Tuesday, 29 May 2018

May Miscellany

Brian Harman's Ball on 17th at Sawgrass
US Pro, Brian Harman, found his ball in a difficult lie on the iconic, island green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass during the first round of the 2018 Players Championship (see photos). Harman’s options were limited. a) He could not take relief for an embedded ball because his ball was inside the margin of the water hazard, Rule 25-2. b) For the same reason he could not take relief from the wooden bulkhead, an immovable obstruction, Rule 24-1. c) Nor could he deem his ball unplayable in a water hazard, Rule 28. d) Note that the line defining the water hazard margin is yellow, which means that the option of dropping within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin, not nearer the hole, is also not available, Rule 26-1c.

After carefully studying the situation, Harman decided that he did not want to risk playing the ball from such a precarious lie, prised the ball from the turf and waked back to the designated dropping zone for a penalty of one stroke. His other options, also for a penalty of one stroke, were to return to the teeing ground, or to drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, Rule 26-1b.

Tyrrell Hatton Forgets the New Local Rule
Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, currently ranked as the 21st best golfer in the world, made an elementary and expensive mistake in a sudden death shootout, which prevented him from progressing to the weekend knockout stage of the 2018 WGC Dell Match Play. Hatton was preparing to tap-in for par at the first extra hole when he noticed his ball had moved slightly after he had placed his putter behind it. Instead of replacing the ball without penalty, as permitted by the Local Rule introduced in all Tour events and by most amateur Clubs, he assumed that he was penalised one stroke for causing his ball to move and then compounded his error by holing out from this wrong place, instead of replacing the ball. Unbelievable from a Tour Pro! The Local Rule, which all Clubs and Societies should have introduced from January 2017, is ‘Accidental Movement of Ball on Putting Green'. There is a full explanation in this blog of mine. 

The Rules of Golf Are Being Modernised, Not Necessarily Simplified
It seems that many golfers imagined that the modernisation of the Rules of Golf would result in there being far fewer Rules and that they could be learned with little effort. One correspondent noted that although the current 34 Rules have been reduced to 24 Rules, there are almost as many sections, more sub-sections, more Definitions and more Exceptions. I haven’t counted these for myself, but I can tell you that there are 156 pages of Rules and Definitions in the proof copy of the new Rules, and only 104 pages of Rules and Definitions in the current Rules book. This should shatter the misconception that golfers can forget most of what they have learned about the Rules, obtain a free copy of the soon to be published ‘Players Edition’ * and will never get caught out by a Rule again, because that is not going to happen! One of the reasons why the new Rules book contains more pages than the current Rules book is that some of the rulings that have been interpreted in over 1,300 interpretations in the Decisions on the Rules of Golf book are now incorporated into the new Rules of Golf, others will not be relevant to the modernised Rules and the remainder are likely to be covered in yet another publication from the Ruling Bodies, 'The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf', a “guidebook” that replaces the need for a Decisions book and will contain information to best support committees and officials. 

Don’t misunderstand me, I certainly approve of the modernisation of the Rules of Golf, because for the majority of players there are going to be fewer principles for them to learn, there will be more resources to assist them, including the aforementioned 'Players Edition', and the pace of play should be improved for amateur golfers. Of course, there will still be a requirement for experts who can navigate their way through the new Rules book, and associated guidebook, to assist in making definitive rulings for the incidents that will inevitably arise (see the last item in this blog). 

The Player’s Edition will include the Rules that describe the essential characteristics of the game of golf – for example, the fundamentals of the game, such as playing by the Rules, the different parts of the course and the equipment to be used. It also covers the most commonly used Rules. For the less frequently occurring situations that are not included, the Player’s Edition will tell the golfer where to find those answers in the full Rules of Golf.

World Handicapping System
It is anticipated that a year or so after the new Rules of Golf become effective (January 1st 2019) there will be major changes to the way that golfers around the world will calculate their handicaps. The new World Handicapping System, to be implemented some time in 2020, follows an extensive review of systems administered by six existing handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA.

