USGA INSIDER RULES
Read Rules of Golf Live Chat Transcript June 3, 2016 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By David Chmiel

Not sure what to do if you are near a lateral hazard? You can learn a lot from our Rules of Golf  live chats. (USGA/Russell Kirk)

On June 2, Kathryn Belanger, associate manager of Rules communication, took part in one of the Member Clubhouse members-exclusive Rules of Golf Live Chat sessions. As usual, your commitment to the Rules of Golf and your questions made the hour fly by. Couldn’t make the chat? No worries… here is the full transcript of what you missed (and stay tuned for more members-only live chats throughout the year):

Jun 2 2016, 1:01 PM

David Chmiel: Hi everyone, I am David Chmiel, manager of member content for the USGA. Great to see you early birds at the gate! I will be moderating today's live chat and am ready for a lively discussion on the Rules of Golf! We will be ready to rock in 30 minutes!

Jun 2 2016, 1:16 PM

David Chmiel: Fifteen minutes until liftoff, folks. Get your questions and situations ready for our hour of Rules talk!

Jun 2 2016, 1:21 PM

Wendy Dominick: I'm looking forward to this. The last one was excellent. When can I type in my first question?

Jun 2 2016, 1:21 PM

Scott Newman: I'd like to know that too. Can we submit questions prior to the live chat?

Jun 2 2016, 1:23 PM

David Chmiel: Wendy, great to see that you are joining us again! I hope that you are doing well. We will get this going live at 1:30 EDT on the dot! In the meantime, to answer Scott's question, you all can start submitting questions right now and we will get them answered in the order they arrive.

Jun 2 2016, 1:28 PM

David Chmiel: Okay, everyone, let's get started. We are thrilled to have Kathryn Belanger, assistant manager of Rules Department. Welcome Kathryn!

Jun 2 2016, 1:33 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Thanks David.

Jun 2 2016, 1:33 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Excited to be here!

Jun 2 2016, 1:33 PM

David Chmiel: Thanks, Kathryn. Now let’s get to the Rules of Golf…
But first, here are some rules about today’s discussion. All questions submitted will be considered, but please respect that someone may ask your question first and appreciate that we might run out of time before we answer your query. If we don’t get to you, stay with us until the end of the hour and we will tell you how to reach us with your questions.

Jun 2 2016, 1:34 PM

David Chmiel: Here is the first question, which we received in advance: I play a public course where unfortunately people don't fix their ball marks on the green. Is it legal to fix them if they are in my line or elsewhere on the putting green?

Jun 2 2016, 1:34 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Absolutely!

Jun 2 2016, 1:34 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Rule 16-1c permits a player to repair an old plug or damage to the putting green caused by the impact of a ball, whether or not the player’s ball lies on the putting green. Additionally, Rule 16-1a permits the player to touch his line of putt in repairing old plug holes or ball marks on the putting green.

Jun 2 2016, 1:36 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: In the Etiquette Section; Care of the Course, we encourage all players to repair any divot holes made by them and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball, whether or not the damage was made by the player himself.

Jun 2 2016, 1:36 PM

David Chmiel: Okay, let's keep this rolling... here is the next question: Last year, on the 18th hole of Match Play, with the match at all-square, my opponent took his putter and tapped on the top of my ball marker; the marker was not in his line so it was not in an attempt to tap down the silver dollar or large ball marker I was using. My ball marker "stuck" to the bottom of his putter as he continued walking away. He claimed no intent and it should be replaced, no penalty. I claimed the putt given. What should the correct ruling have been?

Jun 2 2016, 1:38 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Although Rule 18-3b (Ball at Rest Moved by an Opponent Other Than During Search) does not apply to ball-markers, since the marker was moved so that it no longer accurately marked the position of your ball, in equity (Rule 1-4), your opponent would incur a one-stroke penalty – see Decision 20-1/6.5.

Jun 2 2016, 1:39 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: That said, unless a claim was made before both of you left the 18th putting green, the holes stands as played.

Jun 2 2016, 1:41 PM

Jeffrey McNulty: Does the same hold true in a bunker if your ball lies in a footprint?

Jun 2 2016, 1:42 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Unfortunately, no.

Jun 2 2016, 1:42 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: If smoothing the footprint would improve the lie of your ball or area of intended stance or swing in the bunker, you may not smooth it before your stroke – see Rule 13-4.

Jun 2 2016, 1:43 PM

David Chmiel: @Scott Newman is next in line...

