8. Model Local Rules

This Section lists authorized Model Local Rules that may be used by a Committee:

Principles for establishing Local Rules:

If the Committee believes that a Local Rule not covered by these principles may be needed because of local abnormal conditions that interfere with fair play, it should:

The Model Local Rules in each category are numbered in order – for example, A-1, A-2, etc.

A statement of purpose is given with each Model Local Rule. If a Committee changes the wording of a Model Local Rule to fit the particular needs of the course or competition, it should make sure that such changes are consistent with the stated purpose.

These Model Local Rules are organized in the following categories:

A.    Out of Bounds and Course Boundaries

B.    Penalty Areas

C.    Bunkers

D.    Putting Greens

E.    Special or Required Relief Procedures

F.     Abnormal Course Conditions and Integral Objects

G.    Restrictions on Use of Specific Equipment

H.    Defining Who May Help or Give Advice to Players

I.     Defining When and Where Players May Practise

J.     Procedures for Bad Weather and Suspensions of Play

K.    Pace of Play Policies

These Model Local Rules cover those situations or issues that arise often enough to justify having a model form. For all other situations where a Local Rule is allowed but model language is not provided, the Committee should write the Local Rule in clear and simple terms. But the Committee is not authorized to write Local Rules which go against the principles in the Rules of Golf. Section 8L gives more information regarding the use of unauthorized Local Rules.

Where a Local Rule is written using the language of the Model Local Rules in this section, the Committee may seek assistance in interpreting the Local Rule from the USGA.

8A Out of Bounds and Course Boundaries

A-1 Defining Boundaries

Purpose. There are many ways in which a Committee may define the boundaries of the course and it is not appropriate or possible to provide a complete list of Model Local Rules that can be used for this purpose.

The key is to be clear and specific when defining boundaries in the Local Rules.

No specific Model Local Rules are included in this section given the variety of options available, but some examples are provided below:

See Sections 2A and 5B(1) for more information on defining out of bounds.

A-2 Clarifying Boundary When Using Wall or Road

Purpose. The definition of “out of bounds” clarifies that when a boundary is defined by objects such as a wall or road, the Committee should define the boundary edge.

Depending on the nature or condition of a wall, there may be good reasons for defining the boundary as being beyond the wall or using the course-side edge of the wall as the boundary.

Model Local Rule A-2.1

“The course -side edge of any wall [course -side edge of road] defines the boundary of the course.”

Model Local Rule A-2.2

“A ball is out of bounds when it is beyond any wall defining the boundary of the course.”

A-3 Out of Bounds When Public Road Runs Through Course

Purpose. When a public road runs through a course, it is usually defined as out of bounds. This can make it possible for a ball played from one side of the road to come to rest in bounds on the other side of the road, even though that ball would be out of bounds if it came to rest on the road itself.

If the Committee believes that it is unfair or dangerous to treat those situations differently, it may adopt a Local Rule stating that a ball played from one side of the road that comes to rest on the other side of that road is out of bounds.

If a road crosses a particular hole where the players have to play from one side to the other in the normal course of play, the Committee should specify that this Local Rule does not apply to that road in the play of that hole.

Model Local Rule A-3

“A ball coming to rest on or beyond the road [identify the road or the holes where it comes into play] is out of bounds, even if it comes to rest on another part of the course that is in bounds for other holes.”

A-4 Internal Out of Bounds

Purpose. For course design or safety reasons, a Committee can choose to specify that a particular part of the course is out of bounds during the play of a particular hole.

This is done to stop players who are playing that hole from playing to and from another part of the course. For example, on a dogleg hole, an internal out of bounds may be used to prevent a player from cutting the dogleg by playing a ball to the fairway of another hole.

But a Local Rule stating that a ball is out of bounds if it crosses a boundary, even if it re-crosses the boundary and comes to rest on the same part of the course, is not authorized.

Model Local Rule A-4

When the boundary is defined by stakes:

“During play of [specify hole number], the [describe the part of the course ] on the [specify location or side] of the hole, defined by [specify colour of stakes, for example, white stakes], is out of bounds.

These stakes are treated as boundary objects during the play of [specify hole number]. For all other holes, they are immovable obstructions.”

A-5 Stakes Identifying Out of Bounds

Purpose. When out of bounds is defined by a line on the ground, a trench or in another way that might not be visible from a distance, the Committee may place stakes along the boundary to allow players to see where the boundary edge is from a distance.

Boundary objects are not permitted to be moved and free relief is generally not given, but the Committee may provide for relief from these stakes through the following Model Local Rule, which should also clarify the status of these stakes.

It is recommended that such stakes be marked differently than other boundary stakes on the course, for example, white stakes with black tops may be used for this purpose.

Model Local Rule A-5

“Where a boundary is defined by [identify boundary, for example, a white line painted on the ground], white stakes with black tops have been placed for visibility. These stakes [describe any special marking] are [immovable/movable] obstructions.”

8B Penalty Areas

B-1 Defining Penalty Areas

Purpose. There are many ways in which a Committee can define penalty areas on the course and so it is not necessary or possible to provide a complete list of Model Local Rules that can be used for this purpose.

The key is to be clear and specific when defining penalty areas in the Local Rules.

No specific Model Local Rules are included in this section given the variety of options available, but some examples are provided below:

While it is a good practice to mark the edges of penalty areas, there are times when the edge of the penalty area can be defined by language on the scorecard or Local Rules sheet. This should only be done when there will be little confusion about where the edge of the penalty area begins,  and it can be done in a consistent manner throughout the course. Some examples are:

See Sections 2C and 5B(2) for more information on defining penalty areas.

B-2 Relief on Opposite Side of Red Penalty Area

Purpose. Rule 17.1 gives a player the option to take lateral relief or back-onthe- line relief based on where his or her ball last crossed the edge of a red penalty area. But in some cases (for example, due to the location of the red penalty area right next to a course boundary), those options may leave the player with no reasonable option other than to take stroke-and-distance relief.

A Committee can introduce a Local Rule to allow lateral relief on the opposite side of the red penalty area as an extra relief option under Rule 17.1d. [Clarification Available →]

When considering a Local Rule to allow additional relief:

Model Local Rule B-2.1

“When a player’s ball is in a penalty area, including when it is known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area even though not found, the player may take relief using one of the options under Rule 17.1d.

Or, when the ball last crossed the edge of the red penalty area on [specify hole number and location], as an extra relief option adding one penalty stroke, the player may drop the original ball or another ball on the opposite side of the penalty area:

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

Model Local Rule B-2.2

Model Local Rule B-2.1 applies but with the following amendment to the first paragraph:

“This Local Rule applies when a player’s ball is found in or it is known or virtually certain to have come to rest in any red penalty area that coincides with a boundary of the course and the point where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area is on the boundary side of that penalty area.”

B-3 Provisional Ball for Ball in a Penalty Area

Purpose. Under Rule 18.3, a player is not allowed to play a ball provisionally if it is known or virtually certain that his or her ball is in a penalty area.

But in unusual cases, the size, shape or location of a penalty area may be such that:

For such situations, to save time a Committee may choose to modify Rule 18.3:

Model Local Rule B-3

“If a player does not know whether his or her ball is in the penalty area [identify location], the player may play a provisional ball under Rule 18.3, which is modified in this way:

In playing the provisional ball, the player may use the stroke-and-distance relief option (see Rule 17.1d(1), the back-on-the-line relief option (see Rule 17.1d(2)) or, if it is a red penalty area, the lateral relief option (see Rule 17.1d(3)). If a dropping zone (see Model Local Rule E-1) is available for this penalty area, the player may also use that relief option.

Once the player has played a provisional ball under this Rule, he or she may not use any further options under Rule 17.1 in relation to the original ball.

In deciding when that provisional ball becomes the player’s ball in play or if it must or may be abandoned, Rule 18.3c(2) and 18.3c(3) apply except that:

  • When Original Ball Is Found in Penalty Area Within Three-Minute Search Time. The player may choose either to:

    • Continue to play the original ball as it lies in the penalty area, in which case the provisional ball must not be played. All strokes with that provisional ball before it was abandoned (including strokes made and any penalty strokes solely from playing that ball) do not count, or

    • Continue to play the provisional ball in which case the original ball must not be played.

  • When Original Ball Is Not Found Within Three-Minute Search Time or Is Known or Virtually Certain to Be in Penalty Area. The provisional ball becomes the player’s ball in play.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty.”

B-4 Defining Open Water Course as Part of General Area

Purpose. If an open water course does not usually contain water (such as a drainage ditch or run-off area that is dry except during a rainy season), the Committee can define that area as part of the general area.

The Committee can also choose to mark such an open water course as a penalty area during times of the year when it contains water, or leave it as part of the general area, in which case any water that collects would be treated as temporary water. However, areas that would normally contain water should be marked as penalty areas throughout the year.

See Model Local Rule F-20 for when the open water course may be made a part of an abnormal course condition.

Model Local Rule B-4.1

“The [describe specific water course, e.g. ditch] at the [detail where it is located] is to be treated as part of the general area and not as a penalty area.”

Model Local Rule B-4.2

“All [describe specific types of water courses, such as concrete drainage ditches] are to be treated as part of the general area and not as a penalty area.”

B-5 Special Relief When Penalty Area Next to Bunker

Purpose. There may be particular holes where part of the edge of a red penalty area is so close to a bunker that a player taking lateral relief under Rule 17.1d(3) will need to drop a ball in the bunker.

In such a case, a Committee can choose to create an extra relief option allowing the player, for one penalty stroke, to take relief in a dropping zone positioned on the fairway side of the bunker.

