USGA INSIDER RULES
2016 Rules of Golf Live Chat Transcript November 6, 2015 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By USGA

Have a question about rangefiners and GPS devices on the course? Check out the transcript for answers. (USGA photo)

Editor's Note: David Staebler, director of Education for the USGA's Rules department, answered questions from Members on Nov. 5. The 60-minute conversation covered a variety of topics, from changes to the 2016 edition of Rules of Golf to other long-standling guidelines. If you were unable to join the Live Chat or want clarification on the topics discussed, enjoy the read:

David Chmiel: Hello, I am David Chmiel, manager of Members content for the USGA. Welcome to our Rules of Golf Live Chat! Since the USGA and R&A confirmed on Oct. 26 which changes have been made to the Rules of Golf for 2016, we have gotten many calls and emails from interested golfers all over the world.

So, this is the perfect time to give USGA Members an hour-long forum for seeking clarity on the new Rules changes and to get answers to any other matters that have been on their minds. As always, we want to thank you for being committed to playing by the Rules of Golf, and for taking the time to seek the counsel of our Rules team today. I am thrilled to introduce David Staebler, director of Rules Education. David, thanks so much for leading our latest Chat.

Nov 5 2015, 1:31 PM

David_Staebler: Thank you, I'm excited to be here! The Rules team at the USGA is thrilled to engage with you today in this forum and look forward to the next hour of learning and discussion. We are thrilled to have received so many questions right away, so let's get started!

Nov 5 2015, 1:31 PM

David Chmiel: Thanks, David. Remember, folks, all questions submitted will be considered, but please respect that someone may ask your question first. We may run out of time before we answer your query, so stay with us until the end of the hour and we will tell you how to reach us with your questions.

Nov 5 2015, 1:32 PM

David Chmiel: OK, folks, we will kick off with one of the many questions we got in advance! @Dave has a question about Rule 6-6d – players submitting a scorecard when they were unaware that they had incurred a penalty stroke

Nov 5 2015, 1:33 PM

David_Staebler: Here @Dave's questions: Q. Hi Rules team. So, I hear that if I sign for a lower score next year, I’m not disqualified. Is that right?

Nov 5 2015, 1:34 PM

David_Staebler: Not in all cases. In fact, not in most cases.

Nov 5 2015, 1:35 PM

David_Staebler: In 2016 and beyond, you’ll still be responsible for the accuracy of your score card. If you return a score for any hole lower than actually taken, because you counted your strokes incorrectly, you will still be disqualified for returning an incorrect score card.

Nov. 5 2015, 1:35 PM

David_Staebler: However, in the rare circumstance that you return a score card and neglect to include one or more penalty strokes in your score on a hole because you were unaware of the penalty and this is discovered before the close of the competition, you will still be penalized, just not with disqualification. The Committee will add the penalty strokes you left off your score to your hole score and tack on an additional two penalty strokes to the same hole score for returning an incorrect score card.

Nov 5 2015, 1:36 PM

Connor Dolan: Can you provide a brief example?

Nov 5 2015, 1:38 PM

David Chmiel: Sure, David is working on it!

Nov 5 2015, 1:39 PM

David_Staebler: A player moves a loose impediment in a bunker, but did not realize it was a penalty prior to returning his score card.

Nov 5 2015, 1:40 PM

David_Staebler: In this case, since he was not aware of the penalty, he will receive a two-stroke penalty for moving the loose impediment, as well as a two-stroke penalty under Rule 6-6.

Nov 5 2015, 1:40 PM

David_Staebler: So, the player is penalized a total of four penalty strokes, but is not disqualified.

Nov 5 2015, 1:41 PM

Terry Lee: When using a long putter but not anchoring, and in the course of putting, your hand brushes your chest. Is that a penalty?

