|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.
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.
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