Model Local Rule B-5

“This Local Rule allows the use of a dropping zone as an extra relief option when:

  • A player’s ball is in the red penalty area [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that the ball came to rest in the penalty area, and

  • The ball last crossed the edge of the red penalty area [identify start and end locations such as between two specially marked stakes].

In that case, the player may:

  • Take relief under one of the options in Rule 17.1d, adding one penalty stroke, or

  • As an extra option, also adding one penalty stroke, take relief by dropping a ball in and playing it from the nearest dropping zone to the point where the ball last crossed the edge of the red penalty area and that is not nearer the hole than that point.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

8C Bunkers

C-1 Clarifying Edge of Bunker

Purpose. When it may be difficult to determine the edge of a bunker due to wear or when bunkers blend into areas of sand that are in the general area, the Committee may need to define the edge of the bunker.

No specific Model Local Rules are included in this section given the variety of options available, but some examples are provided below:

See Sections 2D and 5B(3) for more information on bunkers.

C-2 Changing Status of Areas of Sand

Purpose. The definition of “bunker” specifies that a bunker is a “specially prepared area of sand”. However, if a Committee wants to define a prepared area of sand as part of the general area or define a non-prepared area of sand as a bunker, it may do so by Local Rule.

Model Local Rule C-2.1

Defining a prepared area of sand as part of the general area:

“The prepared area[s] of sand [detail holes or locations] are part of the general area and not bunkers.”

Model Local Rule C-2.2

Defining a non-prepared area of sand as a bunker:

“The area[s] of sand [detail holes or locations] are bunkers and not part of the general area.”

C-3 Clarifying Status of Material Similar to Sand

Purpose. Bunkers on a course sometimes contain materials similar to sand, such as crushed shells or lava dust. Such materials are treated as sand when applying Rule 12. (See the definition of “bunker”).

For consistency, the Committee can choose to treat such materials as sand everywhere else on the course as well.

Model Local Rule C-3

“The [identify material such as crushed shell or lava dust] used to fill bunkers is treated as sand both when in a bunker and everywhere else on the course.

This means that these materials are not loose impediments. A player must not improve the conditions affecting the stroke by removing these materials, except when they are on the putting green (see Rule 13.1c(1)).”

C-4 Declaring Practice Bunkers to Be Part of General Area

Purpose. When a course has bunkers within the boundaries of the course that are used for practising, they do not lose their status as bunkers by default. However, the condition of practice bunkers may be very poor as players frequently do not rake them. If the Committee wishes to provide relief for players, the bunker should be declared to be ground under repair and a part of the general area, which will allow players to take free relief outside the bunker.

Model Local Rule C-4

“The practice bunker located [insert details of where the bunker is located] is ground under repair and is part of the general area. Free relief is available under Rule 16.1b.”

8D Putting Greens

D-1 Clarifying Edge of Putting Green

Purpose. At some courses, the areas around putting greens are maintained in such a manner that it may be difficult for a player to determine if his or her ball is on the putting green. In cases like this the Committee can choose to mark the edges of putting greens with painted dots.

Model Local Rule D-1

“The edges of putting greens are defined by [insert colour] dots. The dots are [on][off] the putting green and free relief is not available from them.”

D-2 Status of Putting Green When Temporary Putting Green Is Used

Purpose. There may be times when a putting green for a hole cannot be used for some reason, for example due to bad weather, or for reasons related to repair or maintenance. When this is the case, the Committee may wish to prepare a temporary putting green and put a Local Rule in place to define this as the putting green in play for that hole. The putting green that has been replaced by a temporary putting green should be defined as a wrong green so that players are not permitted to play from it.

Model Local Rule D-2

“Temporary putting greens are in play on holes [insert hole numbers] as defined by [insert description, for example, the areas of fairway surrounded by white lines]. Any putting green that has been replaced by a temporary putting green is a wrong green and free relief for interference must be taken under Rule 13.1f.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

D-3 Prohibiting Relief from Wrong Green When Only Stance Interference Exists

Purpose. There may be situations where a Committee wishes to deny a player relief from a wrong green when the only interference is to the player’s stance, for example:

Model Local Rule D-3.1

Rule 13.1f is modified in this way:

Interference does not exist if a wrong green only interferes with the player’s stance.”

Model Local Rule D-3.2

Rule 13.1f is modified in this way:

When a player’s ball lies on the putting green of [specify hole number], interference does not exist for the player’s stance on the putting green of [specify hole number] or the reverse.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

D-4 Prohibiting Play from Fringe of Wrong Green

Purpose. If balls played on a particular hole often come to rest on the green of a nearby hole:

To prevent such damage, the Committee can choose to require players to take relief under Rule 13.1f by reference to a modified nearest point of complete relief that avoids interference with both the wrong green and the apron or fringe or by using a dropping zone (see Model Local Rule B-2).

Model Local Rule D-4

“When playing [specify hole number], if the player must take relief under Rule 13.1f because his or her ball came to rest on the putting green of [specify hole number] or that putting green interferes with his or her stance or area of intended swing:

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

D-5 Status of Practice Putting Green or Temporary Putting Green

Purpose. Wrong greens include practice greens for putting or pitching, but the Committee may choose to allow play from them by Local Rule (meaning that a player whose ball lies on such a green must play it from there). A temporary putting green for a hole is typically part of the general area when it is not in use, but the Committee may wish to clarify its status or declare it to be a wrong green. The Committee may also define a practice green or temporary green to be ground under repair which would allow a player to take free relief under Rule 16.1b.

Model Local Rule D-5.1

“The practice green located [insert details of where the green is located] is not a wrong green and free relief is not required or permitted under Rule 13.1f.”

Model Local Rule D-5.2

“The temporary green located [insert details of where the green is located] is a wrong green even when not in use and relief must be taken under Rule 13.1f.”

Model Local Rule D-5.3

“The practice green located [insert details of where the green is located] is not a wrong green and free relief is not required to be taken under Rule 13.1f, but it is ground under repair and a player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b.”

D-6 Dividing a Double Green into Two Separate Greens

Purpose. When a course has a green that serves as the putting green for two holes, the Committee may wish to divide the green into two separate greens through a Local Rule. This would require a player who is on the wrong portion of the green to take relief under Rule 13.1f. The method of defining the separation should be specified. This Local Rule may be used in conjunction with Model Local Rule D-3 for cases where the player’s ball is on the correct portion of the green but his or her stance is on the other portion of the green.

Model Local Rule D-6

“The green serving holes [specify hole numbers] is considered to be two separate greens divided by [specify method such as coloured stakes]. A player who has interference with the portion of the green for the hole not being played is on a wrong green and must take relief under Rule 13.1f.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

8E Special or Required Relief Procedures

E-1 Dropping Zones

Purpose. A dropping zone is a special form of relief area that may be adopted by the Committee. When taking relief in a dropping zone, the player must drop the ball in and have it come to rest in the dropping zone.

Dropping zones should be considered when there may be practical problems in requiring players to use the normal relief options under a Rule, such as:

The following points apply when dropping a ball in a dropping zone:

See Section 2I for additional information regarding dropping zones.

Model Local Rule E-1.1

This Model Local Rule covers the example of a dropping zone used as an extra option for taking relief from a penalty area, but it may be adapted for any other Rule mentioned above.

“If a ball is in the penalty area [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found came to rest in the penalty area, the player has these relief options, each for one penalty stroke:

  • Take relief under Rule 17.1, or

  • As an extra option, drop the original ball or another ball in the dropping zone [describe how the dropping zone is defined and where located]. The dropping zone is a relief area under Rule 14.3.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

Model Local Rule E-1.2

This Model Local Rule covers the example of a dropping zone used as an extra option for taking relief from an abnormal course condition such as a large area of ground under repair, but it may be adapted for any other Rule mentioned above.

“If a ball is in the ground under repair [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found came to rest in the ground under repair, the player may:

  • Take free relief under Rule 16.1, or

  • As an extra option, take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in the dropping zone [describe how the dropping zone is defined and where located]. The dropping zone is a relief area under Rule 14.3.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

Model Local Rule E-1.3

This Model Local Rule covers the example of a dropping zone used as the only relief option available (other than stroke and distance) for taking relief from a penalty area, but it may be adapted for any other Rule mentioned above.

“If a ball is in the penalty area [identify location], including when it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found came to rest in the penalty area, the player may:

  • Take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 17.1d(1), adding one penalty stroke, or

  • Drop the original ball or another ball in the dropping zone [describe how the dropping zone is defined and where located], adding one penalty stroke. The dropping zone is a relief area under Rule 14.3.

  • The player may not take relief under Rules 17.1d(2) or 17.1d(3).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-2 Cleaning Ball

Purpose. When conditions such as wet ground conditions throughout parts of the course may cause mud to stick to the ball, the Committee can choose to allow the player to lift, clean and replace the ball in the general area. Such relief should be limited to those portions of the course where needed.

While the Local Rule for Preferred Lies (Model Local Rule E-3) is designed for use only in areas cut to fairway height or less in the general area, this Local Rule can be used throughout the general area or restricted to specific areas. The Committee could choose to use both Local Rules permitting preferred lies in the fairways and cleaning the ball elsewhere in the general area.

It is not advisable to implement this Local Rule once play has begun for a stroke-play round. Doing so would allow players who had more holes to play the advantage of using it for a longer period of time. The Local Rule could be implemented once a match has begun between the play of two holes as opponents have an equal benefit.

For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes (for example, if it must be limited to fairway only), consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.