Nov 5 2015, 1:43 PM

David_Staebler: Thanks @Terry Lee for your question. Rule 14-1b prohibits anchoring the club or creating an anchor point in an intentional manner. If you unintentionally anchor the club by brushing your chest during the course of a stroke, you are not in breach of Rule 14-1b.

Nov 5 2015, 1:46 PM

David Chmiel: We have another anchoring question from @Nancy.

Nov 5 2015, 1:46 PM

David_Staebler: Here it is from @Nancy - I love my long putter … can I still use it after Jan. 1, 2016?

Nov 5 2015, 1:47 PM

David_Staebler: Yes! Rule 14-1b narrowly and only prohibits the use of anchored strokes as defined in Notes 1 and 2 of the Rule. Players remain free to use any currently conforming equipment (including long and mid-length putters) and all individual styles and methods of gripping and swinging the club, as long as they keep their club and hands gripping the club off their body and do not use a forearm to establish an anchor point.

Nov 5 2015, 1:48 PM

Harry Gianetti: If I'm playing in a competition that the local rules committee has allowed for an anchored stroke, are we still in accordance to the Rules of Golf

Nov 5 2015, 1:48 PM

David_Staebler: No, sorry.

Nov 5 2015, 1:49 PM

Harry Gianetti: Thanks, David, that's what I thought

Nov 5 2015, 1:49 PM

David Chmiel: Thanks for your questions, folks. We are about 20 minutes into the chat. Keep 'em coming! The next question is from Robert Strimer, about Rule 18-2b

Nov 5 2015, 1:50 PM

Robert Strimer: With the disappearance of Rule 18-2b, in all cases of the ball moving, will there need to be a preponderance of evidence that the player caused the ball to move? Under 18-2b, there needed to be a preponderance of evidence that something other than the player moved the ball, but that seems no longer to be the case.

Nov 5 2015, 1:50 PM

David_Staebler: With the removal of Rule 18-2b, if a ball at rest moves after the player addresses it, the player is no longer automatically deemed to have caused the ball to move.

Nov 5 2015, 1:51 PM

David_Staebler: However, a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 will be applied if the facts show that the player has caused the ball to move.
All relevant information must be considered and the weight of the evidence must be evaluated

Nov 5 2015, 1:51 PM

David_Staebler: If the weight of evidence indicates that it is more likely than not that the player caused the ball to move, even though that conclusion is not free from doubt, the player incurs a one-stroke penalty under Rule 18-2 and the ball must be replaced.

Nov 5 2015, 1:51 PM

David_Staebler: Otherwise, the player incurs no penalty and the ball is played as it lies unless some other Rule applies

Nov 5 2015, 1:52 PM

David_Staebler: There will be a New Decision 18-2/0.5 titled “Weight of Evidence Standard for Determining Whether Player Caused His Ball to Move,” which will provide examples of situation involving the weight of evidence test.

Nov 5 2015, 1:52 PM

David Chmiel: This is a popular topic! Here is another question, from @Wendy.

Nov 5 2015, 1:52 PM

Wendy Dominick: I am curious to know whether gravity will still not be considered a "legitimate" agency. Specifically, a player is very near the ball and addresses it or takes practice swing, then says gravity moved it. Same as before?

Nov 5 2015, 1:53 PM

David_Staebler: Thanks, Wendy! Anytime a ball moves, you will need to determine if you caused it to move.

Nov 5 2015, 1:54 PM

David_Staebler: For example, if you address your ball on the putting green and your ball moves immediately, it is more likely than not that you are the cause of the movement and would be in breach of Rule 18-2.

Nov 5 2015, 1:54 PM

David_Staebler: However, take the example where you address your ball on the green and then back away to look over your line of putt. Ten seconds later, the ball begins rolling down a slope away from the hole. In this case, because of the slope (which takes into account gravity), it would indicate that it is more likely than not that you are not the cause of the movement and would play the ball as it lies.

Nov 5 2015, 1:55 PM

David Chmiel: Okay, I think we have that covered ... but we are back to Rule 6-6d from @JShore...

