Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Here are a few interesting questions that I have received over the past few weeks, slightly edited for clarity;
• I notice that my fellow competitor is about to play their tee shot from in front of the tee markers. Should I tell them, or would that incur a penalty for giving advice?
You should tell them. Information on the Rules is not advice, Definition of Advice.
• May I remove a weed or strand of long grass from behind my ball before playing my first stroke on a hole ball from the teeing ground?
Yes, under Rule 13-2, it is permissible to eliminate irregularities of surface on the teeing ground, which includes removing something growing. However, this only applies to irregularities on the surface of the teeing ground and not to anything overhanging the teeing ground which is rooted outside of it, such as an overhanging branch of a tree.
• The group playing ahead of us mistakenly left the flagstick lying on the green a few feet from the hole. Would it have been a penalty if one of our group’s balls hit the removed flagstick as they played onto the green?
No, the penalty for a ball hitting a removed flagstick only applies when the flagstick has been removed with the player's authority or prior knowledge by someone in the player's match or group, Rule 17-3a.
• In stroke play, is there penalty if a player’s ball hits the foot of a fellow competitor attending the flagstick?
Yes, the person making the putt incurs a penalty of two strokes for a breach of Rule 17-3.
• A player lifted their ball from a newly seeded area in the rough. Were they then entitled to drop a ball on the fairway if it was within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole?
Yes, the Rules do not distinguish between fairway and rough (except in Rule 25-2, Embedded Ball), they are both ‘through the green’.
• Playing a mixed foursome, the two men drove, the two ladies played from the fairway, the two men played, one man chipped on to the green ... and now one man realised that they must have both played the wrong ball from the fairway for their second shots. What is the ruling?
In match play, the opponents should work out who played the wrong ball first and that side lost the hole, Rule 15-3a. It did not matter that the other side also played a wrong ball as they had already won the hole. In stroke play, both sides incurred a penalty of two strokes and must return to the point where their fellow competitor played their ball from, drop a ball and play out the hole from there, Rule 15-3b.
• On one or two of our fairways we have the odd mushy area and a ball can be hit there. The players are virtually certain that the ball is lost in the boggy area. Can we make a Local Rule for this so there is no penalty…?
First, I should confirm that there is no relief for ‘mushy areas’ whether on the fairway or in the rough, Decision 25/1. If a Committee decides that these areas are local abnormal conditions that interfere with the proper playing of the game they can define them as ground under repair, with either a permanent or temporary Local Rule. See Rule 25-1c for the procedure to follow when a ball is known or virtually certain to be lost in GUR.
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