Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Brain Teasers

For this New Year’s brain teasers I have a few questions and answers that are a little ‘outside of the box’. So, don’t worry too much if you do not get the answers right, as they are not the sort of scenarios that you are ever likely to experience on the course. The answers are below.
  1. What is the highest number of penalty strokes accumulated in a single round by a professional golfer in a tour event? Have a guess!
  2. Explain how in a stroke play competition you can have 3 balls in play at the same time. 
  3. Explain the circumstances in which a player who has been disqualified for using a non-conforming club (or some other similar breach) wins first prize for the competition that he was earlier disqualified from. 
  4. Two fellow competitors hit their ball into the same area of a bunker where they come to rest side by side. With a Rules Official on the scene both players are then required to lift their ball under the Rules but only one of the two players is permitted to clean his ball. Neither of the balls was in an abnormal ground condition nor interfered with by an immovable obstruction. What is the likely scenario?
  5. A is scheduled to play B in match play to start at 11:00 and a referee is assigned to the match.  A arrives at the first tee ready to play at 11:02 and B arrives at 11:04. The referee informs the players the first hole has been decided and directs them to proceed to the second tee. After A tees off on the second hole, a par 3, B asks him what club he used and A answers that he used a six iron. A takes 4 strokes to hole out on the second and B takes 3. What is the state of the match?
  6. Explain the circumstances in which a player can win a competition when they returned their signed score card to the Committee without any handicap recorded on it.
  7. How can a player score a hole in one with a different ball from the one they teed off with?
  1. 26 penalty strokes were assessed on Japanese, PGA Tour player Ryuji Imada, during the Mission Hills Star Trophy in China in 2010. Imada assumed he could place the ball within a club length of its original position, as is standard on the PGA Tour, but the local rules stated that placement had to occur within the length of one scorecard, as is standard on the Asian and European tours. This was pointed out to Imada on his 12th hole and at the end of the round, Imada but guessed that he had placed outside the permitted area 13 times. So, he was assessed 13 penalties of two strokes for a total of 26 penalty strokes and a first-round score of 24-over-par 97.
  2. You are unsure of a ruling and play a second ball under Rule 3-3. You then encounter another situation where you have to invoke Rule 3-3 again for one of your two balls already in play. 
  3. The disqualification penalty was cancelled when the Committee considered that the course had become unplayable and declared play null and void with all scores cancelled for the round in question. When a round is cancelled, all penalties incurred in that round are cancelled. Rule 33-2d. The player then went on to win the re-scheduled competition.
  4. Player A hit his ball into the bunker, followed by Player B. Player B’s ball hit player A’s ball and moved it. Player A is required to lift and replace his ball and may clean it during the process. Player B is then asked to lift his ball because it interferes with the play of A (whose turn it is to play once he had replaced his ball), but B is not permitted to clean his ball in these circumstances.
  5. The state of the match on the third tee is that B is one up. As A and B both arrived at the first tee within five minutes after their starting time they each incurred the penalty of loss of hole, so the referee correctly ruled that the hole was halved. Although player B then asked player A what club he had used for his tee shot from the 2nd teeing ground, which would incur a loss of hole penalty if he had done it during his round, Decision 2/2 clarifies that in singles match play a player only begins their stipulated round when they make their first stroke in that round. Therefore, no penalty was incurred (edited 18th January) by B and A incurred the loss of hole penalty as soon as he gave B information on what club he had used.
  6. There is no requirement for a player’s handicap to be recorded on their score card when it is a scratch competition, in which all competitors play without any handicap strokes. A player may also win a best gross score prize, as handicaps are not taken into account in determining the winner.
  7. Perhaps the most likely scenario for this to happen is in match play. For example, player plays his tee shot out of turn, his opponent, B, sees that A’s ball has come to rest close to the flagstick and requires him to cancel his stroke and play again, in turn, under Rule 10-1c. A scores a hole-in-one with his next stroke from the teeing ground. However, I have listed six other possible answers to this question in an earlier blog at this link.
Wishing a spectacular New Year to all my readers,

P.S. If you find these weekly blogs on the Rules of Golf interesting please pass on the web site details to anyone else that you know that may also find them useful and/or interesting.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2014 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Ultimate Golf Fail Compilation

There are times when I feel that I must be one of the worst golfers in the world (though I am delighted to have won two turkey prizes in the past few weeks!), but this compilation video shows me that I do not come anywhere close. I’m a more responsible cart driver too!

Click here for the Ultimate Golf Fail Compilation on YouTube.

