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Additional Clarifications of the 2023 Rules of Golf

Updated April 9, 2024

New additions will normally be updated on a quarterly basis each January, April, July, and October and the next quarterly update will be in July 2024. 

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New Additions

No New Clarifications for April 2024

 

Rule 5  |  Rule 8  |  Rule 10 |  Rule 11  |  Rule 14  |  Committee Procedures

 

RULES

Rule 5:

Rule 5.2:

5.2b/3 - Application of Penalty for Practising on Course Before Round in Stroke Play

Rule 5.2b explains when a player is not allowed to practise on the course before a round in stroke play. The penalty statement in Rule 5.2b is not limited to making a stroke as the term “practising on the course” also includes testing the surface of the putting green by rolling a ball or rubbing the surface.

If a player rubs the surface of a single green, they have only breached Rule 5.2 once no matter how many times they rub the surface of the same green.  (Added December 2022)

 Rule 8:

Rule 8.1:

8.1a/10 - Player Allowed to Put Movable Part of Immovable Obstruction Back in Intended Position

Rule 8.1a(2) prohibits placing a movable obstruction into position to improve the conditions affecting the stroke. However, this restriction does not apply to returning a movable part of an immovable obstruction to its intended position.

For example:   

- If a sprinkler head is popped up, the player may push it down before playing the ball as the sprinkler head is not in its intended position.
- If a drain cover has been removed or dislodged, the player may return it to its intended position.

In both cases, there is no penalty under Rule 8 even if this improves the conditions affecting the stroke.  (Added July 2023)

Rule 10:

Rule 10.2:

10.2b/1 - Use of Self-Standing Putter for Alignment Help is Not Allowed

[Note: A delay of implementation is in effect until January 1, 2025 that applies to certain uses of self-standing putters. For more information, see Clarification 10.2b(3)/2]

Provided a self-standing putter conforms to the Equipment Rules, it may be used to make a stroke (Rule 4.1a(1)). But the player (or their caddie) is not allowed to set such a putter down to get help in any way that would breach Rule 10.2b.

For example, the player must not set the putter down in a standing position right behind or right next to the spot where the ball lies on the putting green to show the line of play or to help the player in taking their stance for the stroke in breach of Rule 10.2b(3). (Added December 2022)

10.2b(3)/1 - Setting Clubhead on Ground Behind Ball to Help the Player Take a Stance is Allowed

[Note: A delay of implementation is in effect until January 1, 2025 that applies to certain uses of self-standing putters. For more information, see Clarification 10.2b(3)/2]

Rule 10.2b(3) does not allow a player to set down an object (such as an alignment rod or a golf club) to help the player take a stance.

However, this prohibition does not prevent a player from positioning their clubhead behind the ball, such as when a player stands behind the ball and places the clubhead perpendicular to the line of play and then, while still holding the club, walks around from behind the ball to take their stance. (Added December 2022)

10.2b(3)/2 - Delay of Implementation for Certain Uses of Self-Standing Putters

A two-year delay of implementation in relation to certain uses of self-standing putters under Rule 10.2b(3) is in effect as follows:

- Until January 1, 2025, a player may use a self-standing putter by setting it down right behind or right next to the spot on which the ball came to rest to help aim or to take a stance or position their feet.

- From January 1, 2025, Rule 10.2b(3) will apply to self-standing putters and the acts described in the previous paragraph will no longer be allowed. But a player will still be allowed to use a self-standing putter that conforms to the Rules to make a stroke or take other actions allowed by the Rules. (Added December 2022)

Rule 11:

Rule 11.1:

11.1b(2)/1 – Ball played from putting green hits another ball in motion on the putting green

A ball is a movable obstruction, including when it is in motion on the putting green. 

If it is known or virtually certain that a player’s ball in motion played from the putting green accidentally hits another ball in motion on the putting green, the player must replay the stroke by playing the original ball or another ball from the spot where that stroke was made (see Rule 14.6). (Added January 2024)

Rule 14:

Rule 14.3:

14.3b(4)/1 – General Penalty Applies Under Rule 14.7a 

In relation to the final bullet in Rule 14.3b(4), if a player gets the general penalty for making a stroke without correcting their mistake, the general penalty applies under Rule 14.7a for having played from a wrong place.

