Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ask Linda #1844-Is mud casual water?

Linda,
The local course I play had experienced a lot of rain and the bunkers had not yet been worked. Many bunkers had standing water (i.e., puddles) with significant areas of mud surrounding the puddles. The group I was playing with had decided to play the bunkers knowing a free drop within the bunker was permitted for casual water. My question involves the muddy areas and how much water is required to invoke the casual water rule. Specifically, in one fairway bunker my ball sunk into the mud to a depth in which the entire ball was below the surface of the mud leaving me an unplayable lie. The area was very muddy and I was getting a lot of mud on my shoes, but all I saw was mud, I did not see any standing water. So, the question is…does mud also qualify as standing water or do you actually have to see standing water in order to get a free drop?
Thanks,
Lou from Texas

Dear Lou, 

You would have to see standing water in order to get a free drop.

The Definition of “Casual Water” states that it is “any temporary accumulation of water on the course that…is visible before or after the player takes his stance.” Decision 25/1 clarifies that soft, mushy earth is not casual water unless the player can see water visible on the surface before or after taking his stance. Also, you should be aware that water that only appears around your shoe by pressing down hard with your foot is not casual water [Decision 25/4]. 

If there are specific bunkers that are completely flooded, the Committee has the option to adopt a Local Rule labeling those particular bunkers ground under repair, thereby allowing players free relief outside the bunker. Please read Decision 33-8/27 for the suggested wording for such a Local Rule.

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Ask Linda #1843-Change status of provisional ball

Hi Linda,
Thanks for all your previous advice on the Rules of Golf.

In the light of the possible introduction at our club of the new Local Rule next year called Alternative to Stroke and Distance for Lost Ball or Ball Out of Bounds, my fellow golfers and I have been discussing provisional balls.

My question to you is: Is one allowed to change the status of a provisional ball, just declared a provisional and played, to a ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance, again by declaration? This might be wanted if the player, changing his mind, decides shortly after hitting the provisional that he does not want his fellow players or opponent to go and find his ball in a bad place.

Best wishes,
Lou from Tiverton, Devon, UK

Dear Lou,

As all my readers should be aware by now, I will not address any questions about the 2019 Rules until 2019. However, I will answer your question under 2018 Rules, adding that I cannot imagine that this will change in 2019.

The answer is “absolutely not.” A provisional ball is a ball played provisionally for a ball that might be lost outside a penalty area or out of bounds. You cannot change its status by calling it something else. If the original ball is found on the course the provisional must be abandoned. If the player is unable to play his original ball as it lies, and he decides to take the stroke-and-distance relief option, he must play again from where he hit his previous shot. 

The player may ask that his fellow competitors or opponent not search for his original ball, but they are under no obligation to follow that directive. 

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Tuesday, November 13, 2018

“Free” 2019 rulebooks


Dear readers,

If your Rules of Golf governing body is the USGA (which it is if you live in the U.S., its territories, or Mexico), you may order one or two free copies of the Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf.  Your only cost will be for shipping and handling. If you wish to purchase the full Rules of Golf, an expanded version of the Rules described as “the primary Rules resource for officials,” the cost is $5. Visit this website to order: 

For those of you who are governed by the R&A, you may visit the R&A shop (https://shop.randa.org) and order both the Rules of Golf 2019 and the Player’s Edition of the Rules of Golf. I would highly recommend you order both books, as they are both free – your only cost is shipping.

Canadians may order rulebooks from Golf Canada at this link:
http://golfcanada.ca/rules-of-golf/

There are actually three books for 2019:
Player's Edition of the Rules of Golf (abridged version of the Rules, designed for the player)
Rules of Golf (designed for officials, my recommendation for those who want the full version of all the playing rules)
Official Guide to the Rules of Golf (replacement for the Decisions book)

Linda 


Monday, November 12, 2018

Out with the old, in with the new


Dear readers,

This feels like the right time to stop answering questions about the 2018 Rules of Golf and start in earnest to study the new Rules for 2019. Accordingly, my last column for 2018 will appear on Friday, November 16. I will not resume answering questions until late January. Here’s why:

I will attend a one-day USGA Rules seminar on November 17. This will be a general overview of the new Rules for 2019, and will help jumpstart my preparation for the four-day Rules of Golf seminar that I will attend at the USGA Golf House in Far Hills, New Jersey from January 11 – 14.

By late January I will have had sufficient time to review my notes from the seminar and will be about as prepared as I can get to answer your questions. I will let you know when my blog reopens for business.

