USGA INSIDER RULES
Catch Up on Rules with Live Chat Transcript June 10, 2015 | FAR HILLS, N.J. By USGA

Are you entitled to take relief from a cartpath? Find out in the transcript of our Rules of Golf live chat. (USGA/Russell Kirk)

Whether you missed the June 2 "Rules of Golf Live Chat" with Rob Ockenfuss, manager, Rules Communications for the USGA, or just wanted to make sure you got the answers you were looking for the first time around, follow along with the full transcript of the busy hour-long session. Follow to the bottom and find out where you can gofor answers to your quesitons by Ockenfuss and his team.

Jun 2 2015, 1:18 PM

David, Moderator: Hello, I am David Chmiel, manager of Member content for the USGA. Welcome to our first Member Clubhouse Live Rules Chat! 
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 you to Rob Ockenfuss, manager of Rules Communications.

Jun 2 2015, 1:29 PM

David, Moderator: Okay, folks... one minute until we go live!

Jun 2 2015, 1:30 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Thank you David. 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.

Jun 2 2015, 1:30 PM

David, Moderator: Thanks, Rob. 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. We are thrilled to have received so many questions right away, so let's get started! @Susan has a question about how to handle a ball at rest moving in the fairway.

Jun 2 2015, 1:33 PM

Milton Shockley: what caused the ball to move?

Jun 2 2015, 1:33 PM

David, Moderator: If you are in the fairway, and someone's drive hits your ball, do you play it where it now lies or move it back to where it originally landed?

Jun 2 2015, 1:34 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Susan asked this question – You would replace the ball on the spot from which it was moved by the ball in motion – see Rule 18-5.

Jun 2 2015, 1:34 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: In this situation, the other ball is played as it lies without penalty – see Rule 19-5a.

Jun 2 2015, 1:34 PM

Stanley Skiba: Glad to participate

Jun 2 2015, 1:35 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Thanks @Stanley. We look forward to your questions.

Jun 2 2015, 1:35 PM

Steve Lindsey: Will we get a transcript of the chat?

Jun 2 2015, 1:35 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: The entire chat will be available in the Member Clubhouse after the event.

Jun 2 2015, 1:36 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Thanks for asking @Steve.

Jun 2 2015, 1:36 PM

John Kuzia: At my course, one hole has red lateral hazard stakes inside a tree line, in some areas by 20 feet. When a ball is hit into this are, I contend that a player cannot be 100% sure the ball is in the hazard and must treat it as a lost ball.

Jun 2 2015, 1:36 PM

Milton Shockley: great

Jun 2 2015, 1:36 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @John - This is a great example where the player may not be able to establish knowledge or virtual certainty. That being said, he does not need to be 100% certain that the ball is in the hazard.

Jun 2 2015, 1:36 PM

Steve Lindsey: Thanks!

Jun 2 2015, 1:37 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @John - Decision 26-1/1 will help you understand what the Rules mean by having knowledge or virtual certainty. In order for the player to proceed under the Water Hazard Rule, he must have knowledge or virtual certainty that his ball is at rest in the hazard. If he cannot, he must proceed under stroke and distance.

Jun 2 2015, 1:37 PM

David, Moderator: @Chris has a question: Is it permissible under Rule 8-2 for a Partner or a fellow competitor to be positioned on the line putt extended beyond the hole. Rule 8-2a seems to refer to "other than on Putting Green. Rule 8-2b is silent on the matter.

Jun 2 2015, 1:38 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Thank you @ Chris.

Jun 2 2015, 1:38 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: There is nothing in the Rules of Golf that prohibits a player from standing on the other side of the hole to watch his partner's putt, provided a mark is not placed anywhere to indicate a line for putting.

Jun 2 2015, 1:38 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: If the player placed a mark to indicate a line for putting, (i.e., he stands in a position beyond the hole for the purpose of pointing out a line for putting), his partner would be disqualified from the hole in four-ball match play or incur a two-stroke penalty in four-ball stroke play for a breach of Rule 8-2b.