Nov 5 2015, 1:55 PM

J Shore: What happens if TV shows it on replay, and someone calls in the next day to report it? Would the player be penalized then?

Nov 5 2015, 1:55 PM

Wendy Dominick: Yes, Okay ... that answers my question precisely!

Nov 5 2015, 1:56 PM

David_Staebler: J. Shore, If a violation is shown on television or comes to light through any other means such as a spectator reporting it or the player realizing that he violated a Rule after he returned his score card, the Committee would need to talk with the player to ensure that he was not aware of the facts or that what he did was a penalty. If that was the case, he would incur the penalty for the violation and two more strokes under Rule 6-6d.

Nov 5 2015, 1:56 PM

David_Staebler: If he did know the facts and that it was a penalty to do what he did and merely forgot to include it on his score card, he would be disqualified.

Nov 5 2015, 1:56 PM

David Jungk: In Four-Ball stroke play, A and B are partners. Their scorecard is returned showing a 4 for A and a 5 for B on a particular hole. It is subsequently determined that A failed to include a two-stroke penalty he did not know he had incurred. Is the team's score now 8 (4+2+2), or does it revert to B's score of 5?

Nov 5 2015, 1:57 PM

David_Staebler: Thanks @David Jungk. This is a great question. The side’s score would be 8 for the hole – the score of four would have counted initially so we will continue to use that score, even if a penalty is applied under Rule 6-6d. Essentially, we throw out B’s score of 5.

Nov 5 2015, 1:57 PM

David_Staebler: Now, if B also scored a 4 on the hole, the Committee would use B’s score of 4 on this hole, as it could have initially been used by the side before the Rule 6-6d issue arose.

Nov 5 2015, 1:58 PM

J Shore: Is that the case after the competition closes, e.g., the day after?

Nov 5 2015, 1:59 PM

David_Staebler: J. Shore, Rule 34-1b(iii) covers that. If the competition is closed, a player is not penalized for a penalty of less than disqualification that he was not aware of before the competition closes.

Nov 5 2015, 2:00 PM

Russell Wing: Over the years, it has been said that the Rules are way too complicated, and that they should be significantly simplified. That didn't happen with these revisions. What is the status of that simplification effort?

Nov 5 2015, 2:01 PM

David_Staebler: Thanks for the question, Russell. As we have been communicating for the past couple of years, the USGA and the R&A continue to work toward ways to modernize the Rules, including ways to make them easier to understand.

Nov 5 2015, 2:02 PM

David Chmiel: We are halfway through the hour. @TerryLee has another question, but keep them coming.

Nov 5 2015, 2:02 PM

Terry Lee: Can you clarify the use of a range finder which also measures slope?

Nov 5 2015, 2:03 PM

David_Staebler: The change will now allow you to use a distance-measuring device in compliance with the Rules that is capable of measuring slope (or some other condition not permitted) as long as those functions are not used during your round.

Nov 5 2015, 2:04 PM

David_Staebler: As long as the Local Rule allowing such devices is in effect.

Nov 5 2015, 2:05 PM

David Chmiel: We have another distance-measuring device question, as submitted by @Liz.

Nov 5 2015, 2:06 PM

Liz: David, thanks for taking my question. My least favorite rule is the one involving artificial devices, but I hear it’s changing. Can you explain how?

Nov 5 2015, 2:06 PM

David_Staebler: Liz, there are a couple of minor changes to the title and wording in the first part of Rule 14-3. However, the major change in 2016 is with the penalty statement.

Nov 5 2015, 2:07 PM

David_Staebler: The first time a player breaches this Rule during a round, the penalty will be loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play, not disqualification.

Nov 5 2015, 2:07 PM

David_Staebler: Any subsequent breach during the same round, however, will result in disqualification. In other words, one mistake will hurt you, but two mistakes will send you home.