Model Local Rule E-2

“When a player’s ball lies in [identify area, such as the general area, at the 6th hole, in the general area cut to fairway height or less, etc.], the ball may be lifted cleaned and replaced without penalty. The player must mark the spot before lifting the ball (see Rule 14.1) and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (see Rule 14.2).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-3 Preferred Lies

Purpose. When occasional local abnormal conditions might interfere with fair play, the affected parts of the course can be defined as ground under repair. But adverse conditions such as heavy snows, spring thaws, prolonged rains or extreme heat can sometimes damage the course or prevent use of heavy mowing equipment.

When such conditions are widespread on the course, the Committee can choose to adopt a Local Rule for “preferred lies” (also known as “winter rules”) to allow fair play or help protect the fairway. Such a Local Rule should be withdrawn as soon as conditions allow.

The use of this Local Rule outside the fairway in the general area is not recommended as it may result in a player receiving free relief from areas where a ball might otherwise be unplayable (such as in areas of bushes or trees).

It is not authorised to implement this Local Rule once play has begun for a stroke-play round. Doing so would allow players who have more holes to play the advantage of using it for a longer period of time. The Local Rule could be implemented once a match has begun between the play of two holes as opponents have an equal benefit.

For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes (including the size of the relief area and if it may only be used in the fairway), consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.

Model Local Rule E-3

“When a player’s ball lies in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less [or identify a specific area such as ‘on the fairway of the 6th hole’], the player may take free relief once by placing the original ball or another ball in and playing it from this relief area:

  • Reference Point: Spot of the original ball.

  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: [Specify size of relief area, such as one club-length, one scorecard length or 6 inches] from the reference point, but with these limits:

  • Limits on Location of Relief Area:

    • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and

    • Must be in the general area.

In proceeding under this Local Rule, the player must choose a spot to place the ball and use the procedures for replacing a ball under Rules 14.2b(2) and 14.2e.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-4 Relief from Aeration Holes

Purpose. Aeration holes do not fall within the meaning of holes made by the maintenance staff. Therefore players are not permitted to repair them on the putting green (see Rule 13.1c) or take free relief from them in the general area, but such holes can interfere with the proper playing of the game. If the Committee declares aeration holes to be ground under repair, a player may find it impractical or impossible to obtain complete relief.

Therefore, when recent aeration holes may significantly interfere with the lie of the ball or area of intended swing, the Committee can choose to give relief as it would for ground under repair but exclude relief for interference to the player’s stance. This Local Rule should be withdrawn when the aeration holes have healed enough to avoid significant interference.

Model Local Rule E-4

“If a player’s ball lies in or touches an aeration hole:

(a) Ball in General Area. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b. If the ball comes to rest in another aeration hole the player may take relief again under this Local Rule.

(b) Ball on Putting Green. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1d.

But interference does not exist if the aeration hole only interferes with the player’s stance or, on the putting green, on the player’s line of play.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-5 Alternative to Stroke and Distance for Lost Ball or Ball Out of Bounds

Purpose. When a provisional ball has not been played, significant issues with pace of play can result for a player needing to take stroke-and-distance relief for a ball that is out of bounds or cannot be found. The purpose of this Local Rule is to allow a Committee to provide an extra relief option that allows a player to play on without returning to the location of the previous stroke.

The Local Rule is appropriate for general play where golfers are playing casual rounds or playing their own competitions. The Local Rule is not appropriate for competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional competitions and elite amateur competitions). For guidance on when and how this Local Rule may be used in order for scores to be submitted for handicapping purposes, consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.

Where a Committee has introduced such a Local Rule for general play, and removes it for competitions, it should ensure that all players are aware of this before play begins.

A Committee may introduce such a Local Rule for all play on the course or only for one or two specific holes where it may be especially useful (for example, where players are unable to see the landing area and therefore may not know whether or not to play a provisional ball).

This option allows the player to drop in a large area between the point where the ball is estimated to have come to rest or gone out of bounds and the edge of the fairway of the hole being played that is not nearer the hole.

The player gets two penalty strokes when using this relief option. This means that the relief is comparable to what could have been achieved if the player had taken stroke-and-distance relief.

This Local Rule cannot be used for an unplayable ball, or for a ball that is known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area.

If a provisional ball is played and neither the original ball nor the provisional ball can be found, then the Local Rule may be applied for the provisional ball that cannot be found.

Model Local Rule E-5

“When a player’s ball has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds, the player may proceed as follows rather than proceeding under stroke and distance.

For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):

Two Estimated Reference Points:

a. Ball Reference Point: The point where the original ball is estimated to have:

b. Fairway Reference Point: The point of fairway of the hole being played that is nearest to the ball reference point, but is not nearer the hole than the ball reference point.

For purposes of this Local Rule, “fairway” means any area of grass in the general area that is cut to fairway height or less.

If a ball is estimated to be lost on the course or last crossed the edge of the course boundary short of the fairway, the fairway reference point may be a grass path or a teeing ground for the hole being played cut to fairway height or less.

Size of Relief Area Based on Reference Points: Anywhere between:

  • A line from the hole through the ball reference point (and within two club-lengths to the outside of that line), and

  • A line from the hole through the fairway reference point (and within two club-lengths to the fairway side of that line).

But with these limits:

Limits on Location of Relief Area:

  • Must be in the general area, and

  • Must not be nearer the hole than the ball reference point.

Once the player puts a ball in play under this Local Rule:

  • The original ball that was lost or out of bounds is no longer in play and must not be played.

  • This is true even if the ball is found on the course before the end of the three-minute search time (see Rule 6.3b).

But the player may not use this option to take relief for the original ball when:

A player may use this option to take relief for a provisional ball that has not been found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-6 Line of Play Relief for Protective Fence

Purpose. A fence (or similar protective screen) is sometimes used to protect players on one hole from shots played at another hole.

If such a fence is close to the playing area for another hole, the Committee can choose to use dropping zones to give a player an extra relief option without penalty when he or she is playing that other hole and the fence is on the line of play.

The player should be entitled to relief only when the ball is nearer the hole than the dropping zone, so that a player whose ball is well away from the fence is not allowed to move forward to the dropping zone. The Committee should take this into consideration when positioning the dropping zone to ensure that this relief will be available only for situations where they believe such free relief is justified.

Model Local Rule E-6

“During play of the [specify hole number], if the protective fence on the [specify hole number] is on a player’s line of play:

  • The player may take free relief by dropping a ball in and playing it from the dropping zone (describe location).

  • But this relief is allowed only if the ball is in play nearer the hole than where the dropping zone is located (see Rule 14.3).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-7 Relief from Electric Boundary Fence

Purpose. Where an electric fence is used as a boundary fence, a Local Rule providing free relief for a ball lying within a certain distance (for example, two club-lengths) of the boundary fence is permitted. In these circumstances, to ensure the safety of the player, the player can measure  the two club-lengths from the fence and has an additional club-length in which to drop the ball no nearer the hole than where the ball originally lay.

It is not otherwise authorized to introduce a Local Rule providing free relief from a boundary fence even if the Committee’s reasons for doing so are to protect the fence from any damage.

Model Local Rule E-7

“If a player’s ball lies on the course and within [specific a distance, such as two club-lengths ] of the electric boundary fence on hole[s] [specify location(s)], he or she may, without penalty, take relief under Rule 16.1, using as the reference point the point that is [specify distance, such as two club-lengths ] from the fence and an equal distance from the hole.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-8 Defining No Play Zones

Purpose. There may be some parts of the course where the Committee wishes to prohibit play, in which case each area must be treated as either within an abnormal course condition or a penalty area.

The Committee can use no play zones for any reason, such as:

See Sections 2G and 5B(5) for more information on No Play Zones and how to mark them distinctively.

Model Local Rule E-8.1

“The area defined by [specify how the area is marked, for example, with green stakes] [specify where it is located, e.g. on the right of the fairway on hole 8] is a no play zone that is to be treated as an abnormal course condition. Free relief must be taken from interference by the no play zone under Rule 16.1f.”

Model Local Rule E-8.2

“The area within the [red] [yellow] penalty area defined by [specify how the area is marked, for example, with green stakes] [specify where it is located, for example, on the right of the fairway on hole 8] is a no play zone. When a ball is in the no play zone within the penalty area, the ball must not be played  as it lies and relief must be taken from interference by the no play zone under Rule 17.1e.”

E-9 Defining an Area of Out of Bounds as a No Play Zone

Purpose. Although a player may not play a ball from out of bounds, there may be areas that are out of bounds that the Committee may wish to designate as no play zones, for example, to stop players from damaging anything growing in that area when it interferes with the play of a ball on the course. In this case, a player must take free relief if the player’s ball is on the course but his or her area of intended stance is in the no play zone which is out of bounds or if his or her swing touches something that is in the no play zone.

Model Local Rule E-9

“The [identify the area out of bounds that is to be treated as a no play zone ] is a no play zone and the player must take free relief under Rule 16.1f(2) if his or her ball is on the course and anything in the no play zone interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or swing. The player must not play the ball as it lies.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-10 Protection of Young Trees

Purpose. To prevent damage to young trees when a player makes a stroke, a Committee can choose to designate them as a no play zone so that:

Such trees should be identified by stakes, ribbons or in some other clear way.

When the tree has matured and no longer needs this protection, the Committee should withdraw the Local Rule and/or remove the identifying stake or ribbon from the tree.

Model Local Rule E-10

“The young trees identified by [identify markings] are no play zones:

  • If a player’s ball lies anywhere on the course other than in a penalty area and it lies on or touches such a tree or such a tree interferes with the player’s stance or area of intended swing, the player must take relief under Rule 16.1f.

