Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Ask Linda #1601-Drop putter on ball while replacing it

Dear readers,
Please disregard the notice you received about the Linwood tournament. That notice was meant to be posted on my tournament blog.

Hi Linda, 
Today in our Club Foursomes Championships I was on the green and had marked my ball while waiting to putt. I returned the ball to the ground just in front of the ball marker, and as I was lifting up the marker I knocked the putter out of my left hand, which then subsequently fell to the ground and moved the ball a few centimeters.

Our referee and opponents made me take a one-stroke penalty and replace the ball. I was wondering that as I was lifting up the ball marker and was in the process of lifting and replacing the ball, should I not have been penalised and simply replaced the ball?

Rule 20-3a:
“If a ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved in the process of placing or replacing the ball, the ball or ball-marker must be replaced. There is no penalty, provided the movement of the ball or ball-marker is directly attributable to the specific act of placing or replacing the ball or removing the ball-marker. Otherwise, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2 or 20-1.”

What do you think the correct decision should be?
Lulu from Sydney, Australia

Dear Lulu,

Your referee made the correct decision assessing you one penalty stroke for moving your ball in play (but see my last paragraph for an exception provided by Local Rule).

The movement of your ball was not directly attributable to the process of replacing it. The meaning of “directly attributable” is explained in Decision 20-1/15. There is no penalty if your ball is moved by your hand as you replace it, or the ball is moved when you pick up your ball marker. These acts are part of the process of replacing your ball. Knocking the putter out of your left hand and dropping it on the ball is not part of this process – one-stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced [Rule 20-3a].

However, the USGA and R&A added a Local Rule in December of 2016 that makes any accidental movement of your ball on the putting green a no-penalty situation. If your club has adopted this Local Rule, the referee erred in directing you to include a penalty. If the competition has not closed, the referee's error should be corrected and the penalty rescinded [Decision 34-3/1]. Here is the recommended wording of this Local Rule:

Accidental Movement of a Ball on a Putting Green
Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1 are modified as follows:
When a player’s ball lies on the putting green, there is no penalty if the ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved by the player, his partner, his opponent, or any of their caddies or equipment.
The moved ball or ball-marker must be replaced as provided in Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1.
This Local Rule applies only when the player’s ball or ball-marker lies on the putting green and any movement is accidental.
Note: If it is determined that a player’s ball on the putting green was moved as a result of wind, water or some other natural cause such as the effects of gravity, the ball must be played as it lies from its new location. A ball-marker moved in such circumstances is replaced.”

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ask Linda #1600-Relief for ball lost in GUR

Good Morning Linda,
I have a situation at my local Golf Club in which I believe a player has taken an illegal drop in the men's club championship on Sunday. I would like clarification on the situation. If you are able to provide the information that would be a fantastic help.

I witnessed a player tee off and hit his drive left into a roped off G.U.R. area. He then stated to the group, “I don't need to hit a provisional ball as it’s in the G.U.R., from which I can just take a free drop even if I don't find my ball.”  

At this point the golfer in question had a good card going and I believe it was an attempt to test the two other members of his group if they were aware of the rules. They just accepted his statement and set off to their balls on the right side of the fairway.

I witnessed from another tee box behind the hole-in-question’s green with clear visibility of what was going on. I witnessed the player wading around in the waist high grass a few feet outside the roped off area and pick a ball up, then move back to take a free drop within two club-lengths of the point of entry of the roped off area in a nice lie in the semi rough.

I quizzed the two other members of the group, and asked them what was said. To which one said, “I wasn't going to go get soaking wet in that long grass past the ropes, plus he said he didn't need to find his ball as he could take a free drop because it entered G.U.R.”

I disagree with everything about this and would like clarity on the ruling.

I believe you must establish your ball is within the G.U.R and has remained in the staked area; otherwise it is three off the tee.

I believe this individual has deliberately taken an illegal free drop and has put his other group members off going to look for his ball and deem whether it was found in the roped off area so he could benefit from this.

I need some help clarifying before taken this to our committee. Your help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Lou from Northumberland, England

Dear Lou,

In order for a player to get free relief when his ball is lost in ground under repair (GUR), it must be known or virtually certain that the ball is lost in that abnormal ground condition. Otherwise, he must play another ball under stroke and distance [Rule 25-1c].

