Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Ask Linda #1678-Relief from immovable obstruction

Hello Linda,

Last week a player hit her ball right of the fairway to behind a large concrete block supporting a light tower. She could not make a forward shot without hitting the concrete on the follow-through. 

I mentioned she could, however, make a clean shot perpendicular to her desired line of play onto the fairway with no trouble. She thought she was “entitled” to a shot towards the green if given free relief.

I offered no real disagreement to the free relief. But then I saw that in fact the NPR might be straight back away from the concrete about one foot She wanted relief far to the right of the concrete, at what she saw as the NPR, which gave her a shot towards the green.

So, two Questions noticed: Is player entitled to a shot towards the target if granted relief from Immovable Obstructions? And if NPR gives her a clean swing but the concrete and light tower remain in her ball flight path, is she given relief from those as well?

I have searched for salient answers but nothing found which contains all features of this Question.

Thanks for your consideration.
Lou from Chiang Mai, Thailand

Dear Lou,

The answers to both of your questions lie in Rule 24-2a and the Definition of “Nearest Point of Relief.” 24-2a explains that the player has interference from an immovable obstruction when the ball lies in or on the obstruction, or the obstruction interferes with the player’s stance or area of intended swing. Your player’s intended swing was towards the green, so she is entitled to relief from the obstruction (but not line-of-play relief, as I will explain shortly).

In seeking relief, the player must first find the nearest point of relief. Looking at the Definition of “Nearest Point of Relief,” you will learn that it is the point nearest to where the ball lies (but not closer to the hole) where the player would have no interference to her stance or swing from the obstruction if the obstruction were not there.

However, this relief is for stance and swing only, not from line of play. Rule 24-2a clearly states that the player is not entitled to relief from intervention by an immovable obstruction on the line of play, except on the putting green.

If the obstruction intervenes on the player’s line of play to the green after she drops within one club-length of the correct NPR, she will have to aim her next shot in some other direction.

Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Ask Linda #1677-Second tee shot designated both provisional (if ball lost) and stroke and distance (if ball in hazard)

When you think your ball may be lost outside the hazard, what’s wrong with stating on the tee box that if the ball is in the hazard this is my 3rd shot and if the ball is not lost or in the hazard, this is my provisional shot?
It would save coming back to the tee box if the ball is in the hazard and you want to use the option of hitting from the original position when a ball is in a hazard.
Lou from Wingham, Ontario, Canada

Dear Lou,

The Rules state quite clearly that if the original ball is found, the player must abandon the provisional and continue with the original. Please read Rule 27-2c.

While you may hit a provisional for a ball that may be lost outside a hazard, if it is determined that your original ball is in the hazard you must abandon the provisional and proceed under the Water Hazard Rule, Rule 26-1, if you do not want to play the ball as it lies in the hazard. If you choose relief option “a” under 26-1 (stroke and distance), you must return to where you hit your previous shot and hit another ball. Your provisional ball was hit under the Provisional Ball Rule; when you return to the tee to hit another ball, you are now playing under the Water Hazard Rule. You do, of course, have at least one other relief option for a ball in a hazard – you may choose to drop on the flagline (any type of water hazard) or take the two-club-length drop (lateral water hazards only).

I understand this seems like a waste of time to you, when you consider that if you could count your second shot from the teeing ground as both a provisional ball (if your original turns out to be lost) and a ball hit under relief option “a” in Rule 26-1 (if your original ball is found in the water hazard). But consider this: If the Rules were to permit this double meaning for a second shot from the teeing ground, the player would have a choice of which ball to play. For example, if the original were found in the hazard, and the player’s second tee shot from the tee were a poor shot, he could say: “I’m going to drop on the flagline for relief,” or “I’m going to play the ball as it lies in the hazard.” It is not the intent of the Rules to give a player a choice of shots, which would give the player an unfair advantage.

All of this being said, there is a Local Rule that, if adopted, permits a player to hit a ball provisionally under 26-1. It is a Rule that requires very specific conditions to exist. Look in Appendix I, Part A, #5 (p.151). If these conditions apply to a particular hole at your course, discuss this Local Rule with your Committee or a golf course manager and see if they would consider adopting it. Here is a link to a column I wrote in 2011 explaining this Local Rule:

Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Ask Linda #1676-Move flagstick while ball in motion

Once the flagstick is taken out of the hole and placed on the green, if you see someone’s’ putted ball headed for the flagstick, can you move it to avoid it being hit? Thank you for your answer.
Lulu from Green Valley, Arizona

Dear Lulu,


You may pick up a flagstick lying on the ground while the ball is in motion. Unfortunately for golfers seeking out this ruling, it does not appear in Rule 17: The Flagstick, where logical people might look for it. Instead, you have to read the last paragraph before the Note in Rule 24-1: Obstructions, to find the answer:

When a ball is in motion, an obstruction that might influence the movement of the ball, other than equipment of any player or the flagstick when attended, removed or held up, must not be moved.

Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ask Linda #1675-Wind moves ball; putt strikes flagstick

Hi Linda,
Question 1: Player is on green, marks his ball, picks up his marker and the wind then moves the ball about 3 feet. What is the ruling?  
Question 2: Player on green asks to have flagstick removed. Partner places flagstick on ground about 4 feet out of the line. Player then putts and hits flagstick on ground. Ruling?
Lou from New Jersey

Dear Lou,

Wind is not an outside agency. A ball that has come to rest and is subsequently moved by the wind must be played from its new position [Rule 18-1]. If the ball is mistakenly replaced and hit from its original position, the player incurs a two-stroke penalty (loss of hole in match play). Fun fact: If the wind blows the ball into the hole, the ball is ruled to be holed with the previous stroke. 

The penalty for the ball striking the flagstick on the ground is two strokes (loss of hole in match play). This penalty is incurred by the player who putted the ball, not the player who laid the flagstick on the green [Rule 17-3]. The player incurs this same penalty if his ball strikes (1) a flagstick that is attended, removed, or held up at his request; (2) the person attending the flagstick; or (3) an unattended flagstick in the hole when the stroke was made on the putting green.

Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ask Linda #1674-Player’s shot hits opponent

Today a very strange thing happened in a match play competition.

My partner was hitting his second shot for the green from the centre of the fairway. The opponent was standing on the left edge of the fairway, far to the left, nowhere along the line of shot.

My partner pulled his shot and hit him. Is he entitled to a re-shot?

Yours confused,
Lou from India

Dear Lou,

Yes. In match play, if a player’s shot is stopped or deflected by his opponent, there is no penalty to anyone and the player has two choices [Rule 19-3]:

1. Cancel the stroke and replay the shot; or
2. Play the ball as it lies.

The answer is not the same for stroke play. In stroke play, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies. There is no option in stroke play to replay the shot. This is known as a “rub of the green” [Rule 19-1].

Copyright © 2018 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.