Jun 2 2016, 1:43 PM

Scott Newman: Thanks David. Two questions: I am a Rules Official for our State Golf Association. Someone asked me why the Rules of Golf allow players to draw a line on their golf ball. I didn't have a good answer for him. It does seem very similar to drawing a line on the ground, laying a club down, or using leaving a ball marker on the green to indicate the direction to putt.

Jun 2 2016, 1:43 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Scott, there is nothing in the Rules that prohibits the drawing of a line on a ball. Decision 20-3a/2 (Using Line on Ball for Alignment) specifically addresses this question and says it is permitted.

Jun 2 2016, 1:44 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Additionally the Rules encourage players to put an identifying mark on their ball and does not limit how this may be done.

Jun 2 2016, 1:45 PM

David Chmiel: @Ryan Gregg has a question about when a club can be declared out of play...

Jun 2 2016, 1:46 PM

Ryan Gregg: In relation to Decision 4-4c/1: What if the player arrives at the tee, counts his clubs and then discovers that he has 15. He places his excess club on the floor of the cart. He makes a stroke on the first tee and then while driving to his ball, notifies his fellow-competitor, sharing the cart, the club lying on the floor of the cart is out of play. Has this player violated Rule 4-4?

Jun 2 2016, 1:47 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: In these circumstances, Ryan, if the player’s intention was to declare the club out of play by placing it on the floor of the cart and he is simply informing his fellow-competitor after the tee shot, the player has properly declared the club out of play and there would be no penalty under Rule 4-4c.

Jun 2 2016, 1:50 PM

David Chmiel: Folks, these are all great questions and we are looking forward to more. Next on the tee is @SteveIkard...

Jun 2 2016, 1:50 PM

Steve Ikard: Kathryn, if the player authorized his opponent to press down his ball marker and the ball marker stuck to the opponent's putter, then there is no penalty to either. (20-1/6.5)

Jun 2 2016, 1:50 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Correct Steve. If it was authorized by the player, there is no penalty to either player – see Decision 20-1/6.

Jun 2 2016, 1:51 PM

Tim Brewer: Has there been any talk about a rule change for regular golfers on lost balls; going from stroke plus distance to playing from where the foursome agrees the ball should have been found with a two-stroke penalty; allowing for quicker play.

Jun 2 2016, 1:51 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: @ Tim - the Rules of Golf Committees never stop talking about alternatives, including that which you have suggested. Unfortunately, while this "agreement between players" may work among a group of good friends, in the heat of a competition, players would regularly disagree with the location of the ball that has not been found.  Additionally, it is quite common to find a ball a great distance from where it was thought to have come to rest, which would also be an undesirable outcome. In the end, the Committees continue to circle back to stroke and distance as the only equitable solution to a lost ball.

Jun 2 2016, 1:54 PM

David Chmiel: We are closing in on our first 30 minutes, so please keep the questions coming! @KennethFoley is next...

Jun 2 2016, 1:55 PM

Kenneth Foley: Since so many issues are only clarified in the Decisions reference, is that resource available anywhere for us amateurs to use?

Jun 2 2016, 1:55 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Yes – the Rules are always free and the Decisions are available on our website for free. You also can purchase them for $1.99 in our Rules of Golf app. We will be sharing links for both at the end of the chat.

Jun 2 2016, 1:56 PM

Robert Halvaks: Please review relief, if any, from immovable obstructions just off the putting green, such as sprinkler heads, that may impede stance or intended line of play. Thanks.

Jun 2 2016, 1:56 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Thanks, Robert. When the Local Rule is in effect providing relief from an immovable obstruction close to the putting green, a player is entitled to relief if they have interference as defined in Rule 24-2a.  Additionally, relief would be granted if a ball lies through the green and an obstruction on or within two club-lengths of the putting green and within two club-lengths of the ball intervenes on the line of play between the ball and the hole.

Jun 2 2016, 1:58 PM

David Chmiel: @JeffMcNulty is ready with another question on taking relief from a cart path...

Jun 2 2016, 1:58 PM

Jeffrey McNulty: If your ball lies on a cart path, does the drop have to be on the nearest point of relief even if that relief is in thick grass or a hazard?

Jun 2 2016, 1:59 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: The nearest point of relief is not the "nicest point of relief." So, the player must drop within one club length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole,even if that point results in a bad lie (see Decision 24-2b/3). In addition, the nearest point of relief cannot be in a hazard and the ball cannot be dropped in a hazard when dropping within one club length. This is described in Rule 24-2b.

