Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ask Linda #1224-Ball deflected by clubs

Good morning Linda.
I have a situation that occurred this afternoon and I hope you can provide some clarification. It is like this. My 3rd shot on a par 5 ended in a green side bunker. It is quite a steep one. On approaching the green, I brought along my putter, pitching wedge and sand wedge. I went into the bunker and placed the pitching wedge and the putter off my line of play on the slope of the bunker before making the bunker shot. It was a bad lie. Ball was in a footprint. But I was quite certain I could get it up at least to the apron. It did not make it. The ball landed just off the apron and started trickling back into the bunker, but due to its contour, it rolled toward the left where my two clubs were. The ball grazed the edge of my putter, deflected by less than a centimeter, and continued its journey back into the bunker. At that point, I told my opponent that I have just incurred a penalty stroke. I anyway had a better lie after that, played the ball 6 feet from the pin, holed out with one putt. On completion of that hole, I told my opponent that I made a mistake when I penalized myself and that I actually did not incur a penalty stroke, considering the fact that my ball was not stopped by my clubs. It was already on its way into the bunker. But back home, I thought otherwise. My club had actually influenced the path of the ball and I lost the hole. Please let me know if this is correct.

I have been debating with myself on this incident because I am still not certain if I should or should not be penalized. Everyone within my group insist that there is a one-stroke penalty. I re-checked the rules and it says the same. But I was the nearest person to my clubs and I could have rushed toward my clubs to remove them from the path of my ball, but by so doing I am actually influencing the movement of my ball and that action too is subject to a penalty. It's like being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Please let me know what the ruling is under the given circumstances.

I have another question that is closely related to this situation. As you would know, some golfers will ask their caddies to wait somewhere in the fairway when they tee off. Now assuming that a particular golfer slices his shot and the ball heads for his own caddie, the caddie will naturally take the necessary action to duck the ball. If he fails to get out of the way, that particular player will incur a penalty of one stroke.

But if the ball appears to be heading towards that particular golfer's bag, will the removal of the bag by his caddie to avoid contact with the ball constitute a violation of the rule that is subject to a two-stroke penalty/loss of hole played in match play?

Hope you could clear my doubt on all these matters and thank you once again for all the help you have rendered.

Best regards,
Lou from Johore, Malaysia

Dear Lou,

To summarize, you want to know whether there is a penalty when your ball in motion contacts your clubs, whether you could have removed those clubs before the ball hit them, and whether a caddie could move your bag out of the path of an errant shot.

Rule 19-2 addresses the situation of a ball in motion contacting your clubs: “If a player’s ball is accidentally deflected or stopped by…his equipment, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.” After your ball rolls back into the bunker and is deflected by your clubs, you must play the ball as it lies and add one penalty stroke to your score.

Now let’s look into the possibility of moving your clubs out of the path of your ball. When your ball is in motion, you are not permitted to move an obstruction that lies in its path. However, equipment (such as golf clubs) is exempted from this prohibition in the last paragraph of Rule 24-1. (An attended flagstick is also included in this exemption.) Thus, when your ball is in motion, you are permitted to move clubs that lie in its path. If you had removed the clubs before the ball got there, you would not have incurred a penalty.

This same ruling applies to your caddie. While the ball is in motion, he is permitted to move your bag out of the way of your shot.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ask Linda #1223-Practice during delay between nines

Dear readers,
Several readers were confused by my answer to the question in #1220. Since my objective in answering your questions is to clear up confusion, not create more, I have rewritten the answer, providing a much more detailed response. Please return to #1220 and read the new explanation:

Hi Linda,
Thank you for your time in replying to all the emails you must receive.

My question is:
Are you allowed to practice at the halfway mark if there is a delay before you tee off for the second nine, i.e., practice putting on the putting green, practice in the nets or practice on the range while waiting? I know you can't practice on the course you are playing, but wasn't sure about the other scenarios.

Thanks again,
Lou from Adelaide, Australia

Dear Lou,

In between holes, players are permitted to practice putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole last played and the teeing ground of the next hole to be played [Rule 7-2]. They may also putt on a nearby practice green. Players may not take practice strokes from a hazard; nor may they practice if it will unduly delay play.

If play is delayed between nines, your practice is limited to putting and chipping. You may not use the range or nets. The penalty is two strokes in stroke play, loss of hole in match play.

The only exception to this Rule is if play has been suspended by the Committee. In that event, you will want to check with the Committee regarding where you will be permitted to practice. You should be allowed to use the range and the nets during a suspension in play, but it’s always best to ask first.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ask Linda #1222-Hold club below grip

Hi Linda,
Are there any rules relating to how the club should be gripped and in particular where it should be gripped? I couldn't find anything searching the Official Rules of Golf app.

Specifically, as a right-handed player, can I grip a 7-iron with my left hand on the rubber grip as normal, and my right hand on the shaft about 6–12 inches above the club head?

A bit like how Happy Gilmore putts with his customised ice hockey stick/putter.

Lou from London, UK

Dear Lou,

You may grip the club however you wish. The purpose of the grip is to allow the player to get a firm hold on the club. It is not required that your hands be on the grip when you make a stroke at the ball. However, you must make a stroke – you may not push, scrape, or spoon the ball [Rule 14-1].

If you watch the pros chipping around the green, you may notice that sometimes they choke way down on the grip, often placing one hand at the bottom of the grip and the other on the shaft. This is perfectly legal.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ask Linda #1221-Immovable obstruction outside bunker

Dear Linda, 
At our club we have rake holders outside the bunker that are basically immovable obstructions. If you're in the bunker do you get relief from your backswing from this immovable obstruction?
Lou from Bahrain

Dear Lou,

A player is entitled to relief from an immovable obstruction that interferes with his stance or the area of his intended swing anywhere on the golf course except when the ball is in a water hazard or a lateral water hazard [Rule 24-2].

If the ball is in a bunker, and the immovable rake holder interferes with the player’s backswing, the player has two choices [Rule 24-2b (ii)]:

1. Drop the ball in the bunker within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole. This is a free drop.
2. Drop the ball behind the bunker on an extension of the imaginary line that begins at the hole and intersects the point where his ball lies in the bunker (what I like to call the “line of sight” to the hole). There is no limit to how far behind the bunker the ball may be dropped, but there is a one-stroke penalty for taking the ball out of the bunker.

If the ball lies in a water hazard, and the player is unable to hit the ball due to interference from an immovable obstruction, he must choose one of the one-stroke-penalty-relief options in Rule 26-1.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.