Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ask Linda #100A-Response to #100

Hi Linda,
This option should be considered more often and especially the Sky Caddie [or any distance measuring device] will make it easy to find the equidistant spot.
Best Regards from the ski slopes in Austria,

Dear Lulu,
Excellent suggestion!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ask Linda #100-Dropping on opposite side of lateral hazard

Thanks, Linda.
Could you please explain no. 3 [see Ask Linda #99] in more detail, particularly about same distance on opposite side of the lateral hazard? I’ve heard of this but never seen it applied in practice. Are you supposed to imagine a string line from the pin to your ball and then move your ball in this arc to a point on the other side of the hazard (from which you then take a penalty drop within the 2 club-lengths)?
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,
I couldn’t explain it better myself; your “imaginary string” solution is a very accurate description of how to correctly locate the spot on the opposite bank of a lateral hazard that is equidistant from the hole.

The occasions when you might want to drop on the opposite side are fairly rare; nevertheless, there are situations where such a drop would give you a better line to the hole. It can be helpful to understand and keep in mind all of your options when you are seeking relief from a lateral water hazard.

Lou, there are two excellent diagrams in the USGA Decisions on the Rules of Golf that you should review. The first (Decision 26-1/14) illustrates exactly what is meant by “opposite margin” of a lateral hazard, and the second (Decision 26-1/15) shows all of the relief options for a lateral hazard. I would recommend that all of my readers take a moment to review these diagrams; this is a relief option that is much better understood through pictures. Here is the link to copy and paste into your web browser:

Once you’re there, scroll down the Rules on the left side and click on Rule 26: Water Hazards (Including Lateral Water Hazards). Then scroll down Decisions on the lower right and click on 26-1/14.

If you have further questions after studying these diagrams, please send me a follow-up question.

Always nice to hear from one of my Australian subscribers, Lou.


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ask Linda #99-Ball on bridge in hazard

Linda, what are my options when my ball is lying on a bridge that crosses over a water hazard?

Dear Lulu,
A bridge that crosses OVER a water hazard is actually IN the hazard, so any ball lying on such a bridge is considered to be in the hazard. As with any ball lying in a hazard, you may play it as it lies or take relief under Rule 26-1 (more on that in a minute).

If you choose to play the ball as it lies, you get a little break in that you are permitted to ground your club. This is because a bridge over a hazard is not considered to be ground in the hazard, but rather an obstruction in the hazard, since it is man-made [Decision 13-4/30]. While Rule 13-4 prohibits you from touching the ground in a hazard, the Note to that rule allows you to touch obstructions in a hazard.

If you choose to take relief outside the hazard, you incur the same penalty and have the same relief options as for any ball lying in a water hazard [Rule 26-1]. Add one penalty stroke to your score, and drop your ball:

1. on the spot where you last played your original ball (if it was your tee shot that went into the hazard, you may re-tee the ball); or
2. draw an imaginary straight line from the hole, through your ball, and beyond; drop your ball anywhere on this infinite line BEHIND the hazard (there is NO FREE TRANSPORTATION over a water hazard); or
3. if your ball is in a lateral hazard (red stakes or lines), you have the additional option of dropping the ball within two club-lengths and not nearer the hole of the point where your ball last crossed the hazard, or from a point the same distance from the hole on the opposite bank.

It can be fun to try to hit a ball off a bridge; that fun may be tempered by whether the bridge is made of stone or wood and how fond you are of the club you choose to play.


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ask Linda #98-Wrong Ball vs. Wrong Place

Do you have an easy way to explain the difference between a wrong ball and playing from a wrong place (i.e., a ball played from where it was set aside, which is a wrong ball, and a ball played at a place your marker was moved to)?
Rules can get technical and you have a way with words and can maybe explain the difference well. Even though the penalty is the same, one needs to be corrected and the other one not.
Curious Lulu in Puerto Rico

Dear Lulu,
The answer to this question involves an understanding of the definition of “wrong ball” and “wrong place,” an explanation of the penalty for each infraction, and finally some examples that I hope will help to clarify the difference.

I. Wrong ball
A ball is a “wrong ball” if it is another player’s ball, an abandoned ball, or even your own ball if you have taken it temporarily out of play by marking and lifting it. In this last instance (and here’s where it gets a little tricky), the ball is not in play until you replace it where it was marked; if you place it elsewhere and play it, it is a still a wrong ball, and not a ball played from the wrong place. It remains a wrong ball until it is properly put back into play. The following balls can never be “wrong:” your ball that is in play, your provisional ball or a second ball that you play under Rule 3-3 when you are in doubt as to the proper procedure.