Jun 2 2016, 2:01 PM

David Chmiel: @Ryan Gregg is back with a question regarding Rule 3-3...

Jun 2 2016, 2:01 PM

Ryan Gregg: In regards to Rule 3-3: A player caused her ball to move. Not sure if it should be replaced or played from its new location, she announced that she would proceed under Rule 3-3. She played the original ball from where the ball had been moved and placed a new ball and played from the location of where the original ball had been moved from. If she fails to announce which ball she wishes to count or she chooses the original ball (from its new location) to count would the Rules permit this ball to count?

Jun 2 2016, 2:01 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Ryan, Rule 3-3 makes sure if a penalty is involved in the play of one ball and no penalty with the other ball, the ball played without penalty is the one the player will score with. In the case you bring up, the player has already incurred a one-stroke penalty since his ball moved. His reason to play two balls is to attempt to avoid additional penalty. Rule 3-3 will select the ball put back to the original position, since it will be played with no additional penalty, while the ball played from the new location will be assessed a total penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

Jun 2 2016, 2:04 PM

Lindsay Bekken: I hit a provisional ball in case my drive was lost. I found my ball but it was unplayable with no relief in sight. Can I hit the provisional ball or do I have to go back to the tee and hit another?

Jun 2 2016, 2:04 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Thanks, Lindsay. Unfortunately, in this case since the original ball is neither lost nor out of bounds, you must abandon the provisional and continue with the original ball – see Rule 27-2c. If the ball is in an unfavorable position, you may proceed under any of the available three options of Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable), for penalty of one stroke.

Jun 2 2016, 2:06 PM

Wendy Dominick: My question is about 10-2 and an agreement to play “ready golf”. Is a blanket agreement to play “ready golf”, thus ignoring 10-2, a breach of 1-3? The reference under 1-3 to see 10-2c indicates this is acceptable. Is that correct? If so, what are a player’s rights as to insisting on playing in proper order in certain circumstances? For example, I might not have the honor on a par 3 and I don’t want to go first. I’m ready, but my fellow competitor is not. Is it okay to suspend the ready-golf agreement?

Jun 2 2016, 2:08 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Thanks for your question, Wendy. There is no penalty if the players play out of turn in stroke play, unless they agree to do so to give one of them an advantage (Rule 10-2c).

Jun 2 2016, 2:09 PM

David Chmiel: @BruceJacobson has a question for Kathryn about ballmarkers and their dimensions...

Jun 2 2016, 2:10 PM

Bruce Jacobson: Kathyrn, is there any limitation to the size or shape of ball markers? It becomes annoying when golfers use large markers (i.e. poker chips) than constantly need to be moved from your line.

Jun 2 2016, 2:10 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: While we recommend a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object should be used to mark the position of a ball to be lifted, there are no limitations regarding the size or shape of a ball-marker – see Decision 20-1/16. However, the Etiquette Section of the Rule Book states that "players should always show consideration for other players." So, the ball-marker should not be a distraction for opponents or fellow-competitors.

Jun 2 2016, 2:13 PM

David Chmiel: Folks, please keep the questions coming... In the meantime, Kathryn would like to share a few Rules-related situations that you might see players encounter during the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.

Jun 2 2016, 2:14 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: At Oakmont, you’ll see a lot of lateral water hazards with grass, but no water – unless Mother Nature has other plans. We’ve gotten a number of questions related to these hazards. The Rules don’t require a water hazard to contain water at all times. It simply is any sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open water course whether or not containing water. Since these areas are ditches that meet the definition of a water hazard, they will be defined as such. Many players will opt to play the ball from the hazard rather than proceed under Rule 26-1. They’ll have to remember not to touch the ground in the hazard or remove a loose impediment in the hazard.

Jun 2 2016, 2:16 PM

David Chmiel: Thanks, Kathryn... but what happens when a player winds up in the grassy “pews” section of the famed "Church Pew" bunkers?

Jun 2 2016, 2:16 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: These are also interesting from a Rules perspective. Any grass covered ground in a bunker is not part of the bunker. This means the pews are through the green and not part of the bunker. If a player’s ball lies on a “pew,” the ball is not in the bunker, so the restrictions in Rule 13-4 don’t apply. The player can take practice swings while touching the ground or remove a loose impediment.

