Thursday, 26 November 2009

Revised Decisions on the Rules of Golf

Following their two-year review cycle, the R&A and the USGA have announced 28 new Decisions, have revised 51 Decisions and withdrawn 1 Decision for the 2010-2011 edition of Decisions on the Rules of Golf. The changes will take effect on 1st January, 2010. Remember, that there will be no changes to the Rules of Golf until the four-year review, which is not due until 1st January 2012.

I have to confess that so far I have only scanned quickly through the new and revised Decisions and I have not seen anything that stands out as changing the game that we play in any material way.

I have chosen one interesting, revised Decision as a good illustration of an area of the Rules that needed clarification;

This is the current wording;

20-3a/2 Trademark Aimed Along Line of Putt When Ball Replaced
Q. When a player is replacing his ball, is it permissible for him to position the ball so that the trademark is aimed along the line of putt to indicate the line of play?
A. Yes.
This is the revised wording that takes effect from 1st January 2010;

20-3a/2 Using Line on Ball for Alignment
Q. May a player draw a line on his ball and, when replacing his ball, position the ball so that the line or the trademark on the ball is aimed to indicate the line of play?
A. Yes. (Revised)
There is an increasing tendency for players to draw a line around their golf balls to assist them in lining up their ball to indicate the line of play. Callaway, the golf products giant, offers their Line-M-Up Pro Guide and this picture shows a home-made ball marker using a standard PVC 1-1/4 coupling available from most hardware stores.

Whilst lining up your ball in this way has always been permitted, until now there has been nothing specific in the Rules which players can point to if they are challenged on the practice. Some arguments that have been used to against using a line on the ball to line up the line of play have now been
  • Rule 12-2 ..... Each player should put an identification mark on his ball (but this does not mention a line). Ruling: that mark may include a line drawn anywhere on the ball.
  • Rule 8-2a ..... any mark placed by the player or with his knowledge to indicate the line must be removed before the stroke is made. Ruling: this does not refer to a mark on the ball itself.
  • Rule 8-2b ..... a mark must not be placed anywhere to indicate a line for putting. Ruling: this does not refer to a mark on the ball itself.
  • Definition of Tee ..... a tee must not be designed or manufactured in such a way that it could indicate the line of play or influence the movement of the ball. Ruling: but the ball may have a mark indicating the line of play on the teeing ground or on the putting green.
I am pleased that the Ruling Bodies have clarified this situation relating to how balls may be marked. The relevant Rule has not changed at all, but now players have a clear Decision that they can refer to if someone challenges their entitlement to draw a line around the circumference of their ball to use for lining-up purposes when placing it on the teeing ground, or replacing it under the Rules.

If you already have a copy of my book ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’ then I now recommend that you acquire a copy of ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2010-2011’, available from either the R&A or USGA.

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes
Looking for a unique present for a golfer? Click here for the perfect answer.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

An Ideal Present For Golfers

his time of year most of us are scratching our heads as to what presents we can buy for family and friends that are favourably priced. Well, I have the solution for anyone who plays golf. My book ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’ will be appreciated and valued by players of all abilities. This is not a novel that holds your interest for a few days. This is a book that players can regularly dip in and out of, learning something new about the Rules on each and every visit, over weeks, months and years. I can promise you that all the emails that I have received from purchasers have been positive, affirming how much golfers have enjoyed testing themselves, and others, on the different situations that may be encountered on the course. This is learning the Rules of Golf the easy and interesting way; improving your knowledge whilst amusing yourself.

So, here’s the deal. I will personally sign (and dedicate to a specific person, if required) each copy of my book and will pay the postage to anywhere in the world. Also, if you purchase 2 copies, I will discount them by 20%, or if it’s 3 copies by 30%. If you are purchasing multiple copies for a golf club or society (say 10 copies or more) email me direct and I will give you details of a great wholesale price.

Gift problem solved, money saved, ordered from home, delivered to home, happy recipient(s). What more can you ask for?

Now, select the currency and number of copies that you require and complete the PayPal process. You will then receive the books through the post in plenty of time for the holidays.


(Edit: Apologies to those of you that tried to order from the PayPal BuyNow buttons that were placed here. I must have goofed up!

I think that you will find that this link works. Just scroll down to the Buy Now buttons.)


If you have any questions on the payment process please email me at barry at barryrhodes dot com.

