Dr. Robin Farran is one of the USGA’s top Rules Officials and teaches Advanced Rules at the Golf Academy of America in Phoenix. He’s always emailing out different Rules scenarios, which I am happy to re-post for our benefit!
I call it Diary of a USGA Rules Official, and in this month’s installment, Dr. Farran has some not so subtle reminders about starting times and Decision 13-2/0.5:
In stroke play:
1. Player A has a starting time of 8:00AM. Player A arrives at the Starter’s Tent at 8:02AM, shortly after the first player in the group had been announced. Player A was listed 3rd on the starter’s sheet.
**In the case where the fairway is clear and the Starter is ready to announce the players in the 8:00AM group, Player A incurs a two-stroke penalty. Player A must be present and ready to play as the assigned starting time. See the penalty statement under Rule 6-3a and Decision 6-3a/2.
2. Player B has a starting time of 8:10AM. Player B walks from the practice putting area to join his group at #1 tee arriving at 8:12AM. Several minutes later, as the fairway begins to clear, the Starter announces, “This is the 8:10 starting time, first to play is Player X”. Player B is listed as the 3rd player to start.
**Player B does not incur a penalty. Player B was present and ready to play at the adjusted starting time for the 8:10AM group. The Starter was not able to maintain the schedule of starting times was due to the fairway not being clear. See Decision 6-3a/4.
In match play:
1. Single match, Player A vs Player B, is scheduled for 8:00AM. Player A is present and ready to play at 7:55AM. Player B arrives ready to play at 8:02AM.
**In the case where the fairway is clear and the Starter is ready to announce the players in the 8:00AM match, Player B incurs a loss-of-hole penalty and the match continues at the 2nd hole. Player A is 1 up. See the penalty statement under Rule 6-3a.
2. Single match, Player C vs Player D, is scheduled for 8:10AM. Player C is present at 8:05AM without his clubs which are on the cart shared with Player D. At 8:12AM, Player D arrives with the cart and equipment of both players.
**Each player incurs a loss-of-hole penalty and the match commences on the 2nd hole. The 1st hole is deemed halved. See Rule 6-3a and Decision 6-3a/3.
1. Player A’s tee shot on a dogleg par-5 hole heads left as Player A attempts to cut the corner of the hole. The likely landing area slopes downward toward a bunker and a lateral water hazard.
Player A, as he reached the area half-way to where his ball might be, decided to play a provisional ball. Rather than returning to the tee, Player A announced his intent to play a provisional ball, dropped and played a substituted ball from the fairway.
Seeing the ball land with certainty in the lateral water hazard, Player A announced and played another provisional ball which landed in the fairway beyond the lateral water hazard.
As Player A reaches the area where the original ball is likely to be, Player A decides that his original ball is likely to be in the lateral water hazard. Player A picks up the ball in the fairway and drops a ball under Rule 26-1b, estimating where the original ball entered the lateral water hazard.
After the drop, Player A completed the hole in 4 additional strokes.
** Unless Player A corrected the serious breach from playing from a wrong place (not corrected in the real-life incident!), Player A is disqualified.
Analysis of the Incident Details
Several important concepts apply to this incident: 1) A player is not entitled to play a provisional ball from a position that is significantly nearer the hole than where the previous stroke was played, 2) A player is not permitted to play a provisional ball when it is known or virtually certain that the ball is in a lateral water hazard., 3) When a player proceeds under a Rule that is not applicable, the Committee must determine the Rule that does apply. See Rule 27-2a, Decision 27-2a/1.5 and Decision 34-3/6.
Summary of Player A’s play of the hole:
7 physical/talent strokes plus 6 penalty strokes – 2 stroke-and distance-penalties, 1 two-stroke penalty for playing from a wrong place and 1 two-stroke penalty for lifting the ball in play and not replacing the ball (playing from a wrong place).
The Local Rule for 2017 is in effect for the following incident:
1. Player B grounds his putter closely behind his ball on the putting green and, as Player B begins his stroke, the ball starts to move and while the ball is in motion, Player B competes the stroke and holes the putt.
**Player B is not penalized for causing his ball to move and is not penalized for playing a moving ball. See the Local Rule for 2017 and Rule 14-5.
Decision 13-2/0.5 provides guidance for rulings in the following situations. It is necessary to determine prior to the player making a stroke whether the player has created a potential advantage by the changes to his/her lie, area of intended stance or swing or line of play.
Consideration is given to the type of stroke, lie of the ball, distance to expected landing area, inherent difficulty of the stroke and degree of changes to the area protected by Rule 13-2. Some consideration would also be given to the capabilities of the player. [The ruling is not based on the outcome of the stroke by the player.]
The player is a 10 handicap and weather conditions are calm and dry unless otherwise noted:
1. Player A’s ball lies in the fairway about 10 feet from the green and the flagstick is about 4 paces from the front of the green. Player A, putter in hand, while waiting for his turn to play, replaces a divot on the fringe.
**The actions taken created a potential advantage; general penalty incurred by Player A.
2. Player B’s ball lies in the fairway about 10 feet from the green and the flagstick is about 25 paces onto the green. Player B, wedge in hand, while waiting for his turn to play, replaces a divot on the fringe.
**The actions taken did not create a potential advantage; no penalty incurred by Player B.
3. Player C’s ball lies in the fairway near the 150-yard marker and about 10 feet behind a low-faced fairway bunker. While waiting for his turn to play, Player C rakes some footprints in the bunker on his line of play made by someone in a previous group.
**The actions taken did not create a potential advantage; no penalty incurred by Player C.
4. Player D, a high-handicap player, is about to play his ball from the rough onto the green from about 10 feet behind a high-faced green-side bunker to a hole location close to Player D’s side of the green. For “care of the course”, Player D rakes some footprints in the bunker on his line of play.
**The actions taken created a potential advantage; general penalty incurred by Player D.
5. Player E’s ball comes to rest in the desert in an area of small stones and pebbles on sandy soil. Player E is very careful to pick up the stones and pebbles without disturbing the sandy soil.
**The actions taken did not create a potential advantage; no penalty incurred by Player E.
6. Player F’s ball comes to rest in the desert in an area of small stones and pebbles on sandy soil. Player F brushes the stones and pebbles several times removing the loose impediments and a minor amount of sandy soil around the ball.
**The actions taken did not create a potential advantage; no penalty incurred by Player F.
7. Player G’s ball comes to rest in the desert in an area of small stones and pebbles on sandy soil. Player G uses his 5-iron to remove the loose impediments behind his ball, resulting in about a ¾ inch depression behind his ball.
**The actions taken created a potential advantage; general penalty incurred by Player G.