The following conversations were reputedly recorded at a public golf course in the USA:

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: What are your green fees?
Staff:  38 dollars.
Caller:  Does that include golf?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, I need to get some information from you. First, is this your correct phone number?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, we have a tee time for two weeks from Friday. What's the weather going to be like that day?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, I had a tee time for this afternoon but I'm running late. Can you still get me out early?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, do you have one of those areas where you can buy a bucket of golf balls and hit them for practice?
Staff: You mean a driving range?
Caller: No, that's not it.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, I'd like to get a tee time tomorrow between 12 o'clock and noon.
Staff: Between 12 o'clock and noon?
Caller: Yes.
Staff: We'll try to squeeze you in.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Do you have any open tee times around 10 o'clock?
Staff: Yes, we have one at 10:15.
Caller: What's the next time after that?
Staff: We have one at 10:22.
Caller: We'll take that one. It will be a bit warmer.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: How much to play golf today?
Staff: 25 to walk, 38 with a cart.
Caller: 38 dollars?
Staff: No, 38 yen.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: What do you have for tee times tomorrow?
Staff: What time would you like?
Caller: What times do you have?
Staff: What time of the day?
Caller: Any time.
Staff:  Morning or afternoon?
Caller:  Whenever.
Staff: We have 16 times open in the morning and 20 open in the afternoon. Would you like me to read the whole list?
Caller: No, I don't think any of those times will work for me.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Do you have a dress code?
Staff: Yes, we do. We require soft spikes.
Caller: How about clothes?
Staff: Yes, you have to wear clothes.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, do you have a driving range there?
Staff: Yes.
Caller: How much for a bucket of large balls?
Staff: Sorry, we're all out of large balls. But we can give you  twice as many small balls for the same price.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Can I get a tee time for tomorrow?
Staff: Sure, what time would you like?
Caller: Something between 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock. In the morning, if possible.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Do you rent golf clubs there?
Staff: Yes, they're 25 dollars.
Caller: How much to rent a bag?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, my husband just called me on his cell phone and told me he's on the 15th hole. How many more holes does he have to play before he gets to the 18th?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, do you have a driving range there?
Staff: Yes.
Caller: How much for a large bucket?
Staff: Four dollars.
Caller: Does that include the balls?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Do you have a twilight rate?
Staff: Yes, it's 15 dollars after 2 o'clock.
Caller: And what time does that start?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, I'd like some info about your golf course.
Staff: OK, what would you like to know?
Caller: I don't know, that's why I called.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: My kids just came home with pockets full of range balls and said they stole them from your  driving range. Would you like to buy them back?
Wishing all of my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, wherever in the world you play your golf.


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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Unusual Golf Penalties that Hurt

Craig Stadler was famously penalised here for building a stance (Rule 13-3).
At this time of year, when many of us are looking forward to a Christmas holiday, I thought that I would lighten-up my blog by pointing out some unusual ways that players may incur penalties.
  • In a four-ball better ball, if your partner picks-up your ball, because they mistakenly think that you are out of the hole, it is you that is penalised one stroke (Rule 18-2a(i)).
  • A fellow competitor, who has volunteered to attend the flagstick while you attempt a long putt, gets distracted and does not remove the flagstick before your ball hits it. You are penalised two strokes (Rule 17-3).
  • A fellow competitor plays your ball from the rough thinking that it was their ball. You obviously cannot find your ball in the area where you thought that it had come to rest, so after 5 minutes search you must consider the ball lost, incurring the stroke and distance penalty (Rule 27-1). The penalty applies even if an apologetic golfer brings your ball back to you after the 5 minutes has expired.
  • If you start your stroke play round before the time established by the Committee, without their authority, you incur a penalty of 2 strokes if it is within 5 minutes of the start time, or disqualification if it is more than five minutes (Decision 6-3a/5).
  • As you approach your ball on the fairway a crow picks up your ball, dropping it a few inches away as it tries to fly off with it. You drop your ball at the spot where it was at rest when the bird moved it and the ball settles in a deep divot hole. You shrug your shoulders and try to make the most of the difficult shot. Unfortunately, you incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for playing from the wrong place, as you should have replaced the ball (Rule 20-7), but there is no additional penalty in stroke play for dropping the ball when the Rules required it to be placed (Rule 18-1).
  • If you helpfully stop a fellow competitor from teeing up a second ball when they have hit their first ball into the middle of a water hazard by saying, “You will be much better off walking down to the hazard and playing from there”, you incur a penalty of two strokes for giving advice (Rule 8-1a). You are permitted to give information on the Rules, but not to make a suggestion that could influence a player in determining their play.
  • You decide to take relief from an area marked as ground under repair (GUR), though there is no Local Rule making it mandatory, and you correctly drop your ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole. Your ball rolls back a few inches so that your heels are just touching the white line defining GUR when you take your stance. If you continue with your stroke with this stance you incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for not taking complete relief from the GUR, even though the Rules did not require you to take relief in the first place (Rule 20-2c(v)).
  • A 9-handicapper enters a 12-hole winter competition and thinks that they will assist the Committee by working out that 12/18ths of their handicap is 6 and entering this in the handicap section of their score card. This is a breach of Rule 6-2b There is no penalty, but the Committee must calculate the player’s score as though they had a full 18 holes handicap of 6, i.e. a handicap of 4 for the 12 holes (Decision 6-2b/0.5).
Good golfing,

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

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Which Club, How and When Can it Be Used?

