THE COMMITTEE; GENERAL
Removal of Casual Water or Loose Impediments on Putting Green by Committee
Q.If casual water, leaves, sand or other loose impediments accumulate on a putting green during a round, would it be appropriate for the Committee to remove them?
A.Yes. The Committee may do what is necessary to eliminate the condition, e.g., use a squeegee or brush or blow the surface of the putting green. It is not necessary for the Committee to suspend play to take these actions.
In such cases, the Committee may, when necessary, enlist the help of players to eliminate the condition. However, a player would be in breach of Rule 13-2 if he were to mop up casual water on his line of play or line of putt without the Committee's permission.
• 16-1a/4 Removing Casual Water from Hole.
• 16-1d/4 Testing for Wetness of Surface of Putting Green Behind Ball.
• 33-2d/2 Hole Surrounded by Casual Water.
Match-Play Finalists Both Disqualified
If both finalists in a match-play competition are disqualified, the Committee may decide to conclude the event without a winner. Alternatively, the Committee could elect to have the defeated semi-finalists play a match to determine the winner of the competition.
Whether Player Disqualified in Match-Play Event Entitled to Prize Won Prior to Disqualification
Q.If a player in a match-play event is disqualified, should he be entitled to any prize he had previously won in the event?
• 33-1/13 Competitor Disqualified from Handicap Event Claims Gross Prize.
Application of Disqualification Penalty in Competition in Which Not All Scores Used to Determine Winner
Q.In a 72-hole stroke-play team competition with each team consisting of three players, a team's score for each round is the aggregate of the two best scores for the round. In the first of four rounds, a player is disqualified under Rule 6-3a. May he play in the subsequent rounds and have his score count?
A.Yes. The disqualification applies only to that round of the competition. This applies to all events in which not all scores are used to determine the winner (e.g., an individual competition in which the player counts his three best scores from four rounds).
However, if the player had been disqualified under Rule 33-7 or for a serious breach of Rule 1-2, it is up to the Committee to determine whether that disqualification should be for the round or the duration of the competition.
• 6-2b/5 Competition in Which Best Two of Four Scores Used to Determine Winner; Competitor Returns Score Card with Higher Handicap.
Other Decisions related to the Committee: See "Committee" in the Index.
ESTABLISHING CONDITIONS OF COMPETITION
Altering Conditions After Competition Starts
Q.A condition of a stroke-play competition provided that scores must be returned by 7:30 pm. At 5:00 pm, a member of the Committee extended the deadline to accommodate four late-arriving competitors. Is such action proper?
A.No. Once a competition has started, the conditions should be altered only in very exceptional circumstances. In this case, no such circumstances existed.
Number of Holes of Stroke-Play Competition Reduced During the Competition
Q.A 72-hole stroke-play competition is scheduled over four consecutive days. Eighteen holes are to be played each day. On the third day, all competitors finish the first nine holes but a number of competitors are still playing the second nine holes. At that point, the course becomes unplayable due to heavy rain and play is suspended. The rain continues and it is impossible to resume play that day. What are the Committee's options?
A.The Committee does not have the authority to reduce the number of holes of a stipulated round once play has commenced for that round.
Under Rules 33-1 and 33-2d, the Committee has the following choices:
(a) resume play the next day and finish the third round and then play the last 18 holes that day or on a subsequent day,
(b) cancel the third round, replay it on a subsequent day and then play the last 18 holes that day or on a subsequent day,
(c) reduce to three the number of rounds of the competition and finish the suspended third round on a subsequent day, or cancel the third round and replay it on a subsequent day, or
(d) cancel the third and fourth rounds and declare the leader after 36 holes to be the winner.
The first option is the preferred option as it is undesirable to cancel a round after extensive play has taken place (see choice b above) or to reduce the number of rounds of a competition when the competition is in progress (see choices c and d above). (Revised)
• 33-2d/1 Guidelines on Whether to Cancel Round.
Starting Players from 1st and 10th Tees
Q.May the Committee start play in a competition from both the 1st and 10th tees?
A.Yes. See Definition of "Stipulated Round," which says that the holes are to be played in correct sequence unless otherwise authorized by the Committee.
Restriction on Which Partner in Foursome Competition May Play from 1st Tee
Q.Rule 29-1 states that in a foursome "the partners must play alternately from the teeing grounds and alternately during the play of each hole." However, it is a matter of personal choice which partner drives at the 1st tee.
May a Committee, in the conditions of a foursome competition, stipulate which partner must play from the 1st tee?
Match Decided by Wrong Form of Play by Agreement of Players
Q.The four participants in a first-round match thought the competition was a foursome competition, whereas it was in fact a four-ball competition. They played the first hole on a foursome basis and then learned of their error. Rather than go back and begin again on a four-ball basis, they agreed (1) to continue playing a foursome and (2) that in the four-ball competition the side losing the foursome match would default to the winning side.
The matter came to the Committee's attention after the side receiving the default reached the semi-finals of the four-ball event. What should the Committee do?
A.The side should be disqualified under Rule 1-3 for agreeing to decide a match other than as prescribed in the conditions, and the Committee should decide how the competition should be concluded.
• 2-4/21 Wrong Form of Play Used to Decide Which Side Concedes Match.
• 6-1/1 Wrong Form of Play Used in Match-Play Event.
Competitor in Stroke-Play Event Plays with Two Players Engaged in Match
Q.A competitor in a stroke-play competition had no other competitor with whom to play. So he joined two players engaged in a match and one of those players served as his marker. Is such procedure considered combining stroke play and match play, contrary to Rule 33-1?
A.No. The competitor was playing stroke play only and the other two players were playing match play only. The Committee should retrospectively appoint the player concerned as the competitor's marker – see Definition of "Marker."
• 6-6a/1 Lone Competitor Appoints Own Marker.
Players in Match Compete Concurrently in Stroke-Play Competition
Q.In ignorance of the Rules, A and B played a match and concurrently competed in a stroke-play competition. What should the Committee do?
A.Under Rule 33-1, the result of the match is null and void, and A and B are disqualified in the stroke-play competition.
If the match was to be played on any day in a prescribed period, A and B must replay the match within the prescribed period. If it was too late for A and B to replay the match within the period, A and B are disqualified from the match-play competition, unless one concedes the match to the other.
• 32-1/1 Competing Simultaneously in Bogey, Par or Stableford Competition and Stroke-Play Competition.
Making Competitors Responsible for Adding Scores
Q.May the Committee make it a condition of a competition that competitors are responsible for the addition of scores?
A.No. Such a condition would modify Rule 33-5.
• 6-6a/6 Requirement That Alteration on Score Card Be Initialled.
• 6-6b/8 Requirement That Score Be Entered into Computer.
Use of Golf Carts in Competition
Q.May a player use a golf cart during a competition?
A.Yes, unless such equipment is prohibited in the conditions of the competition (Rule 33-1).
Breach of Transportation Condition by Caddie
Q.The Committee has adopted the Transportation Condition in Appendix I as a condition of competition. During the stipulated round, a player's caddie accepts a ride on a golf cart without the authority of the Committee. Is the player penalized for the caddie's breach of the condition?
A.Yes. The player is responsible for any breach of a Rule during a stipulated round by his caddie and incurs the applicable penalty (Rule 6-1).
• 6-4/2.5 Status of Individual Who Transports Player's Clubs on Motorized Golf Cart or Trolley.
• 33-8/4 Local Rule for Events in Which Motorized Golf Carts Permitted.
Status of Team Captain or Coach
Q.May a Committee, in the conditions of a team competition, specify that, during the stipulated round, the team captain or coach is part of the match or part of the competitor's side, i.e., he is not an outside agency?
A.Yes. If such a condition is adopted, the player(s) or, in some circumstances, the team would be responsible for any breach of the Rules by the captain or coach.
Related Decisions: See "Team Competition" in the Index.
Wrong Handicap Used Due to Committee Misinformation
Q.The players in a four-ball match were unsure as to the handicaps to which they were entitled under the conditions of the competition. They consulted a member of the Committee who wrongly advised them as to the condition regarding handicaps. This resulted in Player A receiving one less handicap stroke than he was entitled to receive. Player A's side lost the match, 4 and 3. The Committee representative's error was then discovered. What should the Committee do?
A.The Committee should resolve the matter in whatever manner it considers most equitable. The Committee could let the result stand or require a replay of the match.
All players except Player A received the correct number of handicap strokes and Player A received only one less stroke than he should have received. In view of this fact and the rather one-sided result, it is recommended that the fairest solution would be to let the result stand.
• 6-2a/5 Wrong Handicap Used in Match by Mistake; Error Discovered After Result Officially Announced.
• 6-2a/6 Wrong Handicap Allowance Used in Match.
• 30-3a/3 Determination of Handicap Allowances in Four-Ball Match If One Player Unable to Compete.
