Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Re-creating the Lie and Re-covering the Ball

Ball covered by loose impediments in a bunker
Rule 20-3b(iii) states that if the original lie of a ball to be placed or replaced in a bunker has been altered the original lie must be re-created as nearly as possible and the ball must be placed in that lie. This includes any irregularity that the ball lay in when it came to rest, not just a change that was caused afterwards.

There are two similar situations in Rule 12-1;
a)    If a player’s ball lying anywhere on the course is believed to be covered by sand they may, without penalty, touch or move the sand in order to find or identify it (Rule 12-1a).
b)    If a player’s ball is believed to lie in a hazard, but is covered by loose impediments to the extent that they cannot find or identify it they may, without penalty, touch or move loose impediments in order to find or identify it (Rule 12-b).

So, in the above situations how does the player continue if they find and identify their ball? 
a)    The player must re-create the lie as nearly as possible by replacing the sand. If the ball is moved during the touching or moving of sand while searching for or identifying the ball, there is no penalty; the ball must be replaced and the lie re-created.
b)    If the ball was entirely covered by loose impediments (e.g. leaves, as in the photo above), the player must re-cover the ball but is permitted to leave a small part of the ball visible.

One further situation where the lie of a ball must be re-created can be found in Decision 18-2a/21 in which a player plays a wrong ball from a bunker and changes the lie of their own ball lying nearby. The player incurs the general penalty for making a stroke at the wrong ball, but is not penalised for moving their own ball in this circumstance. They must replace the ball in play and re-create the lie.

Farewell Ivor Robson.
If you do not know who Ivor Robson is, the Golf Channel video clip link that follows will probably not be of interest you; but if you are a follower of the European Tour you will almost certainly want to click on this link, to hear some very famous professional golfers pay their humorous tribute to the legendary and highly popular starter with 41 years’ service to the game of golf.

Good golfing,


A reminder that I will be emailing updated files to everyone that purchased one after 1st April 2015, as soon as I have finished working through the amendments. 

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

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Bunker Liners and Missed Start Times

Branden Grace and the Bunker Liner
Several readers have brought to my attention a Rules incident concerning South African, Branden Grace, at the recent 2015 WGC HSBC Champions in China. Apparently, the TV commentators were confused as to why he was permitted to take a free drop when his natural stance for a stroke meant that he had to place one foot inside a bunker to play his ball lying just outside of the bunker. The explanation is that one foot of his stance would have been on, or touching, an exposed bunker liner (which is an immovable obstruction). As his ball was lying outside of the bunker, he was correctly permitted to take relief without penalty from the interference, under Rule 24-2. So he dropped his ball outside of the bunker within one club-length of the nearest point of relief that avoided the interference from the bunker liner, not nearer the hole and not in the bunker. Of course, if his ball had been in the bunker, he would still have been entitled to take relief, but would have had to drop his ball in the bunker. There may be readers that have not come across artificial bunker liners, so I have included the photo of one being installed. Of course, the question that one might ask, is why a course hosting an important international golf tournament has a bunker with an exposed liner?

LPGA Players Miss Their Start Time

Four LPGA stars missed their tee time last Saturday at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico City. Carlota Ciganda, Suzann Pettersen, Angela Stanford and Minjee Lee all left their Mexico City hotel on their short journey to Club de Golf Mexico, for the third round of the 36-player event, in a shuttle bus provided by the tournament organisers. However, due to heavy Mexico City traffic and road works, the shuttle driver, chose to take a detour. Unfortunately, that decision turned what should have been a 20-minute ride into a two-hour ordeal, resulting in the four players missing their tee times and other groups due to start behind them being delayed.

Quite rightly, the LPGA decided that the situation was wholly out of the control of the players, and did not disqualify them under Rule 6-3a, which states;

The player must start at the time established by the Committee.
In stroke play, the penalty for a breach of Rule 6-3 is as follows;
If the player arrives at her starting point, ready to play, within five minutes after her starting time, the penalty for failure to start on time is loss of the first hole in match play or two strokes at the first hole in stroke play. Otherwise, the penalty for breach of this Rule is disqualification.
However, the Committee was able to justify the waiving of any penalty by resorting to the Exception to Rule 6-3;
Where the Committee determines that exceptional circumstances have prevented a player from starting on time, there is no penalty.
Interestingly, Decision 6-3a/1.5 suggests that heavy traffic resulting in the journey to the course taking longer than expected is not a sufficiently exceptional circumstance to avoid disqualification. In this case the fact that the transport was being organised by tournament organisers meant that it was outside the control of the players and they were permitted to tee-off late.

Of the four players only Ciganda seemed to put the episode behind her once out on the course, shooting 69, compared to Stanford’s 76, Pettersen’s 75 and Lee’s 73.

Good golfing,


This is the link to purchase the Decisons on the Rules of Golf 2016-2017.

This is the link to print out the notice board document of the main amendments to the Rules of Golf, effective 2016. 

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

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

November Miscellany

Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2016-2017
The R&A’s, spiral bound, Decisions book for 2016/2017 can now be purchased from Amazon for £12.91 (although I have just been advised that deliveries will not commence until 20th November) (Edit 12/11/15: I see that the Amazon price has been increased to £15.90, the £12.91 price was what they call a 'pre-order price'). I strongly recommend that all golfers with an interest in the Rules should have easy access to this really useful book, which I can promise you is much easier to read than the Rules book. You may not want it for yourself, but you should definitely consider purchasing it for your Club or Society. Any previous publications of the Decisions should be thrown in the bin, as there are a surprising number of amendments in the new publication. There are;

29 New Decisions
81 Revised Decisions
4 Re-numbered Decisions
17 Withdrawn Decisions
If you are going to purchase the Decisions book, or anything else from Amazon, I would be grateful if you could use this link to do so, as I will then make a few cents affiliate commission, which helps me to meet my costs.

