Saturday, 29 December 2012

Rules Riddle and Ireland’s Gathering

I have another Rules riddle for you for this New Year’s holiday.
Brian arrives early at his Club for the monthly medal strokes competition. He has heard that the Course Committee has directed the greenkeeper to replace the sand in the bunkers and wondered how they were playing. He takes a sand wedge into a bunker on the 18th green and without putting down a ball makes several swings in the bunker, moving an inch or so of sand on each occasion. He then takes a rake and carefully smoothes the area of sand that he has just disturbed.

On returning to the first teeing ground Brian greets Arthur and Colin, his two fellow competitors, and tells them that the new bunker sand is much finer than they have been used to and is completely dry, making sand shots much easier than in previous weeks. There are still a few minutes to wait until their start time so Brian asks Arthur if he may try out his new long-handled putter. He then realises that he does not have any decent balls with him and asks Colin if he can borrow a sleeve of three balls, which he will replace after their round is over. He drops the three borrowed balls on the teeing area and putts each of them from within the blue teeing ground aiming for the left hand yellow tee marker. At this point, the marshall asks them to start and Colin, who has the lowest handicap of the group of three players, tees up and makes his drive even though Brian’s name was the first one on the time sheet.
Before making his first stroke, has Brian breached, a) no Rule, b) one Rule, c) two Rules, d) three Rules, e) more than three Rules? Answer below.

The Gathering Ireland 2013

I have had the pleasure of living in Dublin for the past 36 years. I am not Irish by birth, but my grandparents on my mother’s side were Traynors from County Monaghan, who together with their brothers and sisters had to emigrate from Ireland to the United States early in the 20th century. I married an Irish girl 26 years ago and have no intention of ever leaving this wonderful country.

Throughout 2013, Ireland will open its arms to friends and family from all over the world, inviting them home to locally organised gatherings in villages, towns and cities. A variety of  clan gatherings, festivals, special sporting events, music and concerts will be taking place all across the country, throughout the year. Most golfers recognise Ireland as being a very special place to play golf, due to the tradition, the quality of the courses, the greenness of the countryside, the warm and friendly reception that they receive and, thanks to our recent recession, great value for sleeping, eating, drinking and playing. As my small  contribution to making ‘the gathering Ireland 2013’ a success I am offering my services to any overseas golfing group that will be in the Greater Dublin area at any time during the year. I would be pleased to meet you, either in the Clubhouse after your golf, or back in your hotel or restaurant over dinner. I would be at your service, without charge, in whichever way you choose to use my expertise on the Rules of Golf. This might include running a quiz, giving a talk, recounting a few stories or answering any questions that you may have. If you have any interest in discussing this offer with me just address an email to barry at barryrhodes dot com with any information about your planned visit and we can take it from there. Unfortunately, I have to restrict this offer to groups that will be staying for part of their trip in the Greater Dublin area (say within 50 miles of the City Centre).

Answer to Rules Riddle
It may surprise you that Brian did not breach any Rule of Golf for his actions prior to starting his round.

Did he not breach Rule 7-1b by practicing before his round on the day of the competition?
No, Brian did not make any practice stroke as he was not using a ball when swinging his club in the bunker on the 18th green. Note 1 to Rule 7-2 confirms that a practice swing is not a practice stroke.

Did he not breach Rule 7-1b by testing the surface of the bunker?
No, Rule 7-2b only prohibits testing the surface of a putting green on the course.

Did he not breach Rule 8-1a by giving advice on the state of the bunkers to his fellow competitors?
No, Rule 8-1a only prohibits a player giving advice to another competitor during a stipulated round. There is no restriction on giving advice before starting a round.

Did he not breach Rule 4-4 by borrowing Arthur’s long-handled putter?
No, there is no restriction in using another player’s club before the stipulated round has commenced.

Did he not breach Rule 5-1 by borrowing a sleeve of balls from Colin, intending to use them during his round?
No, there is no restriction on borrowing items of equipment (balls, towels, gloves, tees, etc.) from another player.

Did he not breach Rule 7-1b by practicing putting on the first teeing area?
No, The Exception to Rule 7-1b permits practice putting on or near the first teeing ground.
Did he not breach Rule 10-2a by not playing first on the first tee, as per the time sheet.
No, although Rule 10-1a states that the honour on the first teeing ground is determined by the order of the draw, or in the absence of a draw by lot, there is no penalty for not doing so, unless  competitors have agreed to play out of turn to give one of them an advantage.
I wonder how many of you are surprised to find out that Brian did not breach any Rule before starting his round?

A Very Happy Golfing Year to all my readers. I have lots of plans for 2013. In the meantime, perhaps I can encourage you to join me in a resolution that can only lead to better golf, a happier life and improvements in our relations with others;

"Develop and maintain a positive attitude
for everything that is important to you."

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2013 and may not be copied without permission.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Top 10 Golfing Tantrums

As most of us know, golf can be a very frustrating game. Apologies to those of you who have already seen this short YouTube video from Golfing World, but for those that have not I think that you might get a certain sadistic satisfaction from watching some well-known professional golfers letting their emotions get the better of them. My particular favourite is number 7, featuring Hennie Otto’s famous 6-putt!


For those of you receiving this blog by email please click on this link.
I covered the Rules relating to anger on the golf course last year in this blog.

