This week I am answering three questions that have arisen out of my free, ‘Rhodes Rules School’ weekly email series, which pose questions based on photos of situations that may be encountered on the golf course. (Click here if you are not already a subscriber).
No.24 Touching Sand in a Bunker
“I have recently had a discussion covering the following points:
1. A player takes his clubs into a hazard and lies them in the hazard after selecting the most suitable club for his shot (In his opinion)You are correct, there is no penalty in any of the three circumstances that you have outlined, and you have correctly identified that the reason is because of Exception 1 to Rule 13-4.
2. A player's trolley unintentionally rolls into a hazard where his ball lies (propelled by the wind or gravity)!
3. Ignoring the etiquette issues - a player takes his trolley into a hazard (say a dry water course or even a very large bunker) and there selects his club!
In each of these cases I feel that the exception "provided that nothing is done which would constitute testing the hazard" then the player would incur no penalty? I am sure I have seen this answer - but I am unable to find my source! Would you be kind enough to point me in the right direction?”
The opening sentence to the answer of Decision 13-4/0.5 explains what is meant by 'test the condition of the hazard';
The term covers all actions by which the player could gain more information about the hazard than could be gained from taking his stance for the stroke to be made, bearing in mind that a certain amount of digging in with the feet in the sand or soil is permitted when taking the stance for a stroke.No.29 Improving Line of Play
This does not apply to any of the three circumstances that you describe.
“I hit a lovely drive down the centre of the fairway but then my ball seemed to disappear. When I went to where I thought the ball was I still couldn't see it and wondered how I could have lost it. The answer was that my ball hit a divot that was still attached on its hinge line and as it hit the divot the divot flicked back over my ball and covered it, so I could only just see the ball from sideways on. All I could do was hit at the ball sideways without any view of the ball from under the divot only moving it a few yards. I presume I was right then in that I could not lift the divot in my case to see the ball.”Yes, providing you were sure that it was your ball you could not move the attached divot before playing your ball. Rule 12-1 states,
A player is not necessarily entitled to see his ball when making a stroke.Of course, if you weren't sure that it was your ball you could move the divot, providing you followed the correct procedure of marking the ball and inviting a fellow competitor/opponent to witness the identification. But if did turn out to be your ball you would then have had to replace the divot as it was before you moved it.
No.47 Marking the Ball
“Someone told me it was fine to mark a ball behind, in front, or to either side, as long as you place it back in its original position. I see rule 20-1 only mentions ‘behind’ the ball. Just curious.”Part of Rule 20-1 states;
The position of the ball must be marked before it is lifted under a Rule that requires it to be replaced.Later in the same Rule there is a Note that states;
The position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball.This note is a recommendation of best practice, but there is no penalty for failing to act in accordance with it. In other words, providing the position of the ball is properly marked it doesn't have to be behind the ball. This is confirmed by Decision 20-1/19;
Q. When marking the position of a ball, must the ball-marker be placed behind the ball, or may it also be placed to the side of or in front of the ball?Learn the Rules and enjoy your game even more.
A. There is no restriction. However, if a player positions his ball-marker in front of the ball on the putting green and in the process does something to the green which might influence the movement of the ball when played, e.g., presses down a raised tuft of grass, he is in breach of Rule 1-2.
Placing a ball-marker in front of the ball is not recommended but it is not a breach of Rule 16-1a because this Rule permits touching the line of putt in lifting a ball, and marking the position of the ball is part of the lifting process.
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