Dr. Robin 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. He’s always emailing out different Rules scenarios, and I like to post them all about one a month as a little refresher.
In this month’s Diary of a USGA Rules Official, Dr. Farran plays one of my favorite game shows, Okay or Not Okay?
Okay or Not Okay?
1. Player A’s ball is on a paved cart path. Player A marks and lifts the ball and then realizes that the nearest point of relief is in a large bush. Player A replaces the ball on the cart path and completes the hole.
**Player A incurred a penalty of one stroke for a breach of Rule 18-2. Player A was permitted to lift the ball without penalty to proceed under Rule 24-2. When Player A did not proceed to take relief from the obstruction, Player A is deemed to have moved the ball in play without permission of a Rule; Rule 18-2 now applies. [See Decision 18-2/12.]
2. Player B’s ball is on a paved cart path. Player B marks and lifts the ball and drops the ball from waist height within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole. When reminded by another player about the proper method of dropping the ball, Player B lifts the ball, reconsiders taking relief from the cart path, replaces the ball on the cart path and completes the hole.
**Player B incurred the general penalty for a breach of Rule 24-2. Rule 20-6 permitted Player B to lift the ball that was dropped incorrectly and correct the dropping procedure. Player B must proceed in accordance with Rule 24 to avoid any penalties. [See Rule 20-6 and Decision 20-6/5.]
3. Player C’s ball is on a paved cart path. Player C marks and lifts the ball and drops the ball about two club-lengths from the edge of the cart path. When reminded by another player of the correct procedure for taking relief from the cart path, Player C reconsiders taking relief from the cart path, replaces the ball on the cart path and completes the hole.
**Player C incurred the general penalty for a breach of Rule 24-2. When Player C dropped the ball with the intent to take relief without penalty from the cart path, Player C was committed to proceed correctly to avoid any penalties. [See Rule 20-6 and Decision 20-6/5.]
In the following incidents, determine any relevant Definitions, Rules and Decisions that are required for the appropriate ruling.
1. Player A’s ball lands in a hazard close to a plastic water bottle. The water bottle interferes with Player A’s stance.
**Definition of “Movable Obstruction” and Rule 24-1. A movable obstruction may be removed anywhere on the course (or off the course). Also, if the movement of the movable obstruction causes the ball to move, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.
2. Player B’s approach shot flies over the putting green towards several spectators. One of the spectators jumped in front of the ball to stop the ball from going into a wooded area behind the green. After being deflected by the spectator, the ball came to rest just beyond the green.
**Definition of “Outside Agency” and Note to Rule 19-1, item (a). Decision 19-1/4.1 provides guidance. The player must drop the ball as near as possible to the spot where it is estimated that the ball would have come to rest.
3. Player C and Player D both hit their balls into a lateral water hazard. The players do not know which ball is farther from the hole but it is known that Player D’s ball crossed the hazard margin farther from the hole than where Player C’s ball crossed the hazard margin.
**Rule 10-1b and Rule 10-2b and Decision 10/3. Order of play “should be decided by lot” since the locations of the balls are not known.
Hole No. 9 – The Ruling
The cart path on hole #9 runs parallel to the fairway and is about 2 feet from the boundary wall. There is no vegetation, bushes or trees along the cart path.
The tee shot of Player A, a capable junior golfer, came to rest about 1 foot from the wall on the dirt. Player A, a right-handed player, determined that he could play the ball left-handed and would be entitled to relief from the cart path.
Player A, with his 9-iron, determined his nearest point of relief for a right-handed stroke on the fairway side of the card path, measured the one club-length area carefully with his driver and dropped a ball in the grass about 10 inches farther from the cart path and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief for the right-handed shot and continued play of the hole.
At scoring, one of the fellow-competitors questioned the scoring official about Player A’s procedure.
**We know that Player A did not follow the correct procedure in taking relief from the cart path for a left-handed stroke. However, the Rules only require the player to drop the ball where the Rule prescribes and play from a correct place.
We need to determine whether Player A played from a wrong place, a breach of Rule 24-2 or whether Player A played from a location that met the requirements of Rule 24-2.
In reviewing the facts on the course, including the divot where the dropped ball was played, Player A proceeded in accordance with Rule 24-2.
How many total penalty strokes in each incident?
1. Player A’s ball is in an area marked as a lateral water hazard. Player A informs his fellow-competitors that he intends to take relief from the lateral water hazard, knows the reference point for Rule 26-1c, and will look for his ball in the hazard. Player A, while searching in the hazard, tosses several rocks into the water and several pine cones out of the hazard.
After retrieving his ball, Player A proceeds correctly under Rule 26-1c.
**Player A incurs a one-stroke penalty under Rule 26-1. Decision 26-1/9 is a useful reference for such a situation.
[Once a player decides to take relief under a Rule and proceeds to take relief, any breaches associated with the ball or location of the ball are disregarded unless the breach results in an improvement for the selected relief procedure.]
2. Player B’s ball is in an area marked as a lateral water hazard. Prior to searching for his ball in the grass or area of stones or deciding whether to take relief, Player B tosses several loose stones into the water and several sticks out of the hazard. After finding his ball in a terrible lie, Player B proceeds correctly under Rule 26-1c.
**Player B incurs a total of 3 penalty strokes, a one-stroke penalty under Rule 26-1 and an additional two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 13-4c.
See Decision 13-4/17 and Decisions 1-4/12 and 13-4/3.
3. Player C’s ball is in an area marked as a lateral water hazard. Prior to finding his ball in the grass or area of stones or deciding whether to take relief, Player C tosses several loose stones into the water and several sticks out of the hazard. After finding his ball in a terrible lie, Player C drops the ball about three club-lengths from the red line and plays the ball.
**Player C incurs a total of 5 penalty strokes, a one-stroke penalty under Rule 26-1, a two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 13-4c and a two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 26-1 for playing from a wrong place.
In match play, for #2 and #3, Player B and Player C would incur loss of hole penalties.