Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ask Linda #261-Practice round illegal?

My golf group and I work hard to follow and know all the rules of golf.
One question came to mind that we could not find.
Question: When the pros play what's called a practice round during a tournament week, is that score counted or can they play different shots, different balls, etc.? I played a round of golf the other day and I worked on my irons, so I would hit two, sometimes three shots to the hole in order to
figure out how or what I was doing wrong. My playing partner said that it
was illegal to play a round of golf on the course for practice purposes…
Please shed some light on this.
Thank you,
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

What a scary concept! To think that there are people who think you are never allowed to practice golf on a golf course! Of course you are, but let’s look at the big picture and discuss some related issues.

1. If you hit extra shots during your practice round, do not post a score. Your score is unacceptable for posting purposes “when a majority of the holes are not played in accordance with the principles of the rules of Golf” [The USGA Handicap System, Section 5-f, iii].

2. Some courses frown on players hitting extra balls. You should check the club’s policy before embarking on a multi-shot practice round.

3. Etiquette-wise, you don’t want to be hitting extra shots if you are delaying the play of your friends (who may not also be practicing) or those playing behind you. Pick a quiet time when the course is fairly empty to fine-tune your game.

4. Here is where your friend’s confusion may lie: You are not permitted to practice on the course prior to your round on the day of a tournament. So if you think it’s a good idea to get out early on tournament day and practice some shots and putts on the course, think again. Such practice on the day of the competition will get you disqualified [Rule 7-1, b].

I was fortunate enough to play in the USGA Women’s Senior Amateur Championship in 2004 at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, California. Every player was permitted two practice rounds prior to the tournament. All of us took the opportunity to try extra shots, and consequently no one had a score to post.

It is perfectly acceptable to practice golf on a golf course.

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