Friday, June 23, 2017

Ask Linda #1559-Who is cheating?

A member of our group sometimes calls: “I'll take a provisional” under these circumstances:

He hits his ball and it may not or may not have ended up beyond the white stakes. (Our group tends to play lateral drops with a penalty stroke rather than stroke and distance, so the group heads out to try and locate his ball and determine if indeed it was out of bounds or not.)

After searching for his ball for a couple of minutes, he will take a lateral drop and put another ball in play, calling it a provisional. He tells the rest of us we can abandon the search and go and play our next shot. He then resumes the search for his original ball. If we or he then locates his original ball, he will then abandon his provisional ball and play the original ball without a penalty. If we do not find it, he will play the provisional ball and take a penalty stroke and play the provisional.

I do believe he is thinking that the word “provisional'” means: "Providing that we might not find my original ball I will speed up play by telling the other guys to go and hit their balls while I continue to search for mine. If I do find my ball I will then play it and if not I already have another ball in play."

He is a good-natured guy and I am absolutely sure that he would never intentionally cheat, but I’m not sure how to explain to him how we should be handling the situation. I know he doesn't want us to use more time looking for his ball, but he probably should not be calling a provisional.

I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.
Lou from Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Lou,

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, Lou. If everyone in your group drops a ball near where the original went out of bounds or was lost, instead of returning to the spot where you played your previous stroke, none of you are playing under the Rules of Golf. In essence, you are all “cheating,” so you should be a little more patient with the good-natured guy who doesn’t understand how and when to play a provisional ball.

After a player hits a ball, if it may be out of bounds or lost outside a water hazard, the player may hit a provisional ball. This provisional ball must be announced and hit before the player goes forward to search [Rule 27-2a]. If all of you would hit a provisional when the situation warrants it, you would all be playing under the Rules of Golf and you would all save time, since you would have another ball in play if your original is lost or out of bounds.

So let’s try to understand provisional balls. When your good-natured friend drops and plays a ball in the area where his original is lost or out of bounds, that ball is now in play. It is not a provisional ball, which must be announced and hit from the same place the original was hit, before going forward to begin search. He has substituted a ball when he was not permitted to do so [Rule 15-2], and has played from a wrong place [Rule 20-7]. In match play, he loses the hole; in stroke play, he incurs a two-stroke penalty. In addition, in stroke play only, since he has committed a serious breach (by playing from a spot that is much closer to the hole), he would have to return to where he hit the shot that went OB or was lost and hit a second ball. This must be done before teeing off on the next hole; otherwise, he is disqualified. And if he abandons the wrongly labeled “provisional” ball to play his original, there is another set of problems and penalties to deal with, which I will not go into at this time.

You should gather from all of this information that no time is saved by dropping and playing an incorrectly labeled “provisional ball” from a wrong place. In addition, the penalty for bending the Rules is much more serious than the stroke-and-distance penalty for a properly played provisional ball. The option of hitting a provisional ball is in the Rules to help the player save time. You should all start doing it right.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ask Linda #1558-Hit opponent’s equipment

Hi Linda 
Just a quick question to clarify a rule.
Is there a penalty if you hit an opponent’s bag with your ball?
Many thanks.
Lou from Wales, UK

Dear Lou,

No penalty.

In stroke play, this is known as a “rub of the green.” You must play the ball as it lies [Rule 19-4].

In match play, you may either cancel the stroke and replay the shot, or play the ball as it lies [Rule 19-3].

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ask Linda #1557-Start earlier than assigned time

Dear Linda,
Is there a rule in golf controlling start times in competitions?

We recently played our Champion of Champions (Trophy &Medal winners) and the qualifying participants were drawn in groups of three with the first group scheduled to tee off at 9am. Unfortunately a group of 4 qualifying participants teed off 40 minutes ahead of the scheduled start time. 

I welcome your comments and send my regards,
Lou from Peacehaven,  East Sussex

Dear Lou,

Rule 6-3 requires that the player start at his assigned time. The penalty for starting too early or too late is disqualification.

The penalty is reduced to two strokes in stroke play (loss of hole in match play) for players who arrive late but within five minutes of their starting time, or for players who start no more than five minutes early [Decision 6-3a/5].

