Friday, January 30, 2015

Ask Linda #989-Mulligans

Hi Linda
I am on the executive of our ladies club and we have a question for you.
If a player takes a "mulligan" how does she post her score?
I read the handicapping manual rule 4-2 and to me taking a mulligan would be a hole not played under the principle rules of golf and the player would take par plus any handicap strokes she is entitled to on that hole.  Am I correct?
Would an 18 handicapper post a bogey for a hole where she took a mulligan?
(and by the way we are informing our players that taking a mulligan is simply not allowed but apparently this has been happening and we just found out)
Thank you very much for your time
Lulu from Canada

Dear Lulu,

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a mulligan is a do-over. In a sanctioned tournament, a player would be subject to disqualification for taking a mulligan, as her reported score would be lower than what she actually shot.

Taking a mulligan is actually playing under stroke and distance – you are hitting another ball from the spot where you hit your previous shot. Your score for the hole would be the actual number of strokes played plus two more. For example, if the player duffs her tee shot, claims a mulligan, and scores five on the hole with that second ball, her score will be seven (she must count the original tee shot plus the one-stroke penalty under stroke and distance).

I believe the best way to handle this problem is to inform every player that mulligans are not permitted under the Rules of Golf, and include a warning that players using mulligans will be disqualified from the day’s competition if they do not turn in a correct score.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ask Linda #988-Relief from nesting bird

Hi Linda,

In my game today I put my tee shot near a plover that was nesting–the birds were screeching and flying in, trying to attack my partners who were trying to scare the bird away so that I might take my shot.

I couldn't get into position because every time I addressed the ball the birds came at us, protecting their nest. Eventually three players all waved and shouted just long enough for me to duff my next shot into the bunker.

Would I have been entitled to relief of any sort? The birds were clearly in distress, and to be honest I was concerned not only for the birds but all of us as well.

Lou from Sydney, Australia

Dear Lou,

Players are entitled to free relief from dangerous situations. However, “dangerous,” under the Rules of Golf, is defined as poisonous or life-threatening. Rattlesnakes and bees’ nests would be considered dangerous; poison ivy and cacti would not.

I received a similar question about nesting geese in January of 2011 (Ask Linda #275). Geese are much larger than plovers, and while they do not have talons, they have strong beaks and will fight to protect their young. I consulted the USGA, and was told that the USGA does not consider geese to be dangerous, as they are neither poisonous nor life-threatening. I suspect the ruling would be the same for plovers – the birds are only 6–8 inches long (15–19 cm). Accordingly, if the player chooses not to play his ball he must take his one-stroke penalty and use one of the relief options in Rule 26 (Water Hazards) or Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) [Decision 1-4/11].

However, I believe you can approach the nesting plover problem from another angle. According to Wikipedia, “human disturbances can cause the abandonment of nests and chicks. It is best to stay away from any bird that appears distressed to prevent any unintended consequences.” Plovers are also an endangered species in the U.S. (not sure about Australia). If you consult the R&A, you might find that they permit a Local Rule to allow free relief from nesting plovers. What player would want to be responsible for causing parents to abandon their chicks?

If a Local Rule providing free relief is in effect, the relief procedure is basically the same as for a ball in abnormal ground conditions (see Rule 25-1b). The procedure is specifically spelled out in Decision 1-4/10. Here is a link to that Decision:

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ask Linda #987-Ignore opponent’s penalty in match


A few weeks ago a friend of mine was playing a match. On the 16th hole, my friend thought that his ball was resting on the green so he marked it and lifted it. Once he did that he realized that his ball was really off the green, so he told his opponent what happened. His opponent told him that it was ok, that he knew that my friend didn't do this on purpose and asked him to go on playing. My friend won the hole.

On the tee of the 17th hole, one of the members who were watching the match told them that the 16th hole should be won by my friend's opponent, because once you lifted the ball you lose the hole.

I understand that in match play you can ignore for instance the place where your opponent tees off the ball. Could my friend's opponent ignore my friend's fault? After the hole is declared won by a player, could you change your opinion or decision?

Thanks for your reply.
Lou from Argentina

Dear Lou,

In match play, a player is permitted to ignore a breach of the Rules by his opponent as long as there is no agreement by both players to waive a Rule of Golf [Rule 2-5, Note 1].

In your scenario, both players were aware of the breach and agreed to ignore it. The penalty is disqualification of both players [Rule 1-3; Decision 1-3/4]. This penalty will be applied as soon as the Committee discovers the breach, even if that should happen after the result of the match is announced [Rule 34-1a; Decision 34-1a/1]. There is no time limit on penalizing a breach of Rule 1-3.

The members who were observing play were incorrect in their assertion that the hole is lost as soon as the player lifts the ball. The penalty for lifting your ball in play is one stroke [Rule 18-2a]. Your friend should have replaced the ball, added a one-stroke penalty, and completed play of the hole.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ask Linda #986-Ant mound interferes

Linda…if a player is just off the green and a small ant mound is between his/her ball and the putting surface, is the player allowed relief or at least allowed to carefully brush away the mound, considering it as a loose impediment?

Lou from Texas

Dear Lou,

You may not move your ball, but you may move the ants.

Assuming these are not dangerous fire ants, but rather the regular garden-variety black ant, you may brush the ants and their soft mound aside [Decision 23/5]. They are loose impediments [Definition of “Loose Impediments;” Rule 23-1].

Fire ants are another story. You are entitled to free relief when you encounter a dangerous situation. If there is no Local Rule giving you automatic relief from fire ants, you may cite Decision 1-4/10 and take free relief.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ask Linda #985-Putt in match strikes ball on green outside the match

Hi Linda,
Question on Match Play Golf Rules please:
My friend Lou and I were in a Match Play type of contest recently. After 10 holes we were joined by a two-some that were playing Stroke-play between themselves. On the 18th green, my opponent hit a wild putt that veered strongly wide and struck one of the stroke-play balls.

My ball, his only opponent’s Match Play ball, was already in the cup. He did not hit his Match Player's ball. But he benefited much by hitting the Stroke-Player's ball. The wild putt was heading well off the green. Instead it came to an abrupt stop.

The spirit of the Match Play rule (there is no penalty for hitting your opponent's Match-Play ball when hitting a putt from on the green) contends that the Match Play opponent could have marked his own ball, so why penalize the putter? But in this case, I did not have the option of marking one of the Stroke-Play balls. Is there a penalty for the putter (my opponent) or not, is my question.

My opponent was probably right, no penalty, but I see reasons why this unique case deserves independent analysis.

Lou from Palmdale, California

Dear Lou,

Rule 19-5 states that a ball in motion that is deflected by a ball that is in play and at rest must be played as it lies. There is no penalty incurred in match play for striking another ball with a putt when both balls were on the putting green. So the answer to your question is that the ball your opponent putted must be played as it lies with no penalty incurred for striking another ball.

While you did not have the option of marking and lifting a ball that is not yours, you were well within your rights to ask that player to mark and lift his ball. Rule 22-1 gives you the right to have any ball lifted that might assist another player. Since you did not exercise this right, you are stuck with the consequences.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.