The Wonderful Rules Of Golf

April 20, 2007 -

Would like to get everyone’s most interesting or extraordinary rules decision they witnessed or heard about. The first rule in question is; 23/2 Loose Impediments. The Definition of ”Loose Impediments” states that a stone is a loose impediment, if it is not “Solidly Embedded”.

When is a stone solidly embedded? “If a stone is partially embedded and maybe picked up with ease, it is a loose impediment. When there is doubt as to whether a stone is solidly embedded or not, it should not be removed”.

Am sure that you have already figured out the situation that made loose inpediments the talk of the town! Tiger Woods, at the Phoenix Open, hit his ball behind a boulder that easily weighed 800 pounds. The rules official gave him the “Loose Impediment” ruling. Tiger then asked the gallery to assist him in moving the boulder. They moved the boulder, while TV announcer, Ken Venturi, was going crazy in the booth. Doing his best John Madden impression, drawing on the screen showing where there boulder was embedded, Venturi insisted that the boulder was “fixed” and therefore Tiger should not have free relief. Was this a good ruling? Did Tiger get ruling because he was Tiger? Or did Tiger know the Rules and use that to his advantage?

12 thoughts on “The Wonderful Rules Of Golf

  1. rather be golfing says:

    I have a rule question. Last year, playing in the highly competitive world of the men’s league at my club, I accidently hit my ball while attempting a practice swing. As luck would have it, the ball rolled to the fringe of the green from 60 yards out. My companions said I needed to replace the ball where it originally was and take a 2 stroke penalty. Why couldn’t I just play the ball from where it was like this was my shot?. Thanks

  2. admin says:

    Good question, Rather Be Golfing! According to the USGA (and as a reference am using 18-2a/20 from the 2006-2007 Decisions on the Rules of Golf).

    Q: A player makes a practice swing and accidentally moves his ball with his club. Has he made a stroke?

    A: NO. He had no intention of moving the ball-see definition of “stroke”.

    HOWEVER: he incurs a penalty stroke (1 STROKE) under Rule 18-2a for moving his ball in play, and the ball MUST be replaced (you were correct to play another shot from where the original ball lay) .

    So…..sorry to say your companions were ALMOST right but you were charged with one more penalty stroke than you should have been, and therefore they should all have to buy you a drink or all go to a Rules Seminar (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing) for a week.

    IF A SITUATION like this happens to you; ergo, you are unsure of the ruling that your fellow competitors have given you and you cannot determine from your Rules Book (which we should all carry in our bag); PLAY TWO BALLS.

    After your round, seek out your PGA/LPGA professional at your course/club or your Rules Committee.

  3. rather be golfing says:

    Thanks you for the clarification

  4. shivasirons says:

    I think that the Stadler ruling at Torey Pines a few years ago was ridiculous! You may remeber that the Walrus was trying to keep his pants clean and after hitting his ball under a tree he used his towel to rest on (which was supposedly “building a stance”)…..and while we are at it with rediculous, the rule that needs changed the most…….is/are SPIKE MARKS. We should be able to fix them/tap them down (like we would a ball mark).

  5. Sandy Cable says:

    Can anyone tell me where in the rules of golf you will find the definition of a waste area, sometimes refered to as a waste bunker? Based on a ruling Stewart Cink received a few years back, USGA does not consider it a hazard. Or do they? We have a couple at my course in Nevada. One of which I have on occassion found my ball in after my drive. Our rules chairman has determined since she can not find anything in the rules it is a bunker or hazard and we cannot ground our club or remove debris. Any rules guru’s out there?

  6. admin says:

    Good question, Sandy. There really is no mention of “Waste Areas” in either the Rules of Golf or the Definitions within. One thing is for certain, it IS NOT a hazard; UNLESS it is defined as such. Meaninig that, it (if it is a hazard) should be marked by either stakes or lines. Therefore, the rules chairman at your club was incorrect. If your rules committe had previously defined these areas as a hazard, then you could not have grounded your club but since that was not defined prior to play (it can also be done under the auspices of a “local rule”), you should have been able to ground your club.

