Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ask Linda #1315-Lift, clean, and place on a worm cast or loose impediment

Hi Linda,

My golf course has an excessive worm problem in the winter months and is about 40% covered with worm casts.

These casts are designated loose impediments. (Rule Book)

My question is: Can the player, when operating under the Preferred Lie Rule, place his ball on top of the loose impediment (worm cast) to give himself a better lie than he would get by placing the ball on the fairway grass?

Taking it a step further, can the ball be placed on any type of loose impediment that improves the lie of the ball but still meets the requirements of the local rule, as per the specimen rule?

Kind regards,
Lou from New Zealand

Dear Lou,

The Local Rule for “preferred lies” states that the ball must be placed on a spot. It does not put any limits on that spot other than that it be no closer to the hole and within whatever distance the Committee requires (e.g., one club-length, one scorecard length, etc.).

Accordingly, the player may place his ball on a worm cast or other loose impediment, or even on an obstruction. However, the loose impediment or obstruction must already be there, and the player may not move it.

This may sound like good news, but buyer beware – if the ball comes to rest after it is placed, and subsequently moves, the player must play the ball as it lies. This may mean that there is now a lumpy worm cast directly behind the ball, giving the player a lie that is less than ideal.

My thanks to Referee Lou from England who provided this ruling.

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ask Linda #1314-Hit ball with back of club

Hello Linda,
I heard that you can’t use the back of any club, whether it’s a chipper, putter, or any club. Is this correct?
Kind regards,
Lou from Melbourne, Australia

Dear Lou,

No, that is not correct. You may hit the ball with either side of the clubhead [Decision 14-1a/1].

Rule 14-1a requires that the ball be fairly struck at with the head of the club. It does not limit which side of the clubhead may be used. It is not uncommon to see a right-handed player use a left-handed stroke with a right-handed club to extricate his ball from a difficult lie (e.g., near an out-of-bounds fence or close to a tree); this is perfectly legal.

Be aware that clubs, other than putters, are limited to one striking face [Appendix II, #4d]. Two-sided chippers are illegal.

Rules are better learned from research than from hearsay.

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ask Linda #1313-Contiguous immovable obstructions

Linda, I am relatively new to your blog and love it!

Here in Surprise, AZ, we came across a situation where we need your advice. We have a par 4 with cart path running down the right side of the fairway. Player hits right and ball comes to rest on the edge of the right side of the cart path, where an adjoining area of river rocks (Local Rule defines as immovable obstruction) meets the cart path on the side opposite the fairway. Both immovable obstructions interfere with swing where only the cart path interferes with stance. The river rocks extend about three steps to the right of the path.

Do you treat each obstruction individually, taking sequential relief? In that case I would guess that you would elect to drop free of one obstruction and upon the other, and then taking subsequent relief.

Would you have a choice of which obstruction you are taking relief from?

Or, would you establish a nearest point of nearest relief that is free from both obstructions?

We appreciate your guidance and it is certainly improving our understanding of the rules and enjoyment of the game. Thank you.

Lou from Surprise, Arizona

Dear Lou,

Since the cart path and the river rocks are contiguous, I would recommend that the course tie both immovable obstructions together and explain on the scorecard that players seeking relief should drop at the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole, that gives them relief from both immovable obstructions with one drop. This would save time as well as eliminate unnecessary confusion.

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ask Linda #1312-Ball lost in rough

Dear Linda, 

Could you please give me a ruling on Abnormal Ground Conditions? After a lot of rain,
the front nine on our course was closed, so we played our club championship on the back nine twice. One of our ladies hit off the 10th tee into the long ruff. After searching for a while, her marker told her she could have a free drop because we were virtually certain that the ball went into the ruff. I was unsure of this rule but thought it would have been a lost ball, and she would have to go back to the tee. Can you please clear this up for me?
Lulu from Australia

Dear Lulu,

Abnormal Ground Conditions are casual water; ground under repair; and holes, casts, or runways made by burrowing animals, reptiles, or birds [Definition of “Abnormal Ground Conditions”].

Areas of rough on the golf course are not abnormal. They are commonly found on just about every golf course, and are cultivated intentionally. There is no free drop for a ball that is lost in the rough. This is a lost ball. The player must return to where she hit her previous shot to hit another ball and add a one-stroke penalty to her score [Rule 27-1c].

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ask Linda #1311-Has the ball moved?

Next to the second green at a local course we have a shallow pond that has a rubber lining under it to retain the water, and on top of the liner is a thin layer of mud. In spots it's only an inch or two deep. With his ball just into the pond, a player, happy to get his feet wet, gently stepped in to play his shot. In doing so, the liner under his feet pushed down, but under the ball it went up, presenting his ball now high and dry. It remained exactly in place in relation to the lie and the mud it was resting on, but it clearly had moved “in space.” With no way to approach the ball without causing this effect, the player was confused whether any shot was legal or, if he played a shot, whether a penalty would be assessed. I would say that no shot can be played without playing from the wrong spot, but the player was adamant that the lie hadn't actually changed. What would have been the correct procedure?
Lou from Sydney, Australia

Dear Lou,

Surprisingly enough, the shot is legal. A ball has moved only if it leaves its original position and settles in a new position [Definition of “Move” or “Moved”]. For example, if the brand name is facing up before the player steps on the rubber liner, and is facing sideways after he steps on it, the ball has moved.

However, in your narrative, the mud on the liner was serving as glue. When the player stepped on the liner, the ball did not move in relation to the liner – ball, mud, and liner rose together as one unit. The ball is deemed not to have moved, and the player may hit it with no penalty [Decision 18/3].

If there had been no mud on the liner to hold the ball in place, and the ball rolled when the player stepped on the liner, he would incur a one-stroke penalty for moving his ball in play. There would be no penalty for moving the ball if he indicated, prior to approaching the ball, that he was going in to retrieve it in order to take relief outside the hazard.

My thanks to Lou from England who contacted the R&A for this answer.

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.