Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ask Linda #716-Playing a match during stroke play competition

Hi Linda,

We played four ball (best ball) on the weekend as a haggle amongst ourselves, though the primary competition at the club was a stroke play round of best net. While on the green one of our opponent's balls was 3 feet or so past the hole. His partner was putting from around 30 feet away and I asked him did he want the other ball marked. He declined, putted and hit his partner's ball with his own when the putt ran past the hole.

I believe that in match play there is no penalty and that his ball stays where it is and the ball that was moved should be put back as close as possible to the original position. However, because the primary competition was stroke play, I said he incurred a 2-stroke penalty, which in effect caused them to lose the hole anyway.

I'm guessing the problem here is playing two different formats at the same time. Clarification about the issue of hitting another ball when both are on the putting green would be appreciated, both for match play and stroke play.

Many thanks.
Lou from New Zealand

Dear Lou,

Please look at the following Rule:

33-1. Conditions; Waiving Rule
The Committee must establish the conditions under which a competition is to be played.
The Committee has no power to waive a Rule of Golf.
Certain specific Rules governing stroke play are so substantially different from those governing match play that combining the two forms of play is not practicable and is not permitted. The result of a match played in these circumstances is null and void and, in the stroke play competition, the competitors are disqualified.
There is no penalty for hitting another ball on the green in match play; there is a two-stroke penalty for hitting another ball on the green in stroke play. This Rule is in effect when the player is putting on the green [Rule 19-5a].

You may never play stroke play and match play simultaneously. The Rules are not the same, and you will get into trouble, as you did in the scenario you describe.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Ask Linda #715-Score after lifting provisional in play

Linda, I really enjoy your rules explanations.

Today at our club day we had a new member hit a ball into a bush. She played a provisional, declaring it was a provisional, but that ball only went about 10 meters. She went forward and picked up her provisional, thinking she would be able to find her original ball, but she didn't, so she returned to The Tee and hit another ball.

What is her penalty?

We ruled her 3rd shot from the tee was her 5th shot. On thinking about it, I think she should have been disqualified as she hit a wrong ball by hitting her 3rd from the tee. She should have replaced her provisional after picking it up and discovering it was now the ball in play. She should have taken a penalty of one stroke and continued to play her provisional for her 5th shot.

Lulu from Australia

Dear Lulu,

No need for disqualification, Lulu. Here is how to calculate her score:

Stroke #1: Tee shot into the bush.
Strokes #2 and 3: Provisional ball from tee. This ball is now in play because the original was lost.
Stroke #4: One-stroke penalty for lifting her provisional, which was her ball in play*.
Strokes #5 and 6: Her third shot from the tee played under stroke and distance when she lifted the ball in play and returned to the tee.

* This player cannot avoid the one-stroke penalty for lifting her ball in play (stroke #4) because she had no intention of playing it under stroke and distance at the time she picked it up [Decision 27-2b/10].

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ask Linda #714-Practice swing moves ball on tee


We were in the first tee box of a stroke play competition. One of my fellow competitor's habits of making a practice swing is to address the ball (the club is really behind the ball) and then on the downswing he will not hit the ball.
He will do it a couple of times, sometime three times on every hole, so we cannot tell the pattern when he is going to make the real stroke. And on one of these practice swings, while his body and club is moving backwards, he hit the teed ball. Is there a penalty on this one? I want to give him a penalty because my contention was for placing the club behind the ball. He already addressed the ball so the ball is in play.  

Thank you,
Lou from California

Dear Lou,

A ball is not in play until a player has made a stroke from the teeing ground [Definition of Ball in Play]. The mere act of addressing the ball does not put it in play. Think of all those times you address a ball and accidentally knock it off the tee. You have moved your ball, but there is no penalty because the ball is not yet in play. You are permitted to re-tee this ball and start all over again.

A player who accidently contacts his ball with a practice swing on the teeing ground may re-tee with no penalty. Again, the reason for no penalty is because the ball is not in play. However, after the tee shot, when the ball is in play, a player who accidentally moves his ball with a practice swing is penalized one stroke and must replace the ball [Rule 18-2a].

As I have mentioned in previous columns, it’s best to get in the habit of taking your practice swings a reasonable distance away from the ball. Not only will you avoid the risk of a penalty, you will not spend a beautiful day of golf arguing about the Rules.

Your question raises a second issue. Why is this player taking two or three practice swings? This is one of my pet peeves, so pardon me for venting. The time for extra practice swings is on the range, where no one will care how long it takes you to hit a ball. Limit your practice swings to one (perhaps two for a tricky shot), and stop wasting everyone’s time.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ask Linda #713-Ball hits cart

Linda, a player hits the golf cart in front of them up around the green. No penalty, but can the ball be played from there or does it go back and get hit again? Our pro said it needed to come back and I disagreed. I know where I can get the correct answer!
Lulu from New Jersey

Dear Lulu,

Maybe you should apply for the pro’s job, Lulu!

A cart that belongs to a player in another group is an outside agency. If your ball accidentally hits an outside agency, it is a “rub of the green” and you will play your ball as it lies [Rule 19-1].

