Monday, September 30, 2013

Ask Linda #727-Stand outside Dropping Zone Sept. 30, 2013

Dear Linda,
When a player has to go to the drop zone to play a shot, the drop zone is marked with a circle and labeled drop zone.  Can the player stand outside the circle as long as she drops (ball lands inside the circle) inside the drop zone circle?
Lulu from Tennessee

Dear Lulu,

The Rule about Dropping Zones puts no restrictions on where you place your feet. If the area is defined by a circle, there is no requirement that your feet be in the circle.

However, when you drop the ball, it must strike the ground inside the circle. If there is a line defining the Zone, the line is in the Zone, so the drop is good if it strikes the line.

You may be interested to know that your drop is good even if it rolls out of the Zone, provided it doesn’t roll more than two club-lengths from the spot it hit the ground when you dropped it. And the drop is good in most cases even if it rolls forward!

For complete details on how to properly use a Dropping Zone, please read Appendix I, Part B, #8 in the back of your rulebook.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ask Linda #726-Touch a limb on backswing in hazard Sept. 27, 2013

Linda, has Rule 13-4 changed since Brian Davis called a two-stroke penalty on himself in the playoff at the 2010 Verizon Heritage? In his case I believe he brushed a reed during his back swing for his stroke while he was in the hazard on the first playoff hole.

The reason I am asking is that during a tournament at my home course a player made his stoke from the hazard and hit a tree limb during his backswing for his stroke. He did not call a two-stroke penalty on himself. I re-read the note on Rule 13-4 and it seems a little ambiguous.

Would you please clarify?

Dear Lulu,

There is a Note following Rule 13-4 that states that a player may touch any grass, bush, tree, or other growing thing when she addresses the ball or during her backswing.

If a player breaks a limb during her backswing and discontinues her swing, she is penalized two strokes for improving the area of her intended swing [Decision 13-2/14.5]. If she breaks the limb on her backswing, but manages to complete her stroke despite the distraction, she is not penalized, and she deserves a pat on the back!

Brian Davis called a penalty on himself for brushing a loose reed in a hazard during his backswing in the playoff vs. Jim Furyk at the 2010 Verizon Heritage. A loose reed is not a “growing thing” – it is a loose impediment. A player is not permitted to touch or move a loose impediment in a hazard when his ball is in the hazard.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ask Linda #725-Ball hits opponent’s cart

Hey Linda…let’s say I am playing in a match play event, best ball, and my opponents drive the cart into an area that is not where they should be (like the carts signs were pointing away so carts were to be avoiding this place) and I hit them with my ball. Can they still call a penalty on me?
Lou from San Francisco 

Dear Lou,

What penalty are they calling on you? There is never a penalty in match play if your ball strikes your opponent’s cart. The choice on how to proceed is yours: Cancel the stroke and play a ball from where you last played, or play the ball that struck the cart as it lies [Rule 19-3].

There is no penalty in stroke play, either. However, in stroke play there is no choice – you must play the ball as it lies.

The only time you are penalized for hitting a golf cart is when the cart belongs to you (one stroke and play the ball as it lies).

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ask Linda #724-Removing loose impediments and dew

Two questions if I may,
During Spring and Autumn, nearby trees will often drop seeds, small twigs, and leaves onto the green. As I understand it, these may be removed only by hand or with the putter. Is it ever permissible to use a towel or hat to fan or swat along the line of your putt to remove these or any materials?

When there is dew on the grass (fairway or rough), a practice swing may leave a track where the dew was removed. Is it permissible to take a practice stroke, then stand behind the ball again to compare the track to your target line? I don't mean purposely creating a track by dragging the club on the grass, just taking a normal practice swing. 

Your blog is most enlightening - thanks for all you do!
Lou from West Virginia

Dear Lou,

Removal of loose impediments
Loose impediments may be removed by any means (towels, hats, and fans are all allowed). However, you must be careful not to press anything down on your line of putt; if you do, you will incur a two-stroke penalty (loss of hole in match play) under Rule 16-1a [Decision 23-1/1].

