Thursday, 11 July 2013

Conditions of Competition at Major Events

Muirfield, the venue for the 2013 Open. Photo: Ross Kinnaird

Misunderstandings (arguments!) often occur between golfers, due to the Rules of Golf that they watch on television appearing to be different to those that apply at their Clubs, societies or when playing casual golf. Let me emphasise that the 34 Rules of Golf are the same wherever golf is played in the world and whoever is playing the game. The last remaining Rules difference between the USGA (US and Mexico) and the R&A (rest of the world), which concerned a limit of the monetary value of a prize for a hole-in-one, was removed in 2012. So, why is it that we hear golfers arguing as to whether they can change from a hard ball to a soft ball between holes, practice a putt between holes, or take line of play relief from an immovable obstruction close to the putting green? The reason is that Pro Tour events often operate Conditions of Competition that are rarely used in the amateur game. Specimen Conditions of Competition can be found in Appendix l, Part C. The subjects include the following;

•    One Ball Condition: For when it is desired to prohibit changing brands and models of golf balls during a stipulated round.

•    Practice between Holes: Prohibiting a player from making any practice stroke on or near the putting green of the hole last played, as per Note 2 to Rule 7-2.

•    Transportation: Prohibiting players from riding on any form of transportation during a stipulated round, unless authorised by the Committee.

•    Pace of Play: The Committee may establish pace of play guidelines to help prevent slow play, in accordance with Note 2 to Rule 6-7. For example, the US PGA Tour’s Condition of Competition for pace of play permits a player to take 40 seconds over a stroke with an additional 20 seconds under certain exceptions, such as for the first putt on the putting green, as not all shots take the same amount of time to play.

•    (Edit July 12th 2013) Embedded Balls: In USGA, and PGA Tour events, relief for an embedded ball is provided through the green and not just from closely mown areas.

Another misunderstanding that can arise from watching golf on TV occurs when non-permanent artificial objects have been erected in conjunction with the competition (such as tents, scoreboards, grandstands, television towers and lavatories). In these situations there will be a Local Rule in operation providing line of play relief from these temporary immovable obstructions (TIOs). When amateur golfers see the Pros getting this line of play relief they sometimes assume that the Rules of Golf must offer similar relief from all fixed, artificial obstructions that are blocking their intended shot. Of course, the only relief that can be taken in these circumstances is when the immovable obstruction interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing, under Rule 24-2, not their line of play.

Good golfing,

If you are involved in assisting Junior golfers you might be interested in purchasing my 36-hole Quiz for Juniors, which includes 9 questions on etiquette. This quiz has now been successfully run at several clubs worldwide. Please check out the details at this link.

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


Anonymous said...

If I'm moving a loose impediment (rule 23)... let's say I'm pulling on a twig and I can see a slight twinge of my ball but the ball doesn't seem to have moved and it appears to be at rest in the same position am I o.k.? Essentially the twinge of the ball is telling me that if I move the twig my ball will move.

conor said...

Isent you a comment re "basketsticks"as used in US OPEN Rule 17 says "Flagsticks if this becomes popular will it mean a conflict with the Rules of golf not sure if you are getting my comment Thanks

Barry Rhodes said...


Yes, the Definition of 'Moved' clarifies that a ball is only deemed to have 'moved’ if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place.


Barry Rhodes said...


I did reply to your comment on the blog on which you asked the question (26thy June 2013). Here is what I said;

I am not enamoured with the baskets used in Merion, but I do respect their tradition.

There is nothing in Rule 17, that restricts the attachment to the flagstick to be a flag. In fact, the Definition of Flagstick in the Rules of Golf leaves this open;

"The “flagstick” is a movable straight indicator, with or without bunting or other material attached, centered in the hole to show its position. It must be circular in cross-section. Padding or shock absorbent material that might unduly influence the movement of the ball is prohibited.


Unknown said...

Hi Barry.I recently played a Foursomes match.My opponent asked me to move my marker as it was on his line.Whem it came to my putt I didn't replace the marker In the correct postion.Placed the ball in the wrong postion and removed my marker.Before addressing the ball my opponent asked me as to whether I had replaced the marker in the correct postion.As I had removed the marker I presumed I had incured a penalty so I asked my my two opponents and the single figurer said with out hesitation,thats the hole,meaning I had lost the hole. Is this correct.Thanks

Barry Rhodes said...


In the circumstance that you describe, no penalty is incurred until a stroke is made at the ball. So you were entitled to re-mark your ball and reverse the same procedure that you carried out when marking the ball to the side. The ball can then be replaced at the right spot.