Competitor Disqualified from Handicap Event Claims Gross Prize
Q.In a stroke-play event, a competitor played off a higher handicap than that to which he was entitled. Although the event was primarily a handicap one, there was also a gross prize, and the competitor concerned had the lowest gross score.
The competitor was disqualified from the handicap competition under Rule 6-2b, but he claimed the gross prize. Should he receive the gross prize?
• 33/7 Whether Player Disqualified in Match-Play Event Entitled to Prize Won Prior to Disqualification.
Condition Regarding Footwear
Q.May a Committee, in the conditions of a competition, prohibit the use of shoes with metal or traditionally designed spikes?
Other Decisions related to Rule 33-1: See "Conditions of Competition" in the Index.
DEFINING BOUNDS, MARGINS, GROUND UNDER REPAIR AND OBSTRUCTIONS
Exposed Water Pipe Adjacent and Parallel to Boundary Fence Causes Problems; Suggested Procedure
Q.An exposed water pipe (obstruction) which is parallel to, and about six inches inside, a boundary fence is causing a problem. If a ball lies near the boundary fence, the prohibition against free relief from the fence is effectively negated because in most cases the player would be entitled to drop away from the fence by taking free relief from the water pipe under Rule 24-2b. Is there a solution to this dilemma?
A.It is suggested that the water pipe be declared an integral part of the course and thus not an obstruction – see Definition of "Obstructions" – in which case the player would have to play the ball as it lies or deem it unplayable.
Declaring Area as Ground Under Repair During Competition Round
Q.A's ball is in a poor lie in a washed-out area which warrants being marked as ground under repair but is not so marked. He deems the ball unplayable and proceeds under Rule 28, incurring a one-stroke penalty.
Subsequently, in the same competition round, B's ball is in the same area. B requests the Committee to declare the area ground under repair. Would the Committee be justified in declaring the area ground under repair in such circumstances?
A.Yes; this applies in either match or stroke play. However, it is preferable that all areas which warrant marking as ground under repair should be so marked before the start of a competition.
• 34-2/1 Referee's Authority to Declare Ground Under Repair.
Extensive Damage Due to Heavy Rain and Traffic
When heavy rains have resulted in many areas of unusual damage to the course (such as deep ruts caused by vehicles or footprints by spectators) and it is not feasible to define them with stakes or lines, a notice to players along the following lines is suggested:
"Ground under repair may include areas of unusual damage, including areas where spectators or other traffic have combined with wet conditions to affect materially the ground surface, but only when so declared by a Committee member."
Without such a notice, Committee members have authority to declare unusual damage to be ground under repair, if so authorized. However, a notice has the advantage of advising all players that relief from unusual damage might be given.
Where to Place Lines or Stakes Defining Margin of Water Hazard
Lines and stakes defining the margins of a water hazard should be placed as nearly as possible along the natural limits of the hazard, i.e., where the ground breaks down to form the depression containing the water. See also Decision 26-1/19.
• 26/2 Ball Within Natural Margin of Water Hazard But Outside Stakes Defining Margin.
• 26-1/18 Impossible to Drop Not Nearer Hole Than Point Where Ball Last Crossed Margin of Lateral Water Hazard.
• 26-1/19 Permissible Dropping Area Under Lateral Water Hazard Rule So Narrow Player Has Difficulty Dropping Within It.
• 33-2a/9 Part of Lateral Water Hazard Where Impossible to Drop Not Nearer Hole.
• 33-8/37.5 Local Rule for Water Hazard with Bunker Adjacent
Pond Is Water Hazard from Back Tee and Lateral Water Hazard from Forward Tee
Q.A pond on a par-3 hole meets the Definition of a lateral water hazard in play from the forward tee but not from the back tee. How should the Committee handle this situation?
A.The pond should be defined as a water hazard with yellow stakes or a yellow line and there should be a Local Rule to the effect that the hazard is a lateral water hazard in play from the forward tee.
Deeming Body of Water as Both Water Hazard and Lateral Water Hazard
A body of water (or a specific part of it) must not be defined as both a water hazard and a lateral water hazard in play of a particular hole, except in the circumstances described in Decision 33-2a/6.
A body of water (or a specific part of it) may be defined as a water hazard in play of one hole and a lateral water hazard in play of another hole.
A part of a body of water may be defined as a water hazard and another part of the same body of water as a lateral water hazard. (Revised)
Treating Ocean and Beach as Through the Green
There is no authority in the Rules for a Committee to treat the ocean and adjoining beach and rocks as through the green.
Such treatment results in a more severe penalty in many instances than is the case if the ocean, beach and rocks are properly defined as a water hazard or lateral water hazard.
Part of Lateral Water Hazard Where Impossible to Drop Not Nearer Hole
If part of a lateral water hazard at the side of a putting green is so configured that it may be impossible to drop a ball within two club-lengths of the point where the ball last crossed the hazard margin without dropping nearer the hole than that point, the following is suggested:
(1) the part of the hazard where the situation exists should be distinctively marked;
(2) one or more dropping zones should be established; and
(3) a Local Rule should state that, if a ball in the lateral water hazard last crossed the margin of the hazard in the marked area, the player may, under penalty of one stroke, drop a ball in the dropping zone or, if more than one dropping zone has been established, in the nearest dropping zone.
• 26/2 Ball Within Natural Margin of Water Hazard But Outside Stakes Defining Margin.
• 26-1/18 Impossible to Drop Not Nearer Hole Than Point Where Ball Last Crossed Margin of Lateral Water Hazard.
• 26-1/19 Permissible Dropping Area Under Lateral Water Hazard Rule So Narrow Player Has Difficulty Dropping Within It.
• 33-2a/4 Where to Place Lines or Stakes Defining Margin of Water Hazard.
How to Mark Island Green
Q.A putting green is situated on an island in a lake. The water between the tee and the green is defined as a water hazard. The water on each side is marked as a lateral water hazard. How should the water behind the island be marked?
A.The Committee would be justified in marking the water behind the island as a lateral water hazard.
Alternatively, the Committee might consider defining the entire lake as a water hazard, establishing a dropping zone and adopting a Local Rule giving a player whose ball lies in the hazard the option of dropping a ball in the dropping zone, under penalty of one stroke.
Status of Tree Basins
Q.What is the status under the Rules of tree wells or tree basins?
A.There is no relief under the Rules from tree basins which are not made of artificial materials.
If a tree basin has an artificial wall, the wall is an obstruction unless the Committee deems it to be an integral part of the course under Rule 33-2a.
Defining Body of Water Adjacent to Course
Q.A body of water (e.g., a river, lake or ocean) is adjacent to a hole and is off club property. The Definition of "Water Hazard" refers to a body of water "on the course." How may the Committee define the body of water?
A.The Committee may define the body of water as a water hazard (or lateral water hazard), even though it is off the club's property. The phrase "on the course" in the Definition of "Water Hazard" does not mean on property owned by the club; rather, it refers to any area not defined as out of bounds by the Committee.
When it is possible for a ball to finish on ground on the opposite side of a body of water, but it is impracticable for the Committee to define the opposite margin, the Committee may adopt a Local Rule stating that when marked on just one side, a water hazard is deemed to extend to infinity. Accordingly, all ground and water beyond the defined margin of the hazard is in the hazard. When it is not possible for a ball to finish on the opposite side of the body of water (e.g., as with a wide river, large lake or ocean), such a Local Rule is not necessary.
In some situations the Committee may decide to define such a body of water as out of bounds for safety reasons (e.g., to prevent players playing from an unstable bank or cliff) or to ensure that a hole plays as designed (e.g., not to give the players the ability to play from the beach).
Internal Boundary Between Holes
Q.It is proposed to install boundary stakes between two holes as a safety measure. It would prevent players playing a dog-leg hole from driving onto the fairway of another hole in order to cut the "dog-leg." Is it permissible to establish such a boundary?
A.Yes. For the recommended status of such boundary stakes, see Decision 24/5.
Tee Decreed to Be in Bounds for the Tee Shot and Out of Bounds Thereafter
Q.A Committee has decreed that ground surrounding a certain teeing ground is in bounds for tee shots and out of bounds thereafter. Is this permissible?
A.No. In play of a particular hole, an area cannot be both in bounds and out of bounds.
Internal Out of Bounds Applying to Stroke from Teeing Ground Only
A Committee may make a Local Rule under Rule 33-2a declaring part of an adjoining hole to be out of bounds when playing a particular hole, but it is not permissible for a Committee to make a Local Rule placing an area of the course out of bounds to a stroke played from the teeing ground only.
• 33-8/20 Local Rule Providing Relief from Unsurfaced Road for Tee Shot Only.
• 27/20 Public Road Defined as Out of Bounds Divides Course; Status of Ball Crossing Road.
