Blogger’s Update & Diary of a USGA Rules Official

Asher Stephen was born at 2:11p on the 4th of July.

Well hey there! Long time no write to. I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus celebrating the birth of my son, Asher, but I’ve dusted off the old typewriter and am ready to hop back in the writing saddle.

I’ll be writing about a lot of exciting things in the coming weeks. I’m heading up to Cool Clubs in Scottsdale for a putter fitting later this week, something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m planning a “What’s in My Bag?” post, and I’ll also be heading back out to Florida at the end of this month for the PGA Level 2 Seminar.

But before we can get to any of that, we have to start with glory’s last shot and this week’s PGA Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, a course I’ve actually played. And that leads us back to the Rules. It’s been a couple of months since our last Diary of a USGA Rules Official, but that doesn’t mean the emails from Dr. Robin Farran stop coming. Oh no!

Dr. Farran teaches Advanced Rules at the Golf Academy of America in Phoenix and is one of the United States Golf Association’s (USGA) top Rules Officials. In this month’s installment, Dr. Farran reviews relief procedures and has some match play reminders for us:

Relief or No Relief?
In which incidents below is the player entitled to relief without penalty?

1.    Player A’s ball lies through the green. Player A’s stance is on a sprinkler head just inside the margin of a lateral water hazard.

**Player A is entitled to relief without penalty for interference from the sprinkler head. The nearest point of relief must be through the green and the ball must be dropped through the green. See Rule 25-1b(i). 

2.    Player B’s ball lies through the green. Player B’s stance is in a temporary accumulation of water just beyond the white stakes that define out of bounds.

**Player B is not entitled to relief without penalty. “Casual Water” is defined as “any temporary accumulation of water on the course” – see the Definition.

Rule 25 details the relief procedures for Abnormal Ground Conditions, Embedded Ball, and Wrong Putting Green.

3.    Player C’s ball lies in a bunker. Player C’s stance is through the green on a hole made by a burrowing animal.

**Player C is entitled to relief without penalty for interference from the burrowing animal hole. The nearest point of relief must be in the bunker and the ball must be dropped in the bunker – see Definition of “Abnormal Ground Condition” and Rule 25-1b(ii). 

4.    Player D’s ball lies on turf within the margin of a lateral water hazard. Player D’s stance is through the green on a hole made by a burrowing animal.

**Player D is not entitled to relief without penalty. When the ball lies in a water hazard, there is no relief under Rule 25-1 for an abnormal ground condition – see Definition of “Abnormal Ground Condition” and Rule 25-1b. 

5.    Player E’s ball lies through the green, just inside a row of white stakes that define out of bounds. Player E’s stance is on a paved cart path that is beyond the boundary of the course.

**Player E is not entitled to relief without penalty. Artificial objects that are out of bounds are not obstructions – see Definition of “Obstructions”. 

6.    On hole #12, Player F’s ball lies through the green. Player F’s stance is on the cart path on the left side of the hole. The Notice to Players defines out of bounds as beyond the cart path on the left side of hole #12.

**Player F is not entitled to relief without penalty. Artificial objects that define out of bounds are not obstructions – see Definitions of “Obstructions” and “Out of Bounds”.

A Troublesome Hole
In stroke play, Player A’s tee shot came to rest about 150 yards from the hole. Player A’s shot from the fairway headed toward a water hazard (marked yellow) just short of the green.

Player A and the fellow-competitors were positive, i.e., “virtually certain”, that Player A’s ball was in the water hazard.

If it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the hazard, the player may proceed under Rule 26.

Player A dropped a substituted ball under Rule 26-1b on the estimated flag-line at a distance about 30 yards from the hole, and played the ball onto the green.

As the group arrived at the green, a nearby resident informed the group that Player A’s ball had struck a rock in the water hazard and bounced into his yard out of bounds.

After an active discussion among the group as to what Player A should do next, Player A picked up his ball on the green and returned to the location where he had played onto the green (about 30 yards from the hole), dropped the ball, and completed the hole in 3 additional strokes.

**Player A scored 8 on the hole. Player A’s second shot was in the water hazard, with virtual certainty, and Player A was entitled to proceed under Rule 26-1b, under penalty of one stroke. After proceeding under Rule 26-1b, Player A lay 4 on the putting green.

Player A then proceeded under Rule 27-1a, under penalty of one stroke, and completed the hole in 3 additional strokes. 6 talent strokes and 2 one-stroke penalties for a score of 8. See Decision 26-1/3 and Decision 26-1/3.5 and Rule 27-1a.

More Match Play Reminders
In single match play, what is the order of play in each situation?

1. Player A’s tee shot comes to rest in bad country about 150 yards from the hole. Player B’s tee shot comes to rest in the fairway about 200 yards from the hole. After finding his ball in a terrible lie and considering the options for a ball unplayable, Player A informs Player B, his opponent, that he will return to the tee under Rule 28a.

**It is Player B’s turn to play. The original positions of the balls determine order of play when a player plays from another location as an option under a Rule. See Note to Rule 10-1b.

2. Player C’s ball comes to rest in a bunker near the green, about 25 yards from the hole. Player D’s approach shot lands on the green and spins back into the water hazard (marked yellow) close to the green, about 10 yards from the hole. Player D, proceeding under Rule 26-1b dropped a ball on the flag-line behind the water hazard about 60 yards from the hole.

**It is Player C’s turn to play. The original positions of the balls determine order of play when a player plays from another location as an option under a Rule. See Note to Rule 10-1b.

In match play, the original positions of the balls determine order of play when a player plays from another location.

3. Player E’s second shot from the fairway goes over the green into an area of vegetation and a course-boundary fence, probably about 20 yards from the hole. Player F’s approach shot lands left of the putting green about 40 yards from the hole. After an unsuccessful 5-minute search for Player E’s ball by Player E and Player F, Player E informs Player F that he will return to the fairway and replay the shot under penalty of stroke and distance.

**It is Player E’s turn to play. Since Player E is required to play from where the previous stroke was played, as prescribed in the Note to Rule 10-1b, the order of play is determined by the spot where the previous stroke was played.

Match Play Reminders 
What penalties, if any are incurred in the following incidents?

1. The approach shots of Player A and Player B are at rest on the putting green. Neither player has marked and lifted his ball. It is Player A’s turn to play. Player A putts and Player A’s ball strikes Player B’s ball in play.

**No penalties were incurred – see Rule 19-5a. Player A plays his ball as it lies. Player B must replace his ball by placing the ball as near as possible to the original spot – see Rule 20-3c(iii).

2. Player C’s ball is on a paved cart path. Player D watches Player C take relief and drop the ball on the wrong side of the cart path. Player C and Player D halve the hole. Just after Player C tees off on the next hole, Player D informs Player C that Player C lost the previous hole for playing from a wrong place. Player C disagrees and states that he will get a ruling from an official.

**The hole is halved. Player D was required to make a claim regarding the procedure by Player C before either player teed off on the next hole. Since a claim or request for a ruling was not made in a timely manner, the hole stands as played – See Rule 2-5.

3. Player E observes Player F properly take relief from a lateral water hazard. Upon completion of the hole, Player E states that his score for the hole is 6. Player F states that his score for the hole is 5, including the penalty stroke for relief from the lateral water hazard. Player E claims the hole stating that Player F failed to inform him of the penalty stroke in a timely manner. Player F disagrees and states that he will get a ruling from an official.

**Player F wins the hole. Player E observed Player F taking relief from the lateral water hazard, therefore, there was no breach of Rule 9-2b. See the wording in Rule 9-2b(i).

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