Monday, 28 November 2011

Two Golf Books for Christmas

This is a first for me, because in over three years of blogging on the Rules I have resisted the temptation to recommend any golf books, other than my own of course! However, I am going to break this practice by recommending two very different books.

My first recommendation is partly for selfish reasons. I am now receiving more questions on the Rules than I can cope with. The large majority of these can easily be answered by referencing the 'Decisions on the Rules of Golf' book. The most recent edition contains 17 new Decisions, 22 revised Decisions, 3 re-numbered Decisions, 98 revised Decisions and 35 withdrawn Decisions. I strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in the Rules of Golf should purchase a copy of this book, produced jointly by the R&A and the USGA. It is much easier and far more interesting to read than the difficult Rules of Golf book and will provide you with plentiful material for those après-golf exchanges in the Clubhouse or the bar. (US $ customers) (St £ customers)

I have provided links to both the USGA and R & A editions, but can assure you that the content is the same. The only real difference is the US English and UK English spellings.

And now for something that is completely different! When he sent me a copy of his recently published book, Jason Ross, an American author and golfer, told me that there is no other adventure book about golf written for young people. I read the 'The Magic Driver' this week and can honestly say that I cannot wait for Christmas, so that I can read this to my grandsons, aged 8 and 7. The story is about two youngsters, Justice, who is 12, and Gigi his younger sister, who live the simple life as two young golfers on the junior circuit, until they are given a magic driver that whisks them away to Thailand, where their real adventure begins. If you have children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces that have any interest in golf, I am pretty certain that they will enjoy this first book of what he hopes will be an adventure series, from Jason Ross. (US $ customers) (St £ customers)

If you are interested in either of these recommended books please click on the links above for more information. If you do purchase from this link I get 4% of the price to help defray some of my expenses. If you are receiving this blog by email click here to go to the links.

Thank you and good reading,
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2011 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ball in Motion Strikes another Ball

What happens if your ball is struck by another player’s ball? First, check out this video of José Maria Olazabal’s ball striking José Maria Cañizares’s ball during the 1992 Volvo PGA Championship.

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The easy bit to remember about this Rules situation is that whenever a ball in play and at rest is moved by another ball in motion after a stroke, the moved ball must always be replaced (Rule 18-5). It is a principle of the Rules of Golf that a player is entitled to the lie and line of play that they had when their ball came to rest. When a ball is to be replaced, the player, his partner or the person who moved it must place it on the spot from which it was lifted or moved (Rule 20-3a). The players must make their best judgement to estimate where the ball was lying before it was moved. The player whose ball hit the ball at rest must play their ball from wherever it came to rest.

There is no penalty when a ball played from off the putting green moves another ball. However, in stroke play, when a ball played from the putting green hits another ball on the putting green the person making the stroke incurs a penalty of two strokes. This is not the case in match play, where no penalty is incurred (Rule 19-5a); another example of where match play differs significantly from stroke play. The logic behind this is that in match play no-one else is involved other than the opponents playing the same hole; whereas in stroke play the players are competing against everyone else entered in the competition, whose interests have to be protected.

One interesting Decision on Rule 19-5 is that in stroke play, if a ball putted from the putting green comes to rest touching another ball on the green but does not move it, no penalty is incurred, Decision 19-5/4.

Good golfing,


The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2011 and may not be copied without permission.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Position of the Hole on the Putting Green

Despite what you may have heard from ‘bar-room experts’ there is no Rule relating to the positioning of holes on the putting green, so there is no such thing as an ‘illegal’ hole location. However, there are many factors that affect the correct positioning of holes and those that are responsible for their placement should be aware of them all.