Lisa ‘Longdrive’ Vlooswyk driving with a putter

It was a bizarre incident at last week’s Hong Kong Open that gave rise to the heading above. Joonas Granberg, a Finnish professional golfer, was left standing on his first tee box, which unusually was on the 11th hole, ready to play. Unfortunately, his caddie had wrongly made his way to a different tee (presumably the 1st or the 10th) with his clubs, leaving Granberg holding only his putter, which he had been using for practice. When the caddie eventually made it to the correct teeing ground, it was too late and the Finn had already been disqualified under Rule 6-3, Time of Starting. I know that it is much easier to think rationally about a situation like this after the event, but nevertheless, if Grandberg had a good understanding of the Rules of Golf he should have realised that could have avoided being disqualified by using his putter from the 11th teeing ground. A player is not required to have either a caddie or their bag of clubs with them on their first teeing ground and the Rules do not place any limitation on what club may be used for making any stroke. (edit 11th December 2013: It has been suggested to me that Joonas Granberg may have been disqualified under a Condition of Competition that required a 'compulsory caddie', but I have not been able to verify this). A player may start a round with a single conforming club and may add any number, provided his total number does not exceed fourteen, Rule 4-4a. The photo above shows 7-time Canadian Long Drive Champion for women, Lisa Vlooswyk, hitting a putter from the teeing ground, apparently sending her ball over 200 yards.

Other examples of using a ‘wrong’ club for a stroke are a pitching wedge on the putting green (definitely not recommended for most players), a wood from the fringe of the putting green, or a lob wedge from hard sand in a bunker. Personally, I have never played with a right-handed person that carried a left-handed club to use when they are faced with a difficult lie, but the Rules do permit it and I suspect that for many golfers this might be a preferable option to using a right-handed stroke with the back of a club. This leads me on to what part of the club may be used to make a stroke. Rule 14-1 clarifies that the ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club. Note that the clubhead includes the face, back, heel and toe of the club, but not the shaft or the grip.

Another question that may arise is whether a player may continue to play with a club that is damaged. The answer is that if their club was damaged in the normal course of play they may continue play with it, repair it, have it repaired, or replace it with any club, Rule 4-3a. Conversely, a player may not continue to play with a club that has been damaged to an extent that it is non-conforming, if it was damaged other than in the normal course of play (e.g. in anger of frustration), Rule 4-3b.

Note: For those of you that have not read the harsh decision of the European Tour Disciplinary Panel in the matter of English golfer, Simon Dyson, I recommend that you do so at this link.

Good Golfing,

Why not treat yourself to my eBook for Christmas? I am confident that ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf 2012 – 2015’ will assist you to obtain a better understanding of the Rules of Golf, which in turn will help you to enjoy the game even more. Click here for details.

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

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

When Complete Relief Need Not Be Taken

A dropped ball that comes to rest outside hazard margin is OK to play.

I covered the subject of taking complete relief in detail in an earlier blog (see this link). Basically, when a player is taking relief, without penalty, from an immovable obstruction (Rule 24-2), abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1), or staked tree (Local Rule) they must re-drop their ball if, when having been dropped in compliance with the Rules, it comes to rest in a position where there is still interference from the condition that they were taking relief from. I think that you will agree that this is logical. For example, if a player is permitted to take relief from casual water it does not make sense that they should then be permitted to drop a ball in a favourable place where there is still interference from the same condition.

However, following two questions that I have received on the subject, I want to clarify that taking complete relief does not apply when taking relief under penalty from a water hazard. So, a player who has dropped a ball outside a water hazard may then take a stance, or part of a stance, within that hazard to play their ball, which has come to rest outside of the hazard. There is no Rules reference for this; it is one of those situations where because there is no Rule that prohibits it, it is permitted. Therefore, you will find the references to interference in Rules 24-2a Immovable Obstructions, and 25-1a, Abnormal Ground Conditions, but not in Rule 26-1, Relief for Ball in Water Hazard.

Fellow Competitors Do Not Have to Shout “Fore”
Although not really Rules of Golf related, I am sure that many readers will be interested in following a civil lawsuit in which an Essex County, New Jersey, USA, judge ruled that whilst the person making a stroke that resulted in a serious accident may have had an obligation to yell “fore,” his golfing buddies (fellow competitors?) did not. An interesting article on the ongoing case can be viewed at this link.

We will probably never know whether the stroke that resulted in severely damaging another player’s eye was a ‘mulligan', as reported, or a provisional ball correctly played under the Rules.

Good golfing,


Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015: The latest news is that Amazon has indicated that the R&A’s revised Decisions book will be released on 13th December. There is no new information on the USGA publication. Please click here to order your copy.

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

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Searching for a Ball in a Bunker

Delay in Delivering the New Decisions Book
First, many thanks to those of you that used my associate link to purchase the new R&A Decisions book from Amazon, which will earn me a few cents in commission when they are eventually delivered. Unfortunately, like me, you have probably received an email from Amazon apologising for a delay in delivery, which apparently is due to the release date being changed by the supplier at late notice. It is not clear whether this is the fault of the R&A or their printer. On checking the R&A ‘shop’ I see two contradictory messages; “Will be available to buy in December” and “Sorry sold out”! Fortunately, Amazon does expect to fulfill the orders well before Christmas (I recommend this book as an ideal present for Rules enthusiasts) and the amendments do not take effect until 1st January. For those of you that have not yet ordered for yourself, or more importantly for your Club or Society, this is the link. As I write this blog the USGA publication is still not available to order from Amazon.com, but I will update the 'Recommendations' page on my Rhodes Rules School web site as soon as it is.