Jun 2 2015, 1:39 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: There is nothing in the Rules of Golf that prohibits a player from standing beyond the hole to watch his opponent's putt in match play or fellow-competitor's putt in stroke play.

Jun 2 2015, 1:39 PM

David, Moderator: @Steve asks... When your ball is near an object where you're entitled to relief (e.g. Sprinkler head), are you allowed to alter your stance or swing from 'normal' in order to bring the object into play and thereby obtain relief?

Jun 2 2015, 1:40 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Steve. This is a pretty common question we get here at Golf House.

Jun 2 2015, 1:41 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: If you have interference by an immovable obstruction, like a sprinkler head or a cart path, but only through the use of an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play, you are not entitled to relief without penalty – see Exception to Rule 24-2.

Jun 2 2015, 1:42 PM

David, Moderator: @Matt has a sticky situation he hopes to get clarity on... Match play. Par 3. Player A hits his ball where it may be lost. Player B hits his ball onto the green. Player A hits a provisional ball onto the green, closer to the hole than Player B. Player A walks to the green and putts his ball while Player B is looking for Player A's ball, which he finds after Player A has already putted. I believe that Player A's provisional ball is now the ball in play and Player B can either make Player A re-putt or leave A's ball where it rests. The first ball, now found, isn't relevant at this point as it is now out of play. Player B cannot make Player A go back to the tee and tee off again. Am I correct?

Jun 2 2015, 1:42 PM

Steve Hopson: gotcha. thanks for the clarification.

Jun 2 2015, 1:43 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Matt. We receive quite a few questions about match play.

Jun 2 2015, 1:43 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: It sounds like you have the right understanding of the Rules in this situation!

Jun 2 2015, 1:44 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Once Player A made a stroke at his provisional ball from the place where the original ball was likely to be or from a point nearer the hole than that place, his original ball was lost – see Definition of Lost Ball. The provisional ball became his ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance – see Rule 27-2b.

Jun 2 2015, 1:44 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Since Player A played out of turn, Player B has the option to immediately require Player A to cancel the stroke so made and, in correct order, play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played – see Rule 10-1c.

Jun 2 2015, 1:45 PM

ROBERT VOLTL: I sent a question yesterday in advance - not sure if I should have sent it today but it dealt with my opponent in Match Play on the 18th hole, with the match all square, tapping down MY ball marker possibly out of nervousness since it was not in his line. My marker stuck to the bottom of his putter and he walked about 20 feet away with it before I noticed.

Jun 2 2015, 1:45 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Robert – From your question yesterday we know your opponent was not authorized to tap down your ball-marker, therefore your opponent would incur a one-stroke penalty – see Decision 20-1/6.5.

 

Jun 2 2015, 1:46 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: You would need to replace the ball-marker to its original position.

Jun 2 2015, 1:47 PM

ROBERT VOLTL: Thank you - wasn't sure if by moving my ball marker the putt was given.

Jun 2 2015, 1:49 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Robert the opponent moving the ball marker by tapping it down is not a concession.

Jun 2 2015, 1:49 PM

David, Moderator: @Jason has a follow-up... So, a one-stroke penalty in match play for tapping the ball marker and not loss of hole?

Jun 2 2015, 1:50 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Jason this is an example of a one-stroke penalty in match play.

Jun 2 2015, 1:50 PM

Milton Shockley: I wondered the same thing.

Jun 2 2015, 1:50 PM

Jason Holden: Interesting. Thank you

Jun 2 2015, 1:51 PM

Robert Halvaks: Question: My ball is in play with normal stance and swing outside of a hazard, however, a broken branch still connected to a tree in the hazard prevents me from taking a normal stance and swing. Is there relief?

Jun 2 2015, 1:51 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Robert, no, you are not entitled to free relief from the tree branch. When you say “in play,” I think you mean your ball was not in the water hazard…

Jun 2 2015, 1:51 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Therefore, you can play the ball as it lies and work around the tree branch or you can use the ball unplayable Rule, Rule 28.