As this subject is outside of the Rules I am not going to attempt to elaborate on the various issues myself, but will instead link you to the authoritative sources of information;

USGA: Requirements for Hole Location on the Putting Green
R&A: Guidance on Running a Competition – Course Set-up – Hole Positions
Whilst these are the guidelines from the Ruling Bodies I strongly recommend an article written in 2008 by Jerry Lemons, an American golf course designer and consultant entitled ‘Putting Green Speeds, Slopes, and “Non-Conforming” Hole Locations’. It is from this excellent 5-page article that I am reproducing the following extract;
Hole Locations
In reality, there are several factors to consider when determining a hole location, but if it is cut on the putting surface, it is legal. A hole should be placed in such a position that no matter where the golfer is putting from, assuming continuous putting surface between himself and the hole, it should be possible to stop the ball within approximately two feet of the hole. A green so fast (or a hole cut in such a position) that a ball cannot be stopped near the hole from any point on the green, for example, is an unfair challenge. Hole placements as a general rule need to be five paces from the edge of the putting surface. No one likes to see a missed putt roll back or a well-struck putt roll completely off a green when the ball has missed the hole. We all agonize when it happens to us or a favourite professional on television. By using the charts and checking slopes near the hole, a hole location can be set far enough away from steep slopes and the edge of the green so that a ell executed shot that misses the hole will not run off the green, thus giving the player an opportunity to hole out. The five-pace recommendation is a good one on courses with large greens, but consider that on a 5,000 sq. ft. green, 25% of the green is in the five-pace area (Figure 2). There are courses with small or irregularly shaped greens for which the five-pace suggestion just does not work. Using a 10' guideline increases holeable space by 33%. An even better guide is to make sure that a hole is no less than 10' from the edge of a putting surface, but only if no hazards or steep slopes are within five paces of the edge of the green. This allows a player enough room to have a reasonable opportunity to recover from a good shot that just missed the green. Take care on greens with multiple contours and slopes. A hole location on the front portion of a multilevel green may be difficult for most golfers to navigate when above the hole. Authored by Jerry Lemons.
Remember, these are recommendations. The Rules of Golf do not define what are ‘conforming’ or ‘non-conforming’ hole positions.

Good golfing,

The above content (excluding the quoted extract) is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2011 and may not be copied without permission.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Ball Moves after Address – Rule 18-2b

Hovering putter above the putting green

Note that this blog will not be relevant following the revisions to the Rules of Golf effective 1st January, 2016.

One of the most welcome amendments to the Rules for 2012 – 2015 is the new exception to Rule 18-2b which states that a player will not incur a penalty if it is clear that something other than the player (e.g. wind or gravity) causes their ball to move after they have addressed it.

Let me try and explain the current application of this Rule (until 1st January), with four examples;

1. A player does not complete address of their ball because they hover their club above the ground (as in the photo above) without grounding it. Before they commence their stroke the ball is moved by the wind. Ruling: there is no penalty and the ball must be played from where it comes to rest.

2. A player completes their address (takes their stance and grounds their club) but before they commence their stroke the ball is moved by the wind. Ruling: one stroke penalty under Rule 18-2b and the ball must be replaced.

3. A player completes their address (takes their stance and grounds their club) and commences their stroke when their ball is moved by the wind; they abort their stroke without touching their ball. Ruling: one stroke penalty under Rule 18-2b and the ball must be replaced.

4. A player completes their address (takes their stance and grounds their club) and commences their stroke when their ball is moved by the wind; they complete their stroke, topping their ball forward a few yards. One stroke penalty under Rule 18-2b and the ball must be played from where it comes to rest.
Note that in the first example, if it is the player that causes the ball to move and not the wind, the player does incur a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a.

I am aware that many golfers read Rule 14-5 and wrongly presume that this absolves the player from a penalty in the circumstances of example 4 above. Rule 14-5 - Playing Moving Ball, states;

A player must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving.
    • Ball falling off tee - Rule 11-3.
    • Striking the ball more than once - Rule 14-4.
    • Ball moving in water - Rule 14-6.
When the ball begins to move only after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of his club for the stroke, he incurs no penalty under this Rule for playing a moving ball, but he is not exempt from any penalty under the following Rules:
    • Ball at rest moved by player - Rule 18-2a.
    • Ball at rest moving after address - Rule 18-2b.
So, in what circumstances does Rule 14-5 apply? Here is an example;
5. A player's short putt just misses the hole and in frustration they instinctively tap their ball into the hole while it is still moving. Ruling: two penalty strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, under Rule 14-5, and the ball is holed.
From 1st January 2012 a player will have addressed their ball when they have grounded their club immediately in front of or immediately behind their ball, whether or not they have taken their stance (new Definition of Address). Also, Rule 18-2b will be amended, as follows;
b. Ball Moving After Address
If a player’s ball in play moves after he has addressed it (other than as a result of a stroke), the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke. The ball must be replaced, unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.
Exception: If it is known or virtually certain that the player did not cause his ball to move, Rule 18-2b does not apply.
This change will result in there being no penalties incurred in examples 2, 3 and 4 above, because it was the wind that caused the player’s ball to move.