If the players all knew or were virtually certain that the ball entered the GUR, the next step is to search for the ball. If the ball is not found, the player is entitled to free relief. The player would establish the point where his ball entered the GUR, find the nearest point of relief no closer to the hole, and drop within one club-length of that point. In your narrative, the player dropped within two club-lengths of the point of entry, which is incorrect. However, the spot where he dropped might also meet the requirement to drop within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, in which case his drop was good.

If the ball is found in the GUR, the reference point for taking relief is where the ball lies in the GUR, not where it entered the area.

If there is no knowledge or virtual certainty that the ball is in the GUR (which seems to be your contention), the player should hit a provisional ball (not a requirement, but a definite time-saver). If he finds the ball in the GUR, he is entitled to free relief and must abandon his provisional ball. If he does not find the ball, he must continue with the provisional ball, which now lies three. If he does not find the original ball and he did not hit a provisional ball, he would have to return to the tee (which is where he hit his previous shot) to hit another ball, which would be his third shot on the hole.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ask Linda #1599-Ball stuck on swaying branch

Hi Linda,
I am becoming quite well known at my club for being a bit of a rules aficionado with the help of yours truly.

Anyway, someone brought an incident to me and was looking for an answer. I didn’t really know the exact answer but provided them with my thoughts and said I would research the actual ruling. Their incident was that whilst playing, someone put their shot into some trees. They found their ball sitting 6 inches above the ground in a relatively thick bush, suspended in outer branches. It was quite a windy day and the branches were moving and hence so too was the ball in question. The ball was actually playable although a difficult shot to play to say the least. It was quite fortunate too that the player could address the ball normally, but his dilemma was can he strike what he thought was a moving ball or did he have to take a drop under penalty to ensure the ball was stationary before playing it?

For the record I suggested that playing the ball as-is was OK, as the ball wasn’t rotating in movement. But as I said I was not sure, so could you please advise on the correct procedure?

Thanks as always,
Lou from Sunshine Coast, Australia

Dear Lou,

This ball is not moving under the Rules of Golf, since its position relative to the bush has not changed [Decision 18/3; Definition of “Move or Moved”]. The player will incur no penalty for hitting this ball that is stuck in a bush, swaying in the wind. Good job, Lou!

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ask Linda #1593 corrected

Dear Linda, 
The answer given in your reply to [Ask Linda #1593-Player in match remembers earlier violation] is not quite correct.

Whilst it is true that the state of the match must be corrected, the players must return to the 18th tee and play this hole under the match conditions.

The previous playing of this hole was not during the continuance of the match but on a social basis.

In Decision 9-2/9 the match is still alive although it does not clearly say this.
Decision 2-5/5.5 is more appropriate where the discovery is made after the result of the match and after the players have continued to play holes under the impression that the holes do not matter.

Thank you,
Lou from the UK

Dear readers,
While the procedure explained above by Lou from the UK is the correct way to proceed, there would be no penalty to the players in #1593 for not replaying Hole #18 from the teeing ground. Neither team was aware of the need to replay the entire hole; both teams agreed on the procedure. There was no agreement to waive a Rule of Golf.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Ask Linda #1598-Relief from staked tree in hazard

Hello Linda,
Another golf ruling, please. When a staked tree is in a water hazard, can you take free  relief if it interferes with your swing?
Kind regards,                        
Lou from Greenvale, Victoria, Australia

Dear Lou,

A player is entitled to free relief from a staked tree in a hazard only if the Local Rule for protection of young trees is in effect [Appendix I, Part A, #2b]. The player must drop the ball in the water hazard in accordance with Rule 24-2b (i), which means the drop must be within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief.

All of the relief options under Rule 26 are available to the player; all of those options include a one-stroke penalty.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ask Linda #1597-Relief from water-filled bunker

Good day Linda,
Please help resolve an issue that happened while playing golf some days back.

A player's ball was in a bunker with water and the player took relief from the water. However because there was no part of the bunker that was completely without water, he elected to take the relief within the bunker but in an area with little water where he felt he could have better contact and less interference with his swing and such position is not nearer the hole. Is this decision correct? If not, what are the options available to the player other than a penalty drop outside the bunker?

Thanks and do have a pleasant day.
Lou from Nigeria

Dear Lou,

The player proceeded correctly. When a bunker is filled with casual water, and complete relief is not available, the player may drop the ball at a spot in the bunker that is no closer to the hole where he can get what is known as “maximum available relief” [Rule 25-1b (ii) (a)]. This may mean his feet or the ball are in shallower water than the original lie. Ordinarily, a player is required to find complete relief; this is a rare exception.