Jun 2 2016, 2:18 PM

Harold Anderson: I have a question about altering the club. For example, [what about] swinging in heavy grass to “juice the face” to help a chip run, or swinging in a bunker (when the ball is not in hazard) to grit the face for stop-spin? Or, more intently, pouring water into sand and then packing it onto the [club]face. These are all natural materials being used purposefully to affect the ball. [Do these present] any problems with Rules?

Jun 2 2016, 2:18 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: @ Harold, Rule 4-2 prohibits making a stroke when foreign material has been applied to the club face for the purpose of influencing the movement of the ball, including "juicing the face." This Rule requires the intent by the player and, in each of the scenarios above, you would need to know if the player performed these acts for that purpose. If he has, it is a breach. If not, there is no breach.

Jun 2 2016, 2:20 PM

David Chmiel: @Ryan Gregg has been patiently waiting for an answer to his question about declaring a club out of play. We have an answer for you, Ryan...

Jun 2 2016, 2:20 PM

Ryan Gregg: Back to my 4-4c/1 question… The player is aware he has 15 clubs in his bag at the driving range. Well aware that he can only start with 14, he turns the club upside down in his bag or places it on the floor of the cart and drives to the first tee. So, in this case, where the extra club was known well in advance of the start, can the player declare the club out of play and still carry it upside down or on the floor of the cart without penalty?

Jun 2 2016, 2:21 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Ryan, since these facts do not meet the narrow circumstances in that Decision, the player would be in breach of Rule 4-4c.

Jun 2 2016, 2:21 PM

Jon Ambos: After watching the NCAA's Men's Championship last night, where there was an injury prior to teeing off and he couldn't play and as such forfeited his match. Are there any rules covering injuries in team play, or are these local rules - like the Ryder Cup where the match would be halved?

Jun 2 2016, 2:22 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Jon, Rule 33-1 says, “The Committee must establish the conditions under which a competition is to be played.” In team competitions, such as yesterday’s NCAA golf championship, eligibility is a condition of competition. The Rules leave this matter entirely up to the Committee. The conditions the NCAA Committee decided prior to the start of the championship included not allowing substitution for injured players. Several of my colleagues are Oregon fans but that hasn’t influenced my answer.

Jun 2 2016, 2:23 PM

Dave Parsons: The other day my ball was on the green and my buddy’s ball was off the green, but closer to the hole than my ball. I thought he had to play first since his ball wasn’t on the green yet. Is that right?

Jun 2 2016, 2:24 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Good question @Dave – this is one we get fairly often. The ball farthest from the hole is played first (regardless of its position on the course) – see Rule 10-1b and Rule 10-2b. So in this case, it was actually your turn to play.

Jun 2 2016, 2:25 PM

Kenneth Foley: Please explain in detail what the procedure is for replacing and marking a ball on a green that has been knocked away by a playing competitor’s ball.

Jun 2 2016, 2:25 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: Kenneth, if a ball in play and at rest is moved by another ball in motion after a stroke, the moved ball must be replaced.  On the putting green, If it is impossible to determine the location where the ball is to be replaced, the spot must be estimated and the ball must be placed on that spot – see Rule 20-3c(iii).

Jun 2 2016, 2:27 PM

David Chmiel: Here is another from the batch of advance questions… Hi, in stroke play, if a playing competitor in my group marks my ball on the green, is he required to replace the ball himself or am I allowed to do so?

Jun 2 2016, 2:28 PM

Kathryn_Belanger: A ball to be replaced under the Rules must be replaced by any one of the following: (i) the person who lifted or moved the ball, (ii) the player, or (iii) the player's partner – see Rule 20-3a. In the situation you describe, either you or the player who lifted the ball may replace it.

Jun 2 2016, 2:30 PM

David Chmiel: As always, this hour has flown by! We truly appreciate the passion of our USGA members. If you haven't had your questions answered, we can help...

Jun 2 2016, 2:31 PM

David Chmiel: If you still have a pressing question, please contact the Rules team by phone at 908-326-1850 or via email at rules@usga.org. For more Rules information, click with the Rules Department for answers. You can also check out Our video series, “The Rules of Golf Explained,” at http://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub.html#rulesexplained). Download the Rules for free on Apple and Android devices.

Jun 2 2016, 2:32 PM

David Chmiel: Thanks again, everyone! We will look forward to our next live chat!

David Chmiel is manager of member content for the USGA. Contact him at dchmiel@usga.org.

 

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