Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ask Linda #318-Which club to measure cart path relief?

Linda, How are you?  Hope you’re doing well and playing lots of golf.  I just returned from playing in a member/guest tournament in North Carolina, what a blast that was.  I could move there in a heartbeat!!!! 

In any event, we had a question that came up while playing and had a difference of the answer. 

When taking relief (free drop when ball lands on cart path), we know what side of the cart path and all that. However, I thought you could use your longest club (driver) to measure after you have taken your swing relief to measure the dropping spot as opposed to using the club you want to use, say for instance you only need a wedge for your next shot.  Question is do you need to use the same club to measure that you are going to use for your shot?   I tried looking at your website for the answer and scrolled through all the postings but couldn’t find the answer.

Hope all is well.

Dear Lulu,

It’s a two-different-clubs, two-step process. You should use the club you would select to hit your next shot if the cart path were not in your way to establish the nearest point of relief (your wedge, for example). You may then use any club in your bag (most players would select their longest club) to measure the one-club distance of relief to which you are entitled.

The term people use to describe this free relief process is “stance plus a club-length.” Determine your stance with the club you would use to hit the shot; determine your club-length of relief from that point with your longest club.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ask Linda #317-Can OB wall be declared immovable obstruction?

Dear Linda,

I was playing a course recently where there was a stone wall down the left of a fairway with a metal fence attached above it (to stop balls hitting a public footpath beyond). The local rules state that a ball is out of bounds when it is OVER the fence. The wall has a gap in it half way along which is a large metal gate with a metal fence above it (for access by greenkeeper’s machinery). This gate is normally closed.

Although not listed in the Immovable Obstructions section of the scorecard, the members deem the wall to be an immovable obstruction (and therefore get relief) but if the ball ends up against the metal gate, they do NOT get relief and have to play the ball as it lies or deem it unplayable.

It is impossible at any point along the wall for a ball to be over the wall and NOT over the fence, although a ball could come to rest on top of the wall against the fence.

In equity, shouldn't the stone wall be considered to be an extension of the out-of-bounds fence at ground level and therefore the same rule would apply as to the gate (i.e., play the ball as it lies or deem it unplayable) or can a Committee deem such a wall an immovable obstruction should they so wish ?

Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

A committee is not entitled to make a Local Rule that waives a Rule of Golf. I gather, from your narrative, that the stone wall defines out of bounds. Objects that define out of bounds are not obstructions; they are what the rules call “fixed.” There is no free relief from fixed objects. If the player decides that he cannot play his ball because of interference from a stone wall marking out of bounds, he must proceed under the options provided for an unplayable ball, all of which include a one-stroke penalty.

It is not permissible to declare an out-of-bounds wall to be an immovable obstruction. The wall and the gate are both objects defining out of bounds; they are both fixed [Definition of Out of Bounds], and should be treated the same. There is no free relief from the wall or the gate. The golf course should discuss the matter with the USGA and correct the information on the score card.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ask Linda #316-Dispute about time elapsed

Hi Linda……A recent dispute in match play involved a ball hanging over the hole and eventually falling in …..Rule 16-2 allows 10 seconds for the ball to fall once the player has reached the hole but in this case the other player claimed it was well over 10 seconds while the player said it was well within that time…..Neither player had a watch …..How should this dispute be resolved?……..The same may apply to a lost ball time limit.
Thanking you,
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

This is a very sticky situation, and certainly a difficult matter for a Committee to resolve. Both players will be interviewed, and their testimony will be carefully evaluated. If there are any spectators, they will be asked to offer testimony. The Committee is obligated to decide quickly, and I do not envy them this job. Please read Decision 34-3/9 for a full explanation of the Committee’s responsibilities resolving questions of fact.

It is always best to take some initiative to avoid a later dispute. In the situation where a ball is hanging over the hole, mention to your opponent as he is walking towards the hole that he may only wait ten seconds for the ball to drop, and start counting those seconds aloud as soon as he gets there. That will help to make both of you more conscious of the amount of time that has elapsed.

