Friday, November 28, 2014

Ask Linda #956-Unauthorized attendance of flagstick

In a recent round I was just off the green but had elected to putt. One of the guys in my group was on the green not too far from the flagstick. I informed him I was off the green and while I did not specifically say I wanted the pin left in I thought it was understood. Also, I did not believe he was sufficiently close to the flag to deem he was tending the pin. When I hit my putt he quickly walked over to the flag and put his hand on it as if tending it. I hit one of my rare good putts and it was heading right at the hole. The ball hit the pin and dropped in but it did hit the pin while his hand was on the flagstick. So, I didn't ask for the pin to be tended and I didn't think he was tending the pin. He just walked over and put his hand on it after I putted. Would this still be a penalty?
Lou from Texas

Dear Lou,

When another golfer attends the flagstick without your permission or prior knowledge, and doing so might influence the movement of the ball, he incurs the penalty, not you [Rule 17-2].

Because this unauthorized attendance clearly influenced the movement of the ball (the ball struck the flagstick), the golfer attending the flagstick is penalized as follows:

In match play, he loses the hole.

In stroke play, he incurs a two-stroke penalty. The player who hit the ball incurs no penalty. If he hit the ball from off the green, he will play the ball as it lies. If he hit the ball from on the putting surface, the stroke is canceled, and the ball must be replaced and replayed [Rule 17-2, Penalty].

Looking at your situation (which I’m assuming was stroke play), your ball, which you hit from off the green, is holed. The fellow attending the flagstick is assessed a two-stroke penalty.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ask Linda #955-Ball embedded in not-so-closely-mown area

Hi Linda,
We had an incident the other day. It went like this: We're on the sixth hole, a short par four a little over three hundred yards. To make it more difficult, the green is not very deep and is elevated, the fairway ends about twenty yards in front of the green. That area is usually very soggy and balls become embedded. We couldn't decide, although the grass there is cropped short, whether it is considered closely mown. I told him to play two balls and get a ruling later, but I was overridden and he picked up his ball, cleaned it and placed it back close to where it was embedded. I've always been a little confused by the phrasing of “closely mown area.” Some definitions say anywhere on the course except hazards. Anyway, what is your opinion?
Lou from Florida

Dear Lou,

“Closely mown areas” are defined right in the Embedded Ball Rule [25-2] as “any areas of the course…cut to fairway height or less.” If the grass in that 20-yard section between the fairway and the putting green is taller than the grass on the fairway, it is not “closely mown” and you do not get free relief for an embedded ball.

Incidentally, when you take relief for a ball that is embedded in its own pitch mark in a closely mown area, the ball may be lifted, cleaned, and dropped as near as possible to where it lay, no closer to the hole. I’ll repeat: An embedded ball is dropped, not placed.

There is a Local Rule that allows players to take relief for an embedded ball “through the green [Appendix I, Part B, #4]. “Through the green” means everywhere on the course except all hazards and the teeing ground and putting green of the hole you are playing. Under the circumstances, this Local Rule should probably be adopted at your course.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ask Linda #954-Ball lands in beer cup

Ms. Linda:  What do the Rules of Golf say about a situation that might only happen at a golf tournament where a golfer's ball goes into the crowd and ends up inside an overturned, commemorative plastic tournament beer cup? (I have one such cup from a past U.S. Open played at Oak Hill). Thanks.
Lou from Georgia

Dear Lou,

It’s probably not as unusual as you might think for a ball to end up in a plastic cup; this happenstance is certainly not limited to tournament play.

The plastic cup is a movable obstruction. When your ball lies in a movable obstruction, you may lift the ball, discard the cup, and drop the ball as near as possible to where it lay in the cup on the ground. You may not drop nearer the hole. The ball may be cleaned when you lift it [Rule 24-1b]. Should the ball happen to be in a plastic cup on the putting green, you would place the ball, rather than drop it.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ask Linda #953b-Another follow-up to #953

Linda, a further question on #953:

I'm assuming that the player got himself in that unfortunate situation by attempting to take relief under Rule 26-1, option -c.
If that was indeed the case, then once he retrieves his ball after the disastrous attempt to place it, are options -a and -b still open to him or must he continue to invoke option -c and, if so, may he choose another placement spot under the provisions of Rule 20-3d (i) ?
Lou from Florida

Dear Lou,

Yes, the player took the two-club-length relief provided in Rule 26-1c for a ball in a lateral water hazard.

After the ball comes to rest and subsequently rolls back into the hazard, the player’s ball is once again in the hazard. If it is not playable from the hazard, he must choose one of the relief options in Rule 26 for a ball in a water hazard

If he chooses 26-1c (the two-club-length option), he must drop it and await the results. If the dropped ball rolls back into the hazard twice, he must try to place the ball. There is no option to invoke Rule 20-3d(i) if the placed ball comes to rest, even though the rest may be brief.

Since the player was burned once by a ball that remained at rest and subsequently rolled into the hazard, he might want to choose one of the other relief options available in Rule 26-1 the second time around.


Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ask Linda #953a-Follow-up to #953 ("Ball moves after placing")

Dear Linda,
Since it was likely obvious that the ball may roll back into the hazard after placing it, did this player have any other options for placement before he actually placed? 
Lou from Spain

Dear Lou,

This is a tricky question, Lou. You have to try to place the ball in the correct location. If you place it, and it immediately rolls away, you must try to place it one more time. If it doesn’t stay put the second time, you must place it at the nearest spot, no closer to the hole, where it will remain at rest [Rule 20-3d].

However, if you place the ball and it remains at rest and subsequently rolls, you must play it from its new location. If its new location happens to be back in the hazard, that is very unfortunate.

If you suspect your ball will not remain in place for very long after you place it, I would recommend the following procedure:
• Assess the situation, pick the club you plan to use for your next shot, and have it ready.
• If you plan to take a practice swing, take it now (before you place the ball).
• Place your ball, take your stance, and hit your shot without delay.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.