Wednesday, 28 November 2012

R&A and USGA Proposal to Prohibit Anchoring

USGA infographic on anchoring the club

Apologies if you are receiving this old (November 2012) blog by email. I made a mistake whilst editing it and could not find a way of retaining the blog on my web site without publishingit again. Please just delete! Thanks, Barry Rhodes

At last, we can view the proposal from the R&A and USGA that would prohibit anchoring the club (typically a long-handled putter) in making a stroke.

I emphasise that these are proposals, which even if they are implemented (highly likely), it will not be until 1st January 2016, over 3 years away. The proposed change to Rule 14-1b would not alter current equipment rules and would allow the continued use of all conforming golf clubs, including belly-length and long putters after that date, provided such clubs are not anchored during a stroke.

Personally, I welcome the proposals, albeit that I consider them belated by several years, but leave you to make up your own mind. I strongly recommend that you view the proposal, together with video and illustrations of what constitutes anchoring and what does not.

Here are the relevant USGA and R&A web site links, which will enable you to make an informed decision on their proposals.

Good golfing,

NEW: My ‘99 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’ (previously published on DVD) is now available as a downloadable .pdf file, which can be read and printed out from any computer. More details and a link to specimen pages here. Only $8 (or equivalent currency); less than 10c per tip!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Sun Young Yoo Penalised for Improper Drop

Ridiculous though it may seem, a lady tournament golfer was penalised one stroke for dropping her ball in an improper manner last week. The incident occurred during the final LPGA event of the year, at the CME Group Titleholders held at TwinEagles, Naples, Florida.

Here is what Rule 20-2 has to say about how to drop a ball;

A ball to be dropped under the Rules must be dropped by the player himself. He must stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm’s length and drop it. If a ball is dropped by any other person or in any other manner and the error is not corrected as provided in Rule 20-6, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.
Now have a look at this video, courtesy of Golf Channel (after the 12 seconds ad). Note how her caddie (incorrectly) demonstrates what she must do before she drops her ball;

Click here to view the YouTube video.

So, I think that everyone will agree that a penalty was definitely incurred, as the ball was not properly dropped from shoulder height. How can any golfer become a professional without knowing this simplest of Rules? How can any caddie allow their player to make such an elementary mistake without stepping-in? If the caddie had told Sun Young Yoo that she had dropped her ball improperly, she could have picked it up and dropped it again, this time according to the Rules, without incurring a penalty. Rule 20-6 states;
A ball incorrectly substituted, dropped or placed in a wrong place or otherwise not in accordance with the Rules but not played may be lifted, without penalty, and the player must then proceed correctly.
Just as worrying for me was the commentary following the improper drop. It seems that Sun Young Yoo, her caddie, and her fellow competitors were all unsure what to do when her ball bounced outside of the permitted two club-lengths when she dropped it under penalty of one stroke, having deemed her ball unplayable. Apparently, the fellow competitors thought that if the ball rolled outside of the permitted area of drop you should re-drop. When in fact, the ball may roll up to a further two club-lengths from where it first strikes a part of the course within the permitted area, providing it does not roll nearer to the hole, Rule 20-2c(vi). If a player does pick up a ball that is in play, thinking that they may re-drop it, there is a penalty of one stroke, which increases to two strokes if the ball is then dropped instead of being replaced at the spot that it was lifted from.

Good golfing,

NEW: I am pleased to announce that I am making my ‘99 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’ (previously published on DVD) available as a downloadable .pdf file, which can be read and printed out from any computer. More details and a link to specimen pages here.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Testing the Condition of a Bunker

This week I was asked if a golfer who had gone onto the course to rake some bunkers, prior to starting their competition round, had incurred any penalty. The answer, which may surprise some readers, is that there is nothing in the Rules of Golf that penalises a player from testing the condition of a bunker before playing a stipulated round, providing they do not make a stroke at a ball. The common misunderstanding probably arises from the fact that you may not test the surface of a putting green before commencing a round. Part of Rule 7-1b states;
Before a round or play-off on any day of a stroke-play competition, a competitor must not practice on the competition course or test the surface of any putting green on the course by rolling a ball or roughening or scraping the surface.
In fact, there is nothing to stop players testing the surface of a bunker at any time, providing their ball is not at rest in a bunker and they do not unduly delay play. So, for example, a player drives their first tee shot to the side of the fairway. While they are waiting for a fellow competitor to make their second stroke they may walk into a bunker, make a practice swing with their club that disturbs the sand and then rake the bunker, without incurring any penalty. The restriction for testing the surface of a bunker only applies when your ball is in a bunker. Part of Rule 13-4 states;
Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:
     a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard; …
Those of you that regularly follow my blog will know that since 1st January 2012 there has been a further relaxation of the Rules relating to raking bunkers, but in this case it only applies to actions that are for the sole purpose of caring for the course and are not for the purpose of testing the condition of the bunker. Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 states;
At any time, the player may smooth sand or soil in a hazard provided this is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to his next stroke. If a ball played from a hazard is outside the hazard after the stroke, the player may smooth sand or soil in the hazard without restriction.
This means that in the photo above a player may walk into the bunker to pick-up the rake, smooth the area where the rake was lying, smooth footsteps and other irregularities as they leave the bunker, lay the rake down and then make a stroke at their ball in the bunker. The only restrictions are that they must not do this if their purpose is in any way to test the condition of the bunker and they must not improve the position or lie of their ball, the area of their intended stance or swing or their line of play. In short, do not make the mistake of raking any sand between your ball and the hole.