The five-minute rule for declaring a ball lost is a little trickier–I can’t imagine anyone counting 1-1,000, 2-1,000, all the way up to 300-1,000. If there is a referee accompanying a group, he will automatically start timing as soon as the search has begun. Those of us who play without the supervision of a referee (I’m guessing that would be most of us) have to be reasonable. If you play with people who like to use up the full time allotment to search for lost balls, then bring your watch.

I would like to hope that two people playing a match can resolve the matter amicably without involving a referee or Committee member.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ask Linda #315-Embedded ball near cart path

Dear Linda,

I would appreciate your advice on the correct or appropriate relief procedure for this scenario, which occurred during a monthly tournament.
On the right hand side of the closely mown area of a par 4 hole, there is a narrow strip (about 2 feet) of rough. On the right of the rough, there is a cart path. In other words, between the cart track and the closely mown area, there is a narrow strip of rough.
During the tournament, my fellow competitor's ball from the tee-box was embedded in the rough, very close to the cart path. He is entitled for relief from (a) an embedded ball, as it was extended through the green and/or (b) the cart path, as it is an immovable obstruction and it interfered with his swing.
If he takes relief from the embedded ball, the dropped ball would likely remain in the rough and there would be no interference from the cart path. This would not be a favourable position.
If he takes relief from the cart path, with the one club-length dropping area from the nearest point of relief (for a right handed player), the ball could be dropped on the closely mown area, which is a more favourable position.
My fellow competitor took relief from the cart path directly. I am wondering whether he should take relief from the embedded ball first, and if there is subsequent interference from the cart path, he can then take relief from it. I would appreciate your comments on what is the correct or appropriate procedure for this scenario.
Meanwhile, if the ball was not embedded, I acknowledge that he is entitled for relief from the cart path, as it is an immovable obstruction.

Thank you and best regards,
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

The rule explaining relief for an embedded ball states that the ball may be lifted, cleaned, and dropped. It does not require that the ball be lifted. Accordingly, if an immovable obstruction, such as a cart path, interferes with a player’s stance or the area of his intended swing, he is entitled to relief from the cart path. He does not have to first take relief from the embedded lie. Your fellow competitor proceeded correctly.

As long as we’re talking about an embedded ball, I would like to remind readers of the following:

1. The Rules permit relief for an embedded ball in any closely mown area through the green. This means fairways, dew paths, the apron around the green, and paths mowed through the rough at fairway height. In order to take free relief for a ball embedded in the rough, the Local Rules of the competition must state that the embedded ball rule is in effect “through the green.” (Just a reminder: “Through the green” means everywhere except the teeing ground and the putting green of the hole you are playing, plus all hazards.) This Local Rule will allow free relief for a ball embedded in its own pitch mark in the rough.

2. Relief for an embedded ball is not the same as relief from abnormal ground conditions and immovable obstructions. The player is entitled to lift and clean his embedded ball, but he must then drop it as near as possible to where it lay, no closer to the hole. Unlike those other situations, the player is not entitled to stance plus one club-length.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ask Linda #314-One ball on top of another

Lulu, what is the ruling if you putt your ball (stroke play) on top of another ball already holed?

I think you have already addressed this and you said it was not a penalty but rather an etiquette matter.

Please let me know.

Dear Lulu,

A ball is holed when it is at rest in the hole and no part of the ball is above the level of the lip.

The answer to your question is this: Your ball is holed, and there is no penalty to you for touching the other ball or to the person who left her ball in the hole.

It is customary to remove your ball from the hole before another player putts. Some players are superstitious about putting when another ball is still in the hole. Others are concerned that their ball might bounce off another ball in the hole and pop out. However, if both players are agreeable, then I’m all in favor of anything that speeds up the pace of play.

I have a good friend who is uncomfortable putting if there is a ball in the hole. When I hole my ball first, I always remove it before he putts. I, on the other hand, have no concern if he leaves his ball in the hole when I am second to putt. I always tell him to leave it there and I retrieve the two balls after I hole my ball.