Yellow golf ball (circled) covered by leaves in a bunker.

Under Rule 23-1, when a loose impediment and a ball lie in or touch the same hazard, the loose impediment may be not be removed without incurring a penalty. Leaves, as shown in the photo, are all loose impediments, so how do we proceed if we believe that our ball may be lying somewhere amongst a pile of leaves that have gathered in a bunker? If we refer to Rule 12-1: Searching for and Identifying a Ball, we will find the answer to this question, which can be summarised, as follows;
  • Providing the player is searching for their ball they are permitted to touch and move leaves in a bunker to aid their search.
  • If the ball is found, the leaves that have been moved must be replaced.
  • If the player moves their ball while they are searching for it, they incur a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a and the ball must be replaced, the same as when searching for a ball through the green.
This is the wording of Rule 12-1b;
In a hazard, if the player’s ball is believed to be covered by loose impediments to the extent that he cannot find or identify it, he may, without penalty, touch or move loose impediments in order to find or identify the ball. If the ball is found or identified as his, the player must replace the loose impediments. If the ball is moved during the touching or moving of loose impediments while searching for or identifying the ball, Rule 18-2a applies; if the ball is moved during the replacement of the loose impediments, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.

If the ball was entirely covered by loose impediments, the player must re-cover the ball but is permitted to leave a small part of the ball visible.
Decision 12-1/4 confirms that no penalty is incurred if a player touches the sand in the bunker while probing for their ball, as Rule 12-1 overrides any prohibitions in Rule 13-4.

Interesting Slow Motion Video

This has nothing to do with the Rules of Golf, but I think that most golfers will be interested in seeing the fascinating difference between amateurs and professionals striking the ball at the point of impact. The short video at this link (skip the ad) was filmed, with a Konica/Minolta, 18,000 frames per second, high speed camera, during the third round of the PGA’s RBC Heritage tournament at Hilton Head earlier this year.

Good Golfing,

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

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

New! Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014 - 2015

The front cover of The R&A’s Decisions book 2014-2015

Today, 19th November 2013, the USGA and the R&A jointly announced the publication of the revised ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015’, which contains 3 new, 59 revised, 1 renumbered, and 24 withdrawn Decisions. Most readers will know that whilst the Rules of Golf are reviewed every four years, amendments to the 1,200+ Decisions are made on a two-yearly cycle. Let me clarify that there will be no changes to the Rules for another two years; the Decisions are published to help golfers better understand how the Rules are to be applied and interpreted. They are particularly useful to those of you who like to provide accurate answers to questions on the Rules from those that you play with, or fellow Club or Society members, and I strongly recommend that you purchase this new edition. You can purchase the R&A publication (all countries other than US and Mexico) by clicking on this link and then on the 'Buy Now' button underneath the 2014-2015 Decisions book image (price £10.30). It will cost you exactly the same as on the main Amazon site and, if you use this link, I will make a small commission on anything that you purchase there, which helps me to defray my costs. Surprisingly, the US version of the Decisions book does not yet appear to be available, but I will upload a link on the same page as soon as it is.

This statement is taken directly from the R&A web site;

“Among the changes for 2014-2015, four decisions are particularly noteworthy:
  • New Decision 14-3/18 confirms that players can access reports on weather conditions on a smartphone during a round without breaching the Rules. Importantly, this new Decision also clarifies that players are permitted to access information on the threat of an impending storm in order to protect their own safety.
  • New Decision 18/4 provides that, where enhanced technological evidence (e.g. HDTV, digital recording or online visual media, etc.) shows that a ball has left its position and come to rest in another location, the ball will not be deemed to have moved if that movement was not reasonably discernible to the naked eye at the time. The R&A and the USGA have issued a Joint Statement on the Use of Video and other Visual Evidence* to further explain the governing bodies’ position on the use of this technology.
  • Revised Decision 25-2/0.5 helps to clarify when a golf ball is considered to be embedded in the ground through the use of illustrations.
  • Revised Decision 27-2a/1.5 allows a player to go forward up to approximately 50 yards without forfeiting his or her right to go back and play a provisional ball.”
*Click here for the statement on 'Use of Video and Visual Evidence'.
I have not yet had a chance to study the amendments but the one that stands out is the new Decision 18/4, as a result of which players will not be penalised for causing their ball to move if it was not reasonably discernable to the naked eye. Certainly, this Decision goes some way to appeasing those that complain vociferously about retrospective penalties being applied to players following calls from those watching the action on high definition television monitors. However, in my opinion it will not stop these calls from being made and now Committees will have to make the difficult decision as to whether the player knew that their ball had moved or not. For example, it might have saved Tiger Woods from being penalised for breaching Rule 18-2a at the BMW Championship in September, which I covered in this blog, as he claimed that he thought his ball had returned to its original position. But would it have reduced the widespread criticism that followed? 

My opinion on this subject can be summarised by the last sentence of the joint statement on ‘Use of Video and Visual Evidence’ linked to above; "the USGA and The R&A will continue to be guided by the view that, regardless of the timing or the type of evidence used, the integrity of the game is best served by getting the ruling right."

