Rules Corner

Standing Tall

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On the green of Sahalee Country Club’s second hole, Dave Massey of Scottsdale, Ariz., inadvertently had his caddie standing behind him while he was putting. 

Decision 14-2/4 covers this exact situation.  It states the following:

14-2/4 Caddie Inadvertently Stands on Extension of Line of Play Behind Ball

Q. A player's caddie inadvertently stood on an extension of the player's line of play behind the ball when the player made a stroke. The caddie was watching another player play from the next tee. Neither the player nor his caddie was aware that the caddie was so located. Was the player subject to penalty under Rule 14-2b?

A. No. The purpose of Rule 14-2b is to prohibit a caddie from positioning himself behind the player while the player makes a stroke in order to advise the player on alignment or otherwise assist him. In this case, the caddie was not so positioned.

The same ruling would apply if the player's caddie inadvertently stood on an extension of the line of putt behind the ball during the stroke.

Massey’s walking referee determined there was no breach, however, he did advise the caddie to be much more careful about where he stands.

Playing Wrong Ball From A Bunker

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Some mornings start out a little bit better than others.

On Thursday, Jay Norman of White Bear Lake, Minn., had a tough start getting out of the gate.  He hit a ball into the left greenside bunker on the first hole.  His fellow competitor, Mike Diffley of Pelham Manor, N.Y. did the same.  Norman’s ball was away, or so he thought.  Norman hit the ball further away from the hole, exited the bunker and marked and lifted the ball on the green.  At that point, he realized the ball he was holding was not his ball.  

Norman told his walking referee of his situation.  The referee advised the players to recreate the lie which the ball had prior to the stroke in the bunker and place the ball in that lie in the bunker.  This is in accordance with Rule 20-3b.

Diffley was then able to play his own ball from the proper location and with the lie he had prior to Norman hitting his ball. Norman played his ball, which was still in the bunker, and incurred a two-stroke penalty for hitting a wrong ball (Rule 15-3).  He ended up with a total score of 7 on the hole. 

Up A Tree

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Sahalee Country Club is best known for its large red cedar and fir trees which line the fairways and on some holes, are in the fairway.  Don’t be surprised if a few shots this week hit these trees. 

But what happens if people see a ball go into a tree and get stuck in a branch?

When the player finds a ball in a tree branch he may not be able to identify it as his.  If he moves that ball and it is subsequently discovered to be his ball, he will be penalized one stroke for moving his ball in play and will be required to replace it.  If the player cannot replace the ball, he will then be penalized two strokes. All of this is in accordance with Rule 18 (Ball At Rest Moved). 

A player could avoid the penalty under Rule 18 by declaring his intention to proceed under Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) prior to taking action to move the ball. The Decisions On the Rules of Golf specifically addresses this situation with Decision 18-2a/27.

The player may find that the tree wins and he never finds his golf ball.  Ultimately, if the player cannot identify a ball as his within five minutes of searching for it (see the definition of Ball Lost), he will incur the penalty under Rule 27 (Lost Ball) which requires him to play a stroke from the spot where his previous stroke was played, better known as the “stroke-and-distance” penalty.  Here is a link to a video of Tommy Nakajima’s predicament during the 1987 U.S. Open Championship where the tree never gave up his golf ball. – Wendy Uzelac

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