In the meantime, I would ask that each of you acquire and read a 2019 rulebook (tomorrow’s column will explain how to order a free one). We cannot have a meaningful discussion of the new Rules if you have no familiarity with them. Pay particular attention to the Definitions in the back of the book – the Rules are much easier to understand if you have a working knowledge of the Definitions. I plan to send you links to diagrams, videos, and explanations of the most significant changes. I will try to throw in a few Rules Nuggets from time to time. But please, no questions until further notice. 

Regards,
Linda




Friday, November 9, 2018

Ask Linda #1842-Ball comes to rest on embedded ball in fairway

Hi Linda,
Could you tell me the ruling when you come to your ball in the fairway and it is sitting on top of an embedded ball that was already there? Do you have to play your ball as it lies or do you get a free drop?
Thanks for your help!
Lulu from New Jersey

Dear Lulu,

A stray ball embedded in the fairway meets the Definition of “Obstruction.” When your ball lies on a movable obstruction, you may lift your ball and remove the obstruction. You will then drop your ball as near as possible to where it lay on the embedded ball, no closer to the hole [Rule 24-1b].

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Thursday, November 8, 2018

Ask Linda #1841-Penalty for slow play

Dear Linda,
As winter arrives in Ireland one hears more and more muttering about slow play. It has been suggested in our club that a Local Rule be introduced imposing penalties on slow players. It is proposed that at two points – after the 9th and after the 18th – if the group has not completed within the allotted time then each player in the group would be subject to a one-stroke penalty, maximum two penalties per round. Would this proposal be within the Rules of Golf?
yours,
Lou from Dublin, Ireland

Dear Lou,

The Committee has every right to establish pace-of-play guidelines, and to penalize players who do not play within the allotted time. The standard penalty in stroke play is two strokes for the first violation and disqualification for a subsequent offense. However, the Committee may modify the penalty to one stroke for the first offense, two strokes for the second offense, and disqualification for a third offense.

The penalty in match play is loss of hole followed by disqualification. The Committee modification would be loss of hole for the first and second violations, followed by disqualification for a third violation.

Please read Rule 6-7.

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Ask Linda #1838a-#1838 (Invoke 3-3 for a ball stolen by another golfer) revisited


Dear readers,

I have received a different ruling from another official via a reader in Florida that is in line with my original opinion. He cited the Exception to Rule 27-1c, which allows a player to drop another ball (under Rule 18-1) if it is known or virtually certain that the original ball was moved (or stolen, as in #1838) by an outside agency. He did not believe that the five-minute search limit was pertinent.

My advice would be to take advantage of the opportunity provided by Rule 3-3 to play a second ball and let your Committee sort out which ball to count. There is no downside to playing a second ball, and the upside of scoring a bogey versus an 11 would be well worth the trouble. 

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Ask Linda #1840-Is relief from GUR mandatory?

Linda,
Our club is putting in some new greens. There are lots of ground under repair signs around that area.
Do you have to take relief?
Or if you like your lie may you play the ball as it lies??
Lulu from Palm Desert

Dear Lulu,

This is a question you will need to ask an official at your golf course. If the course does not want players to hit from the designated areas of ground under repair (GUR), it must inform players that relief is mandatory. If there is no notice from the course or your Committee that relief is mandatory, players may play the ball as it lies in the GUR.

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Ask Linda #1839-Stroke-and-distance relief after failure to hit ball out of hazard

Hello Linda,
We had our club championship today and would like your help on hazard relief. I hit into the red hazard in front of the green on a par 3. I went to my ball and decided to hit from the hazard because the ball was sitting up pretty nicely. Well, it didn't come out! I decided after one failed attempt to take hazard relief. I looked at all my options – stroke and distance was the best one. I went back to the tee, teed it up and hit onto the green, two-putted for a six. My opponent said that I should not have had the option to go back to the tee because I hit the second shot in the hazard and my only relief was two club-lengths from the hazard line. I explained that I stayed in the hazard and after one attempt I would like to take hazard relief. I felt I followed what I believe to be the procedure but would love to know the Rule and the Decision!
Thank you for all you do!
Lulu from South Carolina

Dear Lulu,

The Rule is 26-2a. This Rule explains all the relief options when a player tries to hit her ball out of a hazard and is unsuccessful. One of those options is the one you chose, i.e., return to the spot from which the last stroke outside the hazard was made (the teeing ground, in your case) to hit another ball under penalty of one stroke.

