Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Golfers and the "Should" Word

This paragraph is copied from a section at the front of the Rules book. Note that I have highlighted that "should = recommendation" and "‘must is an instruction, with a penalty if not carried out." So, as in life, there is an important difference between what a golfer ‘should’ do and what they ‘must’ do. However, whilst a penalty is not directly incurred for ignoring the ‘should’ recommendations, players are encouraged and advised to do so, to avoid other consequences, which may be costly in terms of their scores.

The following are the most relevant references to where ‘should’ is used in the Rules book;

Definition - Nearest Point of Relief

In order to determine the nearest point of relief accurately, the player should use the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke.
Note: if a player does not use the club with which they would have made their next stroke to determine the nearest point of relief and as a result drops and plays a ball from outside the permitted area they incur a general penalty for playing from the wrong place.
Definition – Out of Bounds
Stakes or lines used to define out of bounds should be white.
Definition – Referee
A referee should not attend the flagstick, stand at or mark the position of the hole, or lift the ball or mark its position.
Rule 1-4, Points Not Covered by Rules
If any point in dispute is not covered by the Rules, the decision should be made in accordance with equity.
Note: Equity only applies in golf rulings when circumstances are not already covered by the Rules of Golf. It is nothing to do with achieving a result which a player thinks is ‘fair’.
Rule 4, Clubs, Rule 5, The Ball and Rule 14-3, Artificial Devices
A player in doubt as to the conformity of a club / ball / artificial device should consult the USGA or R&A.
Rule 6-2, Handicap
Before starting a match in a handicap competition, the players should determine from one another their respective handicaps.
Rule 6-5, Ball and Rule 12-2, Lifting Ball for Identification
The responsibility for playing the proper ball rests with the player. Each player should put an identification mark on his ball.
Rule 6-6, Scoring in Stroke Play
a)    Recording Scores. After each hole the marker should check the score with the competitor and record it.
b)    Signing and Recording Score. After completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee.
Rule 9-3, Stroke Play
A competitor who has incurred a penalty should inform his marker as soon as practicable.
Rule 20-1, Lifting and Marking
The position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball. If the ball-marker interferes with the play, stance or stroke of another player, it should be placed one or more clubhead-lengths to one side.
Good golfing,


Many of the questions that I receive can be answered by reference to the ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015’. The R&A version can be purchased via this link. The price is the same as purchasing elsewhere, but if you do use the link provided I make a few cents affiliate commission from Amazon. If you do not want your personal copy you should consider of purchasing one for your Club or Society, as it will definitely resolve many arguments.

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


Anonymous said...

Barry, I had an interesting set of events occur in a match tonight. Player X hits his tee ball into the junk, plays a provisional, and doesn't find the original. So far, he's laying 3 in the fairway. He then hits 4 up near the green into a lateral water hazard. He hits a provisional as well. My partner ( Player X's opponent ) hits into the same lateral water hazard ( creek with trees and long grass ) but 60 yards shorter. My partner asks Player X if he agrees my partner's ball is in the hazard and Player X says yes. When Player X arrives at his 4th shot he finds it in the hazard. He says he didn't realize it was a hazard but we've already established he can decipher a hazard, in fact the same one, for my partner's ball. My partner and I considered Player X to really have not realized he was in the hazard, hence he played a provisional for a lost ball, despite him seeming to recognize the hazard just a few moments after his shot. I.e. we're giving him the benefit of the doubt. Do you think that's proper?

Next, Player X can't retrieve his 4th shot ( the one in the hazard ) and his partner ( Player X2 ) throws him a ball. Player X drops the ball into play. Then, Player X2 realizes he gave his ball to Player X. ( Player X2 is on the green, marked ) So, Player X2 gets another ball for Player X and Player X grabs the dropped ball and gives it back to X2. He then drops a new ball and finishes out the hole. I assume Player X2 incurs no penalty as he finished the hole with his same ball. What I don't know is if Player X then played the wrong ball despite the fact that the dropped ( correct ) ball was Player X2's. What say you?


Barry Rhodes said...


First, I would ask that you keep this comments facility to the subject matter of the blog. You can email me directly at rules at barry rhodes period com with other questions.

In my opinion, player X was permitted to play a second provisional ball in the understanding that his ball may be lost outside of a hazard, so it was not in play when he found his (irretrievable) original ball in the hazard. He was permitted to take relief from the hazard under penalty of one stroke and when he dropped the ball given to him by X2 that was his ball in play. So, when he lifted the ball to return it to X, he incurred a penalty of one stroke and should have replaced the same ball in order to continue the hole. If he dropped another ball, so as to return X2's ball to him, he was incorrectly substituting a ball, which meant that he was disqualified from the hole. However, it was obviously more advantageous for X2 to retrieve his ball and hole out with it, as he had incurred no penalty and his score stands.