Rule of the Month

December 2020

Rule 12 - BUNKERS - Prohibited and Allowed Actions

Bunker shotThe Player must not touch the sand with the club:
 - In front of or right behind the ball
 - In making a practice swing
 - In making the backswing for the stroke

The penalty for doing so is the General Penalty, Loss of Hole in Match Play and 2 Strokes Penalty in Stroke Play

Permitted Actions include – Removing Loose Impediments (natural objects) and Movable Obstructions (man-made, artificial objects). However, if a player causes the ball to move when moving Loose Impediments they will have to add a Penalty Stroke to their score and replace the ball. If the ball moves when moving a Movable Obstruction there is No Penalty but the ball must be replaced.

Bunker obstruction Moved by rake

Players can dig in with their feet when taking a stance, smooth the bunker to care for the course, place clubs, equipment and other objects in the bunker, measure, mark, lift, and replace the ball as required by a Rule, and can lean on a club to prevent a fall, as long a they do not improve conditions affecting their stroke.

November 2020

RULE 13 – The Putting Green

Putting GreenPitch markYou can always mark, lift and clean your ball on the Putting Green. You can remove sand and soil and repair pitch marks that are on the Putting Green even if your ball is not on the Green, but you cannot do this anywhere else on the Course.

On the Putting Green you can repair damage caused by a person or outside influence including ball marks, shoe damage, old hole plugs, animal damage, such as hoof indentations, and embedded objects such as a stone, acorn or tee.

But you cannot and MUST NOT repair –

Aeration Natural wear
        • Aeration holes and grooves from verti-cutting
        • Damage resulting from irrigation or rain
        • Bare or diseased areas
        • Natural wear of the hole

Replacing ballThere is no penalty if any player accidentally causes the ball or ball marker to move on the Putting Green. Replace the ball on its original spot which if not known must be estimated. If natural forces – wind, water, or gravity – cause your ball to move on the Putting Green play the ball as it lies unless you have previously marked and lifted it. Once you have marked and lifted the ball it owns that spot and must always be replaced on that spot.

There is no penalty for accidentally touching the line of play on the Putting Green as long as you are not testing or improving the area of your intended stroke.

October 2020

Rule 16: Relief from Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions)

Abnormal Course Conditions include Ground Under Repair, Temporary Water and Animal Holes as well as Immovable Obstructions (man-made objects that CANNOT be easily moved without causing damage and delaying play). The player is allowed a free drop within one club length of the nearest point of complete relief not nearer the hole. As long as it is known or virtually certain that the ball in in an Abnormal Course Condition or an Immovable Obstruction (95% sure) free relief is available as shown below.

GuR  Temp Water 2 Animal Hole
Ground Under Repair Temporary Water Animal Hole
Relief1 Relief 2

Example showing the Nearest Point of Complete Relief (NPCR) from a road for a Right Handed Player. The NPCR must be no nearer the hole. Use a Ball Marker or Tee to indicate the NPCR – the Reference Point – and drop within the Relief Area within one club length of the Reference Point, no nearer the Hole, without penalty. A left-handed player’s NPCR may be different from the right handed player, as it would be here; it depends on the size of the Abnormal Course Condition.
There is not Relief when it is clearly unreasonable to play the ball because of something else or by choosing an unreasonable stance, swing or direction of play. If a player has interference by a No-Play Zone in an Abnormal Course Condition relief MUST be taken, otherwise it is optional.

September 2020

Rule 15: Relief from LOOSE IMPEDIMENTS and MOVABLE OBSTRUCTIONS (including Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering in Play).

Loose Impediments are all those unattached Natural Objects found around the course such as stones, leaves and twigs. They can be removed from anywhere but if the removal of them causes the ball to move, the ball must be replaced under penalty of one. The exception being on the Putting Green when the ball must be replaced but no penalty will be incurred.
Movable Obstructions are man-made, artificial objects that can be easily moved without causing damage or delaying play, such as a water bottle or a rake. If the ball moves replace the ball without penalty.

Loos impediments 1 Moved by rake

If the ball is in or on the Movable Obstructions then you must mark underneath the Obstruction (plastic bag or golf towel) and the Ball. The Ball-Marker will be the Reference Point which must be in the same area of the course as the Obstruction and no nearer the hole. The Relief Area is within one club-length of the reference point, no nearer the hole and the ball must be dropped from knee height into the Relief Area and come to rest in the Relief Area without penalty.

Obstruction Moving Obstruction

August 2020

Maureen, I took a practice swing on the fairway and accidentally moved my ball. What do I do now?

Rule 9 Ball Played as it Lies; Ball at Rest Lifted or Moved.

replace on spotThe ball at rest has moved when it leaves its original position and comes to rest in another place and the movement is seen by the naked eye. If this happens on the Putting Green or during a fair Search there is no penalty. If the player caused the ball to move by taking a practice swing too near the ball, or by moving a loose impediment anywhere on the course except on the Putting Green the player must add a penalty stroke to his or her score and must replace the ball. If the ball is not replaced the player will incur the General Penalty - Loss of Hole in Match Play and 2 strokes penalty in Stroke Play.


July 2020

Identifying the Ball since January 2019

Identify Ball

  • If you see a ball and cannot see your identification mark on it you MUST still mark the ball to identify it. You can then lift the ball (or rotate it) to ensure it is your ball.
  • There is now no requirement to announce or for your opponent or fellow-competitor to observe the identifying.
  • The ball cannot be cleaned unless completely covered in mud and then can only be cleaned to the extent necessary to identify it.
  • If it is your ball you MUST replace the ball on the original spot – if it is deep in the rough it must be replaced deep in the rough, if it is under sand in a bunker it must be replaced under the sand in the bunker. If it is in sand you can leave a small part of the ball visible in order to see the ball when you take your shot.

June 2020

What are my Options when I am in a Penalty Area?

Penalty Areas
Rule 17 Diagram showing Penalty Area Relief Options – (When marked as Red)
• Ball is played from 1 and crosses into water at X
• Player has option to go back to where he/she last played (stroke and distance) - point 1
• Back on a line relief – player selects a reference point back on the line and drops the ball within a club-length - point 2
• Lateral relief – player must drop a ball within two club-lengths of point X - point 3
• All under penalty of one
If the Penalty Area is marked as yellow the Lateral Relief at point 3 is not available.
There is now no relief equidistant from the pin on the opposite side of the Penalty Area (water hazard) unless a Club Committee brings in a Local Rule for a particular Penalty Area.

May 2020

Please can you explain the new dropping procedure?

When dropping the player may use the original or another ball. Only the player can drop the ball in singles (but in foursomes and four-ball a partner may also drop the ball). Drop straight down from knee height, as shown in the picture, without throwing, spinning or rolling. Ball must strike the ground in the Relief Area and be played from the Relief Area. If you forget and drop from shoulder height correct the error before you hit your shot or you will be penalised a stroke.


Dropping Procedure

Knee Height:
  • Must be dropped from knee height.
  • Must be dropped straight down without touching player or equipment before hitting ground.
  • Must be dropped in Relief Area.
Note: 'Knee height' means the height of a player's knee when in a standing position.
Dropping procedure crop