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Monday, November 5, 2018

Ask Linda #1838-Invoke 3-3 for ball stolen by another golfer

Linda,
Sad but true story today. My buddy Lou drove way down the middle of the 18th hole par five which was actually his second hole of a shotgun start. His group also noticed that at some point the group in front of them kind of circled back in a cart way up the fairway. Lou's group looked and looked but could never find the good drive. They strongly suspected it had been picked up by the group in front them, but the group now was no longer near them to ask. Lou went back and re-teed under stroke and distance penalty. He hit it out in the bush, beat it around, and finished the hole with an 11. He was fairly much out of the tournament now after 2 holes. Eventually, in the scoring area, which is also the snack bar and table area, he found one of the players in front of him, who stated “yes,” he had picked a same brand x ball with a circled L, which is Lou’s ball mark, out of the 18th fairway. Now granted this is something that a golfer should never have done, but he did. 

Driving home, I was talking to Lou, and wondered if he could have invoked Rule 3-3 and stated he would play a second ball, which he would prefer to count. He would play out first ball as lost, which he had done that scored the 11. But also drop a ball under 3-3 and play from a place his group agreed they best thought his drive had ended and been picked up from by the outside agency. After the round, Lou could have questioned the group in front of him. If as happened, he finds a player who admitted they picked up his ball, he asks for the rules committee to count his invoked 3-3 second ball for his score. And hypothetically, if he finds no one who picked us his ball, he tells the rules committee: “I invoked 3-3 because we really thought someone picked it up, but we found no proof.” Thus, I guess the committee should count the lost ball as an 11. Would this have worked if Lou had done this? Is there anything else Lou could have done?

Thanks for all the great educational answers over the years.
Lou's friend. 
Lou from Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Dear Lou,

There is no penalty for invoking Rule 3-3 and playing two balls. However, in this situation, the ball played under stroke and distance would be ruled the ball to count. I originally thought otherwise, but I received a detailed and convincing argument from an Australian referee that I have pasted below, and I will defer to his expertise.

Linda,

The Committee's hands are tied. Only one ball has been completed under the Rules, the ball played under Stroke and Distance. So that is the only ball that can count.

Invoking R3-3 has no relevance or impact on this, so it is unhelpful. A player uncertain of what to do is free to invoke R3-3 and play under an alternate rules approach, but if only one of the two approaches is legitimate then that is the way the Committee must rule.

The rules do not permit any extension to the time limit for finding a ball or to establishing knowledge or virtual certainty that a ball has been taken by an outside agency, and any new facts that come to light after that time limit are irrelevant. R3-3 is not a mechanism that can deliver an extension of that limit, nor can it put a halt on the search time clock by simply invoking R3-3.

Under the current Rules, these principles are encoded in D27/7 and in a famous ruling discussed among aficionados similar to the story that Lou has brought in #1838: a player suspects an outside agency has lifted his ball but there is no virtual certainty of this when the search time expires. After time expiry, new information proves the ball was lifted by an outside agency but the ruling affirms that new facts that come to light subsequently are irrelevant.

Both of these cases are now enshrined in the 2019 Interpretation that I have copied below for information but this only provides improved clarity, they apply equally now.

Known or Virtually Certain/2 – Virtual Certainty Is Irrelevant if It Comes to Light After Three-Minute Search Expires
Determining whether there is knowledge or virtual certainty must be based on evidence known to the player at the time the three-minute search time expires.
Examples of when the player’s later findings are irrelevant include when:
      A player’s tee shot comes to rest in an area containing heavy rough and a large animal hole. After a three-minute search, it is determined that it is not known or virtually certain that the ball is in the animal hole. As the player returns to the teeing area, the ball is found in the animal hole.
Even though the player has not yet put another ball in play, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b – What to Do When Ball is Lost or Out of Bounds) since it was not known or virtually certain that the ball was in the animal hole, when the search time expired.
      A player cannot find his or her ball and believes it may have been picked up by a spectator (outside influence), but there is not enough evidence to be virtually certain of this. A short time after the three-minute search time expires, a spectator is found to have the player’s ball.
The player must take stroke-and-distance relief for a lost ball (Rule 18.2b) since the movement by the outside influence only became known after the search time expired.

Regards, 
Lou from Australia

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Friday, November 2, 2018

Ask Linda #1837-Referee authorizes match to use preferred lies

Linda - a question.
We had our Finals Day at our golf Club this past weekend. Each Final had a walking referee. The weather was awful, however Winter Rules had not been adopted so NO preferred lies were in place. In one singles match play - two opponents decided to adopt preferred lies and their referee agreed. What is the position on this - can a referee agree to waive a Rule of Golf? None of the other Finals adopted preferred lies and relief was given for casual water as was appropriate.
I would appreciate your comment on this.
Lulu from Northamptonshire, England

Dear Lulu,

This is a tough question. Ordinarily, the decision of a referee is final [Rule 34-2], even if that decision is incorrect [Decision 34-2/2]. However, this is a stunningly audacious decision, and in direct contradiction to the rules of the competition. I felt it best to consult a highly respected senior official before giving you an answer. His response was that the match stands, but the Committee needs to have a heart-to-heart with the misguided referee. Here is my source’s exact response:

“I'd say that the Committee in charge of the competition has a rogue referee! However, the Committee should accept the result of the match, then deal with its (Committee's) internal issues.”

