Tuesday, 19 September 2017

When a Rule is Breached in Stroke Play

There are four main situations that apply when a Rule of Golf is breached in a stroke play competition;

1. A player breaches a Rule and includes the appropriate penalty on the score card that they sign and return.
2. A player unknowingly breaches a Rule and signs and returns their score card. The breach is brought to the Committee’s attention before the competition has closed.
3. As in 2, but the breach is brought to the Committee’s attention after the competition has closed.
4. A player knowingly breaches a Rule, but does not include the penalty incurred on their score card

So what are the considerations in each of these four scenarios?
1. This does not require any further explanation. It is what should happen every time a Rule is breached.
2. If the breach is brought to the attention of the Committee before the competition has closed, the player incurs the penalty prescribed by the applicable Rule and an additional penalty of two strokes, Exception to Rule 6-6d. 
3. If the breach is brought to the attention of the Committee after the competition has closed, a penalty must not be imposed by them unless the breach warranted disqualification under one of these four exceptions that are outlined in Rule 34-1b;
Exceptions: A penalty of disqualification must be imposed after the competition has closed if a competitor:
(i) was in breach of Rule 1-3 (Agreement to Waive Rules); or
(ii) returned a score card on which he had recorded a handicap that, before the competition closed, he knew was higher than that to which he was entitled, and this affected the number of strokes received (Rule 6-2b); or
(iii) returned a score for any hole lower than actually taken (Rule 6-6d) for any reason other than failure to include one or more penalty strokes that, before the competition closed, he did not know he had incurred; or
(iv) knew, before the competition closed, that he had been in breach of any other Rule for which the penalty is disqualification.
4. Call it what you like, but this is cheating. The player must be disqualified and the Committee should consider sanctioning them, e.g. by suspending them from all competitions for a period of time.

Of course, there are sometimes on-course situations where a player may be unsure as to how to proceed without breaching a Rule unnecessarily, e.g. whether they may take relief from equipment damage to the course, or when a fellow competitor tells them that they should be taking relief from a different place from where they think they are permitted to drop a ball. When a competitor is doubtful of their rights or the correct procedure during the play of a hole, they may, without penalty, complete the hole with two balls. If the player chooses to do so they must strictly follow the procedure set out in Rule 3-3;

The competitor should announce to his marker or a fellow-competitor:
• that he intends to play two balls; and
• which ball he wishes to count if the Rules permit the procedure used for that ball.
Before returning his score card, the competitor must report the facts of the situation to the Committee. If he fails to do so, he is disqualified.

If the competitor has taken further action before deciding to play two balls, he has not proceeded under Rule 3-3 and the score with the original ball counts. The competitor incurs no penalty for playing the second ball.

There is a more detailed explanation of Rule 3-3 in this blog of mine. 

Two Rules Situations from this week’s tournaments
For Rules enthusiasts, there were two fairly complicated Pro tournament rulings in the past week. I am providing two links to these incidents, rather than giving you my own detailed explanation;

Sergia Garcia getting relief from a really bad lie in a water hazard.

Ben Crane receiving two four-stroke penalties and then disqualification, because of the clubs he was carrying.

Good golfing,




The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2017 and may not be copied without permission.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Taking Relief from a Path - Jordan Spieth

I am currently on vacation in the USA, where in the past 10 days I have been lucky enough to enjoy personal, guided tours of both Congressional CC and TPC Scottsdale. Long-term readers may remember that, with his permission, I have occasionally copied content from the newsletters of Paul Kruger, PGA Professional at The Canyon Club, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, and am doing so again in this blog. Here is his overview of a recent interesting Rules incident involving Jordan Spieth that includes some useful reminders on taking relief from an artificial path.

“During the second round of the 99th PGA Championship held at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jordan Spieth hit a wayward drive on the par-5 10th hole, and his ball ended up on an artificially-surfaced cart path.  Even though Jordan has probably taken relief from cart paths thousands of times, he still sought the assistance of a Rules Official to ensure that he was proceeding correctly.  Here are the Rules that applied to his situation.

When taking relief from an artificially-surfaced cart path, Rule 24-2 [Immovable Obstruction] instructs the player to determine the nearest point of relief, and then drop the ball within one club-length of, and no nearer the hole than, the nearest point of relief.  By Definition, the nearest point of relief is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies on the cart path (i) that is not nearer the hole and (ii) where, if the ball were so positioned, no interference by the cart path would exist for the stroke the player would have made from the original position if the cart path were not there.  In other words, at the nearest point of relief there will be no interference from the cart path to the lie of the ball, the player’s stance, or the area of the player’s intended swing.

After Jordan correctly determined that the nearest point of relief from the cart path was just left of the cart path, he immediately took note of the fact that the area in the vicinity of the nearest point of relief, i.e., where he would be dropping his ball, was covered with pine straw.  At that point, he called over the Rules Official to find out how he might be able to avoid having to play from the pine straw.

The Rules Official advised Jordan that he could remove the pine straw which are loose impediments.  According to Rule 23-1 [Loose Impediments: Relief], “Except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard, any loose impediment may be removed without penalty.” 

However, the Rules Official cautioned Jordan to be careful not to remove any of the soil underlying the pine straw when removing the pine straw.  That is because Rule 13-2 [Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play] states, in part, “A player must not improve or allow to be improved … the area of his intended stance or swing [or] the area in which he is to drop or place a ball … by any of the following actions … • creating or eliminating irregularities of surface [or] • removing or pressing down sand, loose soil ….”

Jordan cleared the area in which he intended to drop his ball by carefully picking up clumps of pine straw with his hand, and tossing the pine straw onto the cart path.  When he dropped his ball in the required area, the ball rolled down the slope and ended up back on the cart path.  Per Rule 20-2c [Dropping and Re-Dropping: When to Re-Drop], he was required to re-drop the ball because the ball rolled and came to rest “in a position where there is interference by the condition from which relief was taken under Rule 24-2b ….”  As you might expect, when Jordan re-dropped his ball, it once again ended up on the cart path.  In accordance with Rule 20-2c, Jordan was then permitted to place his ball “as near as possible to the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped.” 

In the third photograph, you will see that, after placing his ball, Jordan ended up with a near-perfect lie on the bare dirt.  However, the resulting shot was not to his liking.  Perhaps this was due to the fact that Jordan neglected to remove the pine straw in the area of his intended stance?”


My thanks again to Paul Kruger for his permission to occasionally reproduce content of his newsletters in my blogs.

Good golfing,



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