Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Searching for a Ball

Questions from the floor that are asked during my presentations on the Rules, often relate to searching for a ball that may be lost. Here are some relevant points on this subject;

•    A player does not have to search for their own ball if they would rather not find it, e.g. when their original ball is likely to be deep in a gorse bush and their provisional ball is in the middle of the fairway.
•    If a player requests fellow competitors not to search for their ball it is poor etiquette, but not a breach of any Rule, for them to then go and look for the ball. However, this is not the case in match play, when an opponent may decide that they could benefit by finding the player’s original ball.
•    In match play, if an opponent does go to search for a player’s original ball, e.g. because the provisional ball is lying close to the hole, the player may quickly move to their provisional ball and putt it into the hole. As soon as they do so, they have rendered the original ball lost, even if it is subsequently found within 5 minutes of search beginning for it. Although the opponent may then recall this putt played out of turn (Rule 10-1c), it would not change the status of the original ball, which was lost as soon as the provisional ball was played from a position nearer to the hole (Decision 27-2b/1).
•    If a player’s ball is found within the five-minute search period, but because they are some distance away they are unable to make a positive identification within this time limit, it is not a lost ball, even though the identification takes place after the five-minute search period has elapsed (Decision 27-5/5).
•    A player may not return to where they last played from to play a provisional ball while fellow competitors continue to search for their original ball. Once the player has gone forward to search, say 50 yards from where they played from, any ball that they return to play becomes their ball in play as soon as they make a stroke at it, under penalty of stroke and distance, even if they wrongly announce it as being a provisional ball (Decision 27-2a/1.5).
•    Following on from the last point, once a player has dropped a ball with the intention of playing under penalty of stroke and distance, that ball is in play and the original ball is lost, even though no stroke has been made at it before the original ball is found within five minutes of search starting for it (Decision 27-1/2). The situation is slightly different if the ball was played from the teeing ground, as a ball may be teed up and addressed, but is not in play until a stroke has been made at it.
•    If a player knows that their ball has definitely come to rest in an area of ground under repair, casual water or any other abnormal ground condition, they do not have to search for it, they may take relief without penalty, using the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the abnormal ground condition as the reference point for dropping their ball (Rule 25-1c).
•    In stroke play, there is no penalty when a player accidentally moves the ball of a fellow competitor, but in match play an opponent does incur a penalty of one stroke, unless they were searching for it when they accidentally moved it. In every situation where a ball is accidentally moved it must be replaced (Rule 18-3a).
•    A player is permitted a total of five minutes to search for their ball. So if they find their ball after a two-minute search, leave the area to get a club and are then unable to find it, they have three more minutes to search before it is lost (Decision 27/3).
•    A player is allowed five minutes to search for their original ball and five more minutes to search for their provisional ball, unless the two balls are so close together that, in effect, both balls would be searched for simultaneously, when a total of five minutes is allowed for both balls (Decision 27/4).
•    A player may search for a lost ball after putting another ball into play, but must not play the first ball if they find it and must not unduly delay play while searching for it (Decision 27/9).

Mel Reid plays Fourball on Her Own
England's Mel Reid took on Japan's Haru Nomura and Mika Miyazato on her own in the fourballs at the UL International Crown. The circumstances were that Reid’s fourball partner, Charley Hull, was being treated for asthma and fever in an ambulance near the clubhouse at the Merit Club in Gurnee, Illinois. She was strongly advised to rest and not to play. Despite having only one shot to Japan's two, Mel Reid took the match to the 18th hole, before the Japanese eventually won, 1-up.

Rule 30-3a, Representation of Side, is the relevant Rule; 
A side may be represented by one partner for all or any part of a match; all partners need not be present. An absent partner may join a match between holes, but not during play of a hole.
999 More Questions on the Rules of Golf
A gentle reminder that my new eBook is available for purchase at this link. Thanks to all those that have written complimentary reviews, including these;

“I just bought your new version of the 999 questions and I wanted to tell you that these questions and answers are a total MUST HAVE when doing the different levels in golf education.” 

"Splendid - just like all Mr Rhodes' previous offerings!" 

“This book is an excellent source of information for any golfer who wants to improve his knowledge reading real situations that can happen during any round of golf.”

“Clearest and easy to find rule book I've ever used.”

“This book is an excellent source of information for any golfer who wants to improve his knowledge reading real situations that can happen during any round of golf."

"One more time thank you Barry Rhodes for the work that you do to make the rules of golf easy to understand.”

Here is the link once again!

Good golfing,


The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2016 and may not be copied without permission.