Removal of dew
The removal of dew that is behind your ball, beside it, or in front of it on the line of play is a breach of Rule 13-2 if there is a reasonable possibility that the removal creates a potential advantage for the golfer [Decision 13-2/35]. If I am reading your narrative correctly, it seems that removing the dew with your practice stroke has given you an advantage in your subsequent play. The penalty is two strokes (loss of hole in match play).

Get in the habit of taking your practice swing at a comfortable distance away from your ball. That will help you avoid all sorts of annoying, avoidable penalties!

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ask Linda 723-Club to measure relief

Dear Linda ,
I am watching world match play golf.  McDowell is taking a penalty drop of 2 club-lengths from near the green and is measuring the relief distance with his driver. My understanding is you should measure with the club you intend to use - should he not be using a wedge?

Lou from Manchester UK

Dear Lou,

When you take relief that you pay for with a penalty stroke (e.g., unplayable ball, lateral water hazard), you may use any club in your bag to measure the two-club-length relief. You may even borrow someone else’s club, as long as the borrowed club is not longer than the longest club in your bag.

When you take free relief (e.g., immovable obstruction, ground under repair), you should use the club you would use to hit your next shot to establish your stance at the nearest point of relief. Once you find that spot, you may now use any club in your bag for the one club-length of relief.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ask Linda #722-Practice after holing out

Hi Linda.

We were playing a stroke play competition yesterday on our 9 hole course. It was an 18 hole competition - we play round the course twice off different tee markers on each 9.
Anyway, I missed a 4 foot putt on the 7th hole and after we finished the hole I put my ball down to try the putt again. One of my fellow competitors said I couldn't do that. I said that Rule 7-2 allows for practice putting or chipping on a hole just completed (as long as you aren't holding up play). He felt that because we had to play the same hole on the back 9 that it amounted to practicing on a hole yet to be played. Neither of us is sure of the rule in these circumstances and would appreciate your input!

Lou from New Zealand

Dear Lou,

Rule 7-2 is the applicable Rule here, Lou. You are permitted to practice putting on the green of the hole you last played, provided you don’t delay anyone’s play [Decision 7-2/9].

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ask Linda #721-Illegal Local Rules

Dear Linda,

I apologise for this lengthy explanation. Please feel free to paraphrase or edit as you see fit. I always try to comply with even the most dubious/illegal local rules but…

My question is:

Can "Illegal" Local Rules be Ignored?

I entered a competition at an "away" course the other day and one of the local rules concerned a dropping zone for a water hazard that had to be cleared in order to land on the green. The local rule stated that for any ball that failed to clear the hazard the only option is that the ball MUST be dropped in the drop zone. 

This drop zone is positioned at the back of the green - to take the water out of play - but left a difficult shot over a mound with little landing space before the pin. In my view the easier shot was to play 3 off the tee - this was a short hole to a large green. I could hit this green 9 times out of 10.

I am sure that this drop zone does not comply with the R&A Guidance on Running a Competition with regards to the establishment of such a drop zone and I am also certain that such a local rule is also illegal! For instance it does not allow me take stroke and distance relief.

If players know that a local rule is "illegal" do they still have the options available to them laid down in the rules of golf? In this case I played two balls (in accordance with Rule 3-3) and stated that I wished to use the stroke and distance option to count as my score for the hole. Although I informed "The Committee" after completion of the round, they had no decision to make as the score for each ball was the same (5).

Fortunately my "home" course does not have any illegal or dubious local rules.  In addition we are quite knowledgeable with regards to the rules of golf and it is therefore easy to recognise dubious local rules (i.e. those that are not approved by the USGA or R&A under Appendix 1 to the Rules of Golf).

However if we played in a competition and did not follow the illegal/dubious local rules of golf but strictly followed the rules and reliefs given in the Rules of Golf do we run the risk of being disqualified from the competition? 

I have looked at the various Decisions under Rule 34 but it is not clear what happens when a Committee makes an incorrect Local Rule and whether that ruling may be ignored/corrected when playing a round. It is all very well playing two balls, but what happens if everyone abides by an illegal local rule such as providing free relief from divot holes? Even though this local rule is not authorised, I would be at a disadvantage in the competition if I did not take advantage of it! 