The proper etiquette would be to always remove your ball after it is holed unless you are given permission to leave it in the hole.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ask Linda #313-Ball dropped where ball lost

Dear Linda,

I would appreciate your advice on the correct understanding on decision 27-1/3.
Let's assume it is a stroke play event and the player had played a shot from the tee-box to a distance of about 200 yards.
When the player could not find his original ball in the area where it is likely to be, he drops a ball there and plays that ball. As per decision 27-1/3, the player incurs a stroke-and-distance penalty and an additional penalty of two strokes for a breach of Rule 27-1. Does it mean that the total penalty incurred by the player is 3 strokes?
In other words, he would have played 4 strokes (i.e. 1st stroke from tee-off PLUS 3 penalty strokes).
Since this would be a serious breach, to avoid disqualification, the player must tee-off again. If so, his next tee-off shot would be his 6th stroke.
Please advise what is your understanding of the ruling.
Thank you and best regards,
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

When a player cannot find his original ball, he is required to play another ball under stroke and distance. This means he must return to where he hit his previous shot, drop another ball, and add a penalty stroke to his score. By dropping and playing a ball in the area where his ball was lost, your player has played from a wrong place, for which the penalty is two strokes. His total number of penalty strokes is three.

However, none of this matters in the case of a player whose 200-yard tee shot is lost. When he drops and plays another ball in the area where the original ball was lost, he gains a significant advantage, as he is 200 yards closer to the hole than where he is supposed to be to hit that next shot. If this player does not correct his error and return to the tee to hit another ball, he will be disqualified [Rule 20-7c, Note 1].

If the player understands that he may have done something wrong, and he has not yet teed off on the next hole, he may return to the tee and play a second ball. His score with the second ball is the score that will count for that hole after he reports the mishap to the Committee. So let’s count up his strokes:

   1 stroke for the original tee shot
   2 penalty strokes for playing from the wrong place [Rule 20-7c]
   1 stroke penalty under stroke and distance  [Rule 27-1] when he returns to the tee to hit a second ball
   Total: 4 strokes.

The player’s second tee shot will be his fifth stroke.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ask Linda #312-Drop and place confusion

Dear Linda,
Decision 28/11 and Ask Linda #290 [published in April] state that you should "drop a ball on a putting green," but Rule 20-5d states the ball "must be placed on the putting green." So, I would appreciate your comments on "to drop" or "to place" a ball on the putting green.
 Thank you and best regards.
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

Rule 20-5d is telling you to place your ball on the putting green when you choose to play your next stroke from where your previous stroke was made. You may remember Tiger Woods’ experience with this rule several years ago during the Masters at Augusta National. He putted his ball on a putting green and it went off the green and into Rae’s Creek. One of the options for relief for a ball in a water hazard is to return to where you hit your previous shot. Since Tiger’s previous shot was from the green, he was permitted to place his ball on the green.

You must be careful when reading the rules to note the specific topic under discussion. Rule 20-5d is not saying that a ball is always placed on the putting green. It is saying that in this one specific instance the ball will be placed.

When the rules tell you to drop a ball, as they do in taking two-club relief from a lateral water hazard or an unplayable ball, you are required to drop it. If the location of the drop is on the green, then you will drop it on the green.

When the rules tell you to place a ball, as they do when your ball is on the putting green and you are seeking relief from an abnormal ground condition or an immovable obstruction, you will place it.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Ask Linda #311-No provisional for ball in water hazard

Hi Linda,

I read an article regarding Greg Norman's disqualification for mistakenly played a provisional ball. The article reads:

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Greg Norman didn't know the rules. When he found out the penalty, he decided he was better off going home.

Playing on the PGA Tour for the first time this year, Norman disqualified himself Friday in the Honda Classic after incorrectly playing a provisional tee shot on the 13th hole.

Norman hit a provisional tee shot because he thought his ball went into a water hazard. The rules allow for a provisional only if the original ball is believed to be lost or out-of-bounds, not in a hazard.

His original tee shot turned out to be safe, in a bunker, but Norman's mistake was not playing the provisional.

Norman, even par at the time and in position to make the cut, left Mirasol without comment.

"I don't think he was real happy," PGA Tour rules official Slugger White said. "I talked to him on the phone. He was OK. He just said he messed up."

