Monday, October 8, 2018

Ask Linda #1818-Local Rule does not conform to Rules of Golf

Dear Linda,
I recently played a league match at a golf club in Wales. My partner and I were all square standing on the 18th tee. Our opponents drove off, one hitting his ball out of bounds, the other hitting his ball against the boundary wall. I was shocked to be told by our opponents that the club had a Local Rule permitting the player a free drop from the boundary wall. So my question is, can a golf club have a Local Rule that allows its members and visitors to have a free drop from a boundary wall where the Rules of Golf state that a player can take a drop but only under penalty or go back to where he or she last played? I always thought that a local rule was not allowed to go against the Rules of Golf.
Thank you 
Lou from Wales

Dear Lou,

The rulebook is quite clear in stating that “the Committee may make and publish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions if they are consistent with the policies established in this Appendix” [Appendix I, Part A, Local Rules, General]. You are correct in your belief that a Local Rule must conform to the Rules of Golf.

A boundary wall is deemed to be fixed [Definition of “Out of Bounds”]. If a player is unable to hit his ball due to interference from a boundary fence, he must declare it unplayable. All of the relief options for an unplayable ball include one penalty stroke [Rule 28]. The golf club does not have the right to offer players free relief via Local Rule from a situation that requires a penalty under the Rules of Golf.

You should have filed a claim when your opponent took his “free” drop, and requested that the Committee contact the R&A regarding the legitimacy of this Local Rule if your claim were not upheld.

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