Nov 5 2015, 2:08 PM

Pamela Travers: Rule 3-3 change in wording from must to should: Could you explain the rationale for and significance of this change

Nov 5 2015, 2:08 PM

David_Staebler: Pamela, that's one of my favorite Rules!

Nov 5 2015, 2:08 PM

David_Staebler: The reason for this change is that there is not a penalty for failing to announce or select a ball. However, to utilize the full benefit of the Rule, you "should" select which ball you wish to score with. The revision to "should" from "must" is a better reflection of how the Rule works.

Nov 5 2015, 2:09 PM

David Chmiel: Great to see which rules David is in favor of!  Folks, let us know what your favorite rules are!

Nov 5 2015, 2:09 PM

Raymond Coates: How do you tell if the forearms are used as an anchor point?

Nov 5 2015, 2:10 PM

David_Staebler: @Raymond, If a player intentionally holds a forearm in contact with any part of his body to establish a gripping hand as a point around which the club is swung, an anchor point has been created – this is a breach of Rule 14-1b and is not allowed.

Nov 5 2015, 2:10 PM

David_Staebler: In other words, you can’t hold your forearm against your body to create a point that will allow you to swing the club like a pendulum – around this anchor point.

Nov 5 2015, 2:11 PM

Lindsay Bekken: My favorite rule is, play the ball as it lies.

Nov 5 2015, 2:11 PM

David Chmiel: Oh, a real traditionalist! Who else wants to share their favorites?

Nov 5 2015, 2:12 PM

David_Staebler: That's Rule 13-1, if you want to look it up.

Nov 5 2015, 2:12 PM

Connor Dolan: I like Rule 20 because of its complexity

Nov 5 2015, 2:13 PM

David Chmiel: We have roughly 15 minutes left and we can focus on rules changes, but does anyone have anything on their mind that does not pertain to the changes?

Nov 5 2015, 2:14 PM

Wendy Dominick: There is no longer a reference to temperature in 14-3/16. Does this mean that I can now carry a thermometer?

Nov 5 2015, 2:15 PM

David_Staebler: Wendy,

That is correct. It has been determined that knowing the temperature will not significantly assist you in your play. This is similar to the change in 2014 that allowed a compass to be used.

Nov 5 2015, 2:16 PM

David Chmiel: @Jim has a question about when a ball at rest is moved ...

Nov 5 2015, 2:16 PM

David_Staebler: My ball is off the green. The player behind me whose ball is also off the green hit my ball with his ball. My ball rolls onto the green. Am I required to replace my ball back to the spot off the green?

Nov 5 2015, 2:17 PM

David_Staebler: Yes, @Jim, you need to replace your ball – see Rule 18-5 (Ball at Rest Moved by Another Ball). You need to play your ball from the place where it came to rest after your last stroke. The player whose ball struck yours will play their ball as it lies – see Rule 19-5a (Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped by Another Ball). Neither of you incur a penalty in this situation.

Nov 5 2015, 2:17 PM

Howard Meditz: I have always wished that a drop from an embedded ball could be made from within one club length, no closer, to limit the likelihood that the ball would end up closer to the hole (or back in the hole it came from) and have to be dropped yet again. Seems more expedient. Any chance?

Nov 5 2015, 2:18 PM

David_Staebler: Thanks, @Howard Meditz! Maybe ... that's a good suggestion.

Howard Meditz: Thanks, my suggestion would apply to a drop after an OB strike as well!

Nov 5 2015, 2:19 PM

Steve Ikard: Player in WH moves one of many small rocks near his ball. He is told he gets a two-stroke penalty. So, he then moves all the other rocks since he has already been penalized and does not receive any further penalty for that egregious action. Why not?

Nov 5 2015, 2:19 PM

David_Staebler: Actually, Steve, because he has been told this is not OK, the player would incur an additional two-stroke penalty.

Nov 5 2015, 2:19 PM

Nov 5 2015, 2:20 PM

Don Erbach: Reference to "line for putting" replaced with "line of putt". Any explanation?