  • If the ball lies in a penalty area, and interference to the player’s stance or area of intended swing exists from such a tree, the player must take relief either with penalty under Rule 17.1e or with free relief under Rule 17.1e(2).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-11 Ball Deflected by Power Line

Purpose. If a permanent overhead power line may interfere with the reasonable play of a hole, a Committee can require that if a ball hits the power line (and towers, support wires or poles supporting the power line), the stroke does not count and the player must play the stroke again. This Local Rule should not generally be used for power lines that do not interfere with play of a hole or are out of bounds.

A Local Rule that gives a player the option to replay the stroke for a ball that hits a power line should not be implemented.

Model Local Rule E-11

“If it is known or virtually certain that a player’s ball hit a power line [or tower or a wire or pole supporting a power line] during the play of [specify hole number], the stroke does not count. The player must play a ball without penalty from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6 for what to do).

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

E-12 Ball Played From Outside Relief Area When Taking Back-On-the-Line Relief

Purpose. A Committee may choose to introduce a Local Rule to provide for no penalty in specific circumstances when a ball is played from outside the relief area after taking back-on-the-line relief.

Under this Local Rule, a player will not be penalized for playing from a wrong place so long as the ball is dropped in the relief area and comes to rest within one club-length of where it first touched the ground.

For example, a ball rolls slightly forward of the reference point after having been dropped in the right way and in the relief area, but is still within one club-length of where it first touched the ground when dropped. In such cases, the player can either proceed under Rule 14.3c(2) or the player can play the ball from where it came to rest.

This Local Rule is for use only in relation to the Back-On-the-Line relief procedure.

Model Local Rule E-12

“When taking Back-On-the-Line relief, there is no additional penalty if a player plays a ball that was dropped: in the relief area: required by the relevant Rule (Rule 16.1c(2), 17.1d(2), 19.2b or 19.3b) but came to rest outside the relief area: , so long as the ball, when played, is within one club-length: of where it first touched the ground when dropped: .

This exemption from penalty applies even if the ball is played from nearer the hole than the reference point (but not if played from nearer the hole: than the spot of the original ball or the estimated point where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area: ).

This Local Rule does not change the procedure for taking Back-On-the-Line relief under a relevant Rule. This means that the reference point and relief area: are not changed by this Local Rule and that Rule 14.3c(2) can be applied by a player who drops a ball in the right way and it comes to rest outside the relief area: , whether this occurs on the first or second drop.”

8F Abnormal Course Conditions and Integral Objects

F-1 Defining Abnormal Course Conditions and Integral Objects

Purpose. There are many ways in which a Committee can define abnormal course conditions and integral objects on the course and so it is not appropriate or possible to provide a complete list of Model Local Rules that can be used for this purpose.

The key is to be clear and specific when defining abnormal course conditions and integral objects in the Local Rules.

The Committee has the scope to adopt Local Rules for the following purposes without the need for them to fit with the Model Local Rules detailed in Section 2:

No specific Model Local Rules are included in this section given the variety of options available, but some examples are provided below:

See Sections 2F and 5B(4) for more information on abnormal course conditions.

See Sections 2H and 5B(4) for more information on integral objects.

F-2 Limited Relief for Embedded Ball

Purpose. Rule 16.3 normally allows relief whenever a ball is embedded anywhere in the general area (other than in sand in areas that are not cut to fairway height or less).

But a Committee may choose:

Model Local Rule F-2.1

“Rule 16.3 is modified in this way:

Free relief is allowed only when a ball is embedded in part of the general area that is cut to fairway height or less.

[Stacked turf faces above bunkers are not cut to fairway height or less for the purpose of this Rule.]

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

Model Local Rule F-2.2

“Rule 16.3 is modified in this way:

Free relief is not allowed when a ball is embedded in [stacked turf faces] [soil faces] above bunkers.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-3 Ground Under Repair Treated as Part of Nearby Obstruction

Purpose. Ground under repair may be located right next to an immovable obstruction. For example, when a flower bed that the Committee has declared to be ground under repair is surrounded by an artificially-surfaced cart path or when cart traffic causes damage next to a cart path.

This can lead to complicated relief situations. After taking relief from one condition, a player may find that there is now interference by the other condition; and after taking relief from that other condition, the player may find that the first condition once again interferes.

To allow the player to take relief in one step, the Committee can choose to treat both conditions as a single abnormal course condition. When this is done, the areas of ground under repair should either be connected to the immovable obstruction by white lines or should be defined in some other clear way.

This Model Local Rule gives examples of how to address situations of this type:

Model Local Rule F-3.1

When white lines are used to mark the ground under repair:

“White-lined areas of ground under repair and the [artificially surfaced road or path or other identified obstruction ] they tie into are treated as a single abnormal course condition when taking relief under Rule 16.1.”

Model Local Rule F-3.2

When white lines are not used to mark the ground under repair:

“Where areas of damaged ground are right next to [artificially surfaced road or path or other identified obstruction ] they are treated as a single abnormal course condition when taking relief under Rule 16.1.”

Model Local Rule F-3.3

For decorative planted areas such as flower beds surrounded by an immovable obstruction such as a cart path:

“[Describe area, such as decorative planted areas] that are surrounded by an artificially surfaced road or path (including everything growing within that area) and the road or path are treated as a single abnormal course condition when taking relief under Rule 16.1.”

F-4 Extensive Damage Due to Heavy Rain and Traffic

Purpose. When heavy rain has resulted in many areas of unusual damage to the course (such as deep ruts caused by vehicles or deep footprints caused by spectators), and it is not feasible to define them with stakes or lines, the Committee has the authority to declare such unusual damage to be ground under repair.

Model Local Rule F-4

Ground under repair may include areas of unusual damage, including areas where spectators or other traffic have combined with wet conditions to alter the ground surface materially, but only when so declared by an authorized referee or member of the Committee.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-5 Immovable Obstructions Close to Putting Greens

Purpose. When a ball lies anywhere other than on the putting green, an immovable obstruction on the player’s line of play is not, of itself, interference under Rule 16.1. Free relief is normally not allowed.

But if the aprons or fringes of putting greens are cut short enough that putting from off the green is likely to be a common choice of stroke, immovable obstructions that are close to the putting green may interfere with such strokes.

In that case, the Committee can choose to give an extra relief option under Rule 16.1 when a player’s ball lies in the general area or on the putting green and an immovable obstruction close to the putting green is on the player’s line of play.

The Committee may limit such relief to certain situations, such as only for particular holes or obstructions, or only when the ball and the obstruction are in part of the general area cut to fairway height or less.

[Clarification Available →]

Model Local Rule F-5

“Relief from interference by an immovable obstruction may be taken under Rule 16.1.

The player also has these extra options to take relief when such immovable obstructions are close to the putting green and on the line of play:

Ball in General Area. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b if an immovable obstruction is:

Exception – No Relief If Line of Play Clearly Unreasonable. There is no relief under this Local Rule if the player chooses a line of play that is clearly unreasonable.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-6 Prohibiting Relief from Abnormal Course Condition When Only Stance Interference Exists

Purpose. A Committee may wish to deny relief for interference to the player’s stance from some conditions such as animal holes, as interference to the stance does not significantly affect the stroke or if relief for interference to the stance could result in repeatedly taking relief from nearby similar conditions.

Model Local Rule F-6

“Rule 16.1 is modified in this way:

Interference does not exist if [insert condition from which relief is restricted] only interferes with the player’s stance.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-7 Relief from Seams of Cut Turf

Purpose. A portion of the course that has been repaired with cut turf is often marked as ground under repair until it is stable enough for play.

But when the area of turf itself no longer needs to be marked as ground under repair, the Committee may still choose to allow relief when:

When such seams only interfere with the player’s stance, there is no need to allow relief.

Model Local Rule F-7

“If a player’s ball lies in or touches a seam of cut turf or a seam interferes with the player’s area of intended swing:

(a) Ball in General Area. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b.

(b) Ball on Putting Green. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1d.

But interference does not exist if the seam only interferes with the player’s stance.

All seams within the area of cut turf are treated as the same seam in taking relief. This means that if a player has interference from any seam after dropping the ball, the player must proceed as required under Rule 14.3c(2) even when the ball is still within one club-length of the reference point.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-8 Relief from Cracks in Ground

Purpose. In hot and dry conditions, the fairways of a course may suffer due to cracks in the ground. The lie of a ball could be seriously affected if it comes to rest in such a crack, but a player’s stance may not be hindered by the condition, in which case a Local Rule that gives relief for the lie of ball and area of intended swing only is recommended.

Model Local Rule F-8

“Cracks in the ground in parts of the general area cut to fairway height or less are ground under repair. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b.

[But interference does not exist if the crack only interferes with the player’s stance.]”

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-9 Relief from Tree Roots in Fairway

Purpose. In the unusual situation where exposed tree roots are found in the fairway, it may be unfair not to allow the player to take relief from the roots. The Committee can choose to treat such tree roots in the fairway as ground under repair from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1b.

In some circumstances where exposed tree roots are also found in short rough close to the fairway, the Committee can also choose to treat such tree roots within a specified distance from the edge of the fairway, (for example four club-lengths or in the first cut of rough) as ground under repair from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1b.

In doing so, the Committee can choose to limit relief to interference with the lie of ball and the area of intended swing.

Model Local Rule F-9.1

“If a player’s ball is at rest in a portion of the general area cut to fairway height or less and there is interference from exposed tree roots that are in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less, the tree roots are treated as ground under repair. The player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b.

[But interference does not exist if the tree roots only interfere with the player’s stance.]

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

Model Local Rule F-9.2

“If a player’s ball is in the general area and there is interference from exposed tree roots that are in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less [or in the rough within specify number of club-lengths of the edge of the ground cut to fairway height or less] [or in the first cut of the rough], the tree roots are treated as ground under repair. The player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b.

[But interference does not exist if the tree roots only interfere with the player’s stance.]