Roger Maltbie, an NBC Sports analyst and former player, was the first to notice the violation. "I was trying to keep the man from getting DQ'ed," Maltbie said. "I know plenty of people knew what was going on. It wouldn't go away. There was an infraction of the rules."

Norman hit his tee shot to the right on the par-4 13th, a dogleg right framed down the right side by a hazard. Fred Couples, who was in the threesome, said the volunteer marshal didn't make it clear whether the ball stayed on the course or went into the hazard.

After Couples and Charles Howell III hit their drives, Norman said he was going to play a provisional tee shot for a ball in the water hazard.

White cited the "Decisions of Golf" under Rule 27-2a on provisional balls.

Under these circumstances -- Norman hitting a provisional for the wrong reason -- the second shot became the ball in play. And even though he found his original shot in the bunker, that ball was no longer in play.
Norman's mistake was picking up the second shot and playing his original tee ball from the bunker. He hit wedge into 15 feet and three-putted for bogey.

Norman could have fixed his mistake. White said Norman would have had to return to where his second tee shot landed (in the fairway). He would have been lying three, then assessed a two-shot penalty for playing the wrong ball (his original tee shot in the bunker, which at that point had been declared out of play).
That means Norman would have been hitting his sixth shot into the green.

"He chose not to do that," White said. "He said, 'I'm disqualified,' and left. And that's the way we left it."
Couples said he wasn't aware of the rule, and everything happened quickly. Maltbie knew it well, calling the rule "pretty basic."

"The next thing I see is Greg re-teeing," Maltbie said. "As Greg walked down the fairway, I said to him, 'Greg, you're not entitled to play a provisional for a ball in the water hazard.' He said, 'Fine, then give me two shots.' I said, 'I'm not the rules guy here.'"

Rules official Steve Rintoul explained the situation to Norman, who declined to go back to the fairway. At best, Norman would have made triple-bogey 7 to go 3 over, with three of the toughest holes awaiting him.

"There would be no reason (to keep playing) unless he really, really liked us," Couples said. "I think I'd have done the same thing -- bye, see ya later. He hasn't been playing much, and he was playing well. I'm sure he didn't want that to happen."

Linda, the rules official cited Rule 27-2a which prohibits Mr. Norman from playing a provisional for a wrong reason. My question is: Is Mr. Norman entitled to play a provisional ball under Decision 27-2a/2.2?  I will appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thank you.

Dear Lou,

Sometimes the rules make you frown and scratch your head.

A player is permitted to play a provisional ball for a ball that may be lost outside a water hazard [Rule 27-2a]. Players are not permitted to play a provisional for a ball that is in a water hazard.

I gather from the article that Greg Norman said he was going to play a provisional shot for a ball in the water hazard. Since he was not certain that his ball was in the hazard, he should have said: “I am going to hit a provisional because my ball may be lost outside the hazard.” Had he said that, you and I would not be having this discussion. By saying that his provisional was for a ball in the hazard, he violated the rules.

Decision 27-2a/2.2 explains that a player is allowed to hit a provisional for a ball that may be in a hazard but also may be lost outside the hazard. Norman could have played a provisional. The mistake he made was in saying his provisional was for a ball in the hazard, rather than for a ball that might be lost outside the hazard.

This is a clear example of why it is so important to be well-versed in the rules. If Norman had phrased his announcement of the provisional correctly, he would have been able to continue play with the original ball that he found in the bunker.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ask Linda #310-Ball moves after club grounded

Hi Linda,

I play on a very windy course. We all know to hover the putter so as not to ground the club and if the ball moves in a gust we will not be penalised for causing it to move. Several times I have been told that it is taking your normal stance that determines that you have addressed the ball and not the grounding of the club. Their reasoning being that if you address the ball and stood on one leg or with one eye shut, for example, you would not have addressed the ball and therefore, even though you have grounded your club you would not be penalised if the ball moves. I think the act of grounding the club behind the ball means you could be deemed to have caused the ball to move and therefore you would be penalised, even if you had not yet taken your normal stance. Who is correct?

