Rule of the Month

July 2021

FIXED SPRINKLER HEADS ON OR NEAR PUTTING GREEN

If the ball is just off the green and a sprinkler head is interfering with the line you want to putt on, can you move your ball? If so, where to and how?

Sprinkler headThis is still a Local Rule that will be on your Scorecard if it is available. It you do have the Local Rule on your scorecard you are allowed a free drop for Line of Play as well as Stance or Swing from a Fixed Sprinkler Head (an Immovable Obstruction) on or next to the Putting Green.
If a ball lies in the General Area and is within two-club lengths of the Immovable Obstruction (Fixed Sprinkler Head), which is on or within two club-lengths of the putting green and intervenes on the line of play between the ball and the hole, the player may take relief as follows:-
PuttingThe ball must be lifted and dropped within one club length of the point where the ball lay, not nearer the hole, which avoids the intervention and is not in a penalty area or on a putting green. The ball may be cleaned when lifted. Exception: A player may not take relief under this local rule if the player chooses a line of play that is clearly unreasonable.
You do not need a Local Rule if the Fixed Sprinkler Head only interferes with your Stance or Swing. You can take relief, as with any Immovable Obstruction, by finding the nearest point of complete relief, not nearer the hole, take a club-length from there and drop into the relief area in the General Area (probably on the apron) but not on the putting green.

June 2021

Rule 11.1 Ball on Motion Accidentally Hits Person or Outside Influence

11.1a No Penalty to Any Player
If a player’s ball in motion accidentally hits any person or outside influence there is now no penalty to any player even if the ball hits the player, the opponent or any other player or any of their caddies or equipment.

Ball movedException – Ball Played on Putting Green in Stroke Play
If the player’s ball in motion hits another ball at rest on the putting green and both balls were on the putting green before the stroke, the player gets the general penalty (2 penalty strokes in Stroke Play). No penalty in Match Play.

11.1b Ball Must Be Played as It Lies
If a player’s ball in motion accidentally hits any person or outside influence the ball must be played as it lies with 2 exceptions.

Exception 1 – When Ball Played from Anywhere Except Putting Green Comes to Rest on Any Person, Animal or Moving Outside Influence. Drop a ball in the relief area. Reference Point is the estimated point right under where the ball first came to rest on the person, animal or moving outside influence. The reference point must be in the same area of the course, and not nearer the hole. Drop within a club-length of this point.
When ball is on the putting green place a ball on the estimated spot under where it first came to rest.

Exception 2 – When Ball Played from Putting Green Accidentally Hits Any Person, Animal or Movable Obstruction (including Another Ball in Motion) on the Putting Green the stroke does not count and a ball must be replaced on the original spot.

If a Ball in Motion (played from the Putting Green) Hits Another Ball at Rest (or Ball-Marker) on the Putting Green the ball must be played as it lies. Remember there is a 2 stroke penalty in Stroke Play if you hit another ball on the Putting Green so it is wise to have the other ball marked before you putt.

If a Ball in Motion Accidentally Hits Flagstick or Person Attending Flagstick there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies. If the ball is Deliberately Deflected or Stopped by the Person Attending Flagstick they get the General Penalty and the ball must be replaced on the original spot.

May 2021

FlagstickRule 13.2 The Flagstick - Options with the Flagstick

13.2a Leaving the Flagstick in Hole
The player must decide before putting to either leave the flagstick in the hole or have the flagstick removed from the hole. If a player decides to have the flagstick left in the hole they can choose to have it centred in the hole before putting but cannot deliberate move it to any other position. There is no penalty if the ball hits the flagstick left in the hole and the ball must be played as it lies if it has not been holed. When the player has had the flagstick left in the hole the flagstick must not be moved deliberately by anyone or the General Penalty applies.

13.2b Removing Flagstick from Hole
The player may have the flagstick removed from the Hole completely before putting or may have the flagstick attended. When the flagstick is attended the attendee holds the flagstick and must remove the flagstick after the stroke is made. If the ball in motion hits the flagstick or person attending it, there is no penalty if this is accidental and the ball must be played at it lies. If the ball was deliberately deflected or stopped by the person attending it the General Penalty applies. If the ball was on the putting green it must be replayed.

