Wednesday, 30 December 2015

New Year Rules Teaser

Four years ago, my New Year Rules Teaser posed the question as to how a player in a match could be 7 holes down without having struck a ball. Here is a link to the blog, which links to my answer. Well, thanks to Kathryn Belanger, Assistant Manager, Rules Communications at USGA, we now have an ‘official’ answer to the often asked question, “What is the earliest hole that a match can be won?”

Obviously, this is of academic interest only; it will never happen - but it could!

A player carries a non-conforming club (Rule 4-1). He changes the weight of his driver after teeing off, but he does not make a stroke with the club after the adjustment (Rule 4-2). He starts his round with 15 clubs (Rule 4-4a). He has two caddies (Rule 6-4). He violates the one-ball condition on the opening two holes (Appendix I, Part C, Item 1c). He has a parent as a caddie when they are not allowed (Appendix I, Part C, Item 2). He takes an unauthorized ride in a cart on both holes (Appendix I, Part C, Item 8).

If all of these violations are discovered on the second hole, each would carry a two-hole adjustment to the state of the match. That's 14 holes. Assuming the player also loses the first two holes, he now is 16 down with 16 to play.

His opponent could win the 18-hole match on the 3rd hole by a score of 17 and 15.

And now for something much easier!

10 Questions on the 10 Golden Rules of Golf
George Peper estimated that if golfers learned the ‘10 Golden Rules’ (see this blog of mine), they would be able to resolve 90% of the situations routinely encountered on the course. So, for this year’s New Year Teaser I am posing 10 questions on these ‘10 Golden Rules’ in the hope that they might also highlight some common misconceptions.

1. Play the ball as it lies.
A player’s ball is at rest in a bunker. As they walk into the bunker a twig is blown from a tree and comes to rest over their ball. They may remove the twig without penalty. True or False?

2. Improving a lie or stance by bending or breaking anything growing or fixed.
Prior to chipping to the hole a player may repair damage made by a ball to the fringe of the putting green that is two club-lengths in front of where their ball lies and on their line of play. True or False?

3. Loose Impediments
Before dropping a ball under the Rules a player may sweep away twigs, leaves and loose soil with their hand to clear the area of drop. True or False?

4. Movable and immovable obstructions.
If a player is not able to move an obstruction on their own it is an immovable obstruction. True or False?

5. Abnormal ground conditions
A player may take relief from footprints made by a burrowing animal in a bunker. True or False?

6. Touching the ground in hazards
A player may not touch the sand on the back slope of a bunker during their backswing. True or False?

7. Relief from (lateral) water hazards
If you cannot find a ball that is known to have come to rest in a lateral water hazard there are options to drop a ball under penalty of one stroke on either side of the hazard. True or False?

8. Ball lost or out of bounds
A player finds their ball lying 6 inches beyond an out of bounds margin. If they have not played a provisional ball they may drop the ball within two club-lengths of where it crossed the boundary for a penalty of two strokes, so as not to delay play.

9. Deeming a ball unplayable
A player may deem their ball unplayable anywhere on the course, except when it is in a water hazard, even if it is quite obviously playable, e.g. at rest on a putting green. True or False?

10. Repairing damage on the putting green
Players may repair spike damage to a hole providing it is not on their line of putt. True or False?

1.    False. Decision 13-4/18 The principle that a player is entitled to the lie that they had when their ball came to rest, only applies in cases where the lie of a ball has been altered as a result of an act by another player, caddie, spectator or other animate outside agency, not when the lie was altered through natural causes.
2.    False. Decision 13-2/0.5. A player must not improve their line of play by eliminating an irregularity of surface, except that damage on a putting green made by a ball, or an old hole mark on a putting green, may be repaired.
3.    False. Definition of Loose Impediments. Twigs and leaves may be carefully removed, but not loose soil, which is not a loose impediment unless it is on a putting green.
4.    False. Definition of Obstruction. Providing the obstruction can be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage the player may obtain the assistance of others to move it.
5.    False. Decision 25/19.5. A footprint is an irregularity of surface from which there is no relief without penalty.
6.    True. Rule 13-4b and Decision 13-4/31.
7.    True. Rule 26-1c(ii).
8.    False. The player must return to where they last played from under penalty of stroke and distance.
9.    True. Rule 28.
10.    False. Decision 16-1c/4. A player may not repair any spike mark anywhere in the vicinity of the hole, as it might assist them in their subsequent play of the hole.

How did you do?

Good golfing,


I have completed the update of all my eDocuments and will send new files to all those that purchased from me after 1st April 2015, as promised. However, I am still waiting for the updated .mobi version of my eBook, ‘999 Questions’, so bear with me, as these will take a little longer to deliver.
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2016 and may not be copied without permission.


Anonymous said...

An opponent may be able to win 18 and 15 on the third hole by breach of decision 33-8/4 on the third hole.

Barry Rhodes said...


Yes, but that penalty would be under a Local Rule, not one of the 34 Rules of Golf.


Anonymous said...

Well then, Appendix C's are also not part of the 34 rules.

Barry Rhodes said...


Touché. Mea culpa.


Anonymous said...

A match could be won before teeing off when the opponent concedes the match or there's a breach of rule 6-3a and be disqualified.

Or after teeing off, it could be won by on the first hole by concession or disqualification of the opponent by breach of 4-1, 4-2, 4-4, 5-1, 5-2, 6-2a, 6-4, 6-7, 6-8, 11-1, 14-3, 33-7, etc.

Barry Rhodes said...


Of course!