USGA Rules Official: Incidents of the Week

Dr. Robin Farran teaches Advanced Rules of Golf at the Golf Academy of America and is widely regarded as one of the preeminent USGA Rules Officials in the entire country. Dr. Farran emails out seminar discussion incidents on a regular basis. Here are his rulings for the week of November 20th:

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You can’t rake footprints in a bunker when they are on your line of play even if for the sole purpose of caring for the course.

Scenario 1
Player A’s ball is in a fairway bunker. While waiting for his turn to play, Player A rakes footprints on his line of play in the bunker.

If the smoothing created a potential advantage, Player A incurred the general penalty. Otherwise, there is no penalty for Player A’s actions. See 2016 Revised Decision 13-2/0.5 (first two examples). This was a definite breach as of 2015 but not necessarily in 2016.

Scenario 2
Player B’s ball is in a fairway bunker. For care of the course, Player B removes a pine cone from the bunker that did not affect Player B’s play.

Player B incurred the general penalty for a breach of Rule 13-4c. Also, see Decision 13-4/14.

Scenario 3
In four-ball stroke play, Player C’s ball is in a bunker. The ball of Player D, Player C’s partner, is in the fairway. Player D removes a pine cone from the bunker on Player C’s line of play.

Player C incurred the general penalty for a breach of Rule 13-4c. See Definition of “Partner” and Rule 31-8. In the situation where Player D’s ball is also in the bunker, both players could be penalized (See Decision 31-8/1).

Scenario 4
Player D replaced his ball on the putting green but did not pick up the ball-maker. A gust of wind blows and the ball rolls off the putting green into a bunker.

Player D’s ball is not in the bunker and properly in play. The ball was in play when replaced. See 2016 Revised Rule 20-4 and 2016 Revised Decision 20-3d/1.

A pine cone
If the ball lies in a hazard, the player must not touch or move any loose impediment lying in or touching the same hazard.

Scenario 5
Player E, in proceeding under Rule 24-2, dropped a ball on the wrong side of the cart path. As Player E was considering his play of the ball, Player E accidentally stepped on his ball. A fellow-competitor informed Player E of his dropping error. Player E picked up his ball and proceeded correctly under Rule 24-2.

Player E’s ball when dropped in a wrong place was in play although not properly in play. Player E incurred a penalty of one stroke for moving his ball in play. See Rule 18 and Decision 20-2a/4.

Scenario 6
Player F, searching for his ball in the desert, finds a ball in a burrowing animal hole. Player F picks up the ball, proceeds under Rule 25-1, and hits the ball onto the green. Upon reaching the green, Player F discovers that the ball is not his ball.

Player F’s dropped ball was substituted for his original ball, which was not found. Player F was required to re-play from where the previous stroke was played incurring the stroke and distance penalty and the general penalty for playing from a wrong place. In stroke play, Player F must correct his error or be disqualified for a serious breach for playing from a wrong place. See Definition of “Lost Ball,” item “e,” Rule 20-7, and Decisions 27-1/3 and 34-3/6.

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