As has become my custom for the past couple of years, I will be setting a New Year Rules teaser next week. In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy a wonderful Christmas break with your families and friends.

Good golfing,


If you haven’t checked it out already please visit my other web site,, where I offer several products that can assist golfers to obtain a better understanding of the Rules of Golf.

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

Friday, 14 December 2012

Avoid Playing a Wrong Ball

Home-made ball marker using a standard PVC 1-1/4 coupling

If you are in receipt of my weekly ‘Rhodes Rules School’ emails (either the photo series or ‘How Many Strokes?’) you will be aware that I have just made my ‘99 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’ available as a simple, downloadable .pdf file, which can be read on any computer, laptop, or tablet (see below for details).

I am taking this opportunity to highlight what I think is one of the most important tips from my list of 99, which is to ensure that you put personal identification marks on all your golf balls, so that you can immediately recognise them. In my experience, having a distinct personal identification mark on your golf balls is the easiest way to avoid playing a wrong ball and can save you many penalty strokes over the course of a year. I have a theory that there are probably over 100 Titleist balls, numbered 1 - 4, on most golf courses at any time, either in play, or having been abandoned as lost. The chances are that if you are playing this particular brand of ball, without any personal identification mark, you will regularly play the wrong ball by mistake.

Although Rule 12-2 states that players should put identifications marks on their golf balls my strong recommendation is that you make this a must. In fact, my recommendation is that you also draw a line on your golf balls, preferably all around the central circumference of the ball. You can then use this line to point along your intended line of play before making your stroke on the both the teeing grounds and the putting greens. I am aware that some ‘experts’ claim that this is against the Rules, but Decision 20-3a/2 is definitive;

Q. May a player draw a line on his ball and, when replacing his ball, position the ball so that the line or the trademark on the ball is aimed to indicate the line of play?
A. Yes.
Be bold with the personal identification mark that you use. There was a good illustration of a tournament player getting it wrong last October, when Scottish golfer, Stephen Gallacher, was penalised two strokes during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. He had played his second shot from the fairway, when he realised that the amateur playing in his Pro-Am group was still looking for his ball. Here is Gallacher’s version of what happened;
“On 16, I hit my tee shot down the left and the mistake I made was not really watching where the amateur hit it. When I got down there was only one ball sitting and I was just happy it wasn't in the bunker.
Then the amateur, who was standing about five yards left in the rough, said, ‘Have you seen my ball? I’ve got one here but it’s not mine’.  It turns out it was mine.
We were both playing Titleist 1s, his marked with a red dot and mine a green. Unfortunately the way it was sitting I couldn't see the marking. From now on I think I’ll look a bit closer.”
So, Gallacher’s single identification dot on his ball (which as it happened was red and not green) was not visible in the position that the ball lay and two players happened to be playing the same brand and number ball. Gallacher therefore incurred a penalty of two strokes for playing a wrong ball, Rule 15-3b, and had to correct his mistake by playing his own ball from where it had come to rest following his drive.

There are 98 more tips about the Rules of Golf in my eDocument, ‘99 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’, a downloadable Adobe .pdf file which can be read on any computer, laptop, or tablet. This will definitely save you penalty strokes and add to the enjoyment of your game. Please check this link for more details.

Good golfing,

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

Friday, 7 December 2012

What May You Remove from a Bunker/Water Hazard?

You may remove the score card and can before making a stroke, but not the leaf
This subject is an easy one, but surprisingly it catches out many amateur golfers, who incur unnecessary penalties as a result.

It is essential that you are able to distinguish between obstructions, which are artificial objects, and loose impediments, which are natural objects, especially when your ball lies in a bunker or water hazard.

Loose impediments are natural objects that are not fixed or growing, not solidly embedded and not adhering to your ball. If a player’s ball lies in a hazard, the player must not touch or move any loose impediment lying in or touching the same hazard, Rule 13-4c.

Loose impediments include;

Stones (but see *), leaves, branches and twigs, pine cones, dung and droppings,  insects, worms and their casts, spiders and their webs, half-eaten fruit, fruit skins, ant hills, dead birds and animals, aeration plugs, clods of earth, gravel, crushed shells, wood chips.
* Note that whilst the Rules do not permit players to remove stones from bunkers, that is often overridden by a Local Rule that does permit their removal for safety reasons.

Obstructions, providing they are easily movable (and are not out of bounds stakes), may be removed from anywhere on the course, which obviously includes bunkers and water hazards.

Movable obstructions include;

bunker rakes, golf clubs, bottles, cans, score cards, pens and pencils, paper and tissues, plastic bags, wrappers, boxes, toys, match sticks, cigarettes and cigarette packets, abandoned golf balls, cables
Remember, if it is natural it is a loose impediment and if it is artificial it is an obstruction. Don’t be tempted to remove that leaf or twig lying close to your ball in a hazard.

Good golfing,

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

Here is a low-cost Christmas present idea that does not need to be wrapped, posted or hand-delivered.

My eBook ‘999 Updated Questions on the Rules of Golf 2012 – 2015’ can be purchased on-line at my web site On the same day, I will send to your email address (or the recipient’s, if it is a gift) two files; a .pdf file for reading and printing out from any computer or laptop, and a Mobipocket file for transferring to any eReader, tablet or smart phone. Click here for details.