Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Embedded Ball - Rule 25-2

Regular readers will be aware that I play my golf in Ireland, where at this time of year we are often faced with balls that are embedded. So, I thought that it would be timely to explain when relief without penalty may be taken for an embedded ball and how that relief must be taken. The relevant Rule is 25-2.

When is a ball considered to be embedded?
It must be in its own pitch-mark with part of the ball below the level of the ground. However, the ball does not necessarily have to touch the soil to be considered embedded, e.g., grass or loose impediments may intervene between the ball and the soil (Decision 25-2/0.5).
Where is relief without penalty available for a ball that is embedded?
When the ball is embedded in any closely mown area through the green.
What is a closely mown area?
Any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.
Interestingly, the above reference is the only time that the word 'fairway' is mentioned in the Rules of Golf.

What relief is available?
An embedded ball in a closely mown area may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green.
What if the dropped ball embeds again on impact?
The player is entitled to drop the ball again, Decision 25-2/2.
What if the re-dropped ball embeds?
The player may, in equity (Rule 1-4), place the ball as near as possible to the spot where it embedded when re-dropped, but not nearer the hole, Decision 25-2/2.5.
Are grass banks or faces of bunkers considered to be closely mown areas?
Only if they are cut to fairway height or less, Decision 25-2/5.
If a player strikes their ball straight into a fairway bank, i.e., the ball is never airborne, is the player entitled to relief for an embedded ball?
No, relief is only available if a ball is embedded in its own pitch-mark, which implies that the ball has to be airborne after the stroke.
Is there ever free relief for a ball that is embedded in the rough?
Only if the Committee has made a Local Rule permitting relief for an embedded ball through the green, due to abnormal course conditions that warrant such relief. The relief has to specifically permit relief for an embedded ball through the green, for example, it is not sufficient for a notice to say ‘”Winter Rules in operation”.
(Edit: I have confirmed that the USGA invokes a Local Rule permitting relief without penalty for embedded balls 'through the green' in all their championships, which I am sure has contributed to the confusion on this subject from those that regularly watch these events on TV).

Wishing you good golfing in 2011, whatever the course conditions.

Barry Rhodes

• Author of the book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’
• Author and narrator of the CD, ’99 Golden Nuggets to Demystifying the Rules of Golf’
• Content provider for the iPhone application, 'Golf Rules Quiz'
• Author of the weekly email photo Q&A series, ‘Rhodes Rules School’

Monday, 20 December 2010

Golfers Will Understand... !

Your practice swing is always better than the one you use to hit the ball.

The less skilled the player, the more likely they are to share their ideas about the golf swing.

No matter how bad you are playing, it is always possible to play worse.

Everyone replaces their divot after a perfect approach shot.

A golf match is a test of your skill against your opponent’s luck.

The moment that you think you’ve cracked the game, it sneaks up and mugs you.

The shortest distance between any two points on a golf course is a straight line that passes directly through the centre of a very large tree.

You can hit a two acre fairway 10% of the time and a two inch branch 90% of the time.

If you really want to get better at golf, go back and take it up at a much earlier age.

If you play golf as a form of relaxation, how do you ever manage to work?

Since bad shots come in groups of three, a fourth bad shot is actually the beginning of the next group of three.

Every time a golfer makes a birdie, he must subsequently make two double bogeys to restore the fundamental equilibrium of the universe.

Golf can be described as a lot of walking broken up by disappointment and bad arithmetic.

To calculate the speed of a player's downswing, multiply the speed of his back-swing by his handicap.

There are two things you can learn by stopping your back-swing at the top and checking the position of your hands: how many hands you have, and which one is wearing the glove.

Golf’s law of physics: hazards attract, fairways repel.

If there is a ball on the apron and another in the bunker, your ball is in the bunker. If both balls are in the bunker, yours is in the footprint.

A good shot on the 18th hole has stopped many a golfer from giving up the game.

Golf balls are like eggs: they are white, they are sold in dozens and you need to buy fresh ones each week.

It's amazing how some golfers who never help out around the house will replace their divots, repair their ball marks, and rake their footsteps in bunkers.

If your opponent has trouble remembering whether they shot a six or a seven, they probably shot an eight.

Always remember that both good and bad luck are integral parts of the game of golf.

Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, during which all your balls lie in green pastures and not in still waters!

Barry Rhodes

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Friday, 10 December 2010

Hold on to Your Putter!

Mike Clayton is an Australian golfer who had seven wins as a Tour professional. However, undoubtedly he will be mostly remembered for a bizarre Rules incident, which was later featured in the R&A’s 2001 video, ‘Golf: Know the Rules’. I apologise to him in advance for resurrecting something that he no doubt wants to forget, but it is a clip that I think will amuse you, is appropriate for the approaching holiday season and it does contain a serious Rules message. I recommend that you open this short video clip.

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So, what is the appropriate ruling for throwing your club at your ball in frustration? Well, here is a Q&A based on this incident taken directly from my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’;
Q.537: After missing a short putt Mark throws his club in the air in frustration. Unfortunately, he doesn’t catch it cleanly on the way down and it falls onto his ball, moving it away from the hole. What is the ruling?
Answer: Mark is penalised one stroke for moving his ball in play and must replace his ball. Rule 18-2a.
Note: If equipment of the player or his partner causes the ball to move the player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced.
If the ball had still been moving when the player’s club hit it there would still be a one stroke penalty, but when this happens the relevant Rule is 19-2, which requires the ball to be played from where it comes to rest. This ruling is confirmed in Decision 14/6, which ironically, also rules that if a player instinctively throws his putter towards their ball, but misses, there is no penalty, as their action does not count as a stroke and their ball was not moved.

Fortunately, Mike Clayton did not incur an additional penalty when the ball went on to hit his arm while he was lying prone on the ground. Decision 1-4/12 confirms that when a single act results in one Rule being breached more than once the player only incurs a single penalty.

Of course, Mike Clayton’s biggest penalty was that he will never be allowed to forget this amusing (for us) golfing incident.

Have you checked out my Christmas video? If not, please click here. It’s not too late to get my book as a very acceptable Christmas present for any golfing friend or family member. Order now and I will rush it to you.

Very best wishes,


Barry Rhodes

Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’

Thursday, 2 December 2010

How to Understand the Rules of Golf Better

A seasonal message for those that find my blog content interesting.

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Seasonal Greetings,