Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Autumn (Fall) Leaves

I am grateful to Paul Kruger, PGA Professional at The Canyon Club, Albuquerque, New Mexico, for giving me permission to use his content for this week’s blog, which is very relevant to those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who are currently experiencing the annual problem of falling leaves on our golf courses.

Here are some important points to remember when you encounter leaves on the golf course:

First and foremost, keep in mind that detached leaves are loose impediments, unless they are clinging to your ball, see Definition of Loose Impediments. Therefore, with leaves in the vicinity of your golf ball, you might want to leave (leaf!) well enough alone, unless you are familiar with such Rules as Rule 23 - Loose Impediments, Rule 12-1b - Searching for or Identifying Ball Covered by Loose Impediments in Hazard, and Rule 13-4c - Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions.

On the putting green, you may remove leaves on your line of putt provided you do not press anything down, Rule 16-1a - Touching Line of Putt. Also on the putting green, per Rule 23-1, if you accidentally move your ball in the process of removing leaves, there is no penalty provided the movement of the ball is directly attributable to the removal of the leaves. Just remember to replace your ball to where it was before you caused it to move, otherwise you will incur a loss of hole penalty in match play or a two-stroke penalty in stroke play, Rule 18-2 - Ball at Rest Moved by Player, Partner, Caddie or Equipment.

However, when the ball does not lie on the putting green, or in a hazard, you may remove leaves in the vicinity of your ball, provided you do not cause your ball to move. If you do cause your ball to move, you incur a one-stroke penalty and you must replace your ball, Rule 18-2.

Leaves that have been piled for removal are ground under repair, Definition of Ground Under Repair. Those are the kinds of piles of leaves that you don’t have to worry about encountering outside of a water hazard, because relief without penalty is available to you via Rule 25 - Abnormal Ground Conditions, etc. In fact, if it is known or virtually certain that your ball is lost within such a pile, relief is provided by Rule 25-1c - Ball in Abnormal Ground Condition Not Found. In taking relief, you must determine the nearest point of relief to where the ball crossed the outermost limit of the pile of leaves and drop within one club-length of that point, not nearer the hole.

If there is a pile of leaves immediately behind your ball in a hazard, be careful not to touch the leaves with your club prior to, or during, your backswing. Otherwise, you will incur a loss of hole penalty in match play or a two stroke penalty in stroke play, Rule 13-4c - Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions.

If you believe that your ball is covered by leaves in a hazard to the extent that you cannot find or identify it, you may, without penalty, touch or move the leaves in order to find or identify the ball. However, you must be extremely careful not to cause your ball to move in the process. See Rule 12-1b - Searching for or Identifying Ball Covered by Loose Impediments in Hazard. If you cause your ball to move during the search, you incur a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 and you must replace your ball. If your ball was completely covered by leaves prior to the search, you must re-cover it with the leaves; but it is permitted to leave a small part of the ball visible.

Thanks again to Paul Kruger, PGA, The Canyon Club, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA for his permission to use his content in my blogs.

Good golfing,


 


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Monday, 3 October 2016

Jordan Spieth Ruling: Ryder Cup 2016

Photo: Rydercup.com - Jordan Spieth
My congratulations to the excellent USA team who were the deserving winners of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club. The overall match result was almost assured by the time that Jordan Spieth hooked his ball into the water hazard on the par-5 16th hole. His ball came to rest at the water’s edge, but presumably in a position where he thought that he could make a stroke at it. The fact that he was 2-down to his opponent, Henrik Stenson, obviously played a part in his decision to remove his shoes and socks to prepare for an unlikely stroke from the water onto the putting green. But as he took up his stance with one foot in the water, he saw his ball move deeper into the murky water. He wasn’t sure about the ruling, so he called over European Tour Rules official, Jose Zamaro. Surprisingly, he was not confident enough to give a definitive ruling, even after consulting his Rules book, and had to call in the details of the situation to the senior Rules Official for the competition. He then passed on the ruling to Jordan that he had incurred a penalty of one stroke, under Rule 18-2, for causing his ball to move while taking his stance. Even with this penalty it was still possible, if highly unlikely, that he could have holed out with his next stroke for 4, but perhaps wisely, he said, "It’s done now, it’s over" and conceded the hole to Henrik, thus losing the match 3 and 2.

Obviously, I cannot know what was confusing to Jordan Spieth and the official, Jose Zamaro, about the Rules situation, but I am guessing that they may have been unsure about whether Rule 13-4 or Rule 14-6 could have been applicable in the circumstances. Here is my assessment of the situation;

•    Decision 13-4/13: If a player accidentally moves a loose impediment in a hazard (e.g. a stone) there is no penalty, provided the loose impediment was not moved in making the backswing and the lie of the ball or area of the intended stance or swing was not improved. This was not relevant to the Spieth incident.
•    Rule 14-6: If a ball is moving in water in a water hazard, the player may, without penalty, make a stroke at the moving ball. This was not relevant to the Spieth incident.
•    Rule 18-2: If a player causes their ball to move they incur a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced. This applies whether the ball lies in a water hazard, or not. Note that there seven exceptions to this Rule, but none that was relevant to the Spieth incident. Of course, it is possible that a ball could be moved by the natural flow of water, but in this circumstance it was clear that it was the placing of Jordan’s foot at the water’s edge that caused his ball to move.

Footnote 1: On 31st August this year Associated Press reported that Jordan Spieth recalled getting a Rules of Golf book at a junior tournament with instructions to keep it in his bag for quick reference. "I never opened it", he said.

Footnote 2: Jordan Spieth is reported to have earned $147.5 million since 2012 (reference: Money Nation), so he may not think that it is necessary for him to spend time studying the Rules book, but perhaps he should employ a caddie that does!

Good golfing,



 

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