Saturday, 17 March 2012

Left, Right and One Handed Golf Rules Queries

Here are five queries I have received that are loosely connected, as per the title;

•    May a player use both left and right-handed clubs during a round?

Yes, there is nothing in the Rules that penalises a player from carrying whichever clubs they like, providing the clubs are conforming, and the player does not use more than the permitted 14.

•    May a player use a right-handed club with a left-handed stroke?

Yes, a ball may be struck with any part of the head of the club. So a right-handed player, whose ball lies in a position whereby they cannot make a right-handed stroke at it, may either turn their clubhead 180º to hit their ball with its face, or use the back of the clubhead to strike their ball from a left-handed stance. Rule 14-1.

•    Is the nearest point of relief always in a different place for a left-handed player than it is for a right-handed player?

Yes, with the very occasional exception where the points may be equidistant. Definition of Nearest Point of Relief. (If you are unsure as to why this is so, check out my video on Nearest Point of Relief here.

•    May a player putt their ball one-handed into the hole whilst holding the flagstick with the other?

Yes, providing they do not use the flagstick for assistance, e.g. by leaning on it, and also that the ball does not touch the flagstick. Decision 17-1/5.

•    If a player, who cannot play their natural right-handed stroke because of the position of their ball against a tree, decides to play left-handed away from the tree, may they take relief if they then find that their stance for the left-handed stroke means that one of their feet will be in casual water?

Yes, the player may take relief without penalty from the casual water in these circumstances and may then play their next stroke either right or left-handed. Rule 25-1b.

Good golfing,
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Anonymous said...

in the nearest point of relief video, you state that the point of relief is different for a right handed player than a left handed player. i understand that. in the above explanation a player can choose to play a shot left handed and then get relief from casual water but then play the ball right handed. why can't a player do the same in deciding on the nearest point of relief and say he intends to play the ball left handed?

Barry Rhodes said...


Whilst the Rules permit a player to play a stroke right or left-handed, there is an important exception to Rules 24 (Obstructions) and Rule 25 (Abnormal Ground Conditions), which restricts the player in this regard;

Exception: A player may not take relief under this Rule if (a) interference by anything other than an abnormal ground condition makes the stroke clearly impracticable or (b) interference by an abnormal ground condition would occur only through use of a clearly unreasonable stroke or an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play.


Dan Moore said...

How about this one:?

A putt lips out and ends up on the opposite side of the hole from where the putt was taken and now it's just a tap in. Instead crossing over to the other side of the hole and taking a normal putting stance and stroke, the golfer reaches over the hole and taps the putt in towards herself. Is this a violation of rule 14-1?

Thank you.
Dan Moore
Tigard, Oregon

Barry Rhodes said...


Definitely not a breach of Rule 14-1, which requires that a ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club. Also, it is not a breach of Rule 16-1e, part of which states;

There is no penalty if the stance is inadvertently taken on or astride the line of putt (or an extension of that line behind the ball) or is taken to avoid standing on another player’s line of putt or prospective line of putt.


Anno said...

Hi Barry,
Changing my playing side from left handed to right this year. Have an 18hdc currently. Is there anything in the rules that lets me get it to 54, f ex? Cant find such cases described anywhere online.

Barry Rhodes said...


This is a Handicapping System query and is not relevant to the Rules of Golf, which is my only area of expertise. I recommend that you, or the Committee of your Club, address your query to your National Golfing Body.


Speedpro said...

Playing right handed, may I hold club in right hand and make the stroke without left hand being on the club?

Barry Rhodes said...


Yes, as in the photo in the above blog!!!


Speedpro said...

Was so busy reading I missed the photo.
So I could do this with any club in the bag then?

Barry Rhodes said...