Monday, November 30, 2015

Ask Linda #1201-Stroke from GUR does not extricate ball

Hi Linda – another one

Played in a match Sunday……………………

My opponent hits shot onto GUR full of dead leaves and detrital sediment. Decides to play from GUR and hits a shocker! Ball only moves ten inches further into the mess. Then questions if he can now move the ball from GUR under no penalty and play as he would have if he had taken original relief – e.g., will accept the shot he hit ten inches as a stroke but then get free relief.

Lou from Cardiff, Wales, UK

Dear Lou,

The location of the ball will determine whether the player is entitled to free relief. Since the ball is apparently still lying in Ground Under Repair, the player gets a free drop. Count the first stroke from the GUR (which, in retrospect, was probably a very poor decision), lift the ball (which may be cleaned), and drop it within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole [Rule 25-1a, b].

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ask Linda #1200-Move ball while moving sand on green

Dear Linda,

A player marks his ball on the green and then replaces the ball in front of the marker. Before picking up his marker he notices some sand in front of the ball and leans over to brush it away with the back of his hand. In doing so he accidentally moves his ball.

I understand that once you replace your ball, even if the marker is still in place, the ball is in play and consequently under Rule 18-2b you would be subject to a one-stroke penalty for causing the ball to move and it would have to be replaced.

However, after reading Decision 23-1/12 (2014-2015 edition), although the circumstances are not exactly the same, I interpret this Decision to mean that even if the ball is in play, there is no penalty if you accidentally move your ball in the process of removing loose impediments.

Am I correct in my interpretation of this rule/decision under these circumstances?

Lou from Bermuda

Dear Lou,

I commend you on your excellent research. Yes, you are correct. If you accidentally move your ball on the putting green while removing loose impediments, there is no penalty and you must replace the ball [Rule 23-1].

Please remember the following:

1. Sand and loose soil are only defined as loose impediments on the putting green. You may not brush them away on other areas of the golf course (unless they arrive after your ball comes to rest).

2. If you move your ball elsewhere on the golf course in the process of moving a loose impediment, the penalty is one stroke and you must replace the ball.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ask Linda #1199-Mark private property “lateral hazard”

Dear Linda,
I played in a three day, two-man tournament last weekend, each round of which was at a different course. Friday's round was on a course where the backyards of many homes intrude fairly close to the line of play. All the backyards are marked as lateral hazards, and many homeowners have signs in their yards asking golfers to refrain from playing from the yard. The local rules for the round included the following sentence: “All private yards are played as hazards requiring a mandatory drop under penalty of one shot.” I know that Rule 33-1 says that the Committee can't waive a rule of golf, but is it allowable for them to amend one, as they seem to have done? Or should the course have been setup so as to make the yards out of bounds?
Lou from Panama City Beach, Florida

Dear Lou,

The backyards of private homes are private property. Any area that is beyond the boundaries of the golf course is out of bounds [Definition of “Out of Bounds”] and should be marked as such.

I understand that some golf courses mark problem areas as “lateral hazards” in an effort to speed up play, but I do not approve. The way to speed up play in such situations is to remind players to hit a provisional for any ball they suspect might be lost or out of bounds.

During a tournament, when players should be especially careful to observe the Rules of Golf, it is unacceptable to label private yards off the golf course as “lateral hazards.” There is no Local Rule in Appendix I that permits a Committee to mark a course incorrectly.

The Committee should point out in the Conditions of the Competition that there is private property adjacent to the golf course. Players should be instructed to not enter someone’s yard to retrieve a ball. They should be reminded that all private property is out of bounds, and to follow the provisions of Rule 27 regarding out of bounds and provisional balls.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Response from reader:

It may be worth pointing out a couple of things
1) The USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating are based on the assumption that players observe and courses are marked under the Rules of Golf. Any local rules must conform with the spirit of the Rules of Golf and USGA policy. 
2) This may have an effect on handicaps. Each time a player drops by the LWH with a penalty, they are reducing their ‘correct’ score by one. ie playing 3 where they now lie rather than 4 where their provisional or second ball finishes.
Of course the player has no option other than to follow the competition rules.

Lou from England

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ask Linda #1198-Use clubhead to mark ball

Hi Linda,
We have clean and place on your own fairway, 6" not nearer the hole. In a recent tournament, a player put his clubhead down beside the ball, picked it up and gave it a quick wipe and then placed it on the fairway within 6" of his clubhead. Another player queried should he have put a proper marker down rather than using his clubhead.
I said I didn't think it was a penalty as it was in the middle of the fairway, but on the green it’s different and a marker must be used. I couldn't be 100% certain though.
As always, your help and advice is greatly appreciated.
Lou from New Zealand

Dear Lou,

You may be surprised to learn that you are permitted to mark your ball using a clubhead both on the fairway and on the putting green. The use of a ball marker or small coin is recommended for marking the position of your ball, but it is not required. Decision 20-1/16 gives examples of ways to mark your ball that are not recommended but are, nevertheless, permissible:

• placing the toe of a club at the side of, or behind, the ball;
• using a tee;
• using a loose impediment;
• scratching a line, provided the putting green is not tested (Rule 16-1d) and a line for putting is not indicated (Rule 8-2b). As this practice may cause damage to the putting green, it is discouraged.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ask Linda #1197-Drop in correct place despite incorrect understanding

Dear Linda,

Suppose a player, after hitting his ball in a water hazard (yellow stakes), decides to apply rule 26-1b, but instead of dropping it on a point behind where the ball last crossed the border of the hazard in line with the hole, he dropped it on line with the tee. This is a procedural error, but fortunately the outcome is the same, since the hole, the tee, and the point where the ball crossed the water hazard are on the same line.

After playing the ball, the player realizes the error he made, but he decides to leave the situation as it is because the outcome would have been the same. My question is whether the player is subject to a penalty for wrongly applying this rule (or any other rule for that matter) or is the outcome the designator for the penalty?

Kind regards
Lou from the Netherlands

Dear Lou,

A player is obligated to play by the Rules. If he has chosen to take relief behind a water hazard under Rule 26-1b, and the spot where he drops the ball satisfies the requirements of that Rule, it is a good drop and there is no penalty.

The problem I see is that if he misunderstands the Rule, he will apply it incorrectly at some future time when the hole, the spot where he last crossed the margin of the hazard, and the tee do not line up in a straight line. Someone should explain to the player that the drop must be behind the hazard on the line that begins at the hole, passes through the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, and extends backward with no limit.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.