Monday, 11 July 2016

July Miscellany

Nordqvist Breaches Rule during Women’s US Open 3-Hole Playoff
I am sure that you know that before making a stroke at a ball that is in a bunker you may not touch the ground in that bunker with your club. I would guess that almost every golfer with an official handicap knows this part of Rule 13-4 and that most of us are careful to hover our sand wedge well above the surface, to avoid incurring a penalty. Not so, Swedish golfer, Anna Nordqvist, who brushed the sand with the heel of her club on one of the most important strokes of her career, during a 3-hole playoff of a major, the Women’s US Open in CordeValle, San Martin, California. At the time of writing, there is a video and commentary on this breach of Rule at this SkySports link (after the ad. at around 60 seconds).

For the second time in two weeks, the USGA is the subject of much criticism following a US Open major tournament. Almost everyone who has seen the video accept that Nordqvist did breach Rule 13-4, but many are unhappy about the timing of the intervention by the officials to inform both players that the penalty of two strokes had been imposed. Most impartial observers agree that the officials should have waited until after the eventual winner, Brittany Lang, had played her 3rd stroke to the 18th green, as she then had the advantage of playing more conservatively than she otherwise would. It is obvious that the Ruling Bodies will have to address the question of the timing of advising players of (possible) penalties, whether incurred by themselves, or by their fellow competitors. Unfortunately, this may mean even more complications being added to the already creaking Rules and Decisions books.

My last word on this incident is that for some time I have thought that this Rule, relating to grounding a club in a hazard, is one that should be amended sooner rather than later. It is obvious that a player can obtain very little information about the condition of the hazard that their ball lies in, by touching its surface with their club, especially as the Rules do permit them to test the condition of any other hazard, providing their ball lies outside a hazard at the time. Also, regarding bunkers, Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 permits players, at any time, to smooth sand or soil in the hazard that their ball lies in, provided this is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to their next stroke. In my opinion, it is time to eliminate this Rule, which would be one small step towards their simplification.

Dustin Johnson Not Penalised for Causing His Ball to Move!
If you are of the opinion that the Ruling Bodies were unduly harsh on Dustin Johnson at the US Open last month, you might be interested in this short video clip from July 2013, when he was not assessed a penalty for causing his ball to move, after dropping his ball-marker on his ball. Although it was clearly evident that he was the cause of his ball moving, the ruling was that the ball then settled back to its original spot. In this situation, the weight of evidence was apparently less than 50% that the ball had moved from its spot. According to the Definition of Moved.

A ball is deemed to have "moved" if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place.
Golf Rules Quick Reference
Click here
 Those of us that take the Rules of Golf seriously will be only too aware that most golfers rarely open the Rules book, let alone the Decisions on the Rules. Even I recognise that in achieving the objective of having definitive rulings for any of the myriad of circumstances that may arise on the golf course, the Rules of Golf have become wordy, extensive and sometimes difficult to comprehend.  This is where ‘Golf Rules Quick Reference’, from Expert Golf, can be of huge benefit for most golfers. In my opinion, this handy, pocket size, ring bound booklet, with a durable plastic cover, provides the ideal solution for all those that want to follow the Rules, but do not want to spend hours studying and learning them.

The content is set out in eight logical headings, each conveniently opened through a colour coded index tab, with sub-divisions into meaningful, short sections that are easy to read and understand and are complemented by clever, explanatory illustrations. Many sections also contain a note, or tip, to further clarify the content. The back cover alone is worth regular reference and memorising, because it provides an overview of the relief procedures under four vertical columns: Fairway & Rough, Bunker, Water Hazard, Green; and five horizontal rows: Loose Impediments, Movable Obstructions, Immovable Obstructions, Abnormal Ground Conditions, Declaring a Ball Unplayable. Brilliant! I am pleased to highly recommend ‘Golf Rules Quick Reference’, as being an excellent booklet to pop into your golf bag for quick and simple reference to the majority of Rules situations that you are likely to encounter.

If you are like me and are relying more and more on your smart phone for news, sport, social media, reading material and apps, then you should also check out Expert Golf’s ‘iGolfrules’ app.  Just as easy to reference as the above booklet, you can use this app to find the right solution to your Rules query with a maximum of 3 clicks. In addition to the aforementioned illustrations, there are also explanatory videos covering various areas of misunderstanding that some golfers have, such as relief from lateral water hazards and unplayable ball.

Of course, both of the above products include the January 2016 amendments to the Rules. In fact, one of the sections lists and explains the main changes. They are also available in more than ten different languages. Finally, having been familiar with the various publications by Rules official, Yves C Ton-That, for several years, I am confident that the content is accurate and I have no hesitation in recommending them to my readers and subscribers. Click here for purchase details (the 3rd item on top row).

Good golfing,

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2016 and may not be copied without permission.