Jun 2 2015, 1:52 PM

Robert Halvaks: That's correct my ball was not in the hazard.

Jun 2 2015, 1:53 PM

Kenneth Foley: Can a ball on the green be marked w/o the ball actually being on the green? I saw a case where the ball had been hit by another ball and moved off the green. A witness merely pointed to the place where the ball had been and the player set his coin down on the spot. Is this the correct way to mark a ball or was there a rules violation? Thanks.

Jun 2 2015, 1:54 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Kenneth. There is never a penalty for marking the position of a ball or marking the position where a ball should be before it is replaced.

Jun 2 2015, 1:54 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Kenneth. In the circumstances you ask about, where a player was required to replace his ball that had been moved by another ball, the player could have replaced the ball directly but incurs no penalty for marking the position first before replacing it.

Jun 2 2015, 1:57 PM

Kenneth Foley: Sounds like he could have placed the ball anywhere, then.

Jun 2 2015, 1:59 PM

Kenneth Foley: I thought the procedure called for retrieving the ball and placing on the spot it originally lay. Then you can put a coin behind the ball and proceed.

Jun 2 2015, 2:01 PM

David, Moderator: Hang on Kenneth, while we are working on the answer...

Jun 2 2015, 2:02 PM

Milton Shockley: I understood the rule to require you to replace the ball as close as possible to its original location.

Jun 2 2015, 2:02 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Kenneth. Rule 18-5 (Ball Moved By Another Ball) requires the ball be replaced on the spot from which it was moved. If the spot is not precisely known, it must be estimated and placed on that spot.

Jun 2 2015, 2:02 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @ Kenneth. The player cannot just place the ball anywhere he feels like.

Jun 2 2015, 2:02 PM

David, Moderator: This is great give-and-take, folks! We appreciate your support and encourage you to keep the questions coming... Now, we are going to @Jack with a question about bald spots on a putting green...

Jun 2 2015, 2:03 PM

Jack Ott: This winter on some courses caused "bald" spots on some greens. If your ball "on the green" lies in a bald spot, or your line of putt goes through a bald spot, are you allowed to move your ball, no closer to the hole, to the nearest spot where you ball lies on grass and your line of putt goes over grass?

Jun 2 2015, 2:03 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Jack – Typically, no. However, the Committee could declare these areas to be ground under repair. If ground under repair intervenes on your line of putt, you can take relief without penalty under Rule 25-1b(iii).

Jun 2 2015, 2:04 PM

David, Moderator: Just a quick reminder to all our Members... we are doing our best to manage the flow of questions and will try to get to everyone. Be patient and we will get your answers!

Jun 2 2015, 2:05 PM

Kenneth Foley: Milton, you have it right. I watched this happen in a televised PGA Tour event a couple of years ago. Freddie Couples is the player whose ball was moved. It was a bizarre sight to see him mark an invisible ball. I'm convinced there was a rules violation and no one caught it.

Jun 2 2015, 2:06 PM

Jason Holden: Does the same go for holes created on the green by, let's say geese!

Jun 2 2015, 2:07 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Jason The same applies to any type of abnormal ground condition. A hole made by a bird is automatically an abnormal ground condition.

Jun 2 2015, 2:07 PM

Kent Matsumoto: Hi Rob, if my opponent tees off from in front of or outside the teeing ground and his ball lands in play, is it my "election" to make him re-tee again? Or, may I say nothing and he plays the ball where it lands? If I ask him to re-tee, does he take a stroke? What are my options?

Jun 2 2015, 2:07 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Kent – In match play, if your opponent plays from outside the teeing ground, you may immediately require him to cancel the stroke and play a ball from within the teeing ground – see Rule 11-4a.

Jun 2 2015, 2:08 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: If you decide not to require him to cancel his stroke, your opponent would play his ball as it lies without penalty.

Jun 2 2015, 2:08 PM

David Dahle: In a 2 person best ball event a person said the partner could not stand behind his own partner while he made the putt to get the best read. It may have been during the captains choice part of the tournament. What is the rule?

Jun 2 2015, 2:09 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @David. “That person” was correct. Rule 14-2b does not permit your partner to stand behind you on an extension of the line of play or putt while you are making a stroke.

Jun 2 2015, 2:12 PM

Nelly Van Berlo: When a green has sand from a bunker or leaves in the way of my putting line, can i brush it with my hand or must i use my glove or a towel, what is the proper procedure so as to not incur a penalty?

Jun 2 2015, 2:12 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Nelly – It’s important to note sand is only a loose impediment when it lies on the putting green – see Definition of Loose Impediments.

Jun 2 2015, 2:13 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Therefore, you may remove sand from your line of putt with a towel or your glove provided you do not press anything down – see Rule 16-1a and Decision 16-1a/8.

Jun 2 2015, 2:13 PM

Nelly Van Berlo: Can i use my hand to brush it?

Jun 2 2015, 2:13 PM

Tom Fitzgerald: Tell Rory

Jun 2 2015, 2:14 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Nelly Yes as long as you don't press anything down.

Jun 2 2015, 2:14 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Tom Remember, Rory was off the green. That's not permitted.

Jun 2 2015, 2:14 PM

Richard Todd: Can you confirm the 'wrong ball, wrong place' rules? specifically if a player, upon finishing a hole, realizes he holed out with a ball that wasn't his. Can the appropriate penalties be assessed without requiring him to go back to his last known place (tee box) and replay the hole?

Jun 2 2015, 2:15 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Richard, you don’t correct the playing of a wrong ball in match play, you just lose the hole ...

Jun 2 2015, 2:15 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: In stroke play, if you play a wrong ball, you incur a two-stroke penalty and must correct this before you play a stroke on the next hole. If you didn’t have to correct the mistake, there is no way to determine what your score would have been.

Jun 2 2015, 2:16 PM

David, Moderator: Okay, folks... we are on the clock. We've got 15 minutes left, so please submit your questions -- and stay with us until the end so we can give you two other ways to gets answers until our next Live Chat!

Jun 2 2015, 2:17 PM

Stephen Birch: @Rob - As Tournament Chair I am frequently in charge of establishing the "teeing ground" under Section II definitions. However, I have seen many tournaments that do not allow adequate area for the player to hit under Rule 11. Is there a good rule of thumb on what constitutes a "legal" teeing ground?

Jun 2 2015, 2:18 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: The teeing ground is an area defined as a rectangular area two club-lengths in depth, the front and sides defined by the outermost limits of the two tee markers.

Jun 2 2015, 2:18 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Stephen The Committee is responsible for placing the tee markers and should ensure that the players have adequate space to play from.

Jun 2 2015, 2:19 PM

Kent Matsumoto: Great discussion! Thank you very much.

Jun 2 2015, 2:20 PM

David, Moderator: Here is one from @Richard... Par 3, longish, 200 yds. All in group agree that ball landed in the greenside bunker in front of the green. Can not find the ball in deep sand under the steep lip of the bunker. How do you proceed?

Jun 2 2015, 2:20 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Richard this can happen from time to time.

Jun 2 2015, 2:21 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Feel free to search for the ball for, at most, five minutes. If you need to search for or identify a ball covered by sand, you may touch or move the sand without penalty.

Jun 2 2015, 2:21 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: This could include using a club or a rake to dig in the sand.

Jun 2 2015, 2:22 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: If you are unable to find the ball within five minutes, the player must return to where he or she last played from and play a ball under penalty of stroke and distance.

Jun 2 2015, 2:22 PM

Milton Shockley: My tee shot on a dog-leg right hole ended up in the trees, right of the hole and underneath a small bush. I opted for an unplayable lie and a two club length relief. My competitor said I could have moved the ball as far back as I wanted, no closer to the hole, as long as I kept the hole in direct line on the relief. Is that an option?

Jun 2 2015, 2:23 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Milton: Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) provides three different options for relief if you deem your ball unplayable for a penalty of one stroke. The two club-length not nearer the hole option you chose is one most golfers are familiar with.

Jun 2 2015, 2:23 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Milton: The person you were playing with was right. One of your other options was to imagine a line starting from the hole through the location of your unplayable ball and drop as far behind your ball on that line as you wish.

Jun 2 2015, 2:24 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Milton: The third unplayable option is to play under stroke and distance, in other words go back to the spot of your last stroke.

Jun 2 2015, 2:24 PM

John Kuzia: In match play, an opponent's putt is conceded so as not to allow the opponent's partner to see the line. If the player whose putt was conceded putts anyway, what is the proper disposition of the Rules.

Jun 2 2015, 2:24 PM

Milton Shockley: Thank you. This is most informative.

Jun 2 2015, 2:24 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @John, in celebration of our inaugural Four-Ball Championships we recently completed … if your opponents concede your next stroke and you putt it out, this does not change your score on the hole … your stroke was already conceded.

Jun 2 2015, 2:25 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: However, if by putting you assist your partner, for example, by giving them the line or the speed, your partner is disqualified from the hole, Rule 30-3f.

Jun 2 2015, 2:25 PM

Jack Ott: I know that you are not entitled to relief from an immovable object that interferes with your line of play, rather than your stance and swing. However, many courses have sprinkler heads in the "first cut" that surrounds greens, an area where some players use putters. If there is no "local rule," are you entitled to any relief from sprinkler heads that interfere with your line of putt, but not your swing or stance

Jun 2 2015, 2:26 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Jack – If a sprinkler head interferes with your line of putt (meaning your ball is on the green), you are entitled to relief under Rule 24-2.

Jun 2 2015, 2:26 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Jack – However, if your ball is off the green and the Local Rule is not in effect (Appendix I; Part B; Item 6), you are not entitled to relief for interference with your line of putt.

Jun 2 2015, 2:27 PM

Michael Palmer: Ball comes to rest on a Cart path: Can you explain when, if ever, relief is given? Also, when penalty is applied or not?

Jun 2 2015, 2:27 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @Michael – a cart path is an immovable obstruction – see Definition of Obstructions.

Jun 2 2015, 2:27 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: So if your ball lies on the cart path or the cart path interferes with your stance or the area of your intended swing, you may take relief without penalty in accordance with Rule 24-2b.

Jun 2 2015, 2:28 PM

James Gurke: I sent two questions in yesterday regarding water hazards. If it appears to be a hazard, but is not marked with yellow stakes, how does one proceed?

Jun 2 2015, 2:28 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: @James this is another common question we receive.

Jun 2 2015, 2:29 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: If a water hazard is unmarked, it does not change its status as a water hazard.

Jun 2 2015, 2:30 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: If you find your ball is in or it is known or virtually certain to be in the hazard, you can use the water hazard rule...Rule 26-1.

Jun 2 2015, 2:30 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: This is explained by Decision 26/3.

Jun 2 2015, 2:30 PM

David, Moderator: Rob, on behalf of our Members, thanks so much for bringing clarity to these Rules of Golf questions. I am sure that they will be anxious for another session in the near future.

Jun 2 2015, 2:31 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: Thank you Dave. And thank you to everyone who participated in today's chat!

Jun 2 2015, 2:31 PM

Rob_Ockenfuss: I hope you found it to be informative!

Jun 2 2015, 2:31 PM

Milton Shockley: Absolutely! This is great service you have offered today.

Jun 2 2015, 2:32 PM

John Kuzia: Gentlemen, great job. I would also suggest more videos showing rules. This is a great vehicle for understanding.

Jun 2 2015, 2:32 PM

Jason Holden: Thanks, it was great!

Jun 2 2015, 2:32 PM

Robert Halvaks: This was great.

Jun 2 2015, 2:32 PM

ROBERT VOLTL: Look forward to the next session.

Jun 2 2015, 2:32 PM

David, Moderator: Thanks again to all of you for your support of the Member Clubhouse and the Rules Section. Your support is integral to preserving golf’s traditions. We apologize if we ran out of time before we could get to your question. 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 a regular dose of Rules information, visit usga.org/rules for a variety of interactive tools.