Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Gof Rules - 9 Tips on What You Can Do

I am going to keep this blog very simple; 9 short tips on what the Rules permit you to do. Check them out; there might be something new for you.

Under the Rules of Golf you may;
  1. Have a flagstick attended even when your ball is in a bunker, or on the apron of the green - Rule 17-1.
  2. Look into someone’s golf bag to identify which club they are using for their stroke - Decision 8-1/10.
  3. Use the back, or the toe, of the clubhead to strike the ball - Decision 14-1/1.
  4. Ask anyone the distance from any point A to any point B - Information on distance is not advice, Definition of Advice.
  5. Ground your club on a bridge situated in a water hazard - Decision 13-4/30.
  6. Lay a club, or clubs, in a bunker before you make a stroke at your ball lying in that bunker - Exception 1(b) to Rule 13-4.
  7. Wrap a towel or handkerchief around the grip to assist in gripping your club on a wet day - Rule 14-3c.
  8. Replace your ball where it was, under penalty of one stroke, when you have just putted past the hole and into a bunker - Rule 28a.
  9. Use the toe of your putter to mark your ball – Decision 20-1/16.
I was going to follow this list with 9 things that you can’t do. But I don’t want to confuse, so I will leave this for a few days until my next blog.

Good golfing

Barry Rhodes

Have you got your copy of my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’? If you haven’t, I think that it will help you understand and remember the Rules; if you have, why not purchase another one as a gift for a golfing friend or relative?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Provisional Ball - Original Ball Found But Deemed Unplayable

A long, lonely walk

I missed it, but a reader advised me that my near-neighbour (well, about 3 miles away), Padraig Harrington, was involved in a Rules incident at the recent Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, the detail of which is an interesting continuation of my blog last week on deeming a ball unplayable.

Padraig pulled a tee shot into the trees and, because he was not sure that he would find it, he correctly played a provisional ball from the teeing ground, so as to save time if his original ball was lost. In fact, he soon found his original ball but deemed that it was unplayable. Apparently, two club lengths would not give sufficient relief, nor would dropping a ball back on an extension of the line from the hole and where the ball lay in the trees, so he chose the option of replaying a ball from where he had previously played, under penalty of stroke and distance, taking the ‘long, lonely walk’ back to the teeing ground.

Many golfers would question why, in these circumstances, Padraig didn’t play his provisional ball, which was lying in good shape in the middle of the fairway. The answer is that Rule 27-2c prescribes that if the original ball is neither lost nor out of bounds, the player must abandon the provisional ball and continue playing his original ball. Indeed, having found his ball, if he makes any further strokes at the provisional ball, he is playing a wrong ball and the provisions of Rule 15-3 apply. Once he deemed his ball unplayable and decided that Rule 28 options b) and c) would not give him sufficient relief, he had to take the only other option, 28-a), and return to where he had last played from, under penalty of stroke and distance, playing his third stroke off the tee.

The logic of this ruling is similar to that explained in my previous blog, immediately below this one. The Rules don’t give a player the opportunity to choose between alternative places to play his next stroke from unless he is taking relief under penalty.

Of course, if a player is happy with his provisional ball, even though it lies two strokes more than for his original ball, he may choose not to look for the original and continue play with the provisional. However, if his original ball is found by someone else, for example by an opponent, prior to him making his next stroke at his provisional ball, he must play the original ball, or deem it unplayable under penalty of one stroke.

Always play by the Rules,

Barry Rhodes

If you have an iPhone or iTouch, or if you know s.eone else who does who would like to learn more about the Rules, check out Golf Rules Quiz in the iTunes appstore, or click on this link

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Ball Dropped Under Unplayable Ball Rule Is Still Unplayable

Ernie Els considers whether to deem his ball unplayable

If a ball rolls back into a water hazard when taking relief under penalty of one stroke the player must re-drop without penalty – CORRECT (Rule 20-2c).

If a ball rolls back into ground under repair when taking free relief the player must re-drop without penalty – CORRECT (Rule 20-2c).

If a ball rolls back to where an immovable obstruction still interferes with a player’s area of intended swing when taking free relief the player must drop again without penalty – CORRECT (Rule 20-2c).

If a ball rolls back into the same pitch mark from where it was lifted when taking free relief for an embedded ball the player must re-drop without penalty – CORRECT (Rule 20-2c).

If a ball rolls back into the same unplayable lie when taking relief under penalty of one stroke from an unplayable lie the player must drop again – WRONG! In this case the player must either play the ball as it lies, or incur another one stroke penalty and drop a ball again under one of the three options available in Rule 28.

A few people have suggested to me that this is, “another anomaly in the Rules of Golf, which makes them so difficult to learn”. However, while not suggesting that I am in any way ‘in the know’ as to what goes on when the USGA and R&A meet to determine the Rules of Golf, I do have an opinion on why this apparent inconsistency actually makes perfect sense.

First, let us look at Decision 28/3, which describes the situation and how the player must proceed;
Q. A player deemed his ball unplayable and, under Rule 28c, dropped his ball within two club-lengths of the spot where it lay. The ball came to rest in the original position or another position at which the ball was unplayable. What is the ruling?

