Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ask Linda #768-Hit your own cart

Linda…as a follow-up to this rule [Ask Linda #679- Ball strikes cart], what if your ball hits your cart but you are not the driver? Is “your cart” considered to be the cart you are in or do you have to be the driver?

Lou from Texas

Dear Lou,

If the cart you share with another player is stationary when your ball hits it, it is your equipment. The penalty for hitting your own equipment is one stroke, and you will play the ball as it lies [Rule 19-2].

If your cart is being moved by your cart-mate at the time your ball strikes it, the cart is the equipment of the driver. If that driver is…
a. your partner, you incur one penalty stroke and will play the ball as it lies;
b. your opponent in match play, there is no penalty, and you have the choice of playing the ball as it lies or canceling the stroke and repeating the shot [Rule 19-3];
c. your fellow competitor in stroke play, there is no penalty and you will play the ball as it lies [Rule 19-4].

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ask Linda #767-Draw line on ball marker


I have difficulty lining up putts and my golf pro has suggested that I put a black line round the circumference of my golf balls and use a large ball marker (similar to a poker chip) with a black felt tip line running through the diameter of the ball marker. The method is simple - I line up the ball roughly using the black line on the golf ball then place the ball marker behind the ball to mark the position of the ball, ensuring that the black line on the ball marker also points along the line of the putt. I then lift the ball, step back to double check my line of play using the black line on the ball marker (if necessary rotating the ball marker) then ensure that the line of the ball and the line of the ball marker are aligned. I then lift the ball marker and play my shot. I intend to use this for practice rounds, but would this method of alignment be permitted during a competitive round of golf? 

I know that I can use a line marked on a golf ball to indicate my line of play. My golf pro has referred me to decision 8-2a/2 - Object Placed Beside or Behind Ball to Indicate Line of Play. This suggests that this practice would be OK provided that the ball marker is removed before making the stroke, but I still have a niggling doubt as to whether the line of the ball marker could be construed as a training aid – in which case its use during a competitive round of golf would be illegal.

Lou from the United Kingdom

Dear Lou,

Players are permitted to place an object on the ground to assist them in finding their line of play, provided they lift the object before hitting the ball [Decision 8-2a/1]. An ordinary ball marker with a hand-drawn line would not be considered a training aid.

Your marking and aligning procedure, however, is not entirely kosher. You write that you roughly align the ball using the line you have drawn around the ball, and then place your marker behind the ball. You also state that you rotate the marker while the ball is lifted. Either of these activities will cause you to incur a one-stroke penalty. If you wish to rotate your ball, it must be marked. If you wish to rotate your marker, the ball must be in its proper place.

Please remember that there is also a penalty if you unduly delay play [Rule 6-7]; you will need to be very efficient in your marking and aligning routine.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ask Linda #766-Stance in GUR

Hi Linda,

During a round of golf recently, one of our players hit close to a bunker that was GUR. There was a split opinion as to whether she could take a drop, seeing her foot would be in GUR in a normal stance to play the shot. I personally thought her ball would have to be in GUR for us to be arbitrating this question. Others thought she would be given a drop as she was not required to play from GUR. Surely the player could have hit sideways, as would be the case had the bunker not been GUR????


Dear Lulu,

A player is entitled to free relief if her ball lies in Ground Under Repair (GUR), or if the GUR interferes with her stance or the area of her intended swing [Rule 25-1a]. The GUR in your scenario interfered with the player’s normal stance. She was entitled to a free drop outside the bunker within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole. The fact that the drop may give her an improved stance is not a consideration in determining whether she is entitled to relief.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ask Linda 761a-Is there line-of-play relief from an immovable obstruction?

Hi Linda,

Can you please clarify this further (from Ask Linda #761-Drop gives line-of-sight relief):

"The NPR is not necessarily directly behind the obstruction. While you may not seek a point closer to the hole, you must find the nearest point that offers complete relief. That location may very well turn out to be off to one side or the other of the obstruction. There is no requirement that you march straight back from the object; indeed, the point straight back that provides complete relief may not be the nearest point of relief."

What if the "point straight back" is nearer but you have a line-of-sight interference such that if you hit your ball "low" you might hit the obstruction (about 1 foot high) and the ball might ricochet back and hit you?

Lou from the Philippines

Dear Lou,

A player is entitled to free relief if his ball lies in or on an immovable obstruction (IO) or if the IO interferes with his stance or the area of his intended swing. Assuming you are not on a putting green, there is no relief if the IO interferes with your line of play [Rule 24-2a].

