Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ask Linda #681b-Retrieve lost club

Hi Linda,

I have a slight variation on your recent email [Ask Linda #681-Another player’s club in your bag]. Can you be penalised if you find a club out on the course and put it in your bag with the sole intention of handing it in at the pro shop when you finish, but you already have 14 of your own clubs in your bag?

Lou from the UK

Dear Lou,

No. There are no penalties for acts of kindness. Just be careful not to use the extra club.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ask Linda #681a-15 clubs in bag

Linda, what if the addition of B's wedge to A's bag made A have 15 clubs in his bag email [Ask Linda #681-Another player’s club in your bag]?

Is A penalized for the holes he had B's club in his bag? But he didn't put it there, a competitor did. Hmmmm…

Lou from Virginia

Dear Lou,

The answer depends on several factors [Decision 4-4a/6]:

Player A is not penalized for carrying 15 clubs if all of the following circumstances exist:
   1. Player B put the club in Player A’s bag on the first tee;
   2. the club was added to A’s bag after the group’s official start time; and
   3. the club Player B added to A’s bag was one of the clubs that B had selected for play.
The only way Player A would be penalized under the above circumstances would be if he were to use B’s club. The club may be returned to B and B may use the club during his round.

Player A is penalized for carrying 15 clubs if any of the following circumstances exists:
   1. The added club belongs to a player in a different group.
   2. The club was added to Player A’s bag before his group arrived at the tee.
   3. The club was added before Player A’s starting time.

Basically, if you count your clubs immediately prior to teeing off on the first hole, it is highly unlikely that anything will happen after that to cause you to incur a penalty for carrying too many clubs.

The penalty for carrying more than 14 clubs in stroke play is two strokes per hole, maximum 4 strokes. In match play, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole per breach, maximum two per round. Perhaps the match play penalty would be better understood with an example:

Ted and Matt are playing a match. Matt is 3-down. During play of the fifth hole, Ted discovers that Matt is carrying 15 clubs. The two men complete the fifth hole, which they halve. Once the hole is complete, the state of the match is adjusted two holes. Matt is now 5-down. If the two men had been playing the second hole, Matt had been 1-down, and the second hole was halved, Matt would now be 3-down despite having played only two holes! Where else but in golf?

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ask Linda #682-Cleaning ball

Dear Linda,

I am still enjoying all your blogs and they give me hours of enjoyment.


(a) Rule 21 states: a Ball may be Cleaned when Lifted, except under Rules 5-3, 12-2 and 22.

I understand that a Ball may not be Cleaned if it is Lifted by a Player to determine if he is entitled to relief, say from an Aeration Hole (Local Rule) – is this correct and are other such occasions?

(b) If a Ball at rest moves, when removing an Obstruction or a Loose Impediment, the Ball must be Replaced. Now, to Replace the Ball, it will obviously have to be lifted. Can the Ball be cleaned on such an occasion?

Is the fact that the Ball is being “Replaced” rather than it being “Lifted” an issue in such circumstances?

Is there a distinction between a Ball being “Replaced” and a Ball being “Lifted” when it comes to Cleaning the Ball?

Yours Sincerely,
Lou from Ireland

Dear Lou,

A ball may be cleaned when it has been lifted. There is no distinction between “lifting” and “replacing” with regard to cleaning a ball. When a player is required to replace his ball (as in Rules 18-2, -3, and -5; 19-5; and 24-1) he may clean it [Decision 18-2a/13]. I consulted a USGA official to verify this answer.

Technically, a ball may be cleaned any time it has been lifted, except when it has been lifted to determine whether it is unfit for play (Rule 5-3), to identify it (Rule 12-2), and when it interferes or assists with play (Rule 22).

There is another exception that is addressed in Decision 20-1/0.7. This Decision explains that a player may not clean his ball when he is lifting it to determine whether he is entitled to relief under a Rule of Golf. Specifically, if you have to lift your ball to find out if it is lying in a hole made by a burrowing animal, is embedded, is sitting on an aeration hole, or is in any other condition where you would be entitled to relief, the ball may not be cleaned. In these cases, if it is determined that the ball is, indeed, lying in a condition from which a player is entitled to relief, he may clean the ball under the applicable Rule; if it is not lying in such a condition, it must be replaced without being cleaned.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ask Linda #681-Another player’s club in your bag

Dear Linda,

For your consideration…

Circumstances of Events:

1) Two Players from the one Team are over near the Practice Putting Green. Player A was Putting and Player B was Chipping.
2) All Teams were called to the first Tee Box area and Player B inadvertently but his wedge into Player A’s bag.
3) This meant, as both Players walked to the Tee Box area, Player A has a total of 14 Clubs, the 13 selected for play, plus the additional wedge put into his bag by Player B.  Player B now only has 13 Clubs in his bag.
4) Player A Tees off and later, in another group, Player B Tees off. Some time into the round, Player B is in need of his wedge, but it cannot be found in his bag. He suspects he may have left it at the Practice Green and requested his Manager to go and see if it can be located.
5) The Manager cannot locate the wedge, however, some holes later, Player A discovers he has Player B’s wedge in his bag   --- he has not made a Stroke with this wedge.