A. The ball was in play when it was dropped - Rule 20-4. Thus, if the ball came to rest in the original position, the player must again invoke the unplayable ball Rule, incurring an additional penalty stroke, unless he decides to play the ball as it lies. The same applies if the ball came to rest in another position at which it was unplayable, assuming that the ball did not roll into a position covered by Rule 20-2c, in which case re-dropping without penalty would be required.
Now, let me draw your attention to the fact that the first four situations have defined limits, the margins of the water hazard and ground under repair, the interference area of an immovable obstruction and the actual pitch mark where the ball was embedded. Whereas, because a player may deem his ball unplayable at any place on the course, except when the ball is in a water hazard, there is no such defined limit to take into consideration. Why does this make a difference? Well, imagine a player’s ball lies under a gorse bush, about one and a half club-lengths from the edge. Under Rule 28c the player opts to drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole. Unfortunately, in dropping the ball in the half club-length area just clear of the bush it rolls the wrong way and disappears back under the bush. If the Rules permitted the player to deem his ball unplayable again and re-drop the ball without a penalty, he would effectively be given a choice as to whether to play his ball as it lay after the drop, or re-drop it in the hope of getting a more favourable lie.

Rule 28 is a self-regulated Rule, with three options as to where the player may drop his ball under penalty of one stroke and once he has chosen he must live with the result of this choice. An unplayable lie is not a ‘condition’ like a hazard or GUR, and an unplayable lie may be very playable for one player and impossible for another. For example, a right-handed player may be stymied by a condition that would not affect the stroke of a left-handed player. The Rules are totally consistent in not allowing players alternative places to play their next stroke from unless there is a penalty stroke incurred in taking relief.

Better knowledge of the Rules leads to better play of the game.

Barry Rhodes
P.S. If you are not sure about the options available under Rule 28 - Ball Unplayable then check out my short video on the subject. Click here: Ball Unplayable

Author of the book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’; the CD, ’99 Golden Nuggets Demystifying the Rules of Golf’; and the iPhone application, ‘Golf Rules Quiz’.

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Sunday, 6 September 2009

Every Golfer Is a Referee

John Paramor - European Tour Chief Referee (Photo Getty Images)

Since I attended the UK PGA’s Advanced Rules and Refereeing Course in March last year, many friends and fellow Rules enthusiasts have asked me whether I did so in order to become a golf referee. That was never my intention; I was taking the course, and the subsequent examination, to enhance my credibility as a Rules expert. I have never had any interest in officiating at golf events. My main objective is to help others improve their understanding of the Rules.

However, the truth is that I am a golf referee, and if you play competitive golf then so are you! What justification do I have for saying this? Because, in all stroke play competitions, the Rules impose a responsibility on you to protect the interest of every other entrant by ensuring that anyone that you are playing with fully complies with all the Rules. This does not just apply to the player’s marker but anyone else in the competition that witnesses a breach of the Rules by any other competitor.

Decision 33-7/9 spells this out;
Competitor Who Knows Player Has Breached Rules Does Not Inform Player or Committee in Timely Manner

The responsibility for knowing the Rules lies with all players. In stroke play, the player and his marker have an explicit responsibility for the correctness of the player's score card.
There may, however, be exceptional individual cases where, in order to protect the interests of every other player in the competition, it would be reasonable to expect a fellow-competitor or another competitor to bring to light a player's breach of the Rules by notifying the player, his marker or the Committee.
In such exceptional circumstances, it would be appropriate for the Committee to impose a penalty of disqualification under Rule 33-7 on a fellow-competitor or another competitor if it becomes apparent that he has failed to advise the player, his marker or the Committee of a Rules breach with the clear intention of allowing that player to return an incorrect score.
You will note, in the first sentence of this Decision, that as well as the player, the marker has an explicit responsibility for the correctness of the player’s score. And yet, we have all played rounds of golf where the marker has no clue as to how many strokes the player has taken on a hole. I am sure that we have all witnessed occasions where a marker has not filled in the player’s score card for several holes and just asks retrospectively how many strokes he had taken. Rule 6-6 says, “After each hole the marker should check the score with the competitor and record it”. Note the word ‘check’. The implication is that the marker should be counting the player’s strokes and confirming the total with him or her at the end of each hole.

Players do not have the same responsibility in match play, where there is no concept of protecting the interests of other competitors, because only the players on the two sides are involved. So, players may choose to ignore breaches of the Rules by their opponents. However, even in match play, players must not agree to exclude the operation of any Rule or to waive any penalty incurred, or they will be disqualified under Rule 1-3. An example of this is Decision 1-3/4;
Failure of Players to Apply Known Penalty

Q. In a match, a player discovers at the 2nd hole that he has 15 clubs in his bag contrary to Rule 4-4a, but his opponent refuses to apply the penalty. The extra club is declared out of play and the match continues. The Committee disqualifies both players. Is this correct?

A. Yes. Since the players agreed to waive the penalty, they should be disqualified under Rule 1-3.
I hope that this article encourages you to ‘referee’ your fellow competitors more diligently in stroke play competitions. It is your duty to all the other competitors. Of course the best way to do this, in order to avoid the risk of an unpleasant incident, is to stop a player before he breaches a Rule. Giving information on the Rules is not advice and is to be encouraged.

Wishing you good golfing,

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.