For example, when taking back-on-the-line relief, a player drops their ball almost one club-length to the side of the line. The ball is in a wrong place irrespective of where it comes to rest, even if it comes to rest on the line. The ball must be dropped again to avoid penalty under Rule 14.7a.

In stroke play, if the player makes a stroke from the wrong place, the player would need to correct this mistake if playing from a wrong place was a serious breach. (Added April 2023)   

 

COMMITTEE PROCEDURES

    Model Local Rule E-13:

E-13 – Player May Remove Animals Not Defined As Loose Impediments From Near Ball

Purpose. When an animal is touching or is near a player’s ball, the player may encourage it to move, and if the animal causes the ball to move when it is being encouraged by the player, Rule 9.6 applies.

If the animal does not move, the player can choose between removing the animal and risking penalty if they cause the ball to move (Rule 9.4b), taking penalty relief (Rules 17.1 or 19.1) or playing the ball as it lies while the animal is still touching or is near the ball.

This Local Rule allows the player to remove animals that are not defined as loose impediments without penalty under Rule 9.4.

Model Local Rule E-13
“A player may remove an animal, other than those defined as a loose impediment, that is touching or near their ball without penalty and may do so in any way.

If the player’s ball moves while they are removing the animal:

- There is no penalty, and
- The ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7. (Added July 2023)

Model Local Rule M-4:

M-4 – Limited Relief for Ball in Bunker for Players Using Wheeled Mobility Devices

Purpose. The design and shape of bunkers often create situations where it is either not possible or it would require unreasonable effort for a player using a wheeled mobility device to position themselves to make a stroke on their intended line of play due to the size and limited manoeuvrability of wheeled mobility devices.

Examples of such situations include when the wall, lip or slope around the bunker prevents a player from taking their stance or the severity of the slope of sand in the bunker requires the player to make unreasonable efforts to take their stance, even though playing the ball as it lies would generally be possible if the player was not using a wheeled mobility device.

When such a situation exists, this Local Rule allows the player the option of taking free relief within the same bunker. 

This Local Rule requires the player to make an honest assessment as to when it would require unreasonable effort for them to take a stance to play the ball as it lies as there will be times when the player will be able to take their stance with reasonable effort even though taking free relief elsewhere in the bunker is more desirable. There will also be times when the player is not allowed to take free relief because playing the ball as it lies would be clearly unreasonable for every player in the field whether or not they would be making a stroke from a seated position. 

Model Local Rule M-4
“When a player’s ball comes to rest in a bunker, a player using a wheeled mobility device may take free relief in the same bunker when taking a stance to play the ball as it lies and on the intended line of play is either:

  • Not possible (such as when the wall, lip or slope around the bunker interferes with the positioning of the player’s wheeled mobility device), or
  • Requires unreasonable effort (such as when the player is unable to drive their wheeled mobility device up a sandy slope).


The player may take free relief by
dropping the original ball or another ball in and playing it from this relief area:

  • Reference Point: The nearest point where the player’s ball can be positioned in the bunker that would allow their wheeled mobility device to be positioned without unreasonable effort, which may be nearer the hole.
  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length in any direction, but with these limits:
  • Limits on Location of Relief Area:

- Must be in the same bunker.

Exception – No Relief Even Though Stance Not Possible. Free relief is not available under this Local Rule when:

  • Playing the ball as it lies is clearly unreasonable because of something other than the player being unable to take a stance or taking a stance requiring unreasonable effort (such as when the ball is buried in a steep sandy faced bunker).
  • The player creates a situation where free relief would be available, but does so only because:

- They choose a clearly unreasonable direction of play (such as playing a ball directly out of bounds or into a penalty area when taking a stance would take unreasonable effort), or
- They choose a clearly unreasonable club or type of swing.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.” (Added January 2024)