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-10 Damage by Animals

Purpose. There may be times when animals cause damage to the course that is so widespread that it is not practical to mark all the damaged areas as ground under repair. Also, some types of animal damage may not be covered by Rule 16.1.

These Model Local Rules show how the Committee can choose to address these issues.

If animals, including insects, create damage on a course, the Committee can choose to treat such damage as ground under repair from which relief is allowed under Rule 16.1. This is done by defining the areas or the condition rather than attempting to mark all the areas of damage.

A Committee can choose to limit relief only for damage that interferes with the lie of the ball or the area of intended swing.

Model Local Rule F-10

“In the general area, areas of damage caused by [type of animal] are treated as ground under repair from which relief is allowed under Rule 16.1b.

[But interference does not exist if the damage only interferes with the player’s stance.]

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-11 Ant Hills

Purpose. Ant hills are loose impediments and may be removed under Rule 15.1. They are not animal holes from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

But there are situations when ant hills are difficult or impossible to remove (such as when large, hard or conical in shape). In that case, the Committee can adopt a Local Rule giving the player an option to treat such ant hills as ground under repair.

It is not necessary to adopt such a Local Rule for fire ants as fire ants are considered a dangerous animal condition and free relief is available under Rule 16.2.

Model Local Rule F-11

“Large or hard ant hills on the course are, at the player’s option, loose impediments that may be removed under Rule 15.1 or ground under repair from which relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-12 Animal Dung

Purpose. The dung of a bird or other animal is a loose impediment that may be removed under Rule 15.1.

But if there is concern with the effect of dung on fair play, the Committee can give players the option of treating dung as ground under repair from which relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

If treating the dung as ground under repair will not necessarily give full relief when a ball is on the putting green, a Committee can also allow players to use a greens switch/whip or similar maintenance equipment to remove the dung from the line of play without penalty, even if doing so improves the line of play or other conditions affecting the stroke.

Model Local Rule F-12

“At the player’s option, dung from [specify dung from which relief would be given, e.g. goose dung, dog dung] may be treated either as:

[If dung is found on the putting green, the player may also use the greens switch/whip located by the putting greens to remove the dung from the line of play. If doing so improves the line of play or other conditions affecting the stroke, there is no penalty under Rule 8.1a.]

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-13 Animal Hoof Damage

Purpose. The hoofs of animals such as deer or elk can cause damage on the course. A Committee may wish to allow players to take relief from this damage as ground under repair without having to mark all such areas.

Since damage caused by animals may be repaired on the putting green the Committee can declare such damage as ground under repair or allow players to repair it.

Model Local Rule F-13

“Damage that is clearly identifiable as having been caused by animal hoofs is ground under repair from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

[But on the putting green, Rule 16.1 does not apply as such damage may be repaired under Rule 13.1.]

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-14 Accumulations of Loose Impediments

Purpose. At certain times of the year, piles of loose impediments such as leaves, seeds or acorns may make it difficult for a player to find or play  his or her ball. A Committee can choose to treat such piles of loose impediments in the general area or in a bunker as ground under repair from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

This Local Rule may not be used for penalty areas as relief is not available for abnormal course conditions in penalty areas.

The Local Rule should be limited to the hole(s) where problems are created by such loose impediments and should be withdrawn as soon as conditions allow.

Model Local Rule F-14

“During play of the [specify hole number], any ground with temporary accumulations of [identify types of loose impediments ] in the general area or in a bunker is treated as ground under repair from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-15 Mushrooms on Putting Green

Purpose. If mushrooms growing on the putting green may interfere with fair play, the Committee can treat them as ground under repair so that a player may take free relief under Rule 16.1d.

Model Local Rule F-15

“Mushrooms that are attached on the putting green are ground under repair from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1d.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-16 Bunker Filled with Temporary Water

Purpose. If a bunker is flooded, free relief under Rule 16.1c may not be sufficient to allow for fair play. A Committee can choose to treat that bunker as ground under repair in the general area from which free relief is allowed outside the bunker.

The Committee should only use this Local Rule on a case-by-case basis and is not authorized to make a Local Rule providing generally that all flooded bunkers are ground under repair.

Model Local Rule F-16

“The flooded bunker on [insert location of bunker; for example, left of 5th green] is ground under repair in the general area. It is not treated as a bunker during the round.

If the player’s ball lies in or touches this ground under repair or the ground under repair interferes with the player’s stance or area of intended swing, the player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b.

All other bunkers on the course, whether they contain temporary water or not, are still bunkers for all purposes under the Rules.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-17 All Roads and Paths Treated as Obstructions

Purpose. Where roads or paths that are not artificially surfaced may interfere with fair play, the Committee can choose to designate such roads as immovable obstructions from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

Model Local Rule F-17

“All roads and paths on the course [or identify particular types or locations], even if not artificially-surfaced, are treated as immovable obstructions from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-18 Treating Movable Objects to Be Immovable

Purpose. The Committee can choose to treat certain movable objects on the course, such as all stakes (other than boundary stakes), bins and direction poles, to be immovable so as to discourage players from moving them.

The implications of this Local Rule should be fully considered by the Committee in advance as it may result in players breaching Rule 8.1 by moving an obstruction that is treated as immovable.

Model Local Rule F-18

“All stakes [or identify the movable obstructions that are to be considered immovable ] on the course are treated as immovable obstructions from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1. Relief is not allowed to be taken under Rule 15.2.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty.”

F-19 Edging Grooves Near Putting Greens

Purpose. Edging grooves are sometimes cut on the apron or fringe of the putting green to keep grasses from creeping onto the putting green. Because it can be difficult to play a ball from such grooves, a Committee  can choose to treat them as ground under repair from which free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

Relief should be allowed only for interference with the lie of the ball or the area of intended swing.

Model Local Rule F-19

“The edging grooves around the aprons or fringes of putting greens are ground under repair. If a player’s ball lies in or touches a groove or a groove interferes with the area of intended swing:

(a) Ball in General Area. The player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b.

(b) Ball on the Putting Green. The player may take free relief under Rule 16.1d.

But interference does not exist if the edging groove only interferes with the player’s stance.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-20 Concrete Drainage Channels

Purpose. Narrow concrete drainage channels are sometimes found on courses where flooding is common. This can create issues for play because:

The Committee can choose to treat these drainage channels as immovable obstructions in the general area rather than as penalty areas.

See Model Local Rule B-4 for when an open water course can be defined to be part of the general area.

Model Local Rule F-20

“Drainage channels that are made of artificial materials and run next to cart paths are treated as immovable obstructions in the general area and are part of the cart path. A player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-21 Painted Lines or Dots

Purpose. If the Committee puts paint lines or dots down on the putting green or in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less (for  example, for distance markings), it may treat those areas as abnormal course conditions from which free relief is available under Rule 16.1.

When such paint lines or dots only interfere with the player’s stance, there is no need to allow relief.

Alternatively, the Committee can choose to clarify that there is no relief available from such paint lines or dots.

Model Local Rule F-21.1

“Painted lines or dots on the putting green or in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less are to be treated as ground under repair from which relief is allowed under Rule 16.1.

But interference does not exist if painted lines or dots only interfere with the player’s stance.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

Model Local Rule F-21.2

“Relief is not allowed from painted lines or dots [describe area, for example, in areas where the grass is not cut to fairway height or less].

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-22 Temporary Lines and Cables

Purpose. Temporary lines and cables are often placed on the course to provide power and communications for a competition. These cables may be on the surface of the ground or above or below the ground. Such lines and cables are not normally there and are not part of the challenge of playing the course, so the Committee may choose to provide extra relief when they interfere with play.

Model Local Rule F-22

“Temporary lines and cables for power and communications (and mats covering or poles supporting them) are obstructions:

1. If they are readily movable, they are movable obstructions and a player may remove them without penalty under Rule 15.2.

2. Otherwise they are immovable obstructions from which the player may take relief as follows:

(a) Ball in General Area or in Bunker. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1.

(b) Ball in Penalty Area. Rule 16.1b is modified to allow the player the extra option to take free relief from interference by these immovable obstructions in a penalty area by dropping a ball and playing it from this relief area:

  • Reference Point: The nearest point of complete relief in the penalty area.

  • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length, but with these limits:

  • Limits on Location of Relief Area:

    • Must be in the penalty area in which the ball came to rest,

    • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and

    • There must be complete relief from all interference by the immovable obstruction.

3. If a player’s ball hits a temporary elevated line or cable, the stroke does not count. The player must play a ball without penalty from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6 for what to do).

4. Grass-covered trenches for temporary lines or cables in the general area are ground under repair, even if not marked. The player may take free relief under Rule 16.1.

But there are two exceptions:

  • Exception 1 – Ball Strikes Elevated Section: If a ball hits an elevated junction section of cable rising from the ground, the stroke counts, and the ball must be played as it lies.

  • Exception 2 – Ball Strikes Wires Supporting Temporary Immovable Obstruction: Guy wires supporting a temporary immovable obstruction (TIO) are part of the TIO and are not covered by this Local Rule, unless the Committee states that the guy wires are to be treated as temporary elevated lines or cables under this Local Rule.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

F-23 Temporary Immovable Obstructions

Purpose. When obstructions are temporarily placed on or next to the course, the Committee should specify whether they are movable obstructions (see Rule 15), immovable obstructions (see Rule 16) or temporary immovable obstructions (“TIOs”).

TIOs (such as a grandstand or a tent) are not normally present and are not considered to be part of the challenge of playing the course. Because of  their temporary nature, this Local Rule provides an additional relief option that is not allowed from immovable obstructions, although the player can still choose to treat the TIO as if it were an immovable obstruction and use the relief procedures available in Rule 16.