1) The matter of Excess Clubs: Rule 4-4, does not come in for consideration, as both Players did not start with more than 14 Clubs.
2) Under Rule 4-4a, a Player is limited to the Clubs selected for play for that round, except, if he started with fewer than 14 Clubs, he may add any number, provided the total number does not exceed 14 clubs.
3) In addition to 2) above, Rule 4-4 also states, the Player must not add or borrow any club selected for play by any other person playing on the Course.
4) In this case, Player A did not select the wedge for play and the fact that it was inadvertently put into his bag does not change the status of that club, that being, it was not selected for play.   
5) Although the wedge was not selected for play, Player A started the round with this wedge and before starting a round, there is an onus on every player to ensure the clubs he has in his bag are not only correct in total, but they are also his clubs.
6) Player A had plenty of time to check his clubs before the start of his round and the fact that he failed to do so, means he must suffer any consequence of such an oversight.
7) Player B also had plenty of time to check his clubs and again, failure to do so, must rest with him.
8) On the basis of 5), 6) and 7) above, there is a strong argument to refuse the return of the wedge to Player B, as both Players had ample time to check (“select”) their clubs, prior to the round.
9) However, on the other hand, as the wedge was not selected for play by Player A, it might be said it does not count in his clubs selected for the round and it would be fair for him to return it to Player B and permit Player B to use the wedge, for the remainder of the round.
10) The Decisions Book does not specifically consider these set of circumstances. However, reference to D4-4a/1, D4-4a/5, D4-4a/5.5 and D4-4a/6 may permit a view to be formed.

The Question:

1) Is Player A entitled to return the wedge to Player B?
2) In these circumstances, is Player B entitled to add to his clubs from another Player on the Course?
3) Is Player B entitled to make a stroke with the wedge, if it is returned to him?

I look forward to your views and hope my own Opinion has not been displayed in any manner, as I have attempted to put forward both sides of the “argument” even-handedly.

Kind regards,
Lou from Ireland 

Dear Lou,

Sometimes simple logic and common sense will provide an answer for you.

Here are the answers to your three questions:

1. Player A may and should return the wedge to Player B. The club belongs to Player B, and is one he selected for play.
2. Player B is not adding a club selected for play by another person playing on the course. Player A did not select the club, and he did not use it.
3. Player B is entitled to use the returned wedge. It is one of the 14 clubs he selected for play, and the addition of that club does not exceed the 14-club limit.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ask Linda #680-Declaring identifying stakes “obstructions”

Hi Linda,

I have a follow up question to the below explanation.

As defined: 
An “obstruction’’ is anything artificial, including the artificial surfaces and sides of roads and paths and manufactured ice,
         a. Objects defining out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings;
         b. Any part of an immovable artificial object that is out of bounds; and
         c. Any construction declared by the Committee to be an integral part of the course.
There is a note in the Definition of Out of Bounds I would like for you to explain exactly what is being said:
Note 2: A Committee may make a Local Rule declaring stakes identifying but not defining out of bounds to be obstructions.”
Are they saying the Committee can change the defining stakes to identifying, or is there something different one might see that would be identifying rather than defining? If so what am I looking for?
Lou from New Orleans

Dear Lou,

When out-of-bounds is marked by both stakes and lines, the stakes identify OB and the lines define OB. In other words, when you have both stakes and lines, the stakes are there to notify you of the presence of the OB, and the line is the actual margin of the OB. When a line marks the OB boundary, your ball is OB if it is lying on the line and no part of the ball breaks the vertical plane onto the golf course.

Ordinarily, out-of-bounds stakes are fixed, whether they define OB (no lines present) or identify OB (accompanied by lines). However, the Committee has the authority to declare stakes that identify OB to be obstructions [Note #2 to the Definition of Out of Bounds]. This option is available only when both stakes and lines are present. If the Committee adopts this Local Rule, players are entitled to relief from the stakes; if it does not, the stakes are fixed – no free relief, and they may not be removed.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.