Friday, March 29, 2013

Ask Linda #631a-Advice prior to round

Hi Linda,

I hate to sound too nit picking, but I thought I’d ask anyway. At what point does a round officially begin? The reason I ask is, in the below instance [Ask Linda #631-Advice on where to aim] this was on the first tee. Suppose no one had yet teed off. Rule 8-1 states: “During a stipulated round, a player must not: 
(a) give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner, or
(b) ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies.”
Is this technically not during a round since no one has started, therefore no penalty? 

Dear Lou,

Excellent observation, Lou. I was concentrating on the meat of the question (whether asking where to aim constituted “advice” under the Rules), and I missed the reference to the question being asked on the first tee.

You are absolutely correct. Players may ask for and give advice prior to the beginning of a stipulated round. In both match play and stroke play, the round begins when the player makes his first stroke in the round [Decisions 2/2 and 3/3]. Assuming the player asked where to aim prior to hitting his tee shot (a safe assumption), he incurred no penalty for asking. If the player who responded had not yet begun play, he would incur no penalty for answering.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Lou.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ask Linda #631-Advice on where to aim


A sub joined us for our usual individual stroke game last week. He was unfamiliar with the course we play regularly. On the first tee (a par 5 with the green not visible) he asked where to aim.  I told him everyone aims left, toward a large tree, as the fairway slopes strongly to the right over the hill.

One of the group said we both were subject to 2-stroke penalties for asking and giving advice. We are still arguing about it. Thanks!


Dear Lou,

Players cannot incur a penalty for any information shared prior to the start of a round, so no one in your group is penalized.

Neither would there be a penalty to anyone for asking for or receiving advice  about where to aim if it had occurred later in the round. Here’s why:

The question here is whether telling a player to aim at a particular tree is “advice” or “indicating line of play.” A player is only permitted to give advice to his partner. He may only receive advice from his partner or either of their caddies [Rule 8-1]. However, except on the putting green, a player may have the line of play pointed out to him by anyone [Rule 8-2].

The answer is that telling a player where to aim is information about the line of play, which means there is no penalty. You may tell another player the distance to the tree, the contour of the fairway in the vicinity of the tree, and suggest that he aim at the tree. You may not tell him what will happen to his ball if he hits it slightly left of the tree, directly at the tree, or right of the tree. That would be advice, which carries a two-stroke penalty for the questioner and the responder.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Return from vacation

Dear readers,

I am back at my desk. I returned from vacation to discover a surprising number of questions in my inbox. I am busy at work trying to answer them. Due to the unexpected volume, my answers will necessarily be brief. Also, I may not be able to e-mail the personal responses that you are accustomed to receiving. Your March questions and my responses will probably be posted on the blog in May and June.

I expect to be caught up with my columns by the end of this week. My thanks to those of you who graciously saved your questions until April.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ask Linda #630-Chip hits player near flagstick

Hi Linda,
Last evening, in an individual stroke play competition, one of the girls in the 4 in front of us was standing close  enough to the pin to touch it – 2 others in the 4 were off the green. The girl near the pin was looking away from the player who actually chipped on first – the ball hit her on the foot. As she was so close to the pin, the query is: Was she considered to be attending the pin without permission from the player and thus did she incur a penalty for the ball hitting her?

Dear Lulu,

When a player stands close enough to the flagstick to touch it, she is considered to be attending it. In your scenario, the player who was chipping apparently did not notice the other player next to the flagstick, and so did not ask her to attend it or move away. Since the player standing at the flagstick did not have authorization to attend it, she incurred a two-stroke penalty when the ball hit her foot [Rule 17-2].

Most of the time, a player standing next to the flagstick has been asked to attend it. When such attendance has been requested, the two-stroke penalty is assessed to the player hitting the ball if the ball subsequently hits the flagstick or the person attending it.   

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ask Linda #629-Player steps on ball

Hi Linda,

Following problem occurs:
3 players just on green in stroke play
Player 1 (furthest away) starts playing his putt.
Player 2 finds his shadow in the putting line and steps back, thereby stepping on his own ball.

Discussion: Is there a stroke penalty?
Player 2 suggested he is removing a movable obstruction.


Dear Lou,

I am going to assume that the ball was moved, since it is highly unlikely that a player could step on his ball and not move it.

When a player causes his ball to move, there is a one-stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced [Rule 18-2a]. Failure to replace the ball before hitting it would result in a two-stroke penalty.

A shadow is not a movable obstruction. It is a distraction, and players should take care that their shadows not fall on the hole when attending a flagstick, or on another player’s line of putt while he is putting. If a player finds another player’s shadow distracting, there is nothing stopping him from asking the other player to move. The moving player is not exempt from penalty if he happens to step on his ball.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.