The additional relief provided by this Local Rule includes the ability for a player to take relief when the TIO is located on the straight line between his or her ball and the hole (known as “line of sight relief”) by moving sideways, keeping the same distance from the hole, so that the TIO is no longer between the player’s ball and the hole (also known as moving along the “equidistant arc”).

When a player takes relief from a TIO, whether under this Local Rule or the relief procedures in Rule 16, the player is guaranteed complete relief from physical interference. But only when relief is taken using the additional relief option under this Local Rule will the player be guaranteed complete relief from the TIO being on his or her line of sight.

[Click here to view explanatory TIO diagrams]

Model Local Rule F-23

Definition of TIO: A temporary immovable obstruction (TIO) is a structure that is temporarily added on or next to the course, usually for a particular competition, and is fixed or not readily movable.

Examples of TIOs are temporary tents, scoreboards, grandstands, television towers and toilets.

TIOs include any supporting guy wires connected to them, except when the Committee decides the supporting guy wires are to be treated as immovable obstructions.

The outermost edge of the TIO is used in determining whether a ball is under the TIO or whether the TIO is on the player’s line of sight between the ball and the hole.

Lines or stakes may be used to define the edges of a TIO or to connect multiple TIOs into a single, larger TIO.

A TIO is different from an immovable obstruction and this Local Rule provides additional relief from interference by a TIO. This means that the player can choose to take relief by using either:

a. When Relief Is Allowed

Relief from a TIO is normally allowed when there is physical interference or line of sight interference from the TIO.

Interference under this Local Rule means that the player has:

  • Physical interference,

  • Line of sight interference, or

  • Both physical and line of sight interference.

(1) Meaning of Physical Interference by Temporary Immovable Obstruction. Physical interference exists when:

  • The player’s ball touches or lies in or on a TIO, or

  • The TIO interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing.

(2) Meaning of Line of Sight Interference by Temporary Immovable Obstruction. Line of sight interference exists when:

  • The player’s ball touches or lies in, on or under a TIO, or

  • The TIO is on the player’s line of sight to the hole (that is, the TIO is located on the straight line between the ball and the hole), or

  • The ball is within one club-length, measured on an equidistant arc from the hole, of a spot where the TIO would be on the player’s direct line of sight to the hole (this one club-length wide area is commonly referred to as the “corridor”).

(3) When No Relief Is Available Despite Having Interference. If the ball touches or is in or on the TIO, relief is always available.

But when the ball neither touches nor is in or on the TIO, there is no relief under this Local Rule if any of the following applies:

  • From either physical interference or line of sight interference:

    • There is no relief when playing the ball as it lies would clearly be unreasonable because of something other than the TIO (such as when the player is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush outside the TIO), and

    • There is no relief when interference exists only because the player chooses a club, type of stance or swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances; and

  • From line of sight interference:

    • There is no relief when it is clearly unreasonable for a player to play the ball far enough that the ball will reach the TIO, and

    • There is no relief when the player cannot show that there is a stroke that he or she could reasonably play that would both (a) have the TIO (including the corridor) on the line of that stroke, and (b) result in the ball finishing on a direct line to the hole.

b. Relief from Interference for Ball in General Area

If the player’s ball is in the general area and there is interference by a TIO (including a TIO located out of bounds), 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 of complete relief where both physical and line of sight interference no longer exist.

  • Size of Relief Area from Reference Point: The entire area within one club-length from the reference point, but with these limits:

  • Limits on Location of Relief Area:

    • Must be in the general area,

    • Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and

    • There must be complete relief from both physical and line of sight interference by the TIO.

If the player has physical interference from the TIO, instead of using this relief procedure he or she may choose to take relief using the procedure for taking relief from an abnormal course condition in Rule 16.1b, treating the TIO as if it were an immovable obstruction. The relief procedure under Rule 16.1b is also available when the ball lies in a penalty area or when the TIO is out of bounds. See Clause f of this Local Rule for how to take relief.

c. Relief from Interference for Ball in Bunker or Penalty Area.

If the player’s ball is in a bunker or a penalty area and there is interference by a TIO (including a TIO located out of bounds), the player may take either free relief or penalty relief:

(1) Free Relief: Playing from Bunker or Penalty Area. The player may take free relief as provided in Clause b, except that the nearest point of complete relief where interference no longer exists, and the relief area must be in that bunker or penalty area.

If there is no such point in that bunker or penalty area where interference no longer exists, the player may still take this relief as provided above by using the point of maximum available relief in the bunker or the penalty area as the reference point.

(2) Penalty Relief: Playing from Outside Bunker or Penalty Area. For one penalty stroke, the player may drop the original ball or another ball in and play it from this relief area:

If the player has physical interference from the TIO, instead of using this relief procedure he or she may choose to take relief using the procedure for taking relief from an abnormal course condition in Rule 16.1b, treating the TIO as if it were an immovable obstruction. The relief procedure under Rule 16.1b is also available when the ball lies in a penalty area or when the TIO is out of bounds. See Clause f of this Local Rule for how to take relief.

d. Relief When Ball in TIO Not Found

If the player’s ball has not been found but is known or virtually certain to have come to rest in a TIO:

  • The player may take relief under this Local Rule by using the estimated point where the ball last crossed the edge of the TIO on the course as the spot of the ball for purposes of finding the nearest point of complete relief.

  • Once the player puts another ball in play to take relief in this way:

    • The original ball is no longer in play and must not be played.

    • This is true even if it is then found on the course before the end of the three-minute search time (see Rule 6.3b)

But if it is not known or virtually certain that the ball came to rest in the TIO, the player must play under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 18.2).

e. Committee Authority to Modify TIO Relief Procedures

When adopting this Local Rule, the Committee may modify the relief procedures in Clauses b and c in either or both of the following ways:

(1) Optional or Mandatory Use of Dropping Zones. The Committee may permit or require a player to use a dropping zone as the relief area for taking relief under this Local Rule. When doing so, the Committee may add the dropping zone for relief from only physical interference or only line of sight interference or it may be used for relief from both types of interference.

(2) “Either Side” Relief Option. The Committee may permit the player the option to take relief on the other side of a TIO in addition to the relief options allowed under Clauses b and c of this Local Rule. But the Committee may provide that either side relief is not allowed if the player is taking relief using the procedures in Rule 16.1.

f. Player May Proceed Under Other Relief Rules

(1) Taking Relief by Using the Procedures in Rule 16.1 or this Local Rule. If a player has physical interference from the TIO as defined in Clause a, the player may either:

  • Choose to use the relief procedures in Rule 16.1 or

  • Use this Local Rule.

  • But may not take relief under one of these options and then take relief under the other.

If the player chooses to use the procedure for taking relief from an abnormal course condition in Rule 16.1, he or she must treat the TIO as if it is an immovable obstruction and take relief based on where the ball lies:

  • In the general area using the procedures in Rule 16.1b.

  • In a bunker using the procedures in Rule 16.1c.

  • In a penalty area using the procedures in Rule 16.1c as if the ball lies in a bunker.

  • On the putting green using the procedures in Rule 16.1d.

(2) Taking Relief under Rule 17, 18 or 19. This Local Rule does not prevent the player from taking relief under Rule 17, 18 or 19 rather than taking TIO relief under this Local Rule.

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.”

8G Restrictions on Use of Specific Equipment

G-1 List of Conforming Driver Heads

Purpose. To remove any doubt that drivers being used in a competition are conforming:

This Local Rule is recommended for use only in competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional and elite amateur competitions).

Model Local Rule G-1

“Any driver the player uses to make a stroke must have a clubhead, identified by model and loft, which is on the current List of Conforming Driver Heads issued by the USGA.

This list is regularly updated and is found at USGA.org.

Exception – Pre-1999 Driver Heads: A driver with a clubhead that was made before 1999 is exempt from this Local Rule.

Penalty For Making a Stroke with Club in Breach of this Local Rule: Disqualification.

There is no penalty under this Local Rule for carrying but not making a stroke with a driver that is not on the List of Conforming Driver Heads.”

G-2 Groove and Punch Mark Specifications

Purpose. Effective 1 January 2010, the Equipment Rules were revised to provide new groove and punch mark specifications for all clubs other than drivers and putters. Until at least 2024, clubs made before 2010 are not required to meet these specifications.

But a Committee may choose to adopt a Local Rule requiring players to use only clubs that meet all the specifications included in the current Equipment Rules. This is recommended for use only in competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional and elite amateur competitions).

An Informational Club Database can be found at USGA.org to assist in finding which clubs may be used.

An exception was made for certain Ping Eye2 irons made before 31 March 1990, as stated below.  The exception should not be inserted for competitions where an agreement has been reached to exclude it.

Model Local Rule G-2

“In making a stroke, the player must use clubs that conform to the groove and punch mark specifications in the Equipment Rules that took effect on 1 January 2010.

An Informational Club Database of fairway woods, hybrids, irons and wedges which have been tested for conformance to the current Equipment Rules is found at USGA.org.

[Exception – Ping Eye2 Irons Manufactured before 31 March 1990: Ping Eye2 irons manufactured before 31 March 1990 with a groove spacing to groove width ratio of 2.3 to 1 are allowed for play under the Rules of Golf, even when this Local Rule is in effect.

In using this Exception, the player is responsible for proving when the club was manufactured. If the player cannot do so, the club must conform to the groove and punch mark specifications that took effect on 1 January 2010.]

Penalty For Making a Stroke with Club in Breach of this Local Rule: Disqualification.

There is no penalty under this Local Rule for carrying but not making a stroke with a club which does not conform to these groove and punch mark specifications.”