The penalty for playing a wrong ball is loss of hole in match play. In stroke play, you are penalized two strokes, and you must abandon the wrong ball and play the correct ball from the correct spot. Do not count the strokes you took playing the wrong ball.

II. Wrong place
You have played from the wrong place if you (1) hit a ball from a place not permitted under the rules; (2) if you were required to re-drop a ball and did not do so (e.g., your dropped ball rolls into a hazard, or rolls more than two club-lengths – for a complete list, see Rule 20-2c); or (3) if you move a ball and fail to replace it (Rule 20-7a).

The penalty for playing from a wrong place is loss of hole in match play. In stroke play, there is a two stroke penalty and you must continue playing the hole with the ball you played from the wrong place. However, if you suspect you may have gained a significant advantage by playing from the wrong place, then you must play a second ball from the correct place, report the facts to the Committee, and await its decision as to which ball will count. Under these circumstances, if you do not play a second ball, and the Committee rules that you gained a significant advantage, you will be disqualified for committing what is known as a “serious breach” of the rules (Rule 20-7c).

The difference between a wrong ball and a wrong place is the same everywhere on the golf course. Lulu, since you made references in your question to a “moved marker” and to “setting the ball aside,” actions that most typically occur on a putting green, I will use examples of infractions that might occur on the green to try to help to clarify the differences for you.

Let’s begin with a wrong ball. I trust that everyone understands that someone else’s ball or an abandoned ball are both “wrong” balls. The penalty and procedure are straightforward, and are explained above (see I, penalty for wrong ball). However, the concept that your original ball no longer in play is a “wrong” ball is not intuitive, and may be better explained using a concrete example:

Suppose someone else in your group marks your ball on the green and sets it aside. If you proceed to putt from that spot where it was set aside, you have played a wrong ball. This is because once a ball has been lifted, it is out of play. Even though you are playing your original ball, it is defined as a “wrong ball” because it has not officially been put back in play (this might be a good time to review the definitions of Wrong Ball and Ball in Play in Section II at the beginning of your rule book). The penalty in match play is loss of hole. The penalty for putting this wrong ball is a little tricky in stroke play. If you knew it had been set aside, then your penalty is two strokes, and you must now place the ball on the correct spot and hole out (don’t count the strokes made with the wrong ball). If you did not know it had been set aside, there is no penalty, and your procedure is as follows: If you discover the error before teeing off on the next hole, you would have to return to the putting green, place your ball on the correct spot (estimate as best you can), and putt out; if you become aware of the error after teeing off, the score with the wrong ball would stand (Decision 15-3b/3).

Let’s take a look now at playing from a wrong place. The most common example on the putting green occurs when you have been asked to mark your ball one putter-head length to the side and you forget to replace it before putting. You have played a ball from a “wrong place.” The penalty in match play is loss of hole. In stroke play, you must complete the hole with this ball, the score stands, and your penalty is two strokes.

Another example of playing from a wrong place on a putting green would be if you mistakenly place your ball in front of another player’s marker and putt it. In match play, you would lose the hole. In stroke play, the penalty is two strokes, and you would have to continue with that ball until you hole out [Rule 20-7c]. If you think you may have committed what the rule book calls a “serious breach,” then you would have to play a second ball from the correct spot under Rule 3-3 (Doubt as to Procedure), report the facts to the Committee, and await its ruling. In this case, the Committee would probably rule that you had committed a serious breach if you gained a distinct advantage by putting from the wrong place (perhaps the wrong place was 20 feet closer to the hole!). You would be told to count the second ball, disregard the strokes played with the ball from the wrong place, and add a two-stroke penalty to your score. (If you did not play a second ball and the Committee ruled you had committed a serious breach, you would be disqualified.)

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; this old adage is as applicable to golf as it is to life. None of the above golf “disasters” would happen if you would heed these simple suggestions:

1. Always draw distinctive marks on all your golf balls so that you can easily identify them.
2. If you mark someone else’s ball and set it aside, tell him so as soon as he is within earshot.
3. Store several ball markers in your golf bag. Use the one that is noticeably different from those of the other players in your group.

And here’s a trick that will help you to remember when you have marked your ball a putter-head length to the side at another player’s request: Whenever you are asked to move your marker, place it upside-down on the green. When it’s your turn to putt, noticing your upside-down marker will remind you that you moved it and will need to replace it before putting.


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.