Rule of the Month

April 2021

18.3 PROVISIONAL BALL

Provisional Ball18.3a When Provisional Ball Allowed
If a ball might be lost outside a penalty area or be out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally. But if the original ball could only be lost in a penalty area a provisional ball is not allowed.

18.3b Announcing Play of Provisional Ball
Before the stroke is made the player must announce that he or she is playing a provisional ball. The player must use the word “provisional” or clearly indicate that he or she is playing the ball provisionally. If a player plays a ball from where the previous stroke was made without announcing, the player’s ball immediately becomes the ball in play under stroke and distance.

18.3c Playing Provisional Ball Until It Becomes the Ball in Play or is Abandoned
The player may continue to play the provisional ball so long as it is played from a spot that is the same distance or farther from the hole that where the original ball is estimated to be.

The provisional ball must be abandoned if the original ball is found on the course, outside a penalty area, before the end of the 3-minute search time and the player must play the original ball as it lies (or declare it unplayable and use one of the unplayable rule options).
If the original ball is found in a penalty area or known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area the player must play the original ball as it lies or take penalty relief under Rule 17.1d. If the player were to make further strokes with the provisional ball he or she would be playing a wrong ball and the general penalty would apply, loss of hole in match play and 2 strokes in stroke play.

Since January 2019 a player may go back and play a Provisional during the 3 minute search period but the timing continues.

March 2021

WRONG PUTTING GREEN

13.1f  Relief Must be taken from Wrong Green

Interference by a wrong green exists if any part of the player’s ball touches a wrong green or the wrong green interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or swing.
Relief MUST be taken, the player must NOT play the ball as it lies, not even with a putter. Drop the original ball or another ball in the Relief Area at the Nearest Point of Complete Relief in the same area of the course where the original ball came to rest, not nearer the hole.
See diagram below – P1 is the Reference Point, and the Relief Area is within one-club length of this point. The player must take complete relief and not be stood on the wrong green.  Image shows RELIEF FROM A WRONG GREEN for a right-handed player.

Wrong Green

 

February 2021

Rule 16.3 Embedded Ball

Relief is available for an Embedded Ball in the General Area (the Fairway AND the Rough) except when the ball is in sand in the General Area that is not cut to fairway height or less, OR there is interference from anything else such as a bush.

Embedded ball

Embedded Ball reliefIf the player is unsure whether or not the ball is embedded in its own pitch-mark as a result of the player’s previous stroke, and part of the ball is below the level of the ground, the player must first mark the ball, and is then allowed to lift the ball to check. The ball cannot be cleaned, unless on the Putting Green. If the ball is found to be embedded, relief is available as shown.

A ball is NOT embedded if it has been pushed into the ground because someone has stood on it, if it has been driven straight into the ground without becoming airborne, or has been dropped in taking relief under a Rule.

January 2021

Rule 17 PENALTY AREAS – Allowed and Prohibited Actions

Penalty area 1Penalty Area Penalty Relief Options were shown previously in the June 2020 Rule of the Month Blog but allowed and prohibited actions were not explained at that time. When the ball is in the Penalty Area a player may ground their club (not allowed in a bunker) and play the ball as it lies, if it is physically possible, without penalty.

As long as it is known or virtually certain that the ball is in the Penalty Area (95% sure) the player may use all the Options available depending on whether the Penalty Area has yellow or red stakes or lines.

penalty area 2 Penalty area 3

 

Permitted Actions include – Removing Loose Impediments (natural objects) and Movable Obstructions (man-made, artificial objects). However, if a player causes the ball to move when moving Loose Impediments (natural objects) they will have to add a Penalty Stroke to their score and replace the ball. If the ball moves when moving a Movable Obstruction (man-made object) there is No Penalty but the ball must still be replaced.
When the ball is in a No-Play Zone in a Penalty Area the player must not play the ball as it lies, but must take Penalty Relief under 17.1d or 17.1e.

December 2020

Rule 12 - BUNKERS - Prohibited and Allowed Actions

Bunker shotThe Player must not touch the sand with the club:
 - In front of or right behind the ball
 - In making a practice swing
 - In making the backswing for the stroke

The penalty for doing so is the General Penalty, Loss of Hole in Match Play and 2 Strokes Penalty in Stroke Play

Permitted Actions include – Removing Loose Impediments (natural objects) and Movable Obstructions (man-made, artificial objects). However, if a player causes the ball to move when moving Loose Impediments they will have to add a Penalty Stroke to their score and replace the ball. If the ball moves when moving a Movable Obstruction there is No Penalty but the ball must be replaced.

Bunker obstruction Moved by rake
 

Players can dig in with their feet when taking a stance, smooth the bunker to care for the course, place clubs, equipment and other objects in the bunker, measure, mark, lift, and replace the ball as required by a Rule, and can lean on a club to prevent a fall, as long a they do not improve conditions affecting their stroke.

November 2020

RULE 13 – The Putting Green

Putting GreenPitch markYou can always mark, lift and clean your ball on the Putting Green. You can remove sand and soil and repair pitch marks that are on the Putting Green even if your ball is not on the Green, but you cannot do this anywhere else on the Course.

On the Putting Green you can repair damage caused by a person or outside influence including ball marks, shoe damage, old hole plugs, animal damage, such as hoof indentations, and embedded objects such as a stone, acorn or tee.

But you cannot and MUST NOT repair –

Aeration Natural wear
        • Aeration holes and grooves from verti-cutting
        • Damage resulting from irrigation or rain
        • Bare or diseased areas
        • Natural wear of the hole

Replacing ballThere is no penalty if any player accidentally causes the ball or ball marker to move on the Putting Green. Replace the ball on its original spot which if not known must be estimated. If natural forces – wind, water, or gravity – cause your ball to move on the Putting Green play the ball as it lies unless you have previously marked and lifted it. Once you have marked and lifted the ball it owns that spot and must always be replaced on that spot.

There is no penalty for accidentally touching the line of play on the Putting Green as long as you are not testing or improving the area of your intended stroke.

October 2020

Rule 16: Relief from Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions)

Abnormal Course Conditions include Ground Under Repair, Temporary Water and Animal Holes as well as Immovable Obstructions (man-made objects that CANNOT be easily moved without causing damage and delaying play). The player is allowed a free drop within one club length of the nearest point of complete relief not nearer the hole. As long as it is known or virtually certain that the ball in in an Abnormal Course Condition or an Immovable Obstruction (95% sure) free relief is available as shown below.

GuR  Temp Water 2 Animal Hole
Ground Under Repair Temporary Water Animal Hole
Relief1 Relief 2

Example showing the Nearest Point of Complete Relief (NPCR) from a road for a Right Handed Player. The NPCR must be no nearer the hole. Use a Ball Marker or Tee to indicate the NPCR – the Reference Point – and drop within the Relief Area within one club length of the Reference Point, no nearer the Hole, without penalty. A left-handed player’s NPCR may be different from the right handed player, as it would be here; it depends on the size of the Abnormal Course Condition.
There is not Relief when it is clearly unreasonable to play the ball because of something else or by choosing an unreasonable stance, swing or direction of play. If a player has interference by a No-Play Zone in an Abnormal Course Condition relief MUST be taken, otherwise it is optional.

September 2020

Rule 15: Relief from LOOSE IMPEDIMENTS and MOVABLE OBSTRUCTIONS (including Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering in Play).

Loose Impediments are all those unattached Natural Objects found around the course such as stones, leaves and twigs. They can be removed from anywhere but if the removal of them causes the ball to move, the ball must