13.2c Ball Resting against Flagstick in Hole
The ball is treated as holed if any part of the ball is in the hole or below the surface of the hole. If no part of the ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green the ball is not holed and must be played as it lies. If the flagstick is removed and the ball moves (into the hole or away from the hole) there is no penalty but the ball must be replaced on the lip of the hole and the player must hole out.

April 2021

18.3 PROVISIONAL BALL

Provisional Ball18.3a When Provisional Ball Allowed
If a ball might be lost outside a penalty area or be out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally. But if the original ball could only be lost in a penalty area a provisional ball is not allowed.

18.3b Announcing Play of Provisional Ball
Before the stroke is made the player must announce that he or she is playing a provisional ball. The player must use the word “provisional” or clearly indicate that he or she is playing the ball provisionally. If a player plays a ball from where the previous stroke was made without announcing, the player’s ball immediately becomes the ball in play under stroke and distance.

18.3c Playing Provisional Ball Until It Becomes the Ball in Play or is Abandoned
The player may continue to play the provisional ball so long as it is played from a spot that is the same distance or farther from the hole that where the original ball is estimated to be.

The provisional ball must be abandoned if the original ball is found on the course, outside a penalty area, before the end of the 3-minute search time and the player must play the original ball as it lies (or declare it unplayable and use one of the unplayable rule options).
If the original ball is found in a penalty area or known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area the player must play the original ball as it lies or take penalty relief under Rule 17.1d. If the player were to make further strokes with the provisional ball he or she would be playing a wrong ball and the general penalty would apply, loss of hole in match play and 2 strokes in stroke play.

Since January 2019 a player may go back and play a Provisional during the 3 minute search period but the timing continues.

March 2021

WRONG PUTTING GREEN

13.1f  Relief Must be taken from Wrong Green

Interference by a wrong green exists if any part of the player’s ball touches a wrong green or the wrong green interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or swing.
Relief MUST be taken, the player must NOT play the ball as it lies, not even with a putter. Drop the original ball or another ball in the Relief Area at the Nearest Point of Complete Relief in the same area of the course where the original ball came to rest, not nearer the hole.
See diagram below – P1 is the Reference Point, and the Relief Area is within one-club length of this point. The player must take complete relief and not be stood on the wrong green.  Image shows RELIEF FROM A WRONG GREEN for a right-handed player.

Wrong Green

 

February 2021

Rule 16.3 Embedded Ball

Relief is available for an Embedded Ball in the General Area (the Fairway AND the Rough) except when the ball is in sand in the General Area that is not cut to fairway height or less, OR there is interference from anything else such as a bush.

Embedded ball

Embedded Ball reliefIf the player is unsure whether or not the ball is embedded in its own pitch-mark as a result of the player’s previous stroke, and part of the ball is below the level of the ground, the player must first mark the ball, and is then allowed to lift the ball to check. The ball cannot be cleaned, unless on the Putting Green. If the ball is found to be embedded, relief is available as shown.

A ball is NOT embedded if it has been pushed into the ground because someone has stood on it, if it has been driven straight into the ground without becoming airborne, or has been dropped in taking relief under a Rule.

January 2021

Rule 17 PENALTY AREAS – Allowed and Prohibited Actions

Penalty area 1Penalty Area Penalty Relief Options were shown previously in the June 2020 Rule of the Month Blog but allowed and prohibited actions were not explained at that time. When the ball is in the Penalty Area a player may ground their club (not allowed in a bunker) and play the ball as it lies, if it is physically possible, without penalty.

As long as it is known or virtually certain that the ball is in the Penalty Area (95% sure) the player may use all the Options available depending on whether the Penalty Area has yellow or red stakes or lines.

penalty area 2 Penalty area 3

 

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 (natural objects) they will have to add a Penalty Stroke to their score and replace the ball. If the ball moves when moving a Movable Obstruction (man-made object) there is No Penalty but the ball must still be replaced.
When the ball is in a No-Play Zone in a Penalty Area the player must not play the ball as it lies, but must take Penalty Relief under 17.1d or 17.1e.

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.