The obvious answer is to mention any illegal or dubious local rules to the competition committee when I check the local rules before teeing off - but they also approved the local rules so I am in a difficult position - and very often there is insufficient time to clarify this before teeing off.

It is the local rules that state I "MUST" do something that I know is illegal (i.e. would not be authorised/approved by the USGA/R&A) that I have most difficulty with. Apart from exercising my right to play with two balls (Rule 3-3) what are my options? 

Lou from the United Kingdom

Dear Lou,

Let’s take a look first at your experience with the Dropping Zone. The Committee established a Dropping Zone on the green side of the hazard, which is not permissible. Furthermore, it made it mandatory for players to use the illegal Zone, depriving players of their rights under the Rules of Golf. I am not happy. You made the right decision in playing two balls under Rule 3-3. It’s a shame you scored the same with both balls – it would have been interesting to see how the Committee would rule if you had a lower score with the ball you re-played correctly under the Rules from the tee.

There is no Local Rule available for Committees to adopt to allow players to remove balls from divots on the fairway when they are playing the ball down otherwise. Committees are not permitted to make up Local Rules that are not in accordance with the Local Rules in Appendix I. (There are exceptions for unusual circumstances, but divots are not unusual on a golf course.) A Committee that feels it’s necessary to provide relief from divot holes may adopt the Local Rule for “preferred lies,” although preferred lies is not recommended for that reason alone.

If a Committee establishes Local Rules for a tournament that are not in accordance with the Rules of Golf, players are not competing under the Rules of Golf. Scores from such tournaments are not acceptable for posting.

As you mentioned, you would be at a disadvantage if other players are dropping out of divots and you do not. I would suggest that you follow the rules of the tournament and insist that your score not be posted into your handicap record. If you have sufficient time prior to the tournament to voice your objections to the illegal Local Rules (we’re talking about days here, not hours), by all means do so. Otherwise, a polite conversation after your round might help to enlighten the Committee regarding future tournaments.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ask Linda #720-Extra clubs in bag during match

Good morning, Linda.
Trust you are well.
An interesting situation occurred during my match play competition yesterday and would like to seek your opinion.
I was playing a match play competition at my local golf club.
Two other players joined us to play a recreational round of golf.
My opponent and myself were sharing a buggy and the recreational golfers also had a buggy.
After completing playing the 7th hole the recreational golfer claimed that he had left 3 clubs behind on Hole number 6.
I teed off on Hole 8 and as I was replacing my driver in my bag I noticed that the recreational golfer’s 3 clubs were in my bag on our buggy.
I told him so and returned the clubs to him.
I did not put the recreational golfer’s clubs in my bag and we were unable to establish how the clubs landed in my bag.
My opponent claimed that I had 3 extra clubs in my bag for all of Hole 7 and therefore I had lost the hole.
Is this a correct ruling?
Thank you for your answer.
Best regards
Lou from Dubai

Dear Lou,

No penalty.

You started your round with no more than 14 clubs. The three clubs belonging to the recreational golfer were accidentally placed in your bag during the round. You did not use those clubs. You do not incur a penalty and you may return the clubs to their rightful owner [Decision 4-4a/5.5].

The ruling is the same for both match and stroke play, and would not change if the recreational golfers had been participants in the competition.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ask Linda #719-Brushing away loose impediments

Hi Linda,

I played a match today and was penalised for removing loose impediments that lay in front of my ball (the impediments were leaves from a nearby tree).

My ball was a foot off the green on the apron. My opponent said that the reason I was penalised was because I brushed the impediments with my hand (back of the hand) and didn't pick them up individually. The loss of hole went on to be pivotal in the match and I can’t find anything in the rulebook stating that the manner in which the impediments are removed should make me incur a penalty.

Many Thanks,
Lou from the UK

Dear Lou,

Loose impediments may be removed by any means, Lou [Decision 23-1/1]. You got hoodwinked. You should not have accepted his “ruling” that you lost the hole. Next time, stick to your guns and let your opponent file a claim. The Committee will rule that you are entitled to brush away loose impediments with your hand and you do not lose the hole.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.