If the cart belongs to you or your partner, you incur a one-stroke penalty, but you will still play the ball as it lies.

The only time you have the option to replay your shot is if your ball hits your opponent’s cart in match play. When that happens, you may choose to play the ball as it lies or replay the shot with no penalty. If you choose to replay, you do not have to retrieve your original ball [Rule 19-3].

I have received several questions lately about pros giving players incorrect rulings. The next time you receive information you suspect may be wrong, ask your pro if he can back up his answer in the rulebook.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ask Linda #712-Ball lost in GUR

Hi Linda,

We have an area on one of the golf holes that has been marked as ground under repair. It is actually part of the cart path that caved in and has made a very deep ditch. Today, one of our players hit her tee shot into this area and the ball could not be found. Would she get a free drop without penalty or should it have been considered a lost ball?

Thanking you in advance,
Lulu from New Jersey

Dear Lulu,

If it is known or virtually certain that the ball is lost in the ground under repair (GUR), the player is entitled to free relief [Rule 25-1c]. “Known” means someone saw it enter the GUR; “virtually certain” means that if you can’t find it outside the GUR there is no other place it could possibly be than in the GUR.

If you are not absolutely certain that the ball is in the GUR, the ball is lost and the player must proceed under stroke and distance [Rule 27-1].

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ask Linda #711-Bunker next to lateral hazard

Hi Linda,

I enjoy very much reading your simple rules, which I get via Email.

Every time one of these issues happens there is a long discussion as to what to do. I think my interpretations are correct, but others say that the person should go back and play the shot again, which of course is an option, but not the only one and not in my opinion the best option in these cases. I cannot find such an exact case in the rules but would like to know because if this happens when the ladies of the LGPA Tour next play it would be good to be clear on the rules. 

Best Wishes,
Lulu from Malaysia

Situation: On the left of the 4th Green on KLGCC (Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club) East Course, Malaysia (LGPA plays this course each year), there is a bunker that stretches from about 10 yards before the green until a few yards, 5 say, after it. To the left of the bunker is a lake marked by red stakes (lateral hazard) but the sand in the bunker runs into the lake and the red stakes are placed in the grass before the bunker starts and after the bunker finishes. As such, a ball landing left of the green can either be in the sand in the bunker, be in the sand in the hazard as defined by the line between the two red stakes, or be in the water of the lake.

Question #1: If the ball goes into the lake, crossing the bunker, where should it be dropped? The nearest place of crossing the hazard, no nearer the hole, is in the bunker. The nearest place, no nearer the hole, to the point it crossed the hazard outside the bunker is either some 10+ yards before the green (i.e. before where the bunker starts) or 5+ yards after the green (i.e. after where the bunker finishes). If this happens we drop under penalty either before the green or after it, whichever is the closest to the hole but not nearer than where it crossed the hazard. Is this correct? That is, we do not drop in the bunker.

Answer: Your procedure is not correct. When a player’s ball lies in a lateral water hazard, one of her relief options is to drop within two club-lengths and not nearer the hole than the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard. If her ball entered the hazard through the bunker, and the two-club-length relief is in the bunker, she must drop in the bunker [Decision 26-1/2]. Ten yards in one direction or five in another are clearly not within two club-lengths. Two club-lengths are two club-lengths; there is no getting around that. If you prefer not to drop in the bunker, then choose one of the other relief options in Rule 26-1.

Question #2: If the ball is in the bunker near the edge of water that has overflowed from the hazard, or actually in water but not in the hazard, what is the rule? Basically, after rain the water line varies and often comes higher up into the bunker and outside the line between the red stakes. We play such cases as a free drop due to casual water and drop within one club-length of the nearest point of relief but in the bunker. Is this correct?

Answer: Yes. Water that overflows the lake is not casual water until it passes the margin of the hazard indicated by the red stakes. If the ball lies on the hazard side of the stakes, regardless of whether it is sitting in water or on sand, it lies in the hazard and you must proceed under the water hazard Rule [26-1].
         If your ball lies outside the hazard stakes, it is not in the hazard. You are entitled to free relief if the ball lies in water outside the hazard (this is casual water), or casual water interferes with your stance or the area of your intended swing.
         In order to get free relief, you must drop inside the bunker, at the nearest relief no closer to the hole. If complete relief is not available, you are entitled to drop in a part of the bunker no closer to the hole that offers maximum relief (e.g., where the water is more shallow) [Rule 25-1b (ii)].

Question #3: The ball is in the bunker very near the edge of the water but dry (i.e., it’s a bunker shot). To play the ball you have to stand in the water, which is in the hazard. Is the water in the hazard considered casual water and can you then take relief in the bunker? I think you can.

Answer: No. Water in the hazard is in the hazard. It cannot be considered casual water unless it lies outside the margin of the hazard (past the red stakes). If the only way to hit a ball that lies in a bunker is to stand in the water hazard, that is where you must stand. Feel free to remove your socks and shoes!

Lulu, you might skip some of the long discussions you mentioned if the Committee offered players the option of one or more Dropping Zones outside the bunker. Please read Decision 33-8/37.5.
Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.