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Thursday, November 1, 2018

Ask Linda #1836-Mark relief with headcover not removed from driver

Hi Linda,
Just a short question please. Is it compulsory to take the head cover off a golf club before you take relief? A friend of mine was told he had to take the cover off his driver before marking out his relief.
Many thanks. 
Lou from Wales, U.K.

Dear Lou,

When the Rules of Golf describe a relief procedure, the distance will be either one or two club-lengths. A club-length is the length of any club in your bag. If the longest club in your bag is your driver, and you measure the full one or two club-lengths with the headcover on, you are marking an area that is larger than the one to which you are entitled. The player should remove the headcover before marking the limit of his drop area. This is particularly pertinent if the player chooses to drop near the edge of the measured area. If the player is dropping in the center of the measured area, it’s not an issue.

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Ask Linda #1835-Too dangerous to ID ball in water hazard near alligator

Linda,
My son was in a tournament today. His approach went astray inside a water hazard line but not in the water. There was absolute certainty that the ball entered the hazard, and the spot where it entered the hazard was known. The ball was next to a “mother” alligator and three babies. He was told that since he couldn’t identify his ball he had to declare it lost.
I wasn’t there but I assume that using Rule 26 (1 penalty stroke) wouldn’t have gotten him safely away from the alligators, but wouldn’t Decision 1-4/10 apply, allowing him to be able to go back towards where he hit the ball (remaining in hazard) and getting a free drop when at a safe distance from alligators?
Thank you.
Lou from North Carolina

Dear Lou,

Decision 1-4/10 is not applicable. The player must be able to identify his ball in order to take free relief from a dangerous situation. There was no way to confirm that the ball near the alligator belonged to your son, absent testimony from a spectator. However, all of the relief options in Rule 26-1 were available, as it was known that the ball was in the hazard.

I am confused as to why your son was told that he had to proceed as if he had a lost ball. His ball was seen to enter the hazard. There was no doubt that the ball lay somewhere in the hazard. When there is knowledge or virtual certainty that a ball lies in a water hazard, there is no requirement to identify that ball if the player chooses to take water hazard relief. Indeed, if there were an identification requirement, the only relief option for a ball under the water would be to play under stroke and distance (or pack scuba-diving equipment in the golf bag to enable retrieval of the ball). The Rules provide several relief options; the Committee may not deny players any of these options.

Your son was entitled to choose one of the relief options in Rule 26-1. 

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Ask Linda #1834-Requirement to choose which ball to count under Rule 3-3

Hello Linda,
When using Rule 3-3, why do you have to state which ball? If you have the option to play two balls, why do you need to "pick" one that you would
like to count???
Thank you,
Lulu from South Carolina

Dear Lulu,

It is not actually a requirement to state which ball you would like to count, only a recommendation. The Rule states: “The competitor should [not must] announce…which ball he wishes to count if the Rules permit the procedure used for that ball.” 

If the competitor announces which ball he would like to count, the score with that ball will count if the Rules permit the procedure used for that ball. Otherwise, the score with the other ball will count, provided the procedure used in playing the other ball was permitted.

If the competitor does not announce which ball he would like to count, the score with the original ball will count if the Rules permit the procedure used for that ball. Otherwise, the score with the other ball will count, provided the procedure used in playing the other ball was permitted.

If the procedure with neither of the two balls is correct, please read Rule 3-3 b (iii). I don’t want to overly complicate this answer.

It is generally to the player’s advantage to choose which ball to count. 

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Monday, October 29, 2018

Ask Linda #1833-Edge of GUR next to boundary fence

Hi Linda,
Our club has a Local Rule that makes some flowerbeds GUR. The boundary of this area is the edge of the bed and runs around to the boundary fence.

If the ball rests against the boundary fence and is in the bed, I assume that you will gain relief, even though the fence would prevent you having a swing.

Relief from the GUR is not mandatory, but there are heaps of plants that make relief the only option.

Am I correct in my thinking?

Regards,   
Lou from South Australia

Dear Lou,

No. 