If you are interested in the proposed features of the World Handicapping System, remember its implementation is at least 19 months away, you can check out either of these links;

Membership of The Oswald Academy
Regular readers will know that I have joined forces with Brian Oswald of The Oswald Academy (www.golfrules.com) to share the workload that we anticipate will hit us with the introduction of the new Rules of Golf. Anyone who has responsibility for disseminating Rules information within their Club or Society, whether officially or socially (!), is going to need a reliable, responsive source of information. We believe that we have a perfect solution for this requirement with the personal and club memberships of The Oswald Academy. I am providing links to these subscription services below, but in short, the personal membership (US $69 p.a.) currently includes;
  • Free answers to your rules questions (usually within 24 hours).
  • Free subscription to the Rules News which is published four times a year.
  • Free loading of your USB key with all training materials from The Oswald Academy (slideshows, exercises etc.) – and free access to it all on Dropbox.
  • A 15 % discount on all Oswald Academy courses, rules trips, seminars, books etc. for personal use.
  • A free newsletter which gives you all the latest information about The Rules of Golf straight into your inbox.
  • More benefits that we are still working on.
There is also a Club membership (US $599 p.a.), which should be a ‘must join’ to ease the burden for all Club secretaries / managers.

For more information on either membership click on one of the following links (all that is required is your name, email, address and golf club), or you can email Brian direct at, bno@golfrules.com.
Personal membership
Club membership
Good golfing,
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2018 and may not be copied without permission.



Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Does a Local Rule Override a Rule of Golf?

I have been asked this question.

“In a circumstance where a Committee has introduced a Local Rule that modifies a Rule of Golf, can a player choose which one to follow? Do they operate separately or does the Local Rule override the Rule of Golf?”

In most cases the above situation does not arise, because the Local Rule offers additional options to the Rules of Golf. Examples are;

The Rules do not permit a player from removing stones (loose impediments) from a bunker, but a Local Rule may offer this option for player safety reasons.
The Rules do not permit a player to prefer their lie, but a Local Rule for 'Preferred Lies' does give the player this option.
The Rules only permit a player to take relief if a ball is embedded in its own pitch mark in any closely mown area, but a Local Rule can extend this relief to a ball that is embedded through the green.

However there are Local Rules that do limit what the Rules allow. Examples are;

The Rules state that a player may take relief from GUR, but a Local Rule often makes it mandatory to take relief to protect certain areas of the course.
The Rules do not provide free relief from trees, But a Local Rule often makes it mandatory to take relief from young trees, identified with stakes, to protect them from accidental damage.
The Rules allow any ball that is in bounds to be played, but if the course is divided, say by a public road that is defined as out of bounds, it would be unfair that a ball that lands on the road is out of bounds and a ball played over the road and back onto another part of the course is in bounds, so a Committee may introduce a Local Rule to deal with this circumstance. 

Rule 33-8 states that the Committee may only establish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions if they are consistent with the policy set forth in Appendix I. In addition, a statement in this Appendix adds that, if local abnormal conditions interfere with the proper playing of the game and the Committee considers it necessary to modify a Rule of Golf, authorisation from either the R&A or the USGA must be obtained. However, I am aware of many instances where Committees have introduced a Local Rule that is not allowed by the Rules. For example;

A Committee may not adopt a Local Rule to assist players who cannot drive over a water hazard hazard by allowing them to drop a ball, under penalty of two strokes, in a dropping zone that is located on the green side of the water hazard. Decision 33-8/2.
A Committee may not make a Local Rule allowing a player to replay a stroke, without penalty, if their ball has been deflected by course furniture, e.g. direction signs or sprinkler heads. A deflection of a ball by such an outside agency is a rub of the green and the ball must be played as it lies. Decision 33-8/12.
A Committee make not make a Local Rule providing relief without penalty from divot holes. Decision 33-8/34.
A Committee may not make a condition of competition requiring that a competitor must enter their score into a computer. Decision 6-6b/8.

The Oswald Academy
Thank you to the 1,300+ readers who have already subscribed to The Oswald Academy newsletter on the Rules of Golf. Let me remind others that I am now working in association with Brian Oswald to bring you the latest content on the Rules, presented in a variety of formats to assist you in understanding the new Rules of Golf that become effective on 1st January next year. Click here to make sure that you do not miss out. The newsletters are free, you can unsubscribe at any time and your email address will not be shared (Brian is a lawyer who lectures on GDPR!).

