Rules Corner

Practice Putting After Completion Of The Hole

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July 15, 2012

By John Van der Borght, USGA

Lake Orion – When Tom Watson completed play of the 11th hole of the final round of the U.S. Senior Open, he looked behind him and made sure that the group behind was not waiting. He then took a practice putt. His fellow competitor, Gary Hallberg, was surprised and asked the accompanying referee if this was allowed.

The referee explained that Rule 7-2a allows a player to practice on the putting green of the hole last played as along as play was not unduly delayed. Since the group was 15 minutes ahead of the pace of play and the group behind was not yet at their drives, there was no delay.

The reason Hallberg was surprised by this is that the PGA Tour prohibits this type of practice as they are permitted to do by Note 2 to Rule 7.  Note 2 allows the Committee to prohibit practice on or near the putting green of the hole last played and to prohibit rolling of balls on that putting green.

So unless the Committee prohibits it, you may practice putting on the putting green of the hole just completed as long as you don’t unduly delay play. If you do hold up the players behind you or cause your group to get behind, it would be a penalty under Rule 6-7.

For more information on the Rules of Golf, go to the Rules of Golf page at http://www.usga.org or watch the Rules of Golf videos at http://www.usga-rules.com/.

Written by John Van der Borght, manager of rules communications for the USGA.

 

Two Misses And One Double Hit

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July 14, 2012

Lake Orion, Mich. –The Rules define a stroke as “the forward movement of the club with the intention to striking at, and moving the ball.” During the second round of the U.S. Senior Open, two players attempted to strike their ball and missed it while another one hit his ball twice in one attempt.

On the 10th hole, after playing his second shot while standing in the lake alongside the fairway, Tom Watson’s ball came to rest in heavy rough alongside the putting green. Watson attempted to hit the ball, but it didn’t move. His second attempt reached the green and he two-putted for double bogey.

Larry Nelson left his putt for a birdie two on the 13th hole 1 inch short of the hole. He walked up and quickly tried to tap the ball into the hole, but missed the ball. Since he had intended to strike the ball, the stroke counted.

While both of these misses counted, Robert Fulton, not only didn’t miss his ball, he made contact twice during one stroke from the rough beside the 15 green. Rule 14-4 says that when a player accidentally makes contact with the ball more than once in the course of a stroke, the stroke counts and the player adds one penalty stroke. It doesn’t matter if the ball is struck two, three or even four times; the player only receives a single penalty stroke. Fulton went on to double bogey the hole.

All of these incidents can be embarrassing to the player. The irony of Fulton’s double hit is that this is the first U.S. Senior Open for T. C. Chen who had one of the most famous double hits in the 1985 U.S. Open just down the road at Oakland Hills Country Club. You can see that video of that famous incident here.

For more information on the Rules of Golf, go to the Rules of Golf page at http://www.usga.org or watch the Rules of Golf videos at http://www.usga-rules.com/.  

Written by John Van der Borght, manager of Rules communications for the USGA. 

  

Rules Incidents In First Two Rounds

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July 14, 2012

Lake Orion, Mich. – Each grouping or pairing at the U.S. Senior Open has a walking referee assigned to accompany it. Whenever the official is called on to make a ruling or he observes a player proceeding under a Rule, he records the facts and the ruling on a Rules Incident card. These cards are collected and the information is stored in a database.

Through the first two rounds, there were 133 incidents reported. In most cases, the incident was handled in under two minutes. There were 29 balls hit into the water hazards and lateral water hazards around the golf course. Eight balls were lost or hit out of bounds while five players chose to proceed under Rule 28 for an unplayable ball. In addition, there were 12 instances of a player receiving relief from a temporary immovable obstruction. Most of the rest have been for relief from obstructions, both movable ones like microphones and immovable ones such as cart paths or sprinkler heads.

The hole with the most incidents was the difficult par-4 12th hole. A large lateral water hazard lies just to the left of the drive zone. Sixteen balls have been hit into the hazard. The ninth hole with out of bounds to the right and the clubhouse behind has had the second-highest number of rulings with 13.

Having a referee with each group ensures that any time a player needs a ruling there is someone on the spot to assist them promptly. You will usually see these officials walking near the ropes with the walking scorer and standard bearer.

For more information on the Rules of Golf, go to the Rules of Golf page at http://www.usga.org or watch the Rules of Golf videos at http://www.usga-rules.com/.  

Written by John Van der Borght, manager of Rules communications for the USGA. 

  

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