Kind Regards,
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

You are correct, Lou. Let’s look first at the definitions of stance and addressing the ball. You have taken your stance when you place your feet in the position from which you plan to make your stroke. You have addressed the ball when you have taken your stance and grounded your club. (In a hazard, you have addressed your ball once you have taken your stance, since you are not permitted to ground your club in a hazard.)

If your procedure prior to hitting is to ground your club behind the ball and then take your stance, you have not yet officially addressed the ball. However, because you have grounded your club behind the ball, you are responsible if it moves [Rule 18-2a]. You will incur a one-stroke penalty for moving your ball, and you must replace it before you hit it. If you do not replace it, the penalty is two strokes for playing from a wrong place.

You cannot avoid penalty for moving your ball once you ground your club behind it. In a hazard, you will be penalized for any movement of the ball that occurs after you take your stance.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ask Linda #309-Ball lands in raked area

Linda, I thinned my bunker shot out of a greenside bunker into a bunker on the other side of the green. I raked the bunker and walked round to play my next shot. If I had thinned that bunker shot back into the original bunker, onto the area that I had raked, would I be penalised for preparing or improving my lie?
 Kind Regards,
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,
There is no penalty, Lou. You always have permission to rake the sand in the bunker after you hit your ball out of the bunker [Exception 2 to Rule 13-4; Decision 13-4/38].

Hi Linda,
Thanks for your prompt reply.  I have an interesting supplemental question regarding the smoothing of the bunker.  Say you were in Thomas Bjorn's position at the Open Championship at Royal St Georges in 2003. If you remember, he is on the 16th and plays his bunker shot out onto the green but it slowly rolls back into the bunker.  If he had had the presence of mind, could he have smoothed his footprints while the ball was still trickling back and incurred no penalty if the ball had finished on the smoothed area?
Kind regards,
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

Thomas Bjorn would have gotten himself into big trouble if he had done that. When a player’s ball is in motion, he is not permitted to do anything that would affect the position or the movement of the ball [Rule 1-2]. The penalty for doing so is two strokes (loss of hole in match play). 

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ask Linda #308-Drop or place on green

Linda, love your emails - definitely "plain English"
In Ask Linda #290–Relief from hazard on green? (posted on April 14), you talk of "dropping the ball on a putting green." Surely one must not drop a ball on a putting green. One must place it.

Down here in South Africa we fall under the R&A. In our rule book we have "A quick guide to the rules of golf" and in there it states: “If the ball is on the putting green, it is placed." Also, Rule 24-3 says …"or on the putting green place a ball."

Lu in South Africa

Dear Lu,

When you are taking two-club-length relief from a lateral water hazard or an unplayable lie, the Rules require that you drop the ball [Rule 26-1c; Rule 28c].

The rule you refer to – Rule 24-3b [also 24-2b (iii)]– explains how to take relief when you have interference from an immovable obstruction. In this case, if your ball lies on the green, then you are entitled to place it at the nearest point of relief, which may turn out to be on or off the green.

If you take a careful look at the various rules that explain relief procedures, you will learn that the only time you are permitted to place a ball on the green is when your ball is already lying on the green.

Cautionary advice:
The Rules of Golf require different procedures for different situations. When you are trying to find out how to take relief from a lateral water hazard, the answer will not be under the rule explaining how to take relief from an immovable obstruction.

By the way, the Rules of Golf are the same throughout the world. The USGA and the R&A work together to write and revise the Rules.

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ask Linda #307-Ball hits equipment

Linda, I read in the rule book that if playing match play an opponent’s chip shot hits your club or other piece of your equipment, he is allowed to play the shot over.

The situation that happened today was that in stroke play a player chipped the ball and skulled it and it hit another golfer’s club which was off the green.  I made a ruling that he did not get to hit the shot over but had to play it where it ended up.  Is this correct?
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

Your ruling was correct.

In stroke play, if your ball hits another player’s equipment, you must play your ball as it lies. This is known as a “rub of the green” [Rules 19-4 and 19-1].

In match play, you have two choices: (1) play the ball as it lies, or (2) cancel the stroke and replay it [Rule 19-3].

Copyright © 2011 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.