G-3 List of Conforming Golf Balls

Purpose. To remove any doubt that the balls being used in a competition are conforming, a Committee may choose to require the player to use only balls which have been evaluated and approved as conforming under the Equipment Rules.

A List of Conforming Golf Balls is found at USGA.org and is updated monthly.

Even if this Local Rule is not in place, any ball used must be a conforming ball.

Model Local Rule G-3

“Any ball used in making a stroke must be on the current List of Conforming Golf Balls issued by The R&A.

This list is regularly updated and is found at USGA.org.

Penalty For Making a Stroke with a Ball Not on Current List in Breach of this Local Rule: Disqualification.”

G-4 One Ball Rule

Purpose. To prevent a player from using balls with different playing characteristics depending on the nature of the hole or shot to be played during a round, the Committee can choose to require that a player use only a single type of ball that is on the List of Conforming Golf Balls.

Each individual listing on the List of Conforming Golf Balls is considered a different ball. Golf balls of different colours with identical markings are considered different balls.

This Local Rule is recommended for use only in competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional competitions and elite amateur competitions).

Model Local Rule G-4

“During an entire round, each ball at which the player makes a stroke must be the same brand and model as found in a single entry on the current List of Conforming Balls.

If a different brand and/or model is dropped, replaced or placed but has not yet been played, the player may correct the mistake by stopping use of that ball, without penalty, under Rule 14.5. The player must drop, replace or place a ball of the same brand and model as used at the start of the round.

When the player discovers he or she has played a ball in breach of this Local Rule, he or she must stop using that ball before playing from the next teeing area and complete the round with a ball of the same brand and model as used at the start of the round; otherwise the player is disqualified.

If the discovery is made during the play of a hole, the player may complete play of this hole with the ball played in breach or place a ball of the correct brand and model on the spot where the ball played in breach of this Local Rule was lifted from.

Penalty for Making a Stroke at a Ball in Breach of Local Rule:

The player gets the general penalty for each hole during which he or she is in breach of this Local Rule.”

G-5 Prohibiting Use of Distance-Measuring Devices

Purpose. Although Rule 4.3 allows players to use equipment to measure distance (subject to certain requirements), a Committee can choose to prohibit the use of any electronic distance-measuring devices.

Model Local Rule G-5

Rule 4.3a(1) is modified in this way:

During a round, a player must not obtain distance information by using an electronic distance-measuring device.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule – see Rule 4.3.”

G-6 Prohibiting Use of Motorized Transportation

Purpose. A Committee can choose to prohibit players from using any type of motorized transportation such as a golf cart during a round. This is appropriate when the Committee views walking as an integral part of playing in the competition or when it believes that the use of motorized transportation would be unsafe or might damage the course.

In adopting this Local Rule, the Committee can allow motorized transportation in limited ways, such as to take players from one hole to another when those holes are far apart or allowing members of the Committee to give a player a ride when he or she will play, or has played, again under penalty of stroke and distance.

If a player accepts a ride without the permission of the Committee, the Committee can waive the penalty if it would have authorized the player to ride in that situation had the request been made. For example, if a player who had lost a ball and needed to return to the teeing area accepted a ride from a volunteer when there was no Committee member available, the Committee could waive the penalty if members of the Committee would have given the player the ride if asked.

But, when motorized transportation is not allowed by Local Rule, it is a principle of the Local Rule that players should walk the entire course, so authorization should not be given if a player has been given a ride forwards when he or she has not already walked that distance. For example, if a player stops to buy a refreshment after playing his or her tee shot, and then accepts a ride forward to his or her ball from a volunteer, the penalty under the Local Rule should not be waived.

Model Local Rule G-6

“During a round, a player or caddie must not ride on any form of motorized transportation except as authorized or later approved by the Committee.

[A player who will play, or has played, under penalty of stroke and distance is always authorised to ride on motorized transportation.]

[Players and caddies may ride on the shuttle between holes [identify hole] and [identify hole].]

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule: The player gets the general penalty for each hole during which there is a breach of this Local Rule. If the breach occurs between the play of two holes, it applies to the next hole.”

G-7 Prohibiting Use of Certain Types of Shoes

Purpose. To protect the course from damage, the Committee can prohibit the use of shoes with metal or traditionally designed spikes.

The Committee also may prohibit the use of shoes with other features that may cause undesirable damage.

Model Local Rule G-7

Rule 4.3a is modified in this way:

During a round, a player must not wear shoes with:

  • Traditional spikes – that is, spikes having single or multiple points designed to penetrate deeply into the surface of the ground (regardless of whether made of metal, ceramic, plastic or other materials); or

  • Spikes of any design that are entirely or partially made of metal, if such metal may come in contact with the course.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule – see Rule 4.3.”

G-8 Prohibiting or Restricting Use of Audio and Video Devices

Purpose. Rule 4.3a(4) permits a player to use equipment to listen to audio or watch video of matters unrelated to the competition being played. But the Committee can adopt a Local Rule prohibiting the use of audio and video devices altogether during a round.

Model Local Rule G-8

Rule 4.3a(4) is modified in this way: During a round, a player must not listen to or watch content of any nature on a personal audio or video device.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule – see Rule 4.3.”

G-9 Replacing Club that is Broken or Significantly Damaged

Model Local Rule G-9

Rule 4.1b(3) is modified in this way:

If a player’s club is “broken or significantly damaged” during the round: by the player or caddie: , except in cases of abuse, the player may replace the club with any club under Rule 4.1b(4).

When replacing a club, the player must immediately take the broken or significantly damaged club out of play, using the procedure in Rule 4.1c(1).

For the purposes of this Local Rule:

  • A club is “broken or significantly damaged” when:

    • the shaft breaks into pieces, splinters or is bent (but not when the shaft is only dented)

    • the club face impact area is visibly deformed (but not when the club face is only scratched)

    • the clubhead is visibly and significantly deformed

    • the clubhead is detached or loose from the shaft, or

    • the grip is loose.

Exception: A club face or clubhead is not “broken or significantly damaged” solely because it is cracked.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule – See Rule 4.1b.

8H Defining Who May Help or Give Advice to Players

H-1 Use of Caddie Prohibited or Required; Caddie Restrictions

Purpose. A Committee can choose to modify Rule 10.3 to

Model Local Rule H-1.1

If caddies are prohibited:

Rule 10.3a is modified in this way: A player must not have a caddie during the round.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule:

  • The player gets the general penalty for each hole during which he or she is helped by a caddie.

    If the breach happens or continues between two holes, the player gets the general penalty for the next hole.”

Model Local Rule H-1.2

Or, if there are limits on who the player may have as a caddie: “Rule 10.3a is modified in this way: A player must not have [identify prohibited type of caddie for example, a parent or guardian] as his or her caddie during the round.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule:

  • The player gets the general penalty for each hole during which he or she is helped by such a caddie.

  • If the breach happens or continues between two holes, the player gets the general penalty for the next hole.”

Model Local Rule H-1.3

If a player is required to have a caddie:

Rule 10.3a is modified in this way: A player must have a caddie during the round.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule: The player gets the general penalty for each hole during which he or she does not have a caddie.”

H-2 Appointment of Advice Giver in Team Competitions

Purpose. Under Rule 24.4a, in a team competition the Committee can allow each team to name one or two people who may give advice to team members while they are playing on the course:

Model Local Rule H-2

“Each team may name [one/two] advice giver[s] whom players on the team may ask for advice and receive advice from during the round. The team must identify each advice giver to the Committee before any player on the team begins his or her round.

[The team may change its advice giver during the round, but must tell the Committee when it is doing so.]

[The advice giver must not point out a line of play [or walk on the putting green ] when the ball of a team player lies on the putting green.]”

H-3 Restricting Who Can Be a Team Captain

Purpose. Under Rule 24.3, in a team competition the Committee can set limits on who may serve as a team captain and on the conduct of the team captain under Rule 24.4a. Where advice givers are allowed (see Model Local Rule H-2), the team captain may also be an advice giver.

Model Local Rule H-3

“A team captain must be [insert eligibility restriction, such as a member of the same club].”

H-4 Treating Advice Giver as Part of the Player’s Side

Purpose. The Committee can provide that the advice giver has the same status as a member of the side to ensure the Rules of Golf apply to that person’s actions.

Model Local Rule H-4

“The advice giver has the same status as a member of the side in relation to each member of his or her team.”

H-5 Advice: Team Members in Same Group

Purpose. Under Rule 24.4c, in stroke play where a player’s score for the round counts only as part of the team’s score, the Committee can adopt a Local Rule allowing team members playing in the same group to give each other advice even if they are not partners.

Model Local Rule H-5

Rule 10.2 is modified in this way:

Where two players from the same team are playing together in the same group, those players may ask for advice and receive advice from each other during the round.”

8I Defining When and Where Players May Practise

I-1 Practising Before Rounds

Purpose. Rule 5.2 covers practising on the course before or between rounds during a competition:

There are many different considerations about whether to allow practice on the course, such as fairness to the players, possible interference with set-up of the course and maintenance activities, the amount of time before or between rounds, or when players are encouraged to play on the course outside the competition.

For these or other reasons, a Committee can choose to adopt a Local Rule that modifies these default provisions by either allowing or prohibiting such practice entirely or by limiting when, where or how such practice may take place.

Model Local Rule I-1.1

Rule 5.2a is modified in this way:

A player must not practise on the competition course before or between rounds.

[Or, if players are allowed to practise in limited ways: Describe those limits and when, where and how a player may practise on the course.]

Penalty for Breach of this Local Rule:

  • Penalty for first breach: General Penalty (applied to the player’s first hole).