As soon as I have my copy of the new Decisions book I will check it for updates that may be required to any of my eDocuments and make those changes available to those that have purchased. Any new purchases (see this link for details of all of my eProducts on the Rules) will contain any necessary amendments.

Once again, here is the link to purchase 'Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015' R&A version.
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2013 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Thorbjorn Olesen - Another TV Rules Blunder

I have had previous cause to be critical of some TV commentators’ understanding and interpretation of the Rules of Golf, but the reporting of a simple Rule 18-2a breach by Dane, Thorbjørn Olesen, at the Turkish Airlines Open last Friday, takes some beating.

Unfortunately, the video of the incident with the TV commentary is only available by following these rather complicated instructions; (Edit: 13th November, try this link first).

  • Click on this link
  • In the search box towards the top of the screen, to the left of the language flags type in; “Thorbjorn Olesen
  • Scroll down beneath the ‘News’ search results to the ‘Video’ search results and double click on the image similar to the one below.
Note: It is possible that this video may not be available after the date of this blog item.

If you did not get to see the video of this Rules incident here is an exact transcription of what the (unidentified) commentator confusingly said;
“Now, Strangely enough in golf you have to be positive you are making a stroke at the ball. You can replace it, I think, if he, if it er….. You know in the course of your stroke, if you are not actually playing a stroke at the ball then you’ve not deemed to have actually hit it. I mean it’s a really weird Rule though. Because norm… at any other time if you are deemed to have moved the ball you have deemed to have moved it.”  I know that this reads rather strangely, even for those of us who have English as our first language, but I can assure you that I have copied the commentary word for word.
It certainly would be a “weird Rule” if there was no penalty for causing your ball to move with your club when you did not mean to. Of course, this action does incur a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a, which I understand the commentator acknowledged later in the commentary.  Here is what Olesen had to say about the incident after he had completed his round;
“I was just about to tap in my putt, but when I put my foot down I hit the front of my shoe with the putter and hit the ball. I’ve never, ever done that before and I don’t want to do it ever again. My intentions were not to hit the ball or not to even make a stroke but then I wasn’t sure what to do, so that’s why I called over the referee.”
Note that Olesen had to replace his ball where it was before he moved it, even though it came to rest closer to the hole. This is because he did not make a stroke, as he did not intend to strike his ball and move it. The Definition of Stroke states;
A “stroke’’ is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if a player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball he has not made a stroke.
If Olesen had not replaced his ball where it was at the time that he accidentally moved it, the penalty would have been increased to two strokes for playing from the wrong place, as per the penalty statement under Rule 18;
*If a player who is required to replace a ball fails to do so, or if he makes a stroke at a ball substituted under Rule 18 when such substitution is not permitted, he incurs the general penalty for breach of Rule 18, but there is no additional penalty under this Rule.
It follows that even if the ball had finished up in the hole after Olesen had accidentally hit it, he would still have incurred the penalty and would have had to replace the ball where it was, before finishing the hole by putting out.

I am by no means an expert on anything to do with golf other than the Rules, but even I know that players should concentrate as much for even the shortest of putts, as for any other stroke. Unfortunately, like many of you I am sure, I have learned that lesson the hard way!

Good golfing,

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

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Ball Played within Water Hazard

Rule 26-2a: Ball played from A, within a water hazard, lands at B in the same water hazard

It was pleasing for me to see Rory McIlroy put in a good performance at the WGC – HSBC Champions in Shanghai last week, finishing tied 6th, having led by 2 strokes after the opening round. He might have done even better had he not made what could have been a tactical error on the 18th hole of his second round, an incident that provides me with an opportunity to discuss a little known Rule of Golf that could help you in the future.

Rory’s tee shot on the 18th hole stopped just a yard from the lake on the right-side of the fairway, but inside the margin of a lateral water hazard, 228 yards from the hole. Instead of taking a relief by dropping outside of the hazard under penalty of one stroke (Rule 26-1), he decided to play the ball as it lay within the hazard. His ambitious attempt to reach the green in two came up short and his ball splashed into the water. Now, this is where many players might have been unsure of what options they have if a ball played from inside a water hazard, comes to rest inside the same hazard. To his credit, Rory obviously was familiar with Rule 26-2, as he took a penalty drop back on to the fairway, close to where his ball had last crossed the margin of the hazard, before the subsequent shot into the water. This drop gave him a distance of about 250 yards to the hole from a fairway lie and he hit a superb shot to within 15 feet, but missed the par putt and signed for a bogey 6 (1 – drive into the hazard, 2 – stroke into the water, 3 – penalty stroke for taking relief from the water hazard, 4 – stroke to the putting green, 5 & 6 – two putts to hole out).