Nov 5 2015, 2:20 PM

David_Staebler: Don, “line for putting” and “line of putt” were similar terms with somewhat similar meanings. Upon consideration, it was determined that just using the defined term “line of putt” effectively describes the prohibition in Rule 8-2b.

Nov 5 2015, 2:21 PM

Ron Koontz: Rule 26-2a seems to imply that I can still take relief from a hazard after taking multiple strokes within the hazard, as long as I count the strokes in the hazard and add a penalty stroke. Is this correct?

Nov 5 2015, 2:21 PM

David_Staebler: Yes, you understand the Rule.

Nov 5 2015, 2:23 PM

David Chmiel: We have another anchoring question, this one from @Kathryn.

Nov 5 2015, 2:23 PM

Kathryn Sartain: If I could go back to the anchoring point situation: I overheard a very good player talking about whether or not he could grab his shirt for stabilization with the same hand that holds the top of his long putter and pull it away from his body so that it does not touch. My feeling is that this would still be prohibited. Is that correct?

Nov 5 2015, 2:25 PM

David_Staebler: Thanks, Kathryn. It's important to point out that this is not a Rule 14-1b issue, but rather a 14-3 question.

Nov 5 2015, 2:26 PM

David_Staebler: Intentionally using a gripping hand to hold an article of clothing worn on any part of the body while making a stroke is a breach of Rule 14-3.

Nov 5 2015, 2:26 PM

Kathryn Sartain: OK, good. I see. Thanks.

Nov 5 2015, 2:26 PM

David_Staebler: There will be a new Decision 14-1b/7 which clarifies this.

Nov 5 2015, 2:27 PM

David Chmiel: Okay, folks down to our final five minutes! If you haven't gotten an answer to your question yet, don't worry. We will make sure that all questions in the queue are addressed, even if we run out of time.

Nov 5 2015, 2:27 PM

Chet Murawski: Can anyone declare themselves on the first tee as a caddie, but do nothing in terms of duties of a caddie but simply walk with the competitor, offering no advice but casual talk?

Nov 5 2015, 2:29 PM

David_Staebler: Assuming caddies are not prohibited, the player can have a caddie and there are many things a caddie can do to assist the player, but the caddie is not required to do anything. Sounds like a bad caddie to me!

Nov 5 2015, 2:30 PM

Edward Pernal: In a flighted tournament, can a player in Flight A also be a caddie for a player in the same pairing who is in Flight B?

Nov 5 2015, 2:31 PM

David_Staebler: Edward, Decision 6-4/8 allows a player to caddie for another player who is playing at a different time.

Nov 5 2015, 2:31 PM

David Chmiel: Can't believe this hour has flown by! Thanks again to all of you for your support of the Member Clubhouse and the Rules Section. We apologize if we ran out of time before we could get to your question. If you still have a pressing question you need answered, please contact the Rules team by phone at 908-326-1850 or via email at rules@usga.org. , Visit http://www.rulesofgolf.com for a regular dose of Rules information, a variety of interactive tools and to download our free Rules of Golf mobile app available on iTunes and Google Play.

Nov 5 2015, 2:31 PM

Wendy Dominick: Thanks!

Nov 5 2015, 2:31 PM

Lindsay Bekken: Thank you!

Nov 5 2015, 2:31 PM

Robert Halvaks: Thank you.

Nov 5 2015, 2:32 PM

Connor Dolan: Thanks

Nov 5 2015, 2:32 PM

Michael Flaherty: Thank you

Nov 5 2015, 2:32 PM

Raymond Coates: Thanks

Nov 5 2015, 2:32 PM

Robert Szymanek: Thanks

Nov 5 2015, 2:32 PM

Howard Meditz: Great that you folks are so accessible

Nov 5 2015, 2:32 PM

Terry Lee: Thanks.

Nov 5 2015, 2:32 PM

Russell Wing: Thanks.