• 33-8/38 Local Rule Deeming Out of Bounds Ball Which Crosses Boundary But Comes to Rest on Course.
Establishing Boundary Line Inside Fence on Property Line
Q.Along a fence on our property line, i.e., the fence is a boundary fence, there are flower beds. To save time and protect the flowers, it is proposed to move the boundary line inward several feet by establishing white stakes along the inside edge of the flower bed. Is this permitted by the Rules?
Deeming Ball in Bounds Until Beyond Boundary Wall
Q.Because a boundary wall is in disrepair and the inside face is irregular, the Committee has declared by Local Rule that a ball is not out of bounds until it is beyond the wall. Is this permissible or must the inside face of the wall serve as the boundary line?
A.Such procedure is permissible. There is nothing in the Rules stating that, in the case of a boundary wall, the inside face of the wall serves as the boundary line.
Boundary Altered by Unauthorized Removal of Boundary Stake
In stroke play, a boundary line has been altered through unauthorized removal of a boundary stake and, therefore, there is an area (Area X) which is in bounds if the removed stake is disregarded and out of bounds if the removed stake is replaced.
Q1 A's ball comes to rest in Area X. A is aware that the boundary has been altered. He asks the Committee for a ruling. What is the ruling?
A1 The Committee should replace the removed stake, i.e., restore the original boundary line and require A to proceed under Rule 27-1, unless the Committee knows that one or more preceding competitors had, in ignorance of the fact that a stake has been removed, played from Area X. In that case, the Committee should allow the altered boundary line to stand for the remainder of the competition, and A would play his ball as it lay.
Q2 What would be the ruling if the Committee determined that one or more competitors had, in ignorance of the fact that a stake was missing, played from Area X and one or more other competitors had treated Area X as out of bounds and proceeded under Rule 27-1?
A2 If the inconsistent treatment of Area X could significantly affect the result of the competition, the round should be canceled and replayed. Otherwise, the round should stand.
Displaced Boundary Stake
Q.A boundary stake has fallen down, or has been removed without authority of the Committee. The stake is lying several feet from the hole in which it had been situated. It is obvious that the stake had been displaced.
A player's ball comes to rest in bounds near the hole in which the boundary stake had been situated. The ball is in such a position that, if the boundary stake were reinstalled, it would interfere with the player's swing.
Is the player required to replace the stake before playing his next stroke?
A.No. If a boundary fence or stake is leaning towards the course and as a result interferes with a player's swing, the player is not allowed to straighten the fence or the stake – see Decision 13-2/18. It follows that, if the boundary fence or stake is leaning away from the course the player is not allowed to straighten it.
A displaced boundary stake is a movable obstruction. Therefore, the player may replace it but he is not required to do so.
Other Decisions related to Rule 33-2a: See "Margins of Areas of the Course" and "Marking or Defining Course" in the Index.
CUTTING OF NEW HOLES
Holes Relocated and/or Tee-Markers Moved During Stroke-Play Round
Q.During a round in a stroke-play competition, one or more holes were relocated and/or tee-markers moved. What is the proper procedure?
A.If this was authorized by the Committee, the round should be declared null and void. In stroke play, the Committee is prohibited from relocating a hole and from moving tee-markers except as provided in the Exception and Note to Rule 33-2b or in circumstances such as those in Decisions 25-1b/4 or 33-2b/1.5.
If this was done without the authority or sanction of the Committee, generally the round should be declared null and void. However, if the course has not been altered significantly and no competitor has been given an undue advantage or disadvantage, the Committee would be justified in letting the round stand.
Committee Wishes to Move Hole During Stroke-Play Round Due to Severity of Location
Q.During a round in a stroke-play competition, the Committee discovers that one of the holes is positioned such that the ball will not stop near the hole due to the severity of the slope at the hole. As a result, the majority of players who have played the hole have taken an excessive number of putts to hole out. What are the Committee's options in such circumstances?
A.There is no good solution in such a case, and the Committee, taking into account all factors (e.g., how severe the hole location is, how many players have completed play of the hole and where the hole is in the round), should take the course of action that it considers to be the fairest to all the players. In the circumstances described, the following are examples of actions the Committee may take:
(a) Have play continue with the hole location unchanged on the basis that the conditions are the same for all players in the field;
(b) Keep the hole in the same location but take some action, e.g., watering the putting green between groups, to make the hole location less severe;
(c) Declare the round null and void and have all players start the round again.
(d) Suspend play, relocate the hole and have the players who played the hole return at the conclusion of their rounds to replay the hole. The score for the hole for these players is the score achieved when the hole is replayed;
(e) Have all players disregard their score for the hole in question and play another hole (whether on the competition course or elsewhere) for their score for the hole.
Options (d) and (e) should be taken only in extreme circumstances because they alter the stipulated round for some or all players.
Relocating Hole After Ball Already Positioned Nearby on Putting Green
Q.A's ball comes to rest on the putting green four feet from the hole. B's ball then strikes the hole, severely damaging the hole before coming to rest off the putting green, 30 feet from the hole. The players attempt to repair the damage caused by the impact of the ball as permitted by Rule 16-1c, but they are unable to restore the hole to its proper dimensions and call for a ruling. What should the Committee do?
A.The Committee should attempt to repair the hole so that it conforms with the Definition of "Hole." If this is not possible, the players may complete the hole with the hole in its damaged state. It is not desirable to relocate the hole, as provided in the Exception to Rule 33-2b, before all players in the group have completed play of the hole. However, the Committee may relocate the hole in a nearby similar position if it is necessary to ensure the proper playing of the game.
If it was necessary to relocate the hole before A and B made their next strokes, as A's ball was on the putting green, in equity (Rule 1-4), the Committee should require A to relocate his ball to a position comparable to that which his stroke had given him originally. As B's ball was off the putting green, the Committee should require B to play his ball as it lies. The same principle would apply in match play.
Decisions related to 33-2b/1 through 33-2b/2:
• 16-1a/6 Damaged Hole; Procedure for Player.
• 25-1b/4 Casual Water Covering Teeing Ground.
SUSPENDING PLAY OR CANCELLING SCORES
Guidelines on Whether to Cancel Round
Q.In stroke play, in what circumstances should a Committee cancel a round?
A.There is no hard-and-fast rule. The proper action depends on the circumstances in each case and must be left to the judgment of the Committee.
Generally, a round should be canceled only in a case where it would be grossly unfair not to cancel it. For example, if some competitors begin a round under extremely adverse weather conditions, conditions subsequently worsen and further play that day is impossible, it would be unfair to the competitors who started not to cancel the round.
• 33-1/2 Number of Holes of Stroke-Play Competition Reduced During the Competition.
Hole Surrounded by Casual Water
If all the area around a hole contains casual water, in stroke play the course should be considered unplayable and the Committee should suspend play under Rule 33-2d. In match play, the Committee should relocate the hole.
• 16-1a/6 Damaged Hole; Procedure for Player.
• 25-1b/4 Casual Water Covering Teeing Ground.
Competitor Refuses to Start or Picks Up Because of Weather Conditions; Round Subsequently Canceled
Q.In stroke play, A refuses to start at the time arranged by the Committee because of inclement weather, and B picks up during the round for the same reason. Subsequently, the course becomes unplayable and the Committee cancels the round and reschedules it for the next day. Are A and B entitled to play the next day?
A.Yes. When a round is canceled all penalties incurred in the round are canceled – see Rule 33-2d.
• 6-8b/5 Player Claiming Danger from Lightning Refuses to Resume Play When Resumption Ordered by Committee.
• 6-8b/8 Player Drops Ball After Play Suspended for Dangerous Situation.
• 30-3e/1 Partners Fail to Discontinue Play Immediately Contrary to Condition of Competition.
Match Begun in Ignorance That Course Closed
Q.Two players began a match at 10:00 am. After the players had played two holes, a member of the Committee arrived and advised them that the course had been closed since 9:00 am, but no notice to this effect had been posted at the 1st tee. Should the match be replayed entirely or resumed at the 3rd hole?
A.The match should be replayed entirely. Play on the course while it was closed should be considered null and void.
ESTABLISHING TIMES OF STARTING AND ARRANGING STROKE-PLAY GROUPS
Status of Starting Time Fixed by Players
Q.It was a condition of a match-play competition that each match must be played on the day and at the time published unless the players agreed to a prior date and time. A and B agreed to play their match at a specified time on a prior date. However, B arrived late. Was B subject to disqualification under Rule 6-3a?
A.Yes. The starting time agreed by A and B had the same status as a starting time fixed by the Committee.
Player Not Present at Time of Starting; Course Closed at the Time
Q.A and B were scheduled to play a match at 9:00 am, at which time the course was closed due to weather conditions. A was present at the appointed time. B, assuming the course would be closed, was not present. B arrived at noon, at which time the course was still closed. A claimed the match because B was not present at 9:00 am. Was the claim valid?