Strangely, the USGA hard copy publication does not seem to be available from either Amazon or the USGA, but Amazon do have a Kindle (eBook) version at $15.99, which can also be purchased at my link above. The only difference between the R&A and USGA versions is the spellings of some words, as the Rules and Decisions have been unified for many years.

“Take Your Time!”
I am sure that most golfers have experienced a situation where a player misses a putt and moves quickly to their ball to tap it in when a fellow competitor says, “Take your time”. This can often lead to a situation where someone in the group, or later in the bar, suggests that this is a breach of Rule 8-1a, as it amounts to giving advice. I am pleased to pass on a statement that I have received, which in my opinion summarises the situation accurately;

Generally, a statement such as this would not be considered ‘advice’, as is defined in the Rules of Golf.  Such statements are usually made as a courtesy, when someone decides to putt out of turn in stroke play, rather than to council or influence the player in his play.

However, the ruling very much depends on the context of the conversation and circumstances. If it is simply a courtesy to tell the player they don’t have to rush on your behalf, then fine. But if it is stated in a way to counsel the player to slow them down, then this may result in a different ruling.
When is a Ball Replaced on a Putting Green Back in Play?
I have been asked to clarify exactly when a ball is back in play when being replaced at a ball-marker on a putting green. We know from Decision 20-4/1 that a ball is back in play when it has been replaced, even if the ball-marker has not been lifted;

Q. A player replaces his ball on the putting green but does not remove his ball-marker. Subsequently the wind moves his ball to a new position. What is the ruling?
A. Under Rule 20-4, a ball is in play when it is replaced, whether or not the object used to mark its position has been removed. Consequently the ball must be played from the new position.
There is no restriction in Rule 16 as to how many times a player may mark and lift their ball on the putting green, providing they do not unduly delay play. It is not uncommon to see a player replace their ball at the ball-marker, step back to check the alignment of their intended line of putt, move the ball again, and repeat this process until they are satisfied that the ball is correctly aligned, before removing their ball-marker. In this scenario, the ball is in play whenever the player has released it at rest, and is out of play whenever they touch it. The same applies no matter how many times they touch, move or lift the ball. However, if any part of their equipment causes their replaced ball to move, they are penalised one stroke under Rule 18-2a, even if the ball-marker is still in place.

A Document for Club/Society Notice Boards
I have edited my blog from two weeks ago, which summarised the main amendments to the Rules of Golf, effective 1st January 2016, into a single A4 page that can be printed out for posting on Club and Society notice boards, or included in a newsletter to members. Click on this link, then click on the box labelled, ‘DOWNLOAD PDF’ and print out from there. Please leave my accreditation on this single page document.

Good golfing,


This is the link to purchase the Decisons on the Rules of Golf 2016-2017.

This is the link to print out the notice board document of the main amendments to the Rules of Golf, effective 2016.

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

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Anchoring the Club

Permitted putting strokes, from the R&A and USGA infographic
Following the announcement of the revisions to the 2016 Rules of Golf, on which I commented in my blog last week, I have received a few questions concerning the new Rule 14-1b - Anchoring the Club. Before I answer them here is what the Rule states;
In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point.” 

Note 1:  The club is anchored “directly” when the player intentionally holds the club or a gripping hand in contact with any part of his body, except that the player may hold the club or a gripping hand against a hand or forearm.

Note 2:  An “anchor point” exists when the player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a stable point around which the other hand may swing the club.
The Ruling Bodies have provided this explanation as to why the change is being made;
“A stroke is a fundamental element that defines the game of golf and is meant to involve the player freely swinging the entire club at the ball. Anchoring the club relieves the player from making a free swing by restricting the movement of the club as if it were physically attached to the player’s body and thereby providing extra support and stability for the stroke.”
Now let me clarify some of the salient points that have been raised.
•    Rule 14-1b is not an equipment Rule. There is nothing in the revised Rules for 2016 to stop a player using any conforming mid-length or long-handled putter, providing they do not anchor the club while making a stroke.
•    The prohibition on anchoring applies to all types of stroke (i.e. putts, chip shots, pitch shots, full-length shots, etc.), regardless of where those strokes are made (i.e., putting green, fringe, fairway, rough, tee, and everywhere else on the course.)
•    Rule 14-1b applies to all amateur and professional golfers playing in any competition that is being played in accordance with the Rules of Golf, as laid down by the R&A and USGA.
•    If a player does carry a long-handled putter amongst the 14 clubs that they are permitted, they may use it for measuring club-lengths.
•    The penalty for anchoring a club while making a stroke is two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play, on each occasion that the Rule is breached.
•    American Pro golfer, Matt Kuchar, has been using a method of putting with a long-handled putter that is still permitted. He holds the club grip against his forearm (i.e. below his elbow) when making a stroke. If you are interested in seeing his method in a short YouTube video, click here.
•    A Committee may not introduce a Local Rule, or Condition of Competition, to permit anchoring by any competitor. Anchoring during a stroke is not a local, abnormal condition and to permit it would waive a fundamental Rule of Golf. There are no exceptions for seniors, or golfers with a medical condition.

For most of us the new Rule 14-1b will be of little consequence, as we have never resorted to using longer than standard putters. However, for those of you that believe that a long-handled putter may assist your golf, or may keep you playing the game for longer, you should fully understand the nuances of the prohibition of anchoring. I strongly recommend that you visit the excellent, on-line resources provided by R&A and USGA at these links;


Good golfing,


The new Rules of Golf books should soon be available through your Golf Club or Society, courtesy of the sponsor, Rolex. I hope to be providing a link to the new ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2016-2017’ book on my RhodesRulesSchool.com web site, by the end of this week.

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