The relevant point here is that Rule 26-2 affords players some relief after making a bad decision or stroke from within a water hazard. If a ball played from within the margin of a water hazard comes to rest within the same water or another water hazard, the player is entitled, under penalty of one stroke, to choose any of the options they had before making the stroke. For example, the player could drop a ball at the place from where their last stroke was made outside the hazard, or if it was a lateral water hazard, could drop a ball within two club-lengths of where their original ball last crossed the margin of the hazard (which was the option that Rory took). Rule 26-2a states;

Ball Comes to Rest in Same or Another Water Hazard
If a ball played from within a water hazard comes to rest in the same or another water hazard after the stroke, the player may:

(i) proceed under Rule 26-1a. If, after dropping in the hazard, the player elects not to play the dropped ball, he may:
(a) proceed under Rule 26-1b, or if applicable Rule 26-1c, adding the additional penalty of one stroke prescribed by the Rule and using as the reference point the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of this hazard before it came to rest in this hazard; or
(b) add an additional penalty of one stroke and play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the last stroke from outside a water hazard was made (see Rule 20-5); or

(ii) proceed under Rule 26-1b, or if applicable Rule 26-1c; or

(iii)under penalty of one stroke, play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the last stroke from outside a water hazard was made (see Rule 20-5).
Rule 26-2b covers what options are available when a ball played from within a water hazard is lost or deemed unplayable outside of the hazard, or is out of bounds. But that is for another day.

Good golfing,

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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Simon Dyson Disqualified After Touching Line of Putt

Six-times European Tour winner, Simon Dyson, was lying in joint second place after two rounds of the halfway stage at Lake Malaren Golf Club, Shanghai, when he was disqualified for signing for a wrong score. Once again, it was a case of a professional tour player unnecessarily breaching a Rule when he should have known better. As can be seen in this short YouTube video clip, he pressed down on his line of putt with his ball after marking its position;

Note: If you are receiving this blog by email you can view the video at this link.

Dyson incurred a penalty of two strokes for a breach of Rule 16-1a, which states that the line of putt must not be touched, with seven exceptions listed (see this blog of mine for details), none of which applied to this situation. However, as he had returned his score card before the breach came to light, there was no option but to disqualify him for signing for a wrong score, because it did not include the penalty incurred, which he readily accepted.

Subsequently, European chief referee, John Paramor, issued this statement on the incident;

"Simon Dyson has been disqualified from the BMW Masters presented by SRE Group under the rules of golf (6-6d). Simon was found to have breached rule 16-1a, which states that a player must not touch his line of putt.
Television viewers alerted the European Tour to the incident, which took place on the eighth green during the second round, and when the footage was reviewed Simon was seen to touch the line of his second putt after marking and lifting his ball on the green. He subsequently failed to add a two-shot penalty to his score when signing his card, and as a result has now been disqualified."
Later, Dyson was reported to say that he could not explain why or how he came to do what he did and had no recollection of doing it, until he was shown the video. As often seems to be the case in these matters, his disqualification could cost him dearly. He started the tournament in 66th place on the Race to Dubai, with 60 eligible for the final event. Missing out on what could possibly have been a top-ten finish will have made it considerably more difficult for him to book a place in the finale.
(Edit 6th December 2013: Yesterday, the European Tour Disciplinary Panel's decision was 
a) to impose upon Mr Dyson a period of suspension from the Tour of two months, but to suspend its operation for a period of 18 months.  The effect of this is that, if during that 18 month period, Mr Dyson commits any breach of the Rules of Golf, his case will be referred back to the Panel to determine whether in the circumstances the suspension should immediately become effective.  If, however, at the end of that period, he has committed no such breach, then the threat of a suspension will fall away;
(b) to fine Mr Dyson the sum of £30,000;
(c) to order Mr Dyson to pay the sum of £7,500 towards the Tour’s costs of these proceedings;
(d) Mr Dyson is to make such payments within 56 days.
In my opinion, this was a harsh penalty, especially as the panel found that "it was a momentary aberration on his part, not a premeditated act of cheating".

Good golfing,


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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Kim Hyung-tae Grounds Club in a Hazard – Or Did He?

There was a rather unusual Rules incident last Sunday in which a player disagreed with a ruling and so did three members of the event Rules Committee, but the player, Kim Hyung-tae, was penalised two strokes anyway, which meant that he lost the Korean Open title by one stroke.

Although there have been some reports that the hazard margin was poorly marked on the par-3, island green 13th hole at the 2013 Kolon Korean Open, it seems that this was not relevant to the ruling, as Kim was adamant that he had not grounded his club anyway. The ruling was originally made by the officials as Kim stood on the 17th tee, thinking that he held a two shot lead. He was deemed to have grounded a club in the area defined as a water hazard on the 13th hole. However, after the round was completed he returned to the scene and pleaded his case with officials for over an hour and twenty minutes. The Korean Golf Association Rules Committee apparently took the unusual step of taking a vote after viewing the available TV evidence and by a split vote of five against three, ruled that Kim had breached Rule 13-4, incurring a penalty of two strokes.

This is what Decision 13-4/8 states re grounding a club;

Q. If a player's ball lies in a water hazard, when is his club in tall grass considered to be touching the ground in the water hazard, in breach of Rule 13-4b?

A. When the grass is compressed to the point where it will support the weight of the club (i.e., when the club is grounded).
Now have a look at the admittedly limited video evidence of the incident. The only clip that I can find is at 5 mins 9 secs on the official event, final day highlights video, which many observers think is inconclusive. Unfortunately, the clip is edited away to the trophy ceremony at the crucial moment.  Remember, that a player may touch growing grass in the hazard during a practice swing, but they must not ground their club.

