than one occasion. Clark was paired with Padraig Harrington and had been tied for the lead, or trailing by one or two strokes, throughout the day. Tension was high when they approached the putting green of the signature 16th hole, a par-5 of 667 yards, with a pond in front. Tim Clark moved his ball marker to the side because it was on Padraig’s line. Unfortunately, he forgot to replace it when it was his turn to putt.

Clark called the penalty on himself when he remembered at the 18th hole that he had forgotten to replace his ball at the 16th. He mentioned it to a PGA Tour rules official, who took him to the CBS TV trailer to review the videotape of the hole. Clark’s round of 71 became a 73, and he fell seven strokes behind, dropping from a share of 3rd place to 14th.

This is a common mistake by golfers of all abilities. I am a poor golfer but I hate to lose strokes by breaching any Rule. So, what I do when faced with this situation, and I recommend that you do something similar, is to turn my putter upside down, gripping it by the head, as soon as I have moved my ball to the side. I hold it in this position until it is my turn to putt, when the way I am holding my putter triggers me to remember to replace my ball in its original position. Incidentally, it does not matter how you mark your ball to the side providing you exactly reverse the procedure when you are replacing it.

There are 98 more tips like this on my CD, ’99 Golden Nuggets to Demystifying the Rules of Golf’, which retails at €19.99. For this month only, I will send you a copy for €15 (or $19), including postage.

As always, good golfing,

Barry Rhodes
Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’
999Q on Twitter

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

New iPhone Application - 'Golf Rules Quiz'

It was back in January of this year that I wrote about a new application for referencing the Rules of Golf for iPhones and iPod touch users. Little did I know then that I would be blogging on a new application, ‘Golf Rules Quiz’, for the iPhone and iPod touch, for which I have provided the content.

‘Golf Rules Quiz’ has been developed by Irish, remote eLearning company, Ossidian Technologies, with multiple choice questions, answers, references and
explanations provided by me. With their history and experience in computer-based training programs Ossidian have proved to be an ideal partner in this venture.

Each quiz consists of 20 randomised situations experienced on the golf course, selected dynamically from a repository of several hundred. The questions are in a multiple choice format offering four alternate answers. Your challenge is to pick the correct one. An explanation of the correct ruling is delivered after each question has been answered, ensuring that the user will absorb and obtain a better understanding of the Rules of Golf while entertaining themselves testing their knowledge. As players advance within each quiz they can keep track of their scores. They can then see how they perform over a period of time, as they repeatedly assess their improving knowledge over a number of different quizzes and compare their results with their friends.

Golf Rules Quiz will definitely help you to understand and absorb the Rules of Golf in a most enjoyable and entertaining way, and at just €3.99 ($4.99) is a must for anyone who enjoys golf and who has access to an iPhone, or similar. It can be purchased direct from the iTunes store (search for ‘Golf Rules Quiz’) or at iPhone Applications.

Please let me know how you get on with it.

Barry Rhodes
rules at barryrhodes dot com
Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’ - a book to help players of all capabilities to understand the Rules.
999Q on Twitter