Dr. Robin Farran teaches Advanced Rules at the Golf Academy of America in Phoenix and is one of the USGA’s top Rules Officials.
In this month’s Diary of a USGA Rules Official, Dr. Farran breaks out some of his USGA Workshop materials. As always, it’s a good idea to have the Rules of Golf handy:
The questions below were selected from the USGA University website, available to all Workshop attendees. Determine the answer and find the reference that supports your ruling.
3) In stroke play, A’s ball lies about six inches from B’s ball in a bunker. B asks A to lift his (A’s) ball. A pushes a tee into the sand to mark the position of his ball, and lifts his ball. This creates a raised dome of sand, which worsens his lie.
B makes his stroke without further altering A’s lie. A replaces his ball, and before making his next stroke, he smooths the sand behind his ball to recreate the lie that he (A) had altered. What is the ruling?
(A) There is no penalty,
(B) A incurs two penalty strokes. (Decision 20-1/15.5.)
(C) A incurs four penalty strokes.
(D) A and B each incur a two-stroke penalty.
9) In stroke play, a competitor’s ball lies in a water hazard and is believed to be covered by twigs, grass clippings, and leaves. He searches for the ball by moving the twigs, grass clippings, and leaves in the hazard with a club and his feet. The competitor sweeps away a pile of leaves with his foot and accidentally kicks and moves the ball that is within the hazard. The player then decides not to replace the ball and proceeds under Rule 26-1b. The competitor incurs _____ penalty strokes.
(B) 2 (Rule 12-1b and Rule 26-1; 1p under Rule 18-2 for moving ball accidentally (ball was not lying in water in the water hazard) and 1p under Rule 26-1.)
21) In stroke play, on the 13th hole, a player makes his first stroke from within the teeing ground, and the ball comes to rest in a water hazard. After surveying the situation, the player decides to proceed under Rule 26-1a. He returns to the tee and, by mistake, the player tees a ball in front of the tee markers (outside the teeing ground), plays from there, and that ball comes to rest in the middle of the fairway. The player takes three more strokes to hole out. What is the player’s score for the 13th hole?
(B) 8 (Definition of “Ball in Play”, Rule 26-1a, Rule 20-7c, and Rule 20-5a.)
(D) If the mistake is not corrected before he makes a stroke on the next tee, the player is disqualified.
53) In stroke play, a competitor plays his tee shot at the third hole. The stroke barely nudges his ball off the tee peg. The ball comes to rest within the teeing ground. The competitor makes his second stroke, which sends the ball towards a wooded area.
After a five-minute search, his ball cannot be found. The competitor returns to the teeing ground. What is the proper procedure? The competitor must play his next stroke from within the teeing ground and _____.
(A) may tee a ball anywhere in the teeing ground. The next stroke will be his third.
(B) must drop a ball as near as possible to the spot where his last stroke was played. The next stroke will be his fourth.
(C) may tee a ball anywhere in the teeing ground. The next stroke will be his fourth. (Decision 20-5/1; when proceeding under Rule 20-5 from teeing ground, the ball may be played from anywhere in teeing ground and may be teed.)
(D) must drop a ball anywhere within the teeing ground. The next stroke will be his fourth.
61) In which one of the following situations does A incur the general penalty?
(A) A’s approach shot strikes the flagstick that is lying on the ground because the preceding group had neglected to replace it in the hole.
(B) A’s ball is deflected by his partner when the partner attended the flagstick without A’s knowledge or authority. (Decision 17-3/4; the flagstick is deemed to be attended with the player’s knowledge and authority.)
(C) A holds the flagstick directly above the hole while his partner plays from a deep greenside bunker.
(D) A, while attending the flagstick for his fellow-competitor (B), is unable to remove the flagstick from the hole because it is stuck in the socket and B’s ball strikes the flagstick.
68) In stroke play, player A marks and lifts his ball from the putting green so that Player B, whose ball is also on the putting green but further from the hole, can play first. While B’s ball is in motion, A, trying to speed up play, replaces his ball and starts evaluating his line of putt. B’s ball strikes A’s ball and it (B’s ball) is deflected into the hole. What is the ruling?
(A) A incurs no penalty and must replace his ball. B incurs a two-stroke penalty and must replay the stroke.
(B) A incurs no penalty and must replace his ball. B incurs no penalty and his ball is holed. (Decision 16-1b/3; no penalty to either player as A had lifted his ball prior to B’s stroke.)
(C) A incurs a two-stroke penalty and must replace his ball. B incurs no penalty and his ball is holed.
(D) A incurs a two-stroke penalty and must replace his ball. B incurs a two-stroke penalty and must replay the stroke.
70) In which one of the following has the player proceeded properly?
(A) The player uses his golf glove to mark the outer limit of the area in which a ball is to be dropped. The dropped ball is deflected by the glove. The player then makes his next stroke from where the ball came to rest after the deflection.