Good golfing,

Christmas is coming and many of you will be buying tablets or other digital devices for friends and family. Why not surprise them with a copy of my eBook, ‘999 Updated Questions on the Rules of Golf 2012 -2015’. You can buy it direct from Amazon, but if you purchase direct from my web site, at the same low price, I will provide you with two downloadable files; a pdf file (which can be read on all computers) and a Mobipocket file (which can be read on Kindles, iPads, Blackberries, smart phones and other compatible digital devices). Click here for details.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Taking Relief from Staked Trees

Staked tree

Most golfers assume that they may take relief from young trees that are staked. Whilst this is often the case, it is only true when there is a Local Rule affording relief. The Rules of Golf do not provide relief from staked trees. Obviously, the reason that most Committees introduce a Local Rule is to protect those trees that have been newly planted, but you cannot take this for granted; you must study the Local Rules in operation before commencing a round of golf.

Here is a short summary of the various situations that may apply regarding young trees on the golf course;

1. A Local Rule requires mandatory relief from staked trees.
This is self-explanatory, you must take relief if any part of the tree interferes with the lie of their ball, their stance or the area of their intended swing. Read the Local Rule carefully to ensure that you are taking proper relief.
2. No Local Rule regarding staked trees.
The player does not get relief from the tree, but if there is an artificial stake that supports, or did support the tree, this is an immovable obstruction, from which relief is available under Rule 24-2.
3. Occasionally, there may be a Local Rule that says that there is no relief from staked trees and that any stakes supporting them are integral to the course
No relief is available from either the tree or the stake.
A point that I have made here before, which surprises many seasoned golfers, is that if there is a Local Rule making it mandatory to take relief from staked trees and the player touches any part of the tree, even a single leaf on the outermost branch, with their body or club during their next stroke, they incur the general penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play, for not properly taking relief. This applies whether they took relief or not, as the Rules require you to take complete relief from any interference by the tree when there is a Local Rule requiring you to do so.

When Committees decide that they do want to protect young trees on the course I strongly recommend that they strictly follow the specimen Local Rule in Appendix l, Part B, 3, so as to avoid confusion. You may be interested in reading this blog item of mine from nearly four years ago, where I point out confusing deficiencies in the Local Rules for Staked Trees in three neighbouring Clubs in the South East of Ireland (please note that they may since have updated their Local Rules in this respect).

Good golfing,

I am delighted that my subscriber base grows on a daily basis. Those of you that have recently found this blog site may not know about my free, weekly ‘Rhodes Rules School’ photo series, where I use photos and diagrams to pose questions and provide answers, explanations and references to situations that we encounter on the golf course. Click here for more details. Remember that this is a free email service, you can unsubscribe at any time and I do not share email addresses with anyone.
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Undue Delay (Rule 6-7) - Toilet Break


I have been asked on more than one occasion whether a player that takes a toilet break during a round of golf should be penalised for undue delay. Like most questions of this nature there is no definitive answer, as there are a myriad of differing circumstances.

Rule 6-7 is clear in that a player who unduly delays play incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play. However, undue delay is subjective and could depend on a number of factors. For this reason, it is rare for a tournament player to be penalised for breaching this Rule and probably even rarer in Club and Society competitions. I covered an unusual example of US Senior golfer, Peter Oakley, being penalised under Rule 6-7 in this blog last August.

Unfortunately, the Decisions book only provides two direct instances of what constitutes undue delay and they are not particularly helpful.

6-7/1 Player Returns to Tee to Retrieve Forgotten Club
Q. A player arrives at a green and discovers that he has left his putter at the tee. He returns to the tee to retrieve the putter. If this delays play, is the player subject to penalty?
A. Yes. Rule 6-7 (Undue Delay) and not Rule 6-8a (Discontinuance of Play) applies in this case.

6-7/2 Searching Ten Minutes for Lost Ball
Q. If a player searches for a lost ball for ten minutes, is he subject to penalty under Rule 6-7 for undue delay?
A. Yes.
There is nothing in the Rules of Golf that specifically permits or disallows a player from taking a toilet break. Obviously, it happens all the time and many courses have facilities on the course, which help players to conveniently relieve themselves without unduly delaying play, I think that most of us are sympathetic to the needs of a competitor that has to take a break in play in these circumstances and will try and accommodate them by quickening-up our play after they return, or asking a following group to play through. But it might be a different story if we suspect that a competitor is using a toilet break as a reason for composing themselves after a bad run of play, or purposely interrupting the momentum of another player. In these cases the Committee should be informed and they would then have to make their decision as to whether a penalty should be imposed under Rule 6-7.

A further consideration is whether the player's urgent needs could be perceived to be a physical problem. Decision 6-8/3 rules that this would also be a matter for the Committee to consider. Rule 6-8a (iv) permits a player to discontinue play because of sudden illness and the player incurs no penalty if he reports to the Committee as soon as practicable and the Committee considers his reason satisfactory. The Decision indicates that it would seem reasonable for a Committee to allow a player 10 or 15 minutes to recuperate from such a physical problem but ordinarily allowing more time than that would be inadvisable.

A good rule of thumb before calling a penalty for undue delay on an unfortunate fellow competitor, who has to relieve themself during a round, may be to put yourself in their position. If they have done everything possible to minimise their temporary absence then it would be a hard-hearted person who insisted on a penalty.

Good golfing,

My sincere thanks to whoever authored this Kindle review on Amazon re my eBook, ‘999 Updated Questions on the Rules of Golf 2012-2015'.
"Fantastic, easy to understand explanations by the author Barry Rhodes. Amazing how many so-called experienced golfers get even the basic Rules wrong. Have used Barry's book to great effect on numerous occasions. Would give it 999 stars if I could."
You can either purchase my eBook from Amazon or directly from me via this link.
P.S. If you have already purchased my eBook I would be grateful if you could spend the time to write a short review of it at Amazon (US) or Amazon (UK).

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2012 and may not be copied without permission.