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

My aim is to assist golfers of all abilities to better their knowledge of the Rules of Golf in an enjoyable way.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Is my Ball on the Putting Green or the Fringe?

This ball is on the putting green
A fellow blogger from Australia told me that he finds it difficult to remember the Rules of Golf as they contain anomalies. As an example, he quoted these two questions from my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’;
Q.81. When a ball touches a line defining out of bounds the player must take a stroke and distance penalty. True or False?
Answer: False. Definition of Out of Bounds.
Note: A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies out of bounds.

Q.132. A ball is deemed to be on the putting green only when all of it lies on the putting green. True or False?
Answer: False. Definition of Putting Green.
Note: A ball is on the putting green when any part of it touches the putting green.
His point was that in the first question all of the ball must be fully outside the line to be OB and in the second, only part of the ball has to touch the putting green to be on it. I argued that conversely, in my opinion, these questions provide a good example of the consistency in the writing of the Rules of golf, because when any part of a ball touches the green it is on the green, when any part of a ball touches the course (i.e. it is not wholly out of bounds) it is in bounds!

Over the past few years, I have come to realise that Rules of Golf that initially may seem to be over-officious, illogical, or unnecessary, are there for very good reason and I have come to admire those that are responsible for covering every eventuality that can possibly occur on a golf course. In addition to Golf, I also take an interest in Rugby, Soccer, Gaelic Football, Hurling, Aussie Rules, Baseball and American Football. If only the Rules in these games were as precise and non-controversial as those of Golf!

If you are ever in doubt as to the status of where your ball lies this little memory jogger may help;

When any part of a ball touches:-
  • a putting green, it is on the putting green
  • the teeing ground, it is in the teeing ground
  • a bunker, it is in the bunker
  • a water hazard (or overhangs the margin of a water hazard), it is in the water hazard
  • casual water, it is in casual water
  • an abnormal ground condition, it is in the abnormal ground condition*
  • the course,(or overhangs the course) it is in bounds (i.e. not out of bounds)
* Note: An abnormal ground condition is any casual water, ground under repair (GUR) or hole, cast or runway on the course made by a burrowing animal, a reptile or a bird.
I’d say that the above explanations are all pretty logical.

Since writing this blog I have received another useful tip on this subject from someone I correspond with in Canada. The statement he uses to remind him is even simpler;
"The ball is on the part of the course it touches.
Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes
* Details of my special Christmas Offer on my book very soon.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Learning the Rules of Golf - Here's Where to Start


Many golfers possess a copy of the Rules of Golf book. In some countries the R&A provide free copies to Club members, thanks to the generosity of Rolex, the official sponsors of the Rules book. The USGA charge a nominal $2 on their web shop, but currently you can purchase it for just $0.80 cents. But, and this is the crux of the matter, most of those that own a copy of the Rules book have only scanned through it, without learning much. No doubt, the reason for this is that it definitely is not an easy read and, until you have become well acquainted with the Rule numbers, it can be very difficult to find a particular ruling that you are searching for.

Well, let me suggest a section of the book, that I think you will find easy to read, that is probably the best place to start for anyone who wishes to improve their knowledge and understanding of the Rules (other than purchasing my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’!**). Towards the front of the book (page 30 in the R&A’s book), there are over fifty defined terms (e.g. advice, burrowing animal, lost ball, etc) and these form the foundation around which the Rules of Play are written. By reading through these 14 pages a couple of times, many Rules should start to make more sense. For example;
"A 'stroke' is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if a player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball he has not made a stroke."
So, we can see that a ‘fresh air’, or ‘whiff’, does count as a stroke, as there was intention to strike and move the ball. Whereas, if a player aborts his stroke on the downswing, as Tiger did in the 2007 Masters, it does not count as a stroke because there was no such intention.

Try it out, read through the definitions and see how much it helps your understanding of the Rules. If you don’t have a copy of the Rules book to hand you can read from an on-line version here .

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

** I truly believe that the easiest and most enjoyable way to absorb and understand the Rules for golfers of all playing abilities is with my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’. Readers can work through a series of questions, answers and, most importantly, explanations to the myriad situations on the golf course that they will recognise and relate to. Answers are conveniently located immediately beneath each question and are directly referenced to the applicable Rule of Golf, or Decision on the Rules. A detailed index provides an easy and convenient way for readers to reference specific situations as they arise. Watch out for my next blog for my special Christmas gift promotion on 1, 2 or 3 copies.