Let’s see if I can clarify this Rule with an example. Suppose your ball settles one foot behind a storage shed 175 yards from the hole. You determine that the nearest point of relief no closer to the hole is five feet directly behind the shed. You now have complete relief for your stance and the area of your intended swing, but the shed interferes with your line of play to the hole. If you aim at the hole, you risk hitting the shed; if you try to go over the shed, you will need a lofted club that will leave you well short of the hole.

In this situation, Lou, you have little choice but to hit your ball around the shed. You will most likely have to settle for a punch shot back out to the fairway. You are not entitled to relief for line of play.

Golfers are confused about this Rule because they see players on the professional tour marching to one side or another of a television tower or a grandstand to get line-of-sight relief to the hole. The reason they are entitled to this relief is because objects such as grandstands are Temporary Immovable Obstructions (TIO’s). Relief from TIO’s is explained in Local Rule #7 in Appendix I, Part B.

Objects such as tents, scoreboards, grandstands, television towers, etc., are obstructions that are not typically found on a golf course. Because the presence of such objects is unusual, players generally get relief under Local Rule for their stance, swing, and line of play. On the other hand, objects such as storage sheds, electrical boxes, water coolers, and benches are obstructions you may typically expect to encounter on a golf course. Because they are a normal occurrence, the Rules do not provide line-of-play relief from such obstructions for anyone, amateurs and professionals alike. Chances are that if your ball lies behind a water cooler you hit it off line (I have yet to see a cooler placed in the middle of a fairway). You have to expect to pay a small price for an errant shot. The Rules give you a chance to swing at the ball; it’s up to you to invent a shot that will get you out of trouble.  

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ask Linda #765-Lateral hazard ruling


My son was in a stroke play tournament. He hit a ball left towards a creek and 3 caddies and the other 2 players and my son said the ball was in the water hazard. A couple of them said they saw it go in, the others said they were pretty sure it went in. The ground just outside the hazard line was light rough.

My son proceeded to take a drop at the assumed point of entry. He hit the next shot that hit a tree and ended up in the rough. When looking for the ball he found his original ball. He played the ball that he dropped and the rules official said that that shot was 5 from the drop, a 4-stroke penalty because his original ball was found. He only hit the ball a total of 5 times and they gave him a 9. Very confused on how someone gets a 4-stoke penalty and he has only hit the ball once.

Lou from California

Dear Lou,

This is a difficult question to answer without knowing the terrain or why everyone believed the ball to be in the hazard. I can only offer general comments on the situation and the ruling.

In order to proceed under any of the relief options in Rule 26, a player must know or be virtually certain that his ball is in the hazard. [Please read Decision 26-1/1 for a detailed explanation of what is meant by “known or virtually certain.”] If two people claim they saw it go into the hazard, and the others are “pretty sure,” it would be hard to fault your son for believing his ball to be in the hazard and proceeding under 26-1c. Although you don’t mention it, I assume he took a few minutes to search the area for his ball. Since you state that the rough adjacent to the hazard was “light,” it is not unreasonable to assume that a ball not found at the estimated point of entry must be in the hazard.

I would think that if the Rules official interviewed the boys and their caddies and learned that there was agreement that the ball was in the hazard, he would allow play with the dropped ball to stand. However, he may have had reason to mistrust their judgment, or he may have decided that the area was such that a ball that was not found outside the hazard could not be assumed to be in the hazard. Bearing this in mind (and remembering that I do not have all the facts at hand), let’s take a look at the penalties.

1. If the official decides that the player was virtually certain that his ball was in the hazard, the player is entitled to invoke Rule 26-1. The only penalty is the one stroke that is assessed to a player when he takes relief for a ball in a water hazard. The fact that the original ball is later found outside the hazard does not change this ruling [Decision 26-1/3].

2. If the official decides that there was no virtual certainty that the ball was in the hazard (perhaps there are trees where a ball might have ricocheted, or dense patches of rough outside the hazard where the ball could be “hiding”), the player’s ball is lost. He is required to play another ball under stroke and distance. By dropping and playing a ball at the supposed point of entry into the hazard, your son played from a wrong place. Stroke and distance is a one-stroke penalty; playing from a wrong place is a two-stroke penalty. In addition, if playing from the wrong place gives the player a significant advantage (which it does if his previous shot was a considerable distance away), the player must play a second ball under the Rules before teeing off on the next hole. “Under the Rules” here means that the second ball must be played from the spot where he hit the ball towards the hazard.

In summary, if the official accepts “virtual certainty,” your son’s penalty is one stroke. If the official rules that the ball was lost, the penalty is three strokes, with a possible disqualification for gaining a significant advantage by playing from a wrong place.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.