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ask Linda #1556-Player moves interfering ball on green

Thanks for all your work as you teach us how to understand rules… here’s as issue I hadn’t come across before.

On the green - Two competitors, A and B, are on about the same line. Player A is between player B and the hole.

Player A, thinking that he will be asked to move his marker by player B, moves it.

Player B says that because A moved the ball unbidden by B, A incurs a one-stroke penalty.

Is this correct?

Lou from Hackettstown, New Jersey

Dear Lou,

There is no penalty on the putting green for moving your ball a putter-head length to the side without being asked to do so. You will be penalized one stroke if you take that same initiative when your ball is off the putting green [Rule 22-2, Note 1].

You may also ask another player if he would like you to move your ball mark, which may be on his line of putt. This offer does not constitute “advice.”

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ask Linda #1555-Opponent knocks ball away from lip of hole

Dear Linda,
In a match, my ball stopped on the lip on the high side of the cup. My opponent said it was good and tapped the ball back to me. My question is, since I am allowed 10 seconds to see if the ball would fall in the hole and my opponent moved my ball prior to that time lapse, what happens? Do I replace my ball and give it the 10 seconds? Does my opponent incur any penalty? We halved the hole with bogies.
Love your stuff and thank you,
Lulu from Hollywood, Florida

Dear Lulu,

Your opponent loses the hole. She infringed your right under Rule 16-2 to walk immediately to the hole and wait no more than ten seconds to see whether the ball will fall into the hole [Decision 16-2/2].

You were putting for par, to win the hole. Had you been putting for bogey, to halve the hole, your opponent would not lose the hole – the hole would be halved [Rule 2-2].

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ask Linda #1554-Ball moves after replaced

Dear readers,
Please revisit Ask Linda #1552 ( I edited the answer, thanks to an observant reader from the UK.

Dear Linda,
I enjoy your blog. I have two related questions. I was playing a knockout and on the green. My opponent was over the green on a steep rise. I went to mark my ball and when I turned round, his ball was six feet from the hole. I questioned him and he said as it was winter rules he could lift and clean the ball and when he replaced it, it ran down onto the green. When we got back I checked with the pro and he confirmed that what happened was within the rules. The second part happened yesterday when one of my playing partners was on the top level of a two-tiered green. He marked the ball and when he replaced it, it ran down the rise to close to the hole. Can he leave where it stopped and if not how does it vary from the previous incident?
Thank you,
Lou from Christchurch, UK

Dear Lou,

The answer is the same for both questions, and depends on when the ball moved. When a player places a ball, and it fails to come to rest (meaning the ball starts rolling as soon as the player removes his hand), he must try to place it a second time. If the ball does not stay put after that second attempt, he must place it at the nearest spot that is no closer to the hole and not in a hazard. If the ball originally lay in a hazard, it must be placed in the hazard [Rule 20-3d].

If the ball comes to rest after it is placed (meaning the player removes his hand and the ball is absolutely still), and it subsequently moves, the player must play the ball from its new position [Rule 20-3d].

Considering that in the one case the player’s ball lay on a steep rise, and in the other it lay on a two-tiered green, it seems likely that the ball, when placed, began to roll immediately. If this assumption were correct, the player in each situation you describe would be governed by the ruling in my first paragraph.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ask Linda #1553-Complete relief requirement

Hopefully you can find the rule for me about taking complete relief from GUR or cart path. A player at our course was on the cart path and dropped her ball on the dirt area near her ball, but her feet were still partially on the cart path. We told her she needed to take complete relief, but couldn’t find the rule. Please help.
Lulu from Sequim, Washington

Dear Lulu,

Rule 24-2b tells you to drop the ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief (NPR). The Definition of NPR tells you that the NPR is the point where there is no interference by the condition from which relief is sought. (The Definitions are in the front of the rulebook.) “No interference” includes lie, stance, and swing. Rule 20-2c (v) tells you that you must re-drop if the ball rolls to a spot where you still have interference from the condition from which you were seeking relief. If you take relief from a cart path, and you subsequently hit the ball with your feet touching the cart path, the penalty is two strokes (loss of hole in match play) for a breach of Rule 20-2.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.