The player is not entitled to free relief from ground under repair (GUR) if interference by anything other than the GUR makes the stroke impracticable [Rule 25-1b, Exception; Decisions 25-1b/19 and 25-1b/20]. In this case, the boundary fence interferes with the player’s swing. Since the player is not entitled to free relief from a boundary fence, he will have to declare the ball unplayable if he is unable to hit it as it lies in the flowerbed. 

The Committee might want to consider making relief from all flowerbeds that border the boundary fence mandatory. If relief were mandatory, the player would be required to take relief from the flowerbed, and that relief would be free. The Exception to Rule 25-1b is not applicable when relief is mandatory.

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Saturday, October 27, 2018

Response to Ask Linda #1829


Dear readers,
The e-mail below was in response to Ask Linda #1829-Player creates divot to serve as a tee, posted on October 23. 

Hi Linda,

The purpose of this email is to thank you for reminding me of my late father – a fine scratch golfer who passed on all his enthusiasm for the game to his son, but sadly not all of his talent. Reading this question, I could see him on the tee of a par 3, knocking up a wedge of turf to perch his ball on. Happy memories! Those were the days when on a Scottish links course there was a box containing wet sand on the tee. Many a time as a kid I’ve teed a ball up on a little heap of sand.

So, thanks for the memories!

Best wishes,
Lou from Scotland


Friday, October 26, 2018

Ask Linda #1832-Relief from puddles on green

Hi Linda, 
During a recent game, one of the greens had two large puddles. Although my ball was on a dry area of the green, I would have had to putt through the puddle to reach the hole. Am I allowed relief?
Also, a fellow competitor was a few feet off the green with the puddle between his ball and the hole. Would he be permitted relief from the puddles?
Thank you.
Lou from Ontario, Canada

Dear Lou,

The player is entitled to free relief from an abnormal ground condition (such as a puddle) that interferes with his line of puttwhen his ball lies on the putting green. Thus, you were allowed free relief [Rule 25-1a].

Your fellow competitor is not as fortunate. There is no free relief from an abnormal ground condition that lies on the line of play.

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.





Thursday, October 25, 2018

Ask Linda #1831-Rotate ball to identify it

Linda,
I understand that a player can call his partner over to mark and lift his/her ball to identify it. Is it permissible to rotate the ball to identify without the need to mark and lift it? I was always under the impression that you could not rotate it as this would be moving a ball in play. However, I watched a video on YouTube that stated you could oscillate it to identify it.
Regards,
Lou from the U.K.

Dear Lou,

I’m willing to bet that the video you watched was not authored by the USGA or the R&A.

There is a very specific procedure for identifying your ball. The player must first inform his opponent (in match play), or his marker or fellow competitor (in stroke play) of his intention to lift the ball. One of these people must be given the opportunity to observe his actions (an opportunity that may be declined). The player may then mark and lift the ball. He must not clean it beyond what is necessary to identify it [Rule 12-2].

Lifting does not preclude rotating or oscillating. However, if the ball is not marked before the player purposely touches or moves it, the player will incur a one-stroke penalty.

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ask Linda #1830-Adjust club during round

Hi Linda,
It's my understanding that if you start a round with 13 clubs, you can add a club at any time provided you don't cause a delay.
If you start with 13 clubs, can you adjust an adjustable club once during the round?
Thanks,
Lou from Ontario, Canada

Dear Lou,

No. 

Once your round begins you are not permitted to change the playing characteristics of any club in your bag [Rule 4-2a]. If you start with 13 clubs, you may add one club during the round, provided you do not unduly delay play [Rule 4-4a].

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.




Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ask Linda #1829-Player creates divot to serve as a tee

Hi Linda - Lou here again in South Wales - hope all is well!

Watching the final day of the Ryder Cup opening shot in first pairing - Justin Thomas took his iron and smacked it into the ground on the teeing area creating a large sort of divot.

He then appeared to tee the ball up and hit a decent opening shot, etc.

My immediate reaction was he had affected something growing (e.g. his lie), or that he had a target on his line of site (the divot).

No commentators said anything, so it must be legal - so what was actually going on here? 

On the web I found this.........................but he created a divot, not a mound?

Do I have to use a tee peg?
You do not have to use a tee peg (on short par 3s, for example) and are permitted to create a small mound or tuft using the back of your club and place your ball on top of that to give yourself the perfect lie.

Kind regards,
Lou from Wales

Dear Lou,

The player is permitted to create a natural tee by banging a club into the ground to raise a mound of grass or dirt [Rule 11-1]. If you ever have the opportunity to watch Laura Davies play, you will see her use a club to raise the turf on the teeing ground to create a “natural” tee. This is perfectly legal.

Linda
Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.