Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ask Linda #1654-Relief for embedded ball through the green

Hi Linda,
Once again I ask for your assistance.
My club introduced a local rule permitting relief for plugged balls through the green. They have however omitted the cleaning of the ball, as they do not want to allow this.
They say the wording in the rule is only a "recommendation," and that they can therefore amend it to leave out the word "clean.”
My view is that the recommended wording is simply to allow a club to adopt the local rule without referring to the R&A, USGA. I believe that they can't adopt any other wording without referring to the USGA, R&A, as this would be modifying a rule of golf without authority. 
I welcome your valued experience in this matter.
Kind regards,
Lou from England

Dear Lou,

My “valued experience” leads me to the same answer you suggest.

Rule 25-2, which provides relief for an embedded ball, limits that relief to balls embedded in closely-mown areas. It allows the player to lift, clean, and drop the ball without penalty.

The purpose of Local Rule 3a in Appendix I is to extend the relief provided for an embedded ball in Rule 25-2 to “through the green” (meaning to all areas of the golf course except the teeing ground and putting green of the hole you are playing and all hazards). When this Local Rule is adopted, the player must still follow the instructions for taking relief from an embedded ball as written in Rule 25-2; the only difference is that the restriction to closely-mown areas is lifted.

If the player were taking relief for a ball embedded in the rough, for example, the player, observing the procedure in Rule 25-2, would lift his ball, clean it (if he so desired), and drop it as close as possible to the spot where it was embedded, no closer to the hole.

The wording in the Local Rules is provided to save the Committee the trouble of composing the Local Rule. It is “recommended” because it is correct. The Committee may choose to use its own words, instead of the recommended wording, but it may not change the contents of the Rule. In this case, the Committee may, for example, include the meaning of “through the green” (the term used at the beginning of this Local Rule) instead of using that specific term, but it may not change the basic Rule itself, which allows the player to clean the ball.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ask Linda #1653-Cart path interferes with ball next to path

A girl in my group had her ball stop right next to the cart path but not on it. If she tried to hit the ball, her club would have hit the cart path and probably would have damaged her club. Would she be allowed a free drop? Thank you for answering the question.
Lulu from Green Valley, Arizona

Dear Lulu,


The player is entitled to free relief when an immovable obstruction, such as a cart path, interferes with her stance or the area of her intended swing [Rule 24-2a]. Interference is interference – there is no requirement that the ball lie on the obstruction for the player to get free relief.

By the way, sometimes grass grows over the edge of a cart path. If it doesn’t seem likely that your swing will contact the visible path, but you suspect that there might be cart path under your ball, it’s a good idea to probe the ground near the ball. Use your divot tool or a long tee.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ask Linda #1652-Ball assists play in another group

Hi Linda,
Today I was playing in a Stroke Play Tournament and on our course the Ninth Hole is below the tenth teeing area. As I was teeing off I looked down on to the Ninth Green and the four players playing behind my four were approaching the green. Two of the four had played up to the pin and were sitting just past the hole to the left and right of the centre of the pin. The third player was just off the green and playing toward the pin.

Before he played a stroke, I called out from the tee and asked him politely to mark both balls before he played his stroke. He replied that I should mind my own business and that only the players in his four could have the balls marked. I reported this to the committee at the completion of the round and they agreed with the player.

Was I entitled to have the balls marked even though I was not part of that four?
Kind Regards,
Lou from New Zealand

Dear Lou,
Rule 22-1 is clear on this matter. It states that “if a player considers that a ball might assist any other player, he may…have any other ball lifted.” It does not say “if a player in your group.” Any player anywhere on the course has the obligation to report any Rules’ violations he witnesses; it is every player's responsibility to protect the field. Good etiquette (which you practiced) suggests that you warn a player who is about to breach a Rule.

The Committee should have interviewed the players to learn whether they agreed not to lift those two balls in order to assist the player who was chipping onto the putting green. If that were the case, they would all be disqualified. Since you warned the players before any action was taken, they had ample opportunity to mark their balls, thereby complying with 22-1 and taking disqualification off the table.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ask Linda #1651-Relief in water hazard for unplayable ball

Can a player ever take the option of dropping IN a water hazard? In other words, choosing to take relief from an UNPLAYABLE LIE in a water hazard, as opposed to taking relief from the water hazard itself? I am thinking of the situation where the hazard is largely dry and there might be a good patch of grass either within two club-lengths or back along the line to the pin.
Lou from Australia 

Dear Lou,


A player is not permitted to deem his ball unplayable in a water hazard [Rule 28]. If the ball in the hazard is unplayable, the player must choose one of the relief options in Rule 26, none of which involve dropping the ball within the hazard.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving break

Dear readers,
I will resume posting on Monday, November 27, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Until then,

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ask Linda #1650-Extract ball without removing flagstick

Dear Linda,
I have noticed  that when the pros get a hole-in-one or hole out from off the green they always take their ball out of the hole without removing the flagstick. Is there a reason for this, as they are far more likely to damage the hole this way. When I have done it by taking the flag first and then the ball, I have been threatened with penalties by those who watch golf on TV.

With thanks for your continued help.
Lou from the South of France

Dear Lou,

There is no Rule that governs how to remove the ball from the hole. The Rules assume the golfer has enough sense to figure out how to do that without instructions. There is no reason why a careful golfer can’t remove a ball without damaging the hole, regardless of the presence of the flagstick.

The next time you are threatened with a penalty, hand your rulebook to the misinformed golfer and tell him you will gladly accept a penalty if he can show you what Rule you violated.

I am inclined to recommend that when you hole a ball from off the green you remove the ball before you take out the flagstick, just as you see the pros do on television. If you pull out the flagstick and the ball at the same time, the pressure of the stick against the ball may damage the hole. You are much less likely to cause any damage if you reach in and carefully pull out the ball first.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ask Linda #1649-Ball hits attended flagstick

Hi Linda,
We had an instance where a fellow competitor was close to the flagstick, within touching distance, and another player was putting. Not paying attention to the putter, the fellow competitor inadvertently let the ball hit the flagstick after it was putted from the green. The putter assumed the flagstick was attended, as her fellow competitor was standing right next to the flagstick.

Who is assessed the penalty strokes in this instance? My understanding was that the person standing closest to the flagstick is responsible for attending, thus preventing the ball from hitting the flagstick.

Thanks for your response.
Lulu from Burbank, California

Dear Lulu,

The player whose ball hits the attended flagstick (i.e., the player who hits the putt) incurs the penalty, which is two strokes in stroke play, loss of hole in match play. In stroke play, the ball must be played as it lies after hitting the flagstick.

Please read Rules 17-1 and 17-3.

Copyright © 2017 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.