  • Penalty for second breach: Disqualification.”

Model Local Rule I-1.2

Rule 5.2b is modified in this way:

A player may practise on the competition course before or between rounds.

[Or, if players are allowed to practise in limited ways: Describe those limits and when, where and how a player may practise on the course.]

[Or, if players are prohibited from practising on the course both before and between rounds: “A player must not practise on the competition course before or between rounds.”]

I-2 Prohibiting Practising on or Near Previous Putting Green

Purpose. Rule 5.5b allows a player, between the play of two holes, to practise putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole just completed. But if this may affect pace of play or for other reasons, the Committee can choose to prohibit such practice.

Model Local Rule I-2

Rule 5.5b is modified in this way:

Between the play of two holes, a player must not:

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule: General Penalty.”

8J Procedures for Bad Weather and Suspensions of Play

J-1 Methods for Stopping and Resuming Play

Purpose. Rule 5.7b requires players to stop playing immediately if the Committee declares an immediate suspension of play. The Committee should use a distinct method of telling players about an immediate suspension.

The following signals are generally used, and it is recommended that all Committees use these signals where possible:

Model Local Rule J-1

“A suspension of play for a dangerous situation will be signalled by [insert signal to be used]. All other suspensions will be signalled by [insert signal to be used]. In either case, resumption of play will be signalled by [insert signal to be used]. See Rule 5.7b.”

J-2 Removal of Temporary Water

Purpose. A Committee may adopt a policy that clarifies what actions are appropriate for a Committee member, someone designated by the  Committee (for example, a member of the maintenance staff), or player, to remove temporary water on the putting green.

Model Local Rule J-2

“If a player’s ball lies on the putting green and there is interference by temporary water on the putting green, the player may:

Such squeegeeing should be done across the line of play and extend a reasonable distance beyond the hole (that is, at least one roller length) and only be carried out by [specify who may carry this out, for example the maintenance staff ].”

8K Pace of Play Policies

The following Model Local Rules give some examples of how the Committee can choose to address the issue of Pace of Play. The Committee can adopt other Local Rules to suit the resources available to them and so these are not an exhaustive list.

Other sample policies are available at USGA.org.

K-1 Maximum Time for All or Part of Round

Purpose. In competitions where there are few or no referees on the course, it may be desirable for the Committee to formulate a simple Local Rule that establishes a time limit that it considers adequate for players to complete the round and/or a certain number of holes. These time limits will vary depending on the numbers in groups and the form of play. If a group exceeds the prescribed time limit and is out of position on the course, each player in the group is subject to penalty.

Model Local Rule K-1

“If a group finishes the round [or specify number of holes] more than the starting interval behind the group in front and over [specify time, for example, 3 hours 45 minutes] from the time of starting [or specify as required], all players in the group are subject to a penalty of one stroke [or specify as required].”

K-2 Hole-by-Hole and Shot-by-Shot Pace of Play Policy

Purpose. In competitions where there is an adequate number of officials on the course, the Committee can put a Pace of Play policy into effect that allows a set length of time for each hole, and then if players exceed that time, establishes a maximum time to play each stroke.

The Model Local Rule below is an example of a policy for a stroke play competition where players will be individually timed when the group is out of position.

A modified penalty structure which may be used in a pace of play policy is also detailed in Model Local Rule K-5.

Options for Being Out of Position

A group is out of position when it is over the allocated time for the holes that have been played and not in position with the previous group. When defining when a group is out of position the policy should specify when the group is considered out of position by reference to the group in front of them. Some examples are:

Time for Making a Stroke

When a group is being timed, each player must make his or her stroke within a specified time limit. The Committee may require all strokes to be made in the same amount of time or it may adopt the optional language shown below to allow an additional period of time for the first player to play from a specific area such as the teeing area or the putting green.

Model Local Rule K-2

“Maximum Allowable Time

The maximum allowable time is the maximum time considered necessary by the Committee for a group to complete its round. This is expressed in a per-hole and aggregate time format and includes all time associated with playing the game, e.g., for rulings and walking times between holes.

The maximum time allotted for the completion of 18 holes at [insert course name] is [insert maximum time, for example, 4 hours and 05 minutes]. The following procedure applies only if a group is “out of position.”

Definition of Out of Position

The first group to start will be considered “out of position” if, at any time during the round, the group’s cumulative time exceeds the time allowed for the number of holes played. Any following group will be considered out of position if it is [specify when a group is out of position to the group in front of them (see examples above)] and has exceeded the time allowed for the number of holes played.

Procedure When Group is Out of Position

1. Referees will monitor pace of play and decide whether a group that is “out of position” should be timed. An assessment of whether there are any recent mitigating circumstances, e.g. a lengthy ruling, lost ball, unplayable ball, etc. will be made.

If a decision is made to time the players, each player in the group will be subject to individual timing and a referee will advise each player that they are “out of position” and they are being timed.

In exceptional circumstances, an individual player, or two players within a group of three, may be timed instead of the entire group.

2. The maximum time allocated per stroke is [specify a time limit such as 40 seconds].

[10 extra seconds are allowed for the first player to play: a) a tee shot on a par 3 hole; b) an approach shot to the green; and c) a chip or putt.]

The timing will start when a player has had sufficient time to reach the ball, it is his or her turn to play and he or she is able to play without interference or distraction. Time taken to determine distance and select a club will count as time taken for the next stroke.

On the putting green, timing will start when the player has had a reasonable amount of time to lift, clean and replace the ball, repair damage that interferes with the line of play and move loose impediments on the line of play. Time spent looking at the line of play from beyond the hole and/or behind the ball will count as part of the time taken for the next stroke.

Timings will be taken from the moment it is decided by the referee that it is the player’s turn to play and he or she is able to play without interference or distraction.

Timing ceases when a group is back in position and players will be advised accordingly.

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule:

  • Penalty for first breach: One-stroke penalty.

  • Penalty for second breach: General Penalty applied in addition to the penalty for the first breach.

  • Penalty for third breach: Disqualification.”

Until a player has been advised of a bad time, he or she cannot incur a further bad time.

Procedure When Again Out of Position During Same Round

If a group is “out of position” more than once during a round, the above procedure will apply on each occasion. Bad times and the application of penalties in the same round will be carried forward until the round is completed. A player will not be penalized if he or she has a second bad time before being advised of the earlier bad time.”

K-3 Hole-by-Hole and Shot-by-Shot Pace of Play Policy for Stableford

Purpose. For a Stableford competition, the Committee can modify the penalty for a breach of Model Local Rule K-2 to ensure that the penalty will impact the player’s score. The Committee may optionally add a verbal warning for the first breach.

Model Local Rule K-3

“The penalty statement to Model Local Rule K-2 is modified in this way:

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule:

  • Penalty for first breach: Deduction of one point from the total points scored for the round.

  • Penalty for second breach: Deduction of a further two points from the total points scored for the round.

  • Penalty for third breach: Disqualification.”

K-4 Hole-by-Hole and Shot-by-Shot Pace of Play Policy for Par/Bogey Competitions

Purpose. For a Par/Bogey competition, the Committee can modify the penalty for a breach of Model Local Rule K-2 to ensure that the penalty will impact the player’s score. The Committee may optionally add a verbal warning for the first breach.

Model Local Rule K-4

“The penalty statement to Model Local Rule K-2 is modified in this way:

Penalty for Breach of Local Rule:

  • Penalty for first breach: Deduction of one hole from the aggregate of holes scored.

  • Penalty for second breach: Deduction of a second hole from the aggregate of holes scored.

  • Penalty for third breach: Disqualification.”

K-5 Modified Pace of Play Penalty Structure

Purpose. A Committee may modify the penalty for a breach of any Pace of Play policy such that the penalty for a first breach of the policy is a verbal warning from the referee. The example given below is how the penalty statement is modified for a stroke play competition and the penalty statements for match play, Stableford and Par/Bogey competitions could be similarly adjusted.

Model Local Rule K-5

“Penalty for Breach of Local Rule:

  • Penalty for first breach: Verbal warning from referee.

  • Penalty for second breach: One-stroke penalty.

  • Penalty for third breach: General Penalty applied in addition to the penalty for the second breach.

  • Penalty for fourth breach: Disqualification.”

8L Unauthorized Local Rules

While a Committee has significant authority under the Rules of Golf to adopt Local Rules to fit the particular needs of a course or competition, any Local Rules that it chooses to put in place must be consistent with the policies established in Section 8, Model Local Rules.

Rule 1.3c(3) states that the Committee does not have the authority to apply penalties in a different way than stated in the Rules of Golf. Therefore, it is inappropriate for a Committee to write an unauthorized Local Rule that waives a penalty or changes a penalty. For example, a Committee cannot change the penalty for using a non-conforming club from disqualification to the general penalty or change the general penalty for failing to replace a ball which was moved to a single stroke. The Committee must not impose penalties when the Rules do not impose them, for example, penalizing a player who failed to total his or her score on the scorecard in stroke play.

In addition, Committees must not write a Local Rule that goes beyond the authorized Local Rules in ways which compromise the basic principles of the Rules of Golf. As examples, allowing players to use preferred lies throughout the general area or giving free relief from divot holes in the fairway compromise the basic principle under Rule 1.1 of playing the ball as it lies.

As a general principle, when a player is playing a round that is to be posted for handicapping purposes, he or she is required to play that round under the Rules of Golf. If the Committee authorizes players to play under Local  Rules that differ significantly from the Rules of Golf, the player may not be permitted to post the score for handicapping purposes. For allowable exceptions, consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.

If the Committee believes that a Local Rule not covered by the policies established in Section 8 may be needed because of local abnormal conditions that interfere with fair play, it should: