Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Year Rules Teasers

It has been my custom to set a few Rules teasers for readers to think about over the New Year holiday. This year I have 9 questions that may require a little more thought/knowledge than those in my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’. Don’t be tempted to check my answers below until you have arrived at an answer of your own.

1.    How can a player win a hole in match play when their opponent has not made a stroke, no concession was made and they did not incur any penalty?

2.    What are the two occasions (edit 4th January 2015: make that three) when a player is not penalised for making a stroke at a ball that is moving?

3.    After a putt for birdie on a par-4, the player’s ball balances on the edge of hole, the player walks up and makes a one-handed stroke at their ball but misses it. The ball falls into the hole anyway. a) Was the ball holed, or does it have to be replaced on the edge of the hole and tapped in? b) What is the player’s score for the hole?

4.    A Local Rule permits taking relief for a ball that is embedded through the green. A player’s ball lands in soft ground entering just inside the out of bounds line, but comes to rest out of bounds. May the player take relief?

5.    Rule 21 details three situations where a ball may not be cleaned when lifted under a Rule. What is a fourth situation?

6.    In a stroke play competition a player did not record any gross score on their score card for their 14th hole, but they were not disqualified and won the competition over the stipulated 18 holes. Explain.

7.    Which Rule is regularly breached at Club level but is rarely penalised because the players, their markers and probably the Committee, do not realise that they have breached a Rule of Golf?

8.    In stroke play, which Rule can be breached without incurring a penalty?

9.    Which of the following statements is incorrect?
a)    Players may use an artificial device to warm their golf balls before their round.
b)    Players may keep their golf balls warm during their round.
c)    Players may use an artificial device to warm their golf balls during their round.
d)    Players may use an artificial device to warm their hands during their round.
 .......or do you think that a), b), c) and d) are all incorrect?

1.    The player had a hole-in-one with a handicap stroke and their opponent did not have a handicap stroke on that hole.
2.    When a player is making their first stroke at a ball on teeing ground (Rule 11-3) and when the ball is moving in water (Rule 14-6). (Edit 4th January 2015: A reader has provided a third occasion; when wind moves a ball after the player has commenced their backswing and it is still moving as they make their stroke at it.)
3.    a) The ball was holed. b) 4 strokes.
4.    The player may take relief. Decision 13/4 clarifies that an embedded ball is considered to be lying in the part of the course where it entered the ground. 
5.    A player may not clean their ball when they lift it to determine whether they are entitled to relief under a Rule, e.g. to determine whether the ball is in a hole made by a burrowing animal, or is embedded (Decision 20-1/0.7).
6.    It was a Stableford or Par/Bogey competition, in which it is not required to mark a score for a hole where no points are scored, or the hole is lost (Decision 32-1/2).
7.    When they start before their scheduled starting time (Decision 6-3a/5).
8.    Rule 10-2c. Competitors may play out of turn, providing they have not agreed to play out of turn to give one of them a competitive advantage.
9.    c) is incorrect. An artificial device may be used to warm golf balls before the round and they may be kept warm during a round, but an artificial device must not be used to warm them during a round. Decision 14-3/13.5. Players may use an artificial device to warm their hands at any time.

How did you do?

Good golfing,


P.S. Apologies that my 'Rhodes Rules School' web site was compromised over the Christmas/New Year holiday period. I am hoping to have it working again very soon.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2015 and may not be copied without permission.


NebTiffam said...

You can also win the first hole of a match without the opponent hitting a shot if they show up 3 minutes late for their tee time.
On question #9, you guys may be letting players across the pond keep their balls warm with a hand warmer during a round, but I wouldn't suggest trying it in a USGA event over here in the colonies.

Happy New Year.


Barry Rhodes said...


Q1. Your answer doesn't meet the conditions of the question, as starting late does incur a penalty.

I am sure you know that the Rules of Golf are unified across the world; so if it is permitted by the R&A it is also permitted by the USGA. In any case, using a hand warmer to keep a ball warm would be against the Rules; I was thinking more of a vacuum flask, which could maintain most of the heat of a pre-warmed ball, but could not increase it


P.S. Have you never carried a spare ball in your pocket, which amounts to keeping it warm with body heat?

TiVo said...

Did you mean Rule 21 in number 5?

Barry Rhodes said...


Yes, of course. I have corrected it now. Thanks for spotting this typo.


George Kolistasi said...

Hi Barry,
recently we had a situation where two players on the same hole had lengthy putts. Now because each player thought it was their turn to play (given the length of the putt) and I, having removed the flagstick, was concentrating on only the one player.
Both players struck their balls at the same time and the balls collided close to the hole.

After some confusion, I (being the low marker in the group) determined that the player who was closer to the hole had struck their ball out of turn and therefore incurred a 2 shot penalty and that both players had to replay their shots.
I consulted the Proshop however I am not 100% confident that this was the correct ruling. Please advise.

Barry Rhodes said...


As there is no penalty for playing out of turn in stroke play, neither player incurred a penalty when their balls collided. Both balls must be replaced and replayed. Rule 19-5b.

I should point out that the ruling may be different if one ball was struck before the other, if one of the balls was played from off the putting green, or if one of the balls was at rest when the other ball hit it.


TiVo said...

Hi Barry.
The way I read George's post is that both balls were on the putting surface prior to being struck.
This being the case, both players would replay their strokes (19-5b). The player whose turn it was to play has no penalty, however the note to this rule says that 16-1f overrides this if necessary.
So following on, if the player who was furthest from the hole hit first followed by the nearer player (or simultaneously - I believe), the nearer player is penalised under 16-1f. If the nearer player hit first, neither player would have any penalty applied.

Fingers crossed I'm right AND the above makes sense.

Barry Rhodes said...


If you read Rule 16-1f again you will see that it does not apply to a situation where both players strike their balls from the putting green at the same time, which was a key point in Jorge's question.


Marc Cools said...

On question 4. I have read the decision 13/4. I had the impression that the ball was still in the mark which it made at impact. Maybe deep in it and possible across the boundary of the bunker but still in the mark. In your question the ball has popped out of it. Isn't that a significant difference to consider?

Barry Rhodes said...


Nowhere did I say that it had "popped out". The ball embedded, travelling under the surface to a point that was out of bounds. Extremely unlikely, I know, and the player would never have found it anyway, but this was a 'teaser'.


Mike R said...

Barry, thanks for your Rules education efforts. Question 4, 13/4 does not apply. 13/4 clarifies in which part of the course a ball on the course lies. Notice "part of the course" in the answer.
The ball in your question does not lie on the course, definition of Out of Bounds. The Definition of OOB clarifies that your ball is not on the course.

Barry Rhodes said...

Mike R,

First, let me say that I am now wavering as to the accuracy of my answer, which is unlikely to ever be officially resolved, due to the extremely hypothetical circumstances; a ball that has been embedded this far will have been struck from a long distance away and will never be found! However, I am going to challenge your reasoning, as you have conveniently only selected the part of the ruling that supports your opinion. The full answer reads;

"No. An embedded ball is considered to be lying in the part of the course where it entered the ground.

In my question, the ball was on the course when it "entered the ground".


Unknown said...

Barry is it a 2 shot penalty if you carry a spare ball on to the tee in your pocket

Barry Rhodes said...


Noooooooo! Where do these myths come from?