The two stroke penalty meant that Kim Hyung-tai lost the Korean Open title by one stroke to his good friend Kang Sung-hoon, finishing tied for 2nd place along with Rory McIlroy and three other Korean golfers.

Good Golfing,


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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Autumn Leaves and Golf Balls

Autumn (fall) has arrived in the northern hemisphere and with it the seasonal problems resulting from falling leaves. I am certain that in my part of the world more golf balls will be lost in the next few weeks than any other period of the year, some of them even on the fairways, because they are hidden under leaves. I thought that it would be opportune to clarify some Rules relating to leaves on the course.

Leaves are loose impediments, providing they are not fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or adhering to the ball (Definition of Loose Impediments).

Photo a): Except when both the leaf and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard, any leaf or leaves may be removed by any means, without penalty, Rule 23-1.

Photo b): A leaf that is resting against a ball may be removed, as above.

Photo c): A leaf that is adhering to a ball is not a loose impediment and may not be removed, Definition of Loose Impediment.

Photo d): (Edited 18th October 2013) A leaf that is lying under a ball should be left as it is. It is unlikely that the leaf could be removed without causing the ball to move, which would incur a penalty of one stroke, even if it only moved one dimple from its spot.

Note that if a player’s ball lies on the putting green they do not incur a penalty if they cause their ball to move while they are removing a leaf (or any loose impediment) and the ball must be replaced. However, if they cause their ball to move while removing a leaf when their ball is not on a putting green they incur a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced, Rule 18-2a.

On the subject of leaves, I am regularly asked whether a player automatically incurs a penalty if they accidentally knock down a leaf or leaves from a tree during a practice swing. A definitive answer to this question does depend on the circumstances, but in the majority of cases no penalty is incurred, providing there are still leaves or branches remaining, so that the area of intended swing has not been materially affected. There is more on this subject at this blog of mine and it is covered in Decision 13-2/0.5.

Good golfing,


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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Relief From Tee Boxes

In my experience, the term ‘tee box’ is often wrongly applied to describe what should be called the ‘teeing ground’, which is defined in the Rules of Golf as follows;
The “teeing ground’’ is the starting place for the hole to be played. It is a rectangular area two club-lengths in depth, the front and the sides of which are defined by the outside limits of two tee-markers. A ball is outside the teeing ground when all of it lies outside the teeing ground.
So, now that I have clarified what is meant by teeing ground, what should we call the whole area prepared by course maintenance staff for the siting of numerous, optional teeing grounds at the start of each hole? Well, I use the term ‘tee box’, but I am aware that others may call them teeing areas, tee decks or just tees. The term 'tee box' originates from the days before wooden or plastic golf tees became commonly used, when the practice was to place a box of sand alongside the tee markers, so that golfers could make a small mound to place their ball on before making their first stroke on that hole. The larger the total area of the tee box the more likely it is that a reasonably maintained teeing ground can be used for successive competitions, as a teeing ground that is repeatedly used will obviously be subject to more wear and tear damage, particularly on par-3s where many players do not tee-up their ball and can take significant divots.

It is because tee boxes can suffer from worn areas that some Committees introduce a Local Rule prohibiting players from playing a ball that comes to rest on any part of a tee box, apart from that of the hole being played. This is an example of such a Local Rule;

Tee boxes - A ball lying on a tee box other than the one being played must be lifted and dropped at the nearest point of relief not nearer the hole.
Although this type of Local Rule is not uncommon, I am totally against its introduction and I encourage all golfers to recommend that it does not operate at their Club or Society course. My main concern is that golfers who find their balls at rest on a tee box other than the hole that they are playing may not take the permitted relief correctly. This is especially true when dropping a ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief may mean dropping on a downslope, or in an area of rough, which is not unusual where teeing boxes are built on raised ground. I am a great believer in requiring players to play their ball as it lies wherever possible; the more often a player is permitted to lift their ball under the Rules the more likely they are to breach one. Also, Rule 33-8 permits Committees to establish Local Rules to deal with “local abnormal conditions”, which in my opinion does not include protecting tee boxes, which are common to all golf courses, except possibly on newly laid teeing surfaces, when a Local Rule may be appropriate on a temporary basis. In any case, it is my experience that the number of occasions that a player‘s ball comes to rest on a ‘wrong’ tee box is minimal and is unlikely to damage the playing surface to any material extent that would then negatively affect the area when it is next used as a teeing ground.

Good golfing,

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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Injured Golfers and Their Artificial Equipment

One of golf’s best known phrases amongst both professionals and amateurs is, “Beware of the sick or injured golfer”. As a recent example of this truism, I mention Henrik Stenson, who claimed to be suffering from a cold and fatigue immediately before recording a 63, his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, during the Deutsche Bank Championship, at the beginning of September, which he went on to win. Subsequently, he has also won the Tour Championship to wrap up the FedEx Cup, with its $10 million prize. On an entirely different level, I know that I have often played well (OK better!) when I have taken to the course wearing a lower back brace, knee support or ankle bandage to minimise the discomfort of an arthritic joint. I am definitely not a swing expert, but I presume that when a golfer plays whilst suffering from an illness or injury, they may subconsciously correct unidentified bad practices by being forced to swing slower, rotate more conservatively, improve concentration, stay relaxed, etc.

