Thursday, 20 January 2011

Information on the Rules ........on the Course

As an ‘expert’ on the Rules of Golf I am often asked about Rules situations whilst playing competition golf. I don’t have a problem with this, as I am more interested in helping others to understand the Rules than I am in winning prizes or lowering my handicap. But is it permitted to ask for, or give advice on the Rules whilst playing?

Part of the Definition of Advice states;
Information on the Rules, distance or matters of public information, such as the position of hazards or the flagstick on the putting green, is not advice.
So, if a player is asked about a ruling by a fellow competitor or opponent, he may freely tell them what he knows (or thinks he knows!). He may also offer information about the Rules without being asked. However, there is an important caveat. If a Rule offers a number of options (e.g. taking relief from a water hazard or unplayable lie) a player may not suggest which option another player should take. This does constitute advice, because it could influence the player in determining his play. Decision 8-1/16 confirms;
Q. B's ball was lying badly. B was deliberating what action to take when A, his fellow-competitor, said: "You have no shot at all. If I were you, I would deem the ball unplayable." Was A giving advice, contrary to Rule 8-1?
A. Yes. A's suggestion could have influenced B "in determining his play." Thus, it constituted advice — see Definition of "Advice." It did not constitute "information on the Rules," which is not advice.
Here are some examples of what is permitted;
  • “You can deem your ball unplayable for a one stroke penalty.”
  • “Stop! Don’t touch your ball without marking its position first”
  • “When you lift your ball, which is interfering with my stroke, you mustn’t clean it.”
  • “Your teed ball is in front of the tee markers, you can't play from there”.
  • “You mustn't move any of those leaves by your ball in the bunker".
And some examples that would incur a penalty;
  • “If I were you I would drop a ball back on a line from the hole through the point where your ball is unplayable.”
  • “Should I try and play this ball out of the water hazard or should I take a penalty drop?”
  • “Don’t look for your original ball because your provisional ball has finished very close to the hole.”
One last point, is that even on the course a player may consult an electronic device, such as an iPhone, to obtain information on the Rules, providing that they do not delay play and that they do not use the device for accessing any information that might assist them in making a stroke (Rule 14-3).

I hope that I can encourage you to stop others incurring penalties on the course, when you are in a position to do so. But be tactful, you may not always be thanked for your trouble!

Golf Club Members
Here is something that I would like you to consider. All Golf Clubs would like their members to know the Rules better. Why not suggest that your Club purchases 12 signed copies of my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’ to give as competition prizes. 12 copies sell at €179.88 retail but I am pleased to offer Clubs a heavily discounted price (over 40%, including postage to anywhere in the world) of just Eu €109 (which is approximately US $145 or St £91). Payments may be made through PayPal to barry at barryrhodes dot com.


B-Con said...

What about advising a player to investigate the rules? Eg, "I wouldn't do that, I think it might be a penalty in this scenario." You aren't pointing out a fact, but you are offering an opinion.

My guess is that this is the same as informing the player of a rule, is that right?

Barry Rhodes said...


In my opinion this statement would not incur a penalty. If one competitor is trying to stop a fellow competitor from breaching a Rule of Golf they should be encouraged and not penalised.