Tuesday, 20 September 2016

What a Golfer May Move Without Penalty

I know that some regular readers of this blog like to have lists to assist them in understanding the Rules, so I am going to address what a player may move when their ball in play is stationary and when it is in motion.

Player’s Ball in Play is Stationary;

•    Artificial objects that can easily be moved are movable obstructions, which may be moved from anywhere on the course, or out of bounds, Rule 24-1. Examples are course signage, distance markers, water hazard stakes, cans, abandoned balls and other rubbish.
•    Natural objects that are not fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or adhering to the ball, are loose impediments, which may be moved from anywhere on the course, except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard. Rule 23-1. Examples are grass clippings, leaves and pine cones.
•    A player is not penalised for moving, bending or even breaking anything growing or fixed, providing this happens while they are fairly taking their stance, which means using the least intrusive course of action that is reasonably necessary for the selected stroke, Decision 13-2/1.
•    A player is entitled to move a natural object for the specific purpose of determining whether the object is loose; if it is not it must be returned to its original position before making the next stroke, Decision 13-2/26.
•    If a player considers that another ball might interfere with their play, they may have it lifted, Rule 22-2.
•    Sand and loose soil may be moved from the putting green, but not from anywhere else, Definition of Loose Impediments.

Player’s Ball is in Motion after a Stroke;

•    When a ball is in motion after a stroke, no player may move any movable obstruction that might influence the movement of the ball, except the equipment of any player and the flagstick that has been removed from the hole, Rule 24-1. Examples of player’s equipment are their clubs, clothing and golf bag. 
•    When a ball is in motion after a stroke, no player may move any loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball, Rule 23-1. Examples are divots, a detached branch and insect-like creatures, Definition 23-5/5.
•    Obviously, a player must not purposely stop any ball that is in motion, Rule 1-2.

Dustin Johnson Has Gotten Spit-Roasted
The first line of this article in this week’s Golf Digest reads;

"Dustin Johnson has gotten spit-roasted in the wake of his victory in the BMW Championship on Sunday for his incessant spitting on the golf course."

I am not going to expand on Johnson’s bad habit, other than to register my abhorrence that a professional golfer would consider that this is acceptable behaviour on a golf course, knowing that they are being watched by millions, especially juniors. Following a similar occurrence in 2011, the European Tour fined Tiger Woods for a breach of their tour Code of Conduct. To his credit, Tiger immediately apologised, admitting that it was inconsiderate to spit like that and he should have known better. To his credit, I am not aware of any subsequent indiscretion by him in this respect. It appears that Dustin Johnson will not be fined by the USA PGA, as they seem to take a less critical attitude to spitting than the European Tour, so it is left to concerned individuals to voice our opinions on how distasteful we regard this disgusting practice, particularly on the golf course.

Good golfing,


Most readers of this blog are aware that they can purchase either of my two ‘999 Questions on the Rules’ publications directly from me, as eBooks in both .pdf and .mobi formats. Click here. However, if you don’t use a tablet, smart phone or eReader and prefer an old-fashioned paperback copy, they are both available from Amazon at these links;

UK and others: New ‘999 More Questions’ paperback

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USA: Original ‘999 Questions’ paperback

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

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

When Is a Bunker Not a Bunker?

I expect most of us think that we know a bunker when we see one, especially after the Dustin Johnson ‘bunker-gate’ at Whistling Straights in 2010 (click here if you do not know what I am referring to). Well, it may not be quite as simple as you think. Let me start by referencing the Definition of Bunker;

A "bunker" is a hazard consisting of a prepared area of ground, often a hollow, from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like.

Grass-covered ground bordering or within a bunker, including a stacked turf face (whether grass-covered or earthen), is not part of the bunker. A wall or lip of the bunker not covered with grass is part of the bunker. The margin of a bunker extends vertically downwards, but not upwards.

A ball is in a bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker.

There are several points to note here;

•    The ball in the photo above is not in the bunker, because it lies on grass covered ground within the bunker.
•    A stacked turf bunker face (also known as a revetted bunker face) is not part of the bunker.
•    A natural, earth wall of a bunker is part of the bunker, even though there may be no sand left on it.
•    An artificial wall of a bunker (e.g. lined with wooden sleepers) is an immovable obstruction, unless a Local Rule makes the construction integral to the course.
•    A ball that enters an abnormal ground condition (e.g. a hole made by a burrowing animal) in a bunker, rolls underneath and past the margin of the bunker, is not in the bunker, because it is outside the margin, which extends downwards.
•    A ball that partly touches grass that is outside the bunker and sand that is inside the bunker is in the bunker.

Some Decisions on bunkers reveal further points;
•    Sand that has spilled over the margin of the bunker is not part of the bunker, Decision 13/1.
•    A ball lies that lies on the edge of the bunker, overhanging the lip but not touching the sand, is not in the bunker, because the margin does not extend vertically upwards.
•    A ball that is completely embedded in the vertical lip of a bunker that is not grass-covered is in the bunker, so there is no relief for an embedded ball, Decision 13/4.
•    A ball that is lying on any type of obstruction in a bunker (e.g. a rake, or exposed plastic lining) is in the bunker, Decision 13/5.

Finally, many modern golf courses have unmaintained, natural areas that are incorrectly referred to as ‘waste bunkers’, whereas they should properly be referred to as waste areas, because they are not bunkers within the Definition (as above). These waste areas typically have a sand, gravel or crushed shell surface area. They are sometimes designed by modern-day course architects as another difficult condition for golfers to negotiate, or more often, to reduce maintenance costs. In the Rules of Golf these waste areas are simply ‘through the green’.

Another Blog Award!

Like the famous London double-decker, red buses, blog awards seem to come along in twos! No sooner had I received my first blog award (see my previous blog, dated 23rd August) than I received notification that I have been included in Golf Assessors, ‘Top 50 Best Golf Blogs’, ranked number 6 this time. As far as I know, I am the only person in both of these lists of top blogs whose content is exclusively on the Rules of Golf. So please pass on my details to anyone else you know that is crazy enough to be interested in this fascinating subject.
Good golfing,


I have now published 1,998 Q&As on the Rules of Golf in my two books, ‘999 Questions…’ and ‘999 More Questions…’. The two books are totally complementary to each other, in very different formats. If you have the first book then I recommend that you purchase the second; if you purchased the second then I recommend that you now purchase the first. If you have not purchased either then you should immediately buy both. If you have already purchased both … thank you!
Click here for more details on both the eBooks (from me) and paperbacks (from Amazon) publications.

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