Anyway, what has the above got to do with the Rules of Golf? It is Rule 14-3, Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment, that is the most relevant Rule. In particular, Exception 1 states;
A player is not in breach of this Rule if (a) the equipment or device is designed for or has the effect of alleviating a medical condition, (b) the player has a legitimate medical reason to use the equipment or device, and (c) the Committee is satisfied that its use does not give the player any undue advantage over other players.
This Exception is further clarified by these Decisions:
  • Decision 14-3/7 rules that although a player may wear an elastic bandage for medical purposes they must not insert their thumb under the bandage, as such an action would constitute use of equipment in an unusual manner.
  • Decision 14-3/8 rules that the use of adhesive tape, or similar coverings of the hand, for any medical reasons, e.g., to reduce blisters or to eliminate the possibility of skin splits between the fingers, is permitted. However, if the tape is used solely to aid the player in gripping the club (e.g., it is used to bind two fingers together), the player is in breach of Rule 14-3, as such use of tape is the use of equipment in an unusual manner.
  • Decision 14-3/13 rules that golfers who suffer from cold hands may use a hand warmer, even though it is an artificial device, because its use to warm the hands is traditionally accepted. However, it may not be used to purposely warm a golf ball during a stipulated round (Decision 14-3/13.5).
  • Decision 14-3/15 rules that a player who has a legitimate medical reason to wear an artificial limb may wear it to play competitive golf, even if the limb has been modified to aid them in playing the game. However, the Committee must be satisfied that the artificial limb does not give the player any undue advantage over other players.
According to ‘Dr. Divot's Guide to Golf Injuries’ the top ten golfing injuries are;
1. Back Pain
2. Golfer's Elbow (similar to tennis elbow)
3. Shoulder Pain
4. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
5. DeQuervain's Tendinitis (pain in the wrist near the base of the thumb)
6. Knee Pain
7. Trigger Finger (causing fingers to lock up)
8 – 10. Various wrist injuries
I suspect that many of us can tick off one or more of these when we take to the course. Just ensure that if you use any equipment or device to alleviate a medical condition you do not do so in a way that could give you an undue advantage over other players.
Good golfing,

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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Relief from Greenside Sprinkler Heads

More and more golf courses install irrigation systems around their greens to keep the turf healthy and ensure that grasses are properly watered, to assist their recovery and provide a better surface for putting. Sprinkler heads around putting greens can sometimes lead to confusion amongst golfers as to whether they get relief from them in a variety of circumstances, which I will try to clarify here.
Q. May I take relief if my ball lies on or against a sprinkler head? Photo a) above.
A. Yes, a sprinkler head is an immovable obstruction, from which the player may take relief under Rule 24-2b.

Q. May I take relief if a sprinkler head interferes with my stance? Photo b) above.
A. Yes, as in the first question, a sprinkler head is an immovable obstruction, from which the player may take relief under Rule 24-2b if it interferes with their stance or area of intended swing.

Q. May I take relief if there is mental interference, but not physical interference, for my intended stroke by a sprinkler head? Photo c) above.
A. No, there is no relief for mental interference by an immovable obstruction, Decision 24-2a/1.

Q. May I take relief from a sprinkler head at the side of a putting green that is on my line of play if there is no relevant Local Rule in operation? Photo d) above.
A. No, in the absence of any Local Rule the Rules of Golf do not provide for line of play relief; but see the next question.

Q. May a Committee introduce a Local Rule permitting line of play from a sprinkler head close to a putting green?
A. Yes, Appendix l, Part A permits a Local Rule providing relief from intervention by immovable obstructions on or within two club-lengths of the putting green when the ball lies within two club-lengths of the immovable obstruction.

So, many Committees introduce a Local Rule following this specimen Local Rule in Appendix l, Part B, 6;

If a ball lies through the green and an immovable obstruction on or within two club-lengths of the putting green and within two club-lengths of the ball intervenes on the line of play between the ball and the hole, the player may take relief as follows:

The ball must be lifted and dropped at the nearest point to where the ball lay that (a) is not nearer the hole, (b) avoids intervention and (c) is not in a hazard or on a putting green.

If the player’s ball lies on the putting green and an immovable obstruction within two club-lengths of the putting green intervenes on his line of putt, the player may take relief as follows:

The ball must be lifted and placed at the nearest point to where the ball lay that (a) is not nearer the hole, (b) avoids intervention and (c) is not in a hazard.

The ball may be cleaned when lifted.

Exception: A player may not take relief under this Local Rule if interference by anything other than the immovable obstruction makes the stroke clearly impracticable.
Q. May I take relief from a sprinkler head on the putting green that is on my line of putt? 
A. Yes, you may take line of putt relief from any immovable obstruction on a putting green, (but it would be unusual to have a sprinkler head located on a putting green), Rule 24-2a.

Q. If my ball has been deflected by a sprinkler head may I replay the stroke, without penalty?
A. No. A sprinkler head is an outside agency and the deflection of a ball by it is a rub of the green and the ball must be played as it lies, Rule 19-1.

Good golfing,

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