Monday, July 31, 2017

Ask Linda #1584-Re-tee after whiff

Hi, Linda.
My wife has just arrived in from golf and outlined a situation that I can't answer – but I know that you can answer!

On the 15th tee (being tired!) she had played an air shot, taking a divot out behind the ball, but not dislodging it from the tee. She then chose to play from a different place on the tee (to avoid the divot mark), re-teed the ball and drove off.

Her fellow competitors told her she had incurred a penalty because she had touched/moved the ball and was therefore playing 3, not 2.

My thought was that maybe this was not true as the ball wasn't in play until it was hit and therefore it was OK to re-tee. Alternatively, the ball was in play once you swung at it.
Could you please help out?

As always, many thanks for the great service that you provide.
Lou from England

Dear Lou,

A ball is “in play” as soon as the player makes a stroke on the teeing ground [Definition of “Ball in Play”]. A “stroke” is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of hitting the ball [Definition of “Stroke”]. The fact that your wife missed the ball does not change the fact that she tried to hit it. An air shot, or a whiff (in plain language, a swing and a miss), counts as a stroke.

Your wife’s ball was in play. When she lifted her ball in play and played it from another spot on the teeing ground, she played under stroke and distance [Rule 27-1]. Her second tee shot was her third shot on the hole.

Please read the following column for a more detailed explanation:

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rules Nugget: Where is the ball?

There is a surprisingly simple way to remember where a ball officially lies under the Rules of Golf. The ball lies on the smaller area that it touches. I will repeat this pearl of wisdom as I address the different areas of the golf course. I will also tell you that all of the information below appears in the front of your rulebook in Section II – Definitions. You should read and study the Definitions very carefully. A full understanding of the Definitions may well be the most important step you can take to understand the Rules of Golf.

A ball is in a bunker when it lies in or any part of it touches the bunker. (Bunkers are smaller than the area that surrounds them.)

Casual Water
A ball is in casual water when it lies in or any part of it touches the casual water. (Casual water is smaller than the surrounding area.)

Ground Under Repair
A ball is in ground under repair (GUR) when it lies in or any part of it touches the GUR. Anything growing in GUR is part of the GUR. (GUR is smaller than the surrounding area.)

Out of Bounds
A ball is out of bounds when all of it lies out of bounds. If any part of the ball touches or overhangs the course, it is not out of bounds. (The golf course is smaller than the land that surrounds it.)

Putting Green
A ball is on the putting green when any part of it touches the putting green. (The putting green is a small part of the hole.)

Water Hazard
A ball is in a water hazard when it lies in or any part of it touches the water hazard. This includes touching a line defining the margin of the hazard, which the Definition will tell you is part of the hazard. (A water hazard is generally smaller than the golf course, unless your course abuts an exceedingly large body of water, such as an ocean.)


Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Ask Linda #1583-Ball moved by dog

Hi Linda,
I am a registered blind golfer. I do have very limited central vision (about 7 degrees). This 7 degrees vision is very good, which allows me to play golf (basically severe tunnel vision). I play golf every Saturday with a group of about 20 good friends who help me out when I haven't a clue where my ball has gone. I more or less play to my 20 handicap.

Now my question: I am allowed to be accompanied on the course by my guide dog Webster. Last Saturday was very hot out on the course and after a few holes I decided to phone (bad etiquette) my wife to pick up Webster on the 10th tee. She got there in quick time and walked back to the 8th fairway, which we were playing. I spotted her when I was about 20 yards away and so did Webster. At this point (bad etiquette), I let him off his lead so he could run across to her (big mistake). The normally well-behaved Webster bounded across to her, very excited, and as it happened the ball of one of our four-ball was close by (we play a roll up Stableford). Spotting this, Webster ran to the ball, picked it up, and brought it back to me, looking very pleased with himself, much to everyone's amusement…
What should have been the correct (Rules of Golf) procedure for this event??
And No, this is not a wind up, it really did happen.
Lou from Somerset, UK

Dear Lou,

Before I answer your question, I would like to point out that it is not bad etiquette to call your wife during your round to pick up your dog and rescue him from the excessive heat. This is a praiseworthy, compassionate act.

Under the Rules of Golf, a dog is classified as an outside agency. When a player’s ball is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and he must replace the ball [Rule 18-1]. If the ball is not recoverable (think Webster jumping into the nearest water hazard to cool off and dropping the ball), or has been damaged (perhaps Webster chomped down on the ball and left tooth marks), the player may use another ball.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ask Linda #1582-Touch out-of-bounds post with stance

Dear readers,
I received several questions this past week from Lou’s and Lulu’s wanting to know how to decide whether a ball lies out of bounds. Those questions have prompted me to explain how to decide where a ball lies under a number of different circumstances. Look for a Rules Nugget on this topic in the very near future.


This is not the usual question about those white posts…

My ball was in-bounds. My stance to play it put my ankle against –without moving– a white out of bounds post. My fellow competitor called a penalty before I played the shot saying I was not permitted to touch any such boundary marker. The argument was that it was not part of the course. I said you may play an in-bounds ball with feet outside the OB line. I guess the same question arises if one was to play an in-bounds ball with one’s back against a boundary stone wall that was also marked OB. I can find no specific rule. Can you help?

Love your clear answers to rules questions!
Lou from the UK

Dear Lou,

While you are not permitted to remove an out-of-bounds stake, nothing in the Rules prohibits you from touching the stake in fairly taking your stance to hit your ball. You may also touch a boundary wall or fence, a tree, a shed, etc., while making your stroke. If these objects are in your way, you may do anything reasonable to fairly take your stance. If you happen to move the object when you touch it, we need to take a look at Rule 13-2.

While Rule 13-2 states that a player may not move, bend, or break anything growing (e.g., a branch) or fixed (e.g., an out-of-bounds stake) to improve his lie, area of intended stance or swing, or line of play, it makes an exception if this happens while the player is trying to fairly take his stance. Please read Decision 13-2/1, which explains precisely what is meant in the Rules by “fairly” taking your stance. Here is a link to that Decision:

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ask Linda #1581-Ask -Play out of turn

Good morning Linda,
What is the rule if a player (who uses a golf cart) hits his ball farther than others and then drives to his ball and plays it before the others at the back can reach or even hit their balls? Is there a rule that states that the one far back should hit first? Would there be a penalty for a player that plays out of turn?
Kindly advise.
Kimberley, South Africa

Dear Lou,

Please read this column I published in 2010, which explains order of play:

Please note that while players in stroke play are generally encouraged to play “ready golf,” speeding up to your ball lying way ahead of your companions and hitting before they arrive at their balls is not what is meant by “ready golf.” This is poor etiquette, plain and simple, and may actually slow play. If you have asked the player to wait his turn, and he continues this odd behavior, try to contact a Committee member. I would hope that one polite request would fix the problem.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.