    The Cink ruling at Harbor Town was a little different. He was in a waste area on the left side of the 16th. fairway (and being a waste area as outlined by their PGA Tour, he could indeed ground his club). What he did, however, was not just ground his club but he removed small pebbles that were immediately behind his ball. In doing so, (and this is my opinion only) he “built a stance”-Rule 13-2 by improving the lie of his ball (see removing the pebbles). The Tour official allowed him to do this, which is why there was no penalty called; but I believe that to be one of the worst rulings in recent history. Perhaps it was the magnitutude of the occassion, in that he was in a playoff with Ted Purdy, which is why they were “soft” but regardless of the situation, it was ….building a stance; and he should have been penalized.

  7. Carol says:

    Lost ball.

    I keep getting mixed up about the number of shots added to a score when you lose a ball.

    Today I hit a ‘provisional’ ball from the tee because I thought I would not find the first one in the high rough.

    I was correct. I did not find it.

    I counted my first tee stroke and a penalty and my second tee shot as my third shot.

    Is this correct?

  8. admin says:

    Hi Carol; the rule/penalty for a lost ball is “stoke and distance”. What that means is that you take a 1 stroke penalty and replay your next shot from where you played the one that you lost. Ergo, if you lost your tee shot; you would re-tee and now be playing your third shot from the tee.

    When you “think” that you have lost a ball, (and it is a good way to save time) you can do exactly as you did and play a provisional ball. You MUST, however, DECLARE that you are playing a “provisional ball” to your fellow competitors. If you find your original ball you MUST play that one, but if you look for your original ball for 5 minutes, and cannot find it; the provisional ball, becomes the ball in play.

    The provisional ball may only be played if you think that your ball is lost or out of bounds (you cannot use the provisional ball rule if your ball is in a water hazard.)

  9. rather be golfing says:

    I have a question. A player I was involved in a match with, ran over his ball with his golf cart (he owns his own cart). The question is what does he do know and would there be any different ruling if someone else’s golf cart ran over another players ball. I thought since he ran over his own ball he should be required to play it (the ball was now quite plugged in the soft ground) or play the ball as unplayable with a stroke penalty. What do you think?

  10. admin says:

    An interesting one, Rather be golfing. A golf cart is considered to be “equipment” (i.e. same as a caddie) in the Rules of Golf. It is the “equipment” of BOTH people using it (ownership matters not), during any particular round. In accordance with Rule 19-2b; “If a competitor’s ball is accidentally deflected or stopped by himself, his partner or either of their caddies or equipment, the competitor INCURS A PENALTY OF TWO STROKES. The ball must be played as it lies….”

    So: Your fellow competitor can either now play the ball from it’s embedded position or take and unplayable lie. If he decides to take an unplayable lie, he will incur another stroke penalty. These scenarios are all “Stroke Play” descisons. If you were playing Match Play, he would lose the hole.

  11. Carol says:

    How do I use my handicap?

    I can’t seem to find a rule that I can understand.

    I was told to use it according to the level of difficulty of each hole, but I am not sure I grasp that concept.

  12. admin says:

    Hi Carol; Each course has a different course rating and slope meaning that the USGA essentially rates the difficulty of a course accoring to par. For instance, if you have a very difficult course, it will have a very high slope or course rating; conversely, an easy course has a lower rating. Say a course is a par 72, but it has a 74.5 rating. A scratch player (0 handicap) would shoot 74.5 because the course has such a hard rating. Each hole on each course is rated from easiest (#18) to hardest hole (#1). These ratings should appear on your club’s scorecard. If you are a 13 handicap, you would then receive strokes; on the 13 hardest holes (#’s 1-13). If you are a 30 handicap, you would receive one stroke on each hole AND TWO strokes on the hardest 12 holes, which would make up 30. Do be carfeul though, when checking your scorecard’s ratings because the Men’s ratings are different from the Women’s ratings so make sure that you are using the Women’s ratings when determining what holes you get strokes on. Also, when writing down your score on the scorecard; always record your actual (or Gross) score in the scoring box; and then record your NET (adjusted score after strokes) in the bottom line.

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