Three-time major winner, Padraig Harrington, is just one professional golfer that has welcomed this forthcoming change to the Rules;

“I am delighted with the changes, in particular the ball moving after address. Every time the wind blows I am worried that my ball is going to move and I am worried about grounding my putter, distracting me from trying to hole my putt. This change will speed up play, there won’t be as many suspensions and players won’t be getting penalised or disqualified unfairly. It is definitely giving us players a little bit of a break.”
Good golfing,

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2011
and may not be copied without permission.

For the information of those of you that are receiving my weekly ‘Rhodes Rules School’ series of weekly emails let me assure you that I will be updating those issues that are affected by the amendments before 1st January, so they will still be accurate. I will also send an email to the subscriber list with a list of those issues that require changes. You can subscribe to ‘Rhodes Rules School’, a free service, at this link.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Public Information or Advice?

Golfers should be acquainted with the concept of ‘Public Information’ in the Rules of Golf. The main reference to it is contained in the Definition of Advice;
"Advice" is any counsel or suggestion that could influence a player in determining his play, the choice of a club or the method of making a stroke.
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.
Unfortunately, there is very little guidance other than this on what constitutes public information, even in the Decisions book. The term appears to include any information that is ‘factual’ and does not involve any evaluation or interpretation. Following discussion on this matter with other Rules experts I offer you these additional examples of public information in relation to the Rules;
  • The line of play from the tee (e.g. if there is a right or left dogleg).
  • The length of a hole.
  • The location of due north.
  • The change in elevation from tee to green.
  • The contours of a putting green (e.g. if it slopes front to back or has a diagonal ridge from left to right).
  • If there is a water hazard on the hole.
  • If there is a slope down to a hidden water hazard and if there is, how steep it is.
  • The condition of the ground between a water hazard and the putting green.
  • The length and positioning of the rough in a particular area.
  • The stimpmeter reading of a putting green.
A grey area, which players need to take care over, relates to wind conditions. It is generally accepted that discussing weather conditions in broad terms is OK and fits the description of public information. However, wind rarely blows constantly in a single direction; it shifts in direction and intensity and is often affected by the surrounding environment, such as hills, trees and water. As soon as a player uses their judgement to estimate the effect of the wind on a golf ball they move into the area of giving advice, which of course incurs a penalty. For example, player A asks fellow competitor, B, the direction of the wind. B throws some grass in the air and it drops straight to the ground, but he notices that the flagstick in the hole is fluttering from left to right, as are the tops of the trees behind the green. He then replies that there is no wind at ground level, but above the tree level it is gusting from the west. This would incur a penalty of two strokes for both A, for asking for advice and B, for giving advice.

I am aware that there is confusion about whether players may discuss the distance between two points. Decision 8-1/2 confirms that information regarding the distance between two objects is public information and is not advice. It is therefore permissible for players to exchange information relating to the distance between two objects. For example, a player may ask anyone, including his opponent, fellow-competitor or either of their caddies, the distance between his ball and the hole. Also, where a Local Rule has been introduced permitting the use of distance measuring devices, the information obtained from a conforming device may be freely shared between players without penalty.

Finally, we have seen from the definition at the start of this article that information on the Rules is also not advice. I covered this subject in an earlier blog. The main point to remember is that whilst a player may provide information about the Rules, whether or not they have been asked, they may not recommend what option the player should take. If they say anything that could influence the player in determining their play they are penalised for giving advice.

Good golfing,

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2011 and may not be copied without permission.

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