Friday, September 30, 2016

Ask Linda #1391-Local Rule for free relief from divots

Hi Linda
There is a Ladies League that has a Local Rule that players can move their ball out of a divot.
We have an upcoming inter-club play in a few weeks and I was wondering what is the penalty if someone were to move her ball out of a divot, even with an illegal Local Rule.
I found Decision 33-8/34 that says it is a breach of Rule 13-1, which in Match Play is loss of hole and 2-stroke penalty in Stroke Play.
Is it not also a breach of Rule 20-7, Playing from Wrong Place? Or do you only get penalized once?
Any help you can give will help our players when they go to that course for Inter-Club play.
Lulu from Vancouver, BC, Canada

Dear Lulu,

You have done your homework well. A Local Rule allowing players free relief from divot holes is, indeed, not authorized under the Rules of Golf [Decision 33-8/34]. The penalty for moving your ball out of a divot hole is loss of hole in match play and two strokes in stroke play for a breach of Rule 13-1. There is no additional penalty under Rule 20-7.

If the player does not wish to hit out of a divot hole, she may declare her ball unplayable and choose one of the relief options in Rule 28, all of which include a one-stroke penalty.

If the Committee wants to allow players to improve their lie, it may adopt the Local Rule for preferred lies [Appendix I, Part A, #3b].

I would suggest you talk to the Committee now. Show them Decision 33-8/34 and ask them to rescind this unauthorized Local Rule. Suggest the option to adopt a Local Rule for preferred lies. Better to get matters straightened out now than to have a big Rules hullabaloo during your match.


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