Monday, 24 August 2015

Shortened Stipulated Rounds and Practice

Here is an interesting question on the Rules of Golf;
May a player practice on holes 1-4 when the stipulated, stroke play competition round is holes 5-18?
I am raising this subject in anticipation that there are many Clubs that hold such competitions. My own Club runs 14-hole, semi-open, midweek competitions throughout the summer season. It is a common practice for players who arrive early, to practice on the holes that do not form part of the stipulated round. It has now been brought to my attention that this may be a breach of Rule 7-1b, part of which states;
Before a round or play-off on any day of a stroke-play competition, a competitor must not practice on the competition course
These are the relevant Definitions;
The "course" is the whole area within any boundaries established by the Committee (see Rule 33-2).
The "stipulated round" consists of playing the holes of the course in their correct sequence, unless otherwise authorized by the Committee. The number of holes in a stipulated round is 18 unless a smaller number is authorised by the Committee.
Until this subject was raised with me, I envisaged no problem with players practicing on those holes that were not included in the stipulated round. However, the question was put to me as to whether a ball hooked from the 9th teeing ground that came to rest on the 3rd fairway, a hole not included in the stipulated round, would be in play? Knowing that this regularly happens on my home course and that no-one has ever suggested that a ball played to this position was out of bounds, I realised that the four holes not in play do indeed form part of the 14-hole course.

Fortunately, the Rules provide a solution for this potential problem. The Note to Rule 7-1 includes this statement;

Note: The Committee may, in the conditions of a competition …. permit practice on the competition course or part of the course (Rule 33-2c) on any day of or between rounds of a stroke-play competition.
I will be making a recommendation to the Committee at my Club to introduce a Condition of Competition that specifically permits players to practice on those holes that are not included as part of the stipulated round on the day of any competition.

Good golfing,


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Andy Thomas said...

Hi Barry

Your recent post regarding practising on the course was very topical at our Club where we had two situations that came in to question.

The first concerned a long standing feature of the course where a practice ground lay along side of one fairway but has never been marked as out of bounds and therefore an integral part of the course.

The question raised here, even though this situation had existed for many a year was; are players in breach of Rule 7.1b if they use the practice area on the day of the competition? The second situation came about after the recent introduction of a weekend long stablefords whereby players could elect to play on either day but not both. As this was a single competition over Saturday and Sunday. The question was raised about players playing the course on Saturday but not in the competition and then playing the competition on Sunday being in contravention of Rule 7.1b having practiced on the course the day of before.

As with your example we over came this in first case by adding a new local rule pertaining to this specific practice area to the effect that players would not be penalised under 7.1b (all other practice areas are marked up as OOB). In the second case competition was redefined in the Condition of Competition as a Main Day and Alternate Day competition stating that
players playing the course on the first day, but not in the competition, would not be penalised under 7.1b when playing their competition round on the second day.

Both solutions have satisfied those players with a keen interest in the application of the rules. For the majority it has mostly gone un-noticed.

Barry Rhodes said...


Yes, it is only when someone thinks that a prize winner could have breached a Rule that some of these obscure points become issues! It is obviously better for Committees to address them before the trouble starts!