Want to Learn the New Rules Numbers?
For those of us that need to familiarise ourselves with the new Rule and Section numbers (99 of them!), a valued subscriber, Martin Fraga, has uploaded them to Quizlet, a useful application that provides a novel and even entertaining way of approaching this task, I especially recommend this free tool to all those that are studying for the R&A and USGA exams; check it out and save it to your smart devices for easy reference whenever you have a few minutes spare; Quizlet flash cards. Thank you Martin for responding so quickly to my request and once again providing this excellent resource for Rules of Golf enthusiasts.

Good golfing,



The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2018 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

My Intentions Re the New Rules of Golf 2019

Apologies to those of you that have already received this important update from me, because you are also subscribed to my ‘Rhodes Rules School’ series. However, there are a significant number of subscribers to this fortnightly blog who do not receive these other emails from me.

It is obvious that Golf Clubs, Societies, Committee Members, Rules Officials and all serious and recreational golfers, are going to require a lot of information and assistance to properly understand and apply the new Rules of Golf, which become effective everywhere in the world from the 1st January 2019. From different interactions I am having I realise that many golfers are underestimating both the scope and the consequences of the radical changes that will have to be observed, applied and governed in all formats of golf competitions.

I recently made a decision to continue with my commitment to assist golfers of all abilities to learn and understand the new Rules of Golf with a mix of ‘no cost / low cost’ Rules resources. However, in view of the size of this task, I am pleased to say that I will be entering a partnership with Brian Nygaard Oswald, founder of The Oswald Academy - ‘A world of nothing but the Rules of Golf’. Check out Brian’s web site at www.golfrules.com for information on his past performance and evolving success in this area. Brian and I believe that we are ideally matched when combining our individual expertise and ambitions and that the opportunity to work together will benefit both of us and more importantly, benefit our subscribers and customers.

Soon after the first meeting that Brian and I had to discuss how we could jointly advance our interests, I realised that it was imperative for me to follow up on my previous ‘999 Questions’ books with one that addressed the new Rules. I am still convinced that an excellent way for golfers to better their knowledge of the Rules is by learning how they are applied and testing themselves through questions and answers, with accurate references and explanatory notes to support the answers. I have already made good progress with this and hope to publish ‘?99 Questions on the New Rules of Golf – 2019’, in the 3rd quarter of this year. The “?” is because I do not yet know how many Q&As there will be when I have finished; it will be more than 499 and less than 999!

Brian and I also intend to merge our emails to subscribers on the Rules of Golf. Some of you have already received the last ‘Rhodes Rules School’ weekly email from me, having reached the end of the ‘Pros Getting it Wrong!’ series. However, you will start receiving new emails from us, mainly addressing subjects on the new Rules and incidents relating to them that happen on the Professional Tours. I have never subscribed anyone to my lists without their permission, nor have I passed on anyone’s email to a third party. As always, if you want to be removed from the new emails you will be able to unsubscribe at any time, by clicking on a link at the foot of every email, or by emailing me personally at rules@barryrhodes.com.

I hope that I can encourage you to stay involved with our combined Rules resources, as there is much to learn and those who gain a good understanding of the changes will benefit from avoiding unnecessary penalties and being a source of information to club or society fellow members and casual golf companions.

After sending the above email to my ‘Rhodes Rules School’ subscribers last week many of them have already signed up to receive the Oswald Academy emailed newsletters on the Rules of Golf (one or two each month). I strongly recommend that you too subscribe to this newsletter, which will replace mine over the next few months. Between us, Brian Oswald and I will be endeavouring to keep you updated on all things related to the Rules of Golf, including explanatory articles, incidents and rulings on the Pro Tours, quizzes, book recommendations, teaching materials and tips, seminar information and much more!

Subscribing is free, you may unsubscribe without question at any time and your email address will not be passed on to any other party. Please click here to ensure that you keep up to date on the new Rules.

Kelly Kraft’s Tee Shot Strikes Bird in Mid-air
I think that those of you that, like me, are interested in Rules incidents that happen on the Pro Tours will be interested in what happened to Kelly Kraft’s ball after his drive on the 14th hole at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, USA, on Friday 13th April. Normally, I write my own overview of these rulings, with references to the relevant Rule or Decision, but on this occasion, for brevity, I am providing this link to an account of the incident from the PGA Tour web site. 

I cannot let this opportunity go without reminding you that my new book, ‘Pros Getting it Wrong!’, recounts 99 similar, interesting Rules situations. It is available direct from me as an eBook (low price!) at this link, or from Amazon, as a more expensive paperback.

Good golfing,



The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2018 and may not be copied without permission.