If the player decides to take relief outside the bunker, he must drop on the flagline and will incur a one-stroke penalty [Rule 25-1b (ii) (b)]. His other relief option is to play under stroke and distance, which means he would hit a ball from the spot where he last played the original ball and incur a one-stroke penalty.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ask Linda #1596-Record gross scores and Stableford points

Hi Linda,
In a Stableford competition, if I enter on the card the Stableford scores plus the gross scores am I or the owner of the marked card disqualified?
The professional at my club insists that entering the Stableford points on the card is cause for disqualification, and only the gross scores should be entered.
Is this correct?
Lou, an Englishman living in France

Dear Lou,

Absolutely not. While players are required to accurately record their gross scores, there is no prohibition against keeping track of your Stableford points (or team better-ball score or net score or anything else) on the scorecard. If the Committee wants you to turn in a “clean” scorecard (gross scores only), it should make that wish known. But even if you missed a directive to record gross scores only, and kept track of your points on the card, this would not be grounds for disqualification (or any other penalty). Ask the pro to show you in the rulebook where it says a player is disqualified for recording Stableford points in addition to gross scores on the scorecard. Dollars to doughnuts he won’t find it.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ask Linda #1595-Treat a movable obstruction as immovable

Dear Linda,
You have helped me on a number of previous occasions and I wonder if you can help again?

I attach a photograph of a metal sign which has been placed on our golf course. The sign is anchored by metal stakes pushed into the ground and can be easily removed.

Some players take the view that if their stance or swing is interfered with by the sign they can treat the sign as an immovable obstruction and take a drop from the nearest point of relief plus one club-length. This can have the effect of them dropping their ball on the mown fairway rather than in the rough where they would have to play from if they merely removed the sign.

I have read the definition Section of the rules which says:-

“An obstruction is a movable obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage. Otherwise it is an immovable obstruction.”

I have also read Rule 24 in relation to obstructions and the relief that may be taken. This situation does not seem to be addressed. Can a player decide not to remove an obstruction that is clearly movable and call it immovable?

Lou from Adelaide, South Australia

Dear Lou,

An obstruction is either movable or not. The decision is not at the discretion of the golfer. While a Committee may choose to declare a movable obstruction immovable (an example would be declaring hazard stakes immovable), the individual golfer does not have this right.

Signs placed on the golf course to direct traffic are generally designed to be movable; I have never encountered one that wasn’t. If a movable obstruction interferes with the player’s shot, he is entitled to remove it [Rule 24-1]. He is not, however, entitled to arbitrarily declare the sign to be immovable and take relief. If he does, he will incur a two-stroke penalty (loss of hole in match play) for a breach of Rule 18-2 [Decision 18-2/4].

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Ask Linda #1594-Ball deflected by caddie of fellow competitor

Dear Linda,
Players A, B & C have been grouped together to play in a stroke play competition. Player A makes a stroke and his ball gets deflected by the caddie of Player B.

Please clarify---
a. Can player A replay the ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played?
b. Can player A play the ball as it lies after being deflected?
c. Can player A exercise either of the above two options?

Does Player B incur a penalty as his caddie deflected player A's ball? If so, how many strokes penalty?
Lou from Pune, India

Dear Lou,

In stroke play, the caddie of a fellow competitor is an outside agency [Definition of “Outside Agency”]. A look at Rule 19-1 will tell you that when a ball is accidentally deflected or stopped by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies. This is known as a rub of the green.

The answers to your questions are as follows:
a. Player A may not replay his shot.
b. Player A must play the ball as it lies after it was deflected.
c. Player A has no choice in the matter.
d. There is no penalty to anyone.

The answer changes dramatically if the format is match play. In match play, your opponent’s caddie is not an outside agency. If a player’s ball is stopped or deflected by his opponent or his opponent’s caddie, the player has two choices [Rule 19-3]:
1. cancel the stroke and replay the shot; or
2. play the ball as it lies.
There is no penalty to anyone.

Don’t forget that if the ball is accidentally deflected or stopped by the player himself, his own caddie, his partner, his partner’s caddie, his own equipment, or his partner’s equipment, the player incurs a one-stroke penalty and he must play the ball as it lies [Rule 19-2].

All of these Rules have exceptions that are outside the parameters of your question. Please take a few minutes and read Rule 19: Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped, in its entirety.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.