(B) The player deems his ball unplayable and drops a ball in a proper location under Rule 28c. The ball strikes his club that was lying on the ground to indicate the dropping area. He then decides to proceed under the option outlined in Rule 28b and does so.
(C) The player drops a ball under Rule 24-2b, and the dropped ball lodges in the branch of a bush, never striking the ground. He declares it unplayable and drops under 28c using the point below where the ball was in the bush as his reference. (Decisions 20-2b/1 and 28/11.)
(D) The player has his caddie hold back a tree branch that is situated where the player drops his ball under Rule 26-1c. After dropping the ball, the caddie releases the branch, and the player makes his next stroke at his ball that is under the branch.
More Practice Questions
These questions are from USGA Workshop Study Guide materials a long time ago.
1. A competitor’s ball comes to rest on an artificially-surfaced road which had not been declared to be an integral part of the course. Without announcing his intention to invoke Rule 3-3 or the ball with which he would score if the Rules permit, the competitor dropped and played a second ball in accordance with Rule 24-2b.
The competitor then played the original ball as it lay and completed the hole with both balls, scoring 5 with each. The competitor returned his score card to the Committee with a score of 5 for the hole in question but failed to report the facts of the incident to the Committee. What is the ruling?
A. No penalty. The competitor’s score of 5 on the hole stands.
B. The original ball counts but the player incurs a two-stroke penalty for playing a wrong ball
C. The player must add a one-stroke penalty to his score for that hole for failing to follow the procedure outlined in Rule 3-3.
D. The player is disqualified. [See the last paragraph in Rule 3-3a and Decision 3-3/6.5.]
2. In match play, a player accidentally moves his ball while searching for it in ground under repair. The player:
A. Incurs a one-stroke penalty and must replace the ball.
B. Incurs no penalty, and may play the ball as it lies from its new location.
C. Incurs no penalty, but must replace the ball and then decide whether to invoke the ground under repair Rule.
D. Incurs no penalty, but must either replace the ball or invoke the abnormal ground condition Rules. [See Rule 12-1d.]
3. After playing his 2nd stroke that came to rest in a greenside bunker, the competitor is notified by the Committee that play has been suspended due to lightning in the area (one prolonged note of an air horn – immediate suspension). The competitor quickly marked his ball in the bunker, lifted it and headed for shelter. Two hours later when play was resumed, the competitor could not find his mark in the bunker. The competitor must:
A. Place the ball on an estimated spot in the bunker.
B. Drop the ball as near as possible to an estimated spot in the bunker.
C. Place a ball on an estimated spot in the bunker. [See Rule 6-8d, particularly (i) and Note to Rule 6-8d.]
D. Drop a ball on an estimated spot in the bunker.
Special Incident – The Ruling
Player K’s tee shot heads towards an area marked as a lateral water hazard and comes to rest about 240 yards from the teeing ground.
Player K finds the ball on dry land in the lateral water hazard but in a very difficult location. Player K considers playing the ball as it lies or proceeding under Rule 26-1c(i) or Rule 26-1c(ii). Both would position the ball about 50 yards from the teeing ground.
Player K elects to proceed under Rule 28c, deeming the ball unplayable before the lifting and dropping, drops the ball in accordance with Rule 28c, and completes the hole in three additional strokes.
Player K’s score for the hole is:
d) Some other result
**Player K is disqualified unless he corrects his error for a serious breach for playing from a wrong place.
Rule 28c is not an applicable Rule (see Rule 28). When Player K lifted, dropped, and played a ball from within the lateral water hazard, the only applicable Rule was Rule 26-1. The ball was played from a wrong place with respect to the reference points for relief under Rule 26-1 and from a point providing a significant advantage to Player K.
[See Decision 20-7/2 and Decision 34-3/6.]
Player K may correct his error by proceeding correctly under one of the options of Rule 26-1 and adding a two-stroke penalty for playing from a wrong place. The stroke taken within the hazard and subsequent strokes with that ball do not count in Player K’s score for the hole.
Recent California Incident
On a windy day in CA, Player A’s second shot from the fairway “encounters” a tumbleweed that is blowing across the fairway.
Both the tumbleweed and Player A’s ball end up in the lateral water hazard on the right side of the fairway.
**There are three possible rulings that depend on the facts of the incident, not clear in the description of the “CA Incident”. The tumbleweed is an outside agency (and a loose impediment).
1. If Player A’s ball is at rest before being moved by the tumbleweed, the ball must be replaced as prescribed by Rule 18-1. Player A must drop the ball since the spot is not known – Rule 20-3c applies.
2. If Player A’s ball in motion is deflected by the outside agency, Rule 19-1 states that the ball is played as it lies. The player may play the ball from the lateral hazard or proceed under Rule 26-1.
3. If Player A’s ball in motion comes to rest in the moving tumbleweed, the ball must be dropped as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest in the tumbleweed (in the fairway under the spot where the ball entered the moving tumbleweed)– Rule 19-1a applies.