A.No. As the course was closed, and it was impossible for A and B to start at the appointed time or within a reasonable time thereafter, a new starting time for the match should be arranged.
• 6-3a/4 Time of Starting; Player is Late but Group Unable to Play Due to Delay.
Competitors Determining Own Groupings and Starting Times
Q.May a Committee permit competitors in a stroke-play competition to determine their own groupings and starting times?
A.Yes. Rule 33-3 does not prohibit such an arrangement.
Groupings for Stroke-Play Play-Off
Q.Is there any Rule limiting the number of competitors in a group in a stroke-play play-off? For example, if 11 competitors are in a play-off, should they be separated into a group of five and group of six? Or should they be separated into two groups of four and one group of three?
A.There is no Rule. The matter is up to the Committee. However, it is suggested that normally there should be no more than five competitors in any group.
Other Decisions related to Rule 33-3: See "Groups and Grouping" and "Time of Starting" in the Index.
PUBLISHING HANDICAP STROKE TABLE
Alteration of Handicap Stroke Table
Q.As provided in the Definition of a "Stipulated Round," the Committee has authorized certain matches to begin at the 6th hole. The higher-handicapped player in such matches is disadvantaged because, under the Handicap Stroke Table, the first handicap stroke is allocated to the 5th hole and, thus, it is not used if a match is concluded in less than 18 holes. Would it be permissible to alter the Handicap Stroke Table for such matches?
SCORE CARDS; COMMITTEE RESPONSIBILITIES
Score Cards in Hole-by-Hole Play-Off
Q.Must competitors involved in a hole-by-hole play-off in stroke play complete score cards and return them to the Committee?
A.Yes, but only if the Committee has issued a score card for each competitor in accordance with Rule 33-5. Otherwise, the competitors should not be penalized if they fail to return score cards.
Wrong Handicap Applied by Committee Results in Player Not Receiving Prize
Q.In a stroke-play competition, A returns a card showing the handicap to which he is entitled and the Committee applies the wrong handicap or miscalculates the correct net score. This results in another competitor receiving a prize to which A was entitled. The error is discovered after the competition has closed. What is the ruling?
A.The Committee should correct its error by retrieving the prize and awarding it to A. There is no time limit for correcting such an error. Rule 34-1b is not applicable since it deals with penalties and not with Committee errors.
• 6-2b/3 Competitor Wins Competition with Handicap Which Was Incorrect Due to Committee Error; Error Discovered Several Days Later.
• 34-1b/6 Winner's Score Not Posted Due to Committee Error.
Misapplication of Handicap Affects Match-Play Draw
Q.Misapplication of a player's handicap by the Committee on a score card for the qualifying round of a match-play event results in an incorrect draw. The error is discovered during the first round of match play. What should the Committee do?
A.The Committee should deal with the matter in the fairest way possible. The Committee should consider amending the draw and canceling the matches affected by the amendment if this is practicable.
Other Decisions related to Rule 33-5: See "Scores and Score Cards" in the Index
ANNOUNCING MANNER FOR DECISION OF TIES
Determining Winner and Positions in Stroke-Play Play-Off
If there is a stroke-play play-off between two competitors and one of them is disqualified or concedes defeat, it is not necessary for the other to complete the play-off hole or holes to be declared the winner.
If there is a play-off involving more than two competitors and not all of them complete the play-off hole or holes, the order in which the competitors are disqualified or decide to withdraw determines the result of the play-off. (Revised)
Players Decide Method of Settling Tie When Committee Fails to Do So
Q.A and B, in a club match-play event in which the Committee had not prescribed how a halved match would be decided, finished their stipulated round all square. A suggested that the tie be decided by an 18-hole play-off. B reluctantly agreed. A won the play-off. B protested to the Committee. He argued that the match should have been settled by a hole-by-hole play-off, since that is the customary manner of deciding a tie in club events. What should the Committee do?
A.Since the Committee did not prescribe the method of settling the tie, it was appropriate for the players to determine the method. Since the players agreed to an 18-hole play-off, the match should stand as played.
Other Decisions related to Rule 33-6: See "Play-Off and Ties" in the Index.
WAIVING, MODIFYING OR IMPOSING PENALTY OF DISQUALIFICATION
Authority to Waive or Modify Disqualification Penalty
Only the Committee as a whole has authority to waive or modify a penalty of disqualification under Rule 33-7. A referee or an individual member of the Committee may not take such action.
Modifying Penalty for Not Holing Out in Stroke Play
Q.In stroke play, a competitor missed a short putt at the 16th hole, knocked his ball off the green, picked it up and teed off at the next hole without having holed out at the 16th.
After the competitor returned his score card, a fellow-competitor brought the matter to the attention of the Committee. The competitor admitted the error and expressed the view that his fellow-competitors were unsportsmanlike in not calling the error to his attention when the incident occurred.
In such circumstances, would the Committee be justified in modifying to two strokes the disqualification penalty provided in Rule 3-2?
A.No. Rule 33-7 should never be invoked in the case of disqualification for failing to hole out in stroke play. The competitor in such a case has not played the course.
Failure of the fellow-competitors to advise the competitor of his error is not a good reason for modifying the penalty. It is the responsibility of the competitor to know the Rules.
Competitor's Failure to Countersign Card Blamed on Lack of Time Provided by Committee
Q.In a 36-hole stroke-play competition played in one day over two courses, a competitor returned his first-round score card to the Committee but he failed to countersign it. After the second round the Committee informed him that he was disqualified. The competitor blamed the Committee for the error. He said the Committee, in attempting to get him to leave promptly for the course on which the second round was being played, caused him to return his first-round card hurriedly and that he had been given insufficient time to check and countersign the card. The competitor requested the Committee to waive the penalty under Rule 33-7. Would the Committee be justified in doing so?
A.No. If the competitor did not feel he was given sufficient time to check and sign his first-round card, he should have protested before he returned the card.
• 6-6b/3 Competitor Fails to Sign First-Round Card; Error Discovered on Completion of Last Round.
• 34-1b/2 Competitor's Failure to Sign Score Card Discovered After Competition Closed.
Modifying Penalty for Returning Wrong Score
Q.A marker inadvertently recorded a 4 for a competitor on a hole at which the competitor's score was actually 5. The competitor failed to check his score for each hole and therefore did not discover the error. The competitor returned his card to the Committee.
Later, the competitor discovered the error while observing the scoreboard. He immediately reported the error to the Committee. Would it be appropriate in such circumstances to invoke Rule 33-7 and waive or modify the disqualification penalty prescribed in Rule 6-6d?
A.No. A penalty of disqualification may be waived or modified only in exceptional circumstances. Under Rule 6-6d, the competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole.
Competitor Unaware of Penalty Returns Wrong Score; Whether Waiving or Modifying Disqualification Penalty Justified
Q.A competitor returns his score card. It later transpires that the score for one hole is lower than actually taken due to his failure to include a penalty stroke(s) which he did not know he had incurred. The error is discovered before the competition has closed.
Would the Committee be justified, under Rule 33-7, in, in waiving or modifying the penalty of disqualification prescribed in Rule 6-6d?
A.Generally, the disqualification prescribed by Rule 6-6d must not be waived or modified.
However, if the Committee is satisfied that the competitor could not reasonably have known or discovered the facts resulting in his breach of the Rules, it would be justified under Rule 33-7 in waiving the disqualification penalty prescribed by Rule 6-6d. The penalty stroke(s) associated with the breach would, however, be applied to the hole where the breach occurred.
For example, in the following scenarios, the Committee would be justified in waiving the disqualification penalty:
• A competitor makes a short chip from the greenside rough. At the time, he and his fellow-competitors have no reason to suspect that the competitor has double-hit his ball in breach of Rule 14-4. After the competitor has signed and returned his score card, a close-up, super-slow-motion video replay reveals that the competitor struck his ball twice during the course of the stroke. In these circumstances, it would be appropriate for the Committee to waive the disqualification penalty and apply the one-stroke penalty under Rule 14-4 to the competitor's score at the hole in question.
• After a competitor has signed and returned his score card, it becomes known, through the use of a high-definition video replay, that the competitor unknowingly touched a few grains of sand with his club at the top of his backswing on a wall of the bunker. The touching of the sand was so light that, at the time, it was reasonable for the competitor to have been unaware that he had breached Rule 13-4. It would be appropriate for the Committee to waive the disqualification penalty and apply the two-stroke penalty to the competitor's score at the hole in question.
A Committee would not be justified under Rule 33-7 in waiving or modifying the disqualification penalty prescribed in Rule 6-6d if the competitor's failure to include the penalty stroke(s) was a result of either ignorance of the Rules or of facts that the competitor could have reasonably discovered prior to signing and returning his score card.
For example, in the following scenarios, the Committee would not be justified in waiving or modifying the disqualification penalty:
• As a competitor's ball is in motion, he moves several loose impediments in the area in which the ball will likely come to rest. Unaware that this action is a breach of Rule 23-1, the competitor fails to include the two-stroke penalty in his score for the hole. As the competitor was aware of the facts that resulted in his breaching the Rules, he should be disqualified under Rule 6-6d for failing to include the two-stroke penalty under 23-1.
• A competitor's ball lies in a water hazard. In making his backswing for the stroke, the competitor is aware that his club touched a branch in the hazard. Not realizing at the time that the branch was detached, the competitor did not include the two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 13-4 in his score for the hole. As the competitor could have reasonably determined the status of the branch prior to signing and returning his score card, the competitor should be disqualified under Rule 6-6d for failing to include the two-stroke penalty under Rule 13-4. (Revised)
• 18/4 Television Evidence Shows Ball at Rest Changed Position But by Amount Not Reasonably Discernible to Naked Eye.
Play of Wrong Ball Not Rectified on Advice of Referee
Q.In stroke play, a competitor plays two strokes on the 14th hole and then plays a wrong ball for what he believed to be his third stroke. He plays a total of four strokes with the wrong ball, holing out with it. He then discovers the error. Before teeing off at the 15th, he asks a referee as to the procedure. The referee told the competitor to proceed and consult the Committee when the round was completed, instead of telling him to rectify the error as prescribed in Rule 15-3b.
Should the competitor be disqualified as prescribed in Rule 15-3b?
A.No. In the circumstances, the competitor should incur a penalty of two strokes for a breach of Rule 15-3b. The disqualification penalty that he also incurred under that Rule should be waived by the Committee under Rule 33-7, since the competitor's failure to correct his mistake was due to the error of the referee.
Generally, strokes played with a wrong ball do not count in the competitor's score. However, in this case such strokes must be counted. Otherwise, the competitor would not have a score for the hole. In equity (Rule 1-4), his score for the hole would be 8: the two strokes he played with his ball, the two penalty strokes for playing a wrong ball and the four strokes he played with the wrong ball.
• 34-3/3 Player in Match Makes Stroke From Wrong Place Due to Incorrect Ruling; Procedure for Player When Error is Discovered.
• 34-3/3.3 Competitor in Stroke Play Makes Stroke From Wrong Place Due to Incorrect Ruling; Procedure for Competitor When Error is Discovered.
Competitor Repeatedly Replaces Ball Nearer Hole on Green
Q.On completion of a round in stroke play, a competitor's marker reports that the competitor, after lifting his ball on the putting green, repeatedly placed it nearer the hole than the spot from which it was lifted. The Committee, after gathering all available evidence, concludes that the marker's report is correct. What should the Committee do?
A.The competitor should be disqualified under Rule 33-7.
Competitor Seeks Help from Fellow-Competitor to Avoid Penalty
Q.A competitor's ball is lying through the green. He asks a fellow-competitor to remove a loose impediment lying near his ball because he believes that the removal of the loose impediment might cause his ball to move and knows that if the loose impediment is removed by an outside agency, the competitor incurs no penalty. The fellow-competitor removes the loose impediment. What is the ruling?
A.Irrespective of whether the ball moves as a result of removing the loose impediment, the action of the competitor is so contrary to the spirit of the game that the Committee should disqualify him under Rule 33-7.
The fellow-competitor incurs no penalty for removing the loose impediment unless the Committee is satisfied that he was aware of the competitor's intention to circumvent a Rule. In that instance, he should also be disqualified under Rule 33-7.
• 13-2/33 Outside Agency Removes Immovable Obstruction on Player's Line of Play.
• 23-1/10 Removal of Loose Impediments Affecting Player's Play.
Meaning of "Serious Breach of Etiquette"
Q.In Rule 33-7, what is meant by a "serious breach of etiquette"?
A.A serious breach of etiquette is behavior by a player that shows a significant disregard for an aspect of the Etiquette Section, such as intentionally distracting another player or intentionally offending someone.
Although a Committee may disqualify a player under Rule 33-7 for a single act that it considers to be a serious breach of etiquette, in most cases it is recommended that such a penalty should be imposed only in the event of a further serious breach.
Ultimately, the application of a penalty for a serious breach of etiquette under Rule 33-7 is at the discretion of the Committee.
Competitor Who Knows Player Has Breached Rules Does Not Inform Player or Committee in Timely Manner
The responsibility for knowing the Rules lies with all players. In stroke play, the player and his marker have an explicit responsibility for the correctness of the player's score card.
There may, however, be exceptional individual cases where, in order to protect the interests of every other player in the competition, it would be reasonable to expect a fellow-competitor or another competitor to bring to light a player's breach of the Rules by notifying the player, his marker or the Committee.
In such exceptional circumstances, it would be appropriate for the Committee to impose a penalty of disqualification under Rule 33-7 on a fellow-competitor or another competitor if it becomes apparent that he has failed to advise the player, his marker or the Committee of a Rules breach with the clear intention of allowing that player to return an incorrect score.
• 1-3/6 Marker Attests Wrong Score Knowingly and Competitor Aware Score Wrong.
• 6-6a/5 Marker Attests Wrong Score Knowingly But Competitor Unaware Score Wrong.
Other Decisions related to Rule 33-7: See "Penalties Imposed, Modified or Waived by Committee" in the Index.
COMMITTEE'S AUTHORITY TO MAKE LOCAL RULES
Local Rule for Temporary Putting Green Waives Requirement to Hole Out
Q.A course has been going through a period of renovation necessitating the use of temporary putting greens from time to time.
A Local Rule states that a player whose ball lies on a temporary green may either pick up his ball, counting two putts, or putt out.
Is such a Local Rule authorized?
A.No. Rule 1-1 provides: "The Game of Golf consists in playing a ball with a club from the teeing ground into the hole by a stroke or successive strokes in accordance with the Rules." Any Local Rule under which a player would not be required to play the ball into the hole waives this basic Rule and is not authorized.
Local Rule Allows Drop on Green Side of Water Hazard When Ball Fails to Clear Hazard
Q.The design of a hole is such that a player must hit the ball about 100 yards in order to carry a water hazard. A Local Rule has been adopted to assist players who cannot drive over the hazard by allowing them to drop a ball, under penalty of two strokes, in a dropping zone that is located across the hazard. Is such a Local Rule authorized?
A.No. Such a Local Rule substantially alters Rule 26-1b as it allows the player to drop a ball on a part of the course (i.e., on the green side of the water hazard) that the Rule would not have permitted him to reach. Furthermore, the penalty for taking relief under the water hazard Rule (Rule 26) is one stroke, and may not be increased to two strokes by a Committee through a Local Rule – see Rule 33-8b.
Local Rule for Events in Which Motorized Golf Carts Permitted
Q.A competition involving stroke play qualifying followed by match play is to be held. Motorized golf carts will be permitted but some may have to be shared. Play will be in groups of two. No caddies will be available. Should a Local Rule clarifying the status of the carts be made?
A.It is suggested that the following Local Rule be adopted:
"A motorized cart is part of the player's equipment:
(1) A player or players using a cart may appoint someone to drive the cart, in which case the driver is considered to be the caddie of the player or players.
(2) Use of a cart by anyone other than the player or players using it or the appointed driver is prohibited. Any player allowing unauthorized use of his cart is subject to penalty as follows:
Match play– At the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred; maximum deduction per round – Two holes.
Stroke play– Two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred; maximum penalty per round – Four strokes (two strokes at each of the first two holes at which any breach occurred).
Match play or stroke play– If a breach is discovered between the play of two holes, it is deemed to have been discovered during play of the next hole, and the penalty must be applied accordingly.
In either form of play– Use of any unauthorized automotive vehicle must be discontinued immediately upon discovering that a breach has occurred. Otherwise, the player is disqualified."
If some caddies are available, it is suggested that they be assigned in an equitable way and that the above suggested Local Rule be adopted with item (1) amended to read as follows:
"A player or players using a cart may appoint someone to drive the cart if no caddie is available, in which case the driver is considered to be the caddie of the player or players." (Revised)
• 6-4/2.5 Status of Individual Who Transports Player's Clubs on Motorized Golf Cart or Trolley.
• 19/2 Status of Person in Shared Golf Cart.
• 33-1/9.5 Breach of Transportation Condition by Caddie.
Local Rule Permitting Competitors to Discontinue Play by Agreement in Bad Weather
Q.May the Committee for a stroke-play event make a Local Rule permitting competitors to discontinue play by agreement among themselves in bad weather?
A.No. Such a Local Rule would modify Rule 6-8a.
Local Rule for Breach of Sportsmanship Code or Competition Policy
Q.May a Committee make a Local Rule assessing a penalty for breach of a sportsmanship code (e.g., for offensive language) or of a competition policy (e.g., for use of a mobile phone when such use is prohibited)?
A.No. A Local Rule assessing a penalty for a breach of a sportsmanship code or competition policy is not authorized. Penalties for breaches of such items should take a more generalized form, e.g., censure, suspension or revocation of the privilege of playing in events.
However, a Committee may disqualify a player under Rule 33-7 for a serious breach of etiquette – see Decision 33-7/8.
Local Rule Requiring Player to Play Out of Turn on Putting Green
Q.A proposed Local Rule would require that, on the putting green, a player must play continuously until he has holed out. Would such a Local Rule be acceptable?
A.No. Such a Local Rule would modify Rules 10-1b and 10-2b, which require that the ball farther from the hole shall be played first.
Local Rule Providing Relief from Tree Roots
Q.May a Committee make a Local Rule providing relief without penalty if a player's stroke is interfered with by exposed tree roots?
A.A Local Rule is authorized only if an abnormal condition exists. Generally, the existence of exposed tree roots is not abnormal. However, if the exposed tree roots are encroaching on to the fairway, a Committee would be authorized to make a Local Rule providing relief under Rule 25-1 for interference from exposed tree roots when a ball lies on a closely-mown area. The Committee may restrict relief to interference for the lie of ball and the area of intended swing. (Revised)
Local Rule Providing Relief from Damage to Bunkers Caused by Children
Q.Some holes are accessible to the general public, and children play in the bunkers leaving footprints, holes and sand castles.
May the Committee make a Local Rule allowing a player, without penalty, either to drop his ball outside a bunker damaged by children or to lift his ball from such damage, smooth out the sand and replace the ball?
A.No. This would be a modification of Rule 13-4. However, the Committee could declare unusual damage to the bunker to be ground under repair. (Revised)
Local Rule Prohibiting Removal of Flagstick
Q.May a Committee make a Local Rule for winter-time play prohibiting removal of the flagstick? The purpose would be to reduce traffic around the hole in the winter when the putting greens are very soft.
A.No. Such a Local Rule would modify the Rules of Golf.
Local Rule Waiving Penalty for Ball Striking Unattended Flagstick
Q.Is it permissible for a Committee to make a Local Rule for winter play waiving the penalty incurred under Rule 17-3c (Ball Striking Flagstick When Unattended) in order to reduce the damage caused to the area around the hole and to speed up play?
Local Rule for Ball Deflected by Sprinkler Head
Q.May a Committee make a Local Rule allowing a player to replay a stroke, without penalty, if his ball has been deflected by a sprinkler head?
A.No. A sprinkler head is an outside agency (see Definition of "Outside Agency"). The deflection of a ball by it is a rub of the green and the ball must be played as it lies – see Rule 19-1.
Local Rule for Ball Deflected by Power Line
Q.An overhead power line is so situated that it interferes with the play of a hole. Would it be appropriate for the Committee to make a Local Rule allowing a player whose ball is deflected by this power line the option to replay the stroke, without penalty, if he wishes?
A.No. However, a Local Rule requiring a player to replay the stroke would be acceptable. The following text is suggested:
"If a ball strikes the power line during play of the ____ hole, the stroke is canceled and the player must play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was played in accordance with Rule 20-5 (Making Next Stroke from Where Previous Stroke Made)."
In some cases the Committee may wish to include in the Local Rule the towers or poles supporting such lines when the towers or poles are positioned such that they interfere with the play of the hole.
Local Rule Deeming Interior Boundary Fence to Be an Obstruction
Q.There is a practice range in the middle of the course. The range is surrounded by a fence which defines the range as out of bounds. Would a Local Rule be authorized under which this particular boundary fence, since it is within the course, is treated as an obstruction?
A.No, such a Local Rule is not authorized. An interior boundary fence is not an abnormal condition.
• 24/5 Boundary Stakes Having No Significance in Play of Hole Being Played.
Local Rule Providing Relief from Interference by Immovable Water Hazard Stake for Ball Lying in Water Hazard
Q.If the stakes defining the margins of water hazards are immovable, may the Committee make a Local Rule providing relief without penalty if a player's ball lies in a water hazard and such a stake interferes with his swing or stance?
A.No. Such a Local Rule would be a modification of the Rules as the stakes are immovable obstructions – see Note 1 to Rule 24-2. (Revised)
Local Rule Deeming All Stakes on Course to Be Immovable Obstructions
Q.It is proposed to adopt a Local Rule providing that all stakes on the course, i.e., stakes defining the margins of water hazards, ground under repair, etc. are deemed to be immovable obstructions. The Local Rule would not, of course, apply to boundary stakes since they are not on the course. Is such a Local Rule permissible?
A.Yes. However, this is not recommended as it may result in players being penalized under Rule 13-2 for moving such a stake. (Revised)
Local Rule Providing Line-of-Sight Relief from Irrigation-Control Boxes
Q.Irrigation-control boxes, which are about two feet wide and four feet high, have been installed near a number of fairways. Would it be appropriate for a Committee to adopt a Local Rule under which relief would be provided from such boxes when they intervene on the line of play, i.e., line-of-sight relief?
A.No. Providing line-of-sight relief from permanent immovable obstructions is not authorized, except in very unusual circumstances. It is not unusual for irrigation-control boxes to be located near fairways.
Local Rule Providing Line-of-Sight Relief from Protective Fence Near Line of Play
If a wire fence is erected to protect players on the tee of one hole from errant shots played at another hole, and it is relatively close to the line of play of the other hole, it would be permissible to make a Local Rule allowing a player whose ball is in such a position that the fence intervenes on his line of play to drop the ball, without penalty, not nearer the hole in a specified dropping zone.
Local Rule Permitting Relief on Specified Side of Paved Path
Q.A paved path is parallel to the left side of the 12th hole. If a ball is on the path and the nearest point of relief under Rule 24-2b is on the left side of the path, the player effectively gets no relief as there is a very sharp incline on the left of the path that goes down 30 feet. Would it be appropriate to make a Local Rule giving relief in all cases on the fairway side of this path?
A.No. Rule 33-8 states: "The Committee may establish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions." It is not abnormal for areas adjacent to paved paths to have dense underbrush, trees, sharp slopes, etc., thereby providing no practical relief.
Furthermore, it would not be appropriate to establish dropping zones on the fairway side of the path to alleviate the problem.
Local Rule Providing Relief from Unsurfaced Road for Tee Shot Only
Q.A road which is not artificially surfaced crosses a fairway 225 yards from the tee. May the Committee adopt a Local Rule granting relief of the type afforded by Rule 24-2b(i) or Rule 25-1b(i) for tee shots, but not subsequent shots, coming to rest on the road?
A.No. The Committee has authority to provide relief from interference by the road but does not have authority so to limit its application.
• 33-2a/14 Internal Out of Bounds Applying to Stroke from Teeing Ground Only.
Local Rule for Damage Made by Insects
Q.Some types of insects, e.g., mole crickets, can create damage on a golf course that results in unreasonable playing conditions. May a Committee make a Local Rule treating this damage as ground under repair?
A.Yes. However, in some instances a Committee would be justified in stating that interference by this condition with a player's stance is deemed not to be, of itself, interference under this Local Rule – see Note under Rule 25-1a.
Local Rule Treating Ant Hills as Ground Under Repair
Q.An ant hill is a loose impediment and may be removed, but there is no other relief without penalty. Some ant hills are conical in shape and hard, and removal is not possible, but relief under Rule 25-1b is not available since an ant is not a burrowing animal. If such ant hills interfere with the proper playing of the game, would a Local Rule providing relief be authorized?
A.Yes. A Local Rule stating that such ant hills are to be treated as ground under repair would be justified.
Such a Local Rule is also justified on courses where fire-ants exist. A fire-ants' mound or hill is removable, but its removal will cause the fire-ants to swarm out of the ground. When this occurs, anyone in the vicinity is in danger of being bitten by the ants, and the bite of a fire-ant can cause serious illness.
If a Local Rule giving relief from fire-ants has not been adopted and a ball is so close to a fire-ants' mound that the player is in danger, the player is, in equity, entitled to relief as prescribed in Decision 1-4/10.
Local Rule Denying Relief from Ground Under Repair During Play of Particular Hole
Q.An area of ground under repair is situated on the fairway of the 2nd hole, which is parallel to the 1st hole. Is it permissible to make a Local Rule prohibiting relief from this ground under repair during the play of the 1st hole?
Local Rule Permitting Relief from Edging Grooves Around Putting Green
Q.Edging grooves are cut at the perimeters of the putting greens, or just beyond the fringes of the greens, to prevent creeping grasses (e.g., bermuda-grass) from encroaching. If a ball comes to rest in or on such a groove, it is impossible to play the ball with any degree of accuracy. Would a Local Rule providing relief be authorized?
A.Yes. If an edging groove touches the green, the Committee may make a Local Rule giving relief if a ball lies in or on such a groove or the groove interferes with the area of intended swing, but not solely because the groove might affect the player's stance. The Local Rule should read as follows:
"If a ball lies in or on an edging groove around a putting green, or if the groove interferes with the area of the player's intended swing, the ball may, without penalty, be lifted, cleaned and placed in the nearest position to where it lay that is not nearer the hole and avoids interference by the condition, whether on or off the putting green."
If edging grooves do not touch the green, the Committee may declare them to be ground under repair and provide relief under Rule 25-1 as follows:
"The grooves around the fringes of the putting greens are ground under repair. However, interference by a groove with the player's stance is deemed not to be, of itself, interference under Rule 25-1. If the ball lies in or touches the groove or the groove interferes with the area of intended swing, relief is available under Rule 25-1."
Local Rule for Ground Under Repair Adjacent to Artificially-Surfaced Cart Path
Q.When ground under repair is adjacent to an artificially-surfaced cart path (an obstruction), sometimes a player, after obtaining relief from one condition, is interfered with by the other condition. Thus, another drop under another Rule results. This is cumbersome and could lead to complications. Would it be proper to eliminate the problem by means of a Local Rule under which ground under repair adjacent to an artificially-surfaced cart path would have the same status as the cart path?
A.Yes. If white lines are used to define ground under repair, a Local Rule is suggested as follows:
"White-lined areas tying into artificially-surfaced roads or paths are declared to have the same status as the roads or paths, i.e., they are obstructions, not ground under repair. Relief, without penalty, is provided under Rule 24-2b(i)."
Local Rule Altering Ground Under Repair Relief Procedure
Q.It is planned to define an area containing young trees as ground under repair. Would it be permissible to make a Local Rule requiring that, if a player elects to take relief from this area, he must drop the ball behind the area, keeping the trees between himself and the hole?
A.No. However, if it is not feasible to proceed in conformity with the ground under repair Rule, establishment of dropping zones is authorized. The Local Rule providing such dropping zones may establish them as an additional option under Rule 25-1 or may require their use.
Local Rule Providing Relief Without Penalty from Bunker Filled with Casual Water
Q.May a Committee make a Local Rule allowing a player to drop out of any bunker filled with casual water, without penalty, contrary to Rule 25-1b(ii)?
A.No. The Committee may not make a Local Rule providing generally that flooded bunkers are ground under repair through the green, as such a Local Rule waives a penalty imposed by the Rules of Golf, contrary to Rule 33-8b.
However, in exceptional circumstances, where certain specific bunkers are completely flooded and there is no reasonable likelihood of the bunkers drying up during the round, the Committee may introduce a Local Rule providing relief without penalty from specific bunkers. Prior to introducing such a Local Rule, the Committee must be convinced that such exceptional circumstances exist and that providing relief without penalty from specific bunkers is more appropriate than simply applying Rule 25-1b(ii). If the Committee elects to introduce a Local Rule, the following wording is suggested:
"The flooded bunker on [insert location of bunker; e.g., left of 5th green] is ground under repair. If a player's ball lies in that bunker or if that bunker interferes with the player's stance or the area of his intended swing and the player wishes to take relief, he must take relief outside the bunker, without penalty, in accordance with Rule 25-1b(i). All other bunkers on the course, regardless of whether they contain water, maintain their status as hazards and the Rules apply accordingly."
In a competition played over more than one round, such a Local Rule may be introduced or rescinded between rounds.
• 25/13 Bunker Totally Under Repair.
• 25-1b/8 Player's Options When Bunker Completely Covered by Casual Water.
Local Rule Permitting Re-Dropping or Placing When Dropped Ball Embeds in Bunker
Q.The bunkers on a course frequently have casual water in them. The texture of the sand in the bunkers is such that a ball dropped under Rule 25-1b(ii)(a) embeds itself in wet sand to the depth of the ball or deeper.
Would it be proper for the Committee to make a Local Rule permitting a ball that embeds in a bunker after being dropped from casual water in the bunker to be re-dropped or placed?
A.No. It is not abnormal for a ball dropped in a bunker to embed itself in the sand. (Revised)
Local Rule Requiring Player to Take Relief Under Penalty from Tree Nursery or Plantation
Q.May a Committee make a Local Rule requiring that a ball lying in a tree nursery or plantation be dropped outside it under penalty of one stroke?
A.No. If the Committee wishes to prohibit play in such an area, it may declare it to be ground under repair from which relief without penalty is mandatory. However, a Local Rule imposing a penalty of one stroke is not permitted.
Local Rule Permitting the Repair of Turf Plugs On the Putting Green That are Not 4¼ Inches in Diameter
Q.Turf plugs which are not 4¼ inches in diameter or are not circular have been cut on some putting greens to repair damaged areas of turf. May a Committee adopt a Local Rule permitting the repair of these plugs?
A.Yes. If such areas exist it is recommended that a Local Rule permitting the repair of these plugs under Rule 16-1c be adopted. Otherwise, the repair of such turf plugs would be contrary to Rule 16-1c.
Local Rule Providing Relief from Accumulations of Leaves Through the Green
The Committee may make a temporary Local Rule declaring accumulations of leaves through the green at certain holes to be ground under repair (see Definition of "Ground Under Repair") and Rule 25-1 will apply.
The Local Rule should be restricted to the hole(s) at which trouble with leaves occurs and it should be withdrawn as soon as conditions permit. Particular attention is drawn to the opening paragraph of Rule 25-1c; unless it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the leaves, it must be treated as lost elsewhere and Rule 27-1 applies.
For fallen leaves in a bunker – see Decision 13-4/33.
Local Rule Treating Severe Damage by Non-Burrowing Animals as Ground Under Repair
Q.May a Committee make a Local Rule declaring areas severely damaged by non-burrowing animals to be ground under repair without marking them as such?
A.Yes. Furthermore, in some instances a Committee would be justified in specifying that interference with the player's stance is not, of itself, interference from the condition – see the Note under Rule 25-1a.
Local Rule Prohibiting Dropping on Apron When Ball on Wrong Putting Green
Q.Balls from the 13th tee frequently come to rest on the 15th green, and the point of nearest relief under Rule 25-3 is the closely mown apron of the green. Much damage is being caused to this apron. May the Committee make a Local Rule requiring that a ball be dropped not only clear of the putting surface but also clear of the apron of this green?
A.Yes. The following wording for a Local Rule is suggested:
"For the purpose of Rule 25-3, the putting green of the 15th hole includes the apron surrounding the green."
Relief from Divot Holes
Q.May a Committee make a Local Rule providing relief without penalty from divot holes or repaired divot holes (e.g., holes that have been filled with sand and/or seed mix)?
A.No. Such a Local Rule would modify Rule 13-1 and is not authorized.
Local Rule Treating Rough as a Lateral Water Hazard
Q.The areas immediately adjacent to the fairways consist of large embedded boulders, thick desert brush and prickly cactus. A player whose ball comes to rest in such areas has no opportunity to play a stroke. Would it be proper to make a Local Rule under which such areas would be treated as lateral water hazards?
A.No. There are many courses where the areas adjacent to the fairways are of such a nature that a ball therein is almost always lost or unplayable. Thus, such a situation is not abnormal.
Local Rule Giving Free Relief for Ball in Water Hazard
Q.A drainage ditch crosses a hole 190 yards from the tee. The Committee has marked that portion of the ditch within the limits of the fairway and a Local Rule allows a player relief, without penalty, if his tee shot lies in the ditch within the fairway limits.
Is this a proper Local Rule?
A.No. A drainage ditch is a water hazard – see Definition of "Water Hazard." Under Rule 26-1, the penalty for relief from a water hazard is one stroke. Rule 33-8b prohibits waiving this penalty by Local Rule.
Local Rule Allowing Drop in Water Hazard Behind Point Where Ball Lies Unplayable in Hazard
Q.A water hazard varies from 100 yards to 250 yards in width, and there is little or no water in it. In most cases, a ball in the hazard can be played. However, it sometimes happens that a ball fails by a few yards to carry the hazard and ends up unplayable in water.
Under Rule 26-1, the player must either drop behind the hazard or at the spot from which his previous stroke was played. In either case, the relief point is up to 250 yards away. In such circumstances, may the Committee make a Local Rule permitting a player to drop a ball in the hazard under penalty of one stroke, as well as out of the hazard?
• 26-1/20 Allowing Drop Opposite Spot Where Ball Comes to Rest in Lateral Water Hazard.
• 33-2a/9 Part of Lateral Water Hazard Where Impossible to Drop Not Nearer Hole.
Local Rule for Water Hazard with Bunker Adjacent
Q.Due to the proximity of a bunker to the margin of a lateral water hazard, it is likely that a player, when dropping a ball under Rule 26-1c(i), will be required to drop a ball in the bunker.
Would it be permissible to place the line defining the lateral water hazard along the fairway side of the bunker (i.e., making the bunker part of the lateral water hazard), or alternatively, make a Local Rule to the effect that, when obtaining relief under the lateral water hazard Rule, the player may drop a ball to the fairway side of the bunker?
A.In all cases, the hazard should be marked along its natural boundary – see Decision 33-2a/4.
If the Committee does not wish to require a player to drop a ball in the bunker when proceeding under the lateral water hazard Rule, the Committee may establish a dropping zone or series of dropping zones on the fairway side of the bunker and make a Local Rule stating that a player whose ball is in the lateral water hazard (having last crossed the hazard margin between defined points) may drop a ball, under penalty of one stroke, in the nearest dropping zone that is not nearer the hole.
Local Rule Deeming Out of Bounds Ball Which Crosses Boundary But Comes to Rest on Course
Q.Is it permissible to make a Local Rule that a ball is out of bounds if it crosses a boundary, even if it recrosses the boundary and comes to rest on the same part of the course? The purpose of the Local Rule would be to prevent players from cutting across a "dog-leg."
A.No. A ball is out of bounds only when all of it lies out of bounds – see Definition of "Out of Bounds."
The Local Rule suggested in Decision 27/20 deals with a different situation, i.e., one in which a ball crosses an out of bounds area and comes to rest on a different part of the course.
• 33-2a/12 Internal Boundary Between Holes.
• 33-2a/13 Tee Decreed to Be in Bounds for Tee Shot and Out of Bounds Thereafter.
• 33-2a/14 Internal Out of Bounds Applying to Stroke from Teeing Ground Only.
Local Rule for Bunker Faces Consisting of Stacked Turf
Q.The face of a bunker that consists of stacked turf may be grass-covered or earthen. May a Committee make a Local Rule deeming that such faces are not "closely-mown areas" (Rule 25-2)?
Local Rule Deeming Partially Grass-Covered Wall of Bunker to Be Part of Bunker
Q.The bunkers on a course are designed to have earthen walls (not consisting of stacked turf), which are therefore intended to be part of the bunkers. However, parts of some of the bunker walls have become grass-covered. Under the Definition of "Bunker," such grass-covered areas are through the green. In such a situation, may a Committee make a Local Rule deeming the "mixed" bunker walls to be part of the bunker?
A.Yes. Conversely, if the bunkers had been designed to have grass-covered walls, but some parts had worn bare, the Committee could deem the "mixed" bunker walls to be through the green and not part of the bunker.
• 13/4 Ball Completely Embedded in Lip of Bunker.
• 16/2 Ball Embedded in Side of Hole; All of Ball Below Lip of Hole.
• 25-2/5 Ball Embedded in Grass Bank or Face of Bunker.
Local Rule Clarifying Status of Material Similar to Sand
Q.A course has material other than sand (e.g., finely crushed shell or lava dust) filling its bunkers. May the Committee establish a Local Rule stating that such material is deemed to have the same status as sand or loose soil (i.e., loose impediments on the putting green but not elsewhere)?
Marking Environmentally-Sensitive Areas
If an appropriate authority prohibits entry into and/or play from an area for environmental reasons, it is the Committee's responsibility to decide whether an environmentally-sensitive area should be defined as ground under repair, a water hazard or out of bounds.
However, the Committee may not define the area as a water hazard or a lateral water hazard unless it is, by Definition, a water hazard. The Committee should attempt to preserve the character of the hole.
(a) A small area of rare plants close to a putting green has been declared an environmentally-sensitive area. The Committee may define the area to be ground under repair or out of bounds, but it may not be defined as a water hazard or lateral water hazard. In view of the area's proximity to a putting green, it should not be defined as out of bounds because a stroke-and-distance penalty would be unduly harsh. It would be more appropriate to define the area as ground under repair.
(b) A large area of sand dunes along the side of a hole has been declared an environmentally-sensitive area. In contrast to (a) above, it should not be defined as ground under repair because the absence of a penalty would be unduly generous. It would be more appropriate to define the area as out of bounds.
(c) A large area of wetlands along the side of a hole has been declared an environmentally-sensitive area. As in (b) above, it could be defined as out of bounds, but it would be more appropriate to define it as a lateral water hazard.
An environmentally-sensitive area should be physically protected to deter players from entering the area (e.g., by a fence, warning signs and the like) and it should be marked in accordance with the recommendations in the Rules of Golf (i.e., by yellow, red or white stakes, depending on the status of the area). It is recommended that stakes with green tops be used to designate an environmentally-sensitive area.
Player Enters Environmentally-Sensitive Area to Retrieve Ball
Q.A player wrongfully enters an environmentally-sensitive area to retrieve his ball. What is the ruling?
A.There is no penalty under the Rules of Golf, but the player may have broken the law or be subject to other disciplinary action. A Local Rule which imposes a penalty for entering an environmentally-sensitive area is not authorized.
Stroke Played from Environmentally-Sensitive Area
Q.A player played a stroke at his ball in an environmentally-sensitive area from which play is prohibited or took his stance in such an area in playing a stroke. What is the ruling?
A.The answer depends on how the Committee has defined the environmentally-sensitive area.
Ground Under Repair, Water Hazard or Lateral Water Hazard: If the ball was in the environmentally-sensitive area, or if the player took his stance in the environmentally-sensitive area to play a stroke at his ball which was lying outside the environmentally-sensitive area, he loses the hole in match play or he incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play for a breach of the Local Rule. In stroke play, he must play out the hole with that ball unless a serious breach of the Local Rule has occurred – see Decision 33-8/44.
Out of Bounds: If the ball was in the environmentally-sensitive area, the player played a wrong ball – see Decision 15/6. Accordingly, in match play, the player loses the hole. In stroke play, he incurs a two-stroke penalty and is required to proceed under Rule 27-1, incurring the additional one-stroke penalty prescribed by that Rule.
If the player took his stance in the environmentally-sensitive area to play a ball which was in bounds, the ruling would be the same as that for Ground Under Repair, Water Hazard or Lateral Water Hazard.
In all cases, the player may have broken the law or be subject to other disciplinary action for having entered the environmentally-sensitive area.
Significant Advantage Gained When Player Plays Stroke from Environmentally-Sensitive Area Defined as Water Hazard
Q.A player makes a stroke at his ball which is lying in an environmentally-sensitive area from which play is prohibited and which has been defined as a water hazard.
The point where his ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard is 150 yards behind the place where he made a stroke at his ball. What is the ruling?
A.In match play, the player loses the hole for a breach of the Local Rule.
In stroke play, playing from an environmentally-sensitive area does not, by itself, constitute a serious breach of the Local Rule. However, in this case the player gained a significant advantage by doing so and, consequently, was guilty of a serious breach of the Local Rule. Therefore, the player must correct his error and follow the procedure outlined in Rule 20-7c by playing a ball in accordance with Rule 26-1, incurring the penalty stroke prescribed by that Rule and an additional penalty of two strokes for a breach of the Local Rule; otherwise the player is disqualified. The stroke made with the original ball from within the environmentally-sensitive area and all subsequent strokes, including penalty strokes, with this ball do not count in the player's score.
Status of Growing Things Rooted Within Environmentally-Sensitive Area
Q.A player's ball comes to rest through the green but near an environmentally-sensitive area that has been defined as a lateral water hazard. The player's backswing is interfered with by a branch of a tree that is rooted within the environmentally-sensitive area but overhangs ground outside the hazard. With the Local Rule for Environmentally-Sensitive Areas in effect, is the player required to take relief from the branch without penalty?
A.No. The player must play the ball as it lies or deem it unplayable (Rule 28). The part of the tree that extends beyond the margin of the lateral water hazard is not part of the lateral water hazard and therefore not part of the environmentally-sensitive area. Consequently, the Local Rule does not apply to that part of the branch.
The same result would apply if the environmentally-sensitive area had been defined as out of bounds, as the out of bounds line, like that of a lateral water hazard, extends vertically upwards and downwards.
If, however, the environmentally-sensitive area had been defined as ground under repair, the player would be required to take relief, without penalty, from the branch as the entire tree is part of the ground under repair (see Definition of "Ground Under Repair").
To avoid such situations, it is recommended that, where possible, the Committee define the margins of an environmentally-sensitive area so that any overhanging branches are within the area.
Local Rule Treating Temporary Immovable Obstructions as Immovable Obstructions or Temporary Immovable Obstructions
Q.May a Committee make a Local Rule stating that a player may, at his option, treat a temporary immovable obstruction (TIO) either as an immovable obstruction (in which case Rule 24-2 applies) or a TIO (in which case the Local Rule for TIOs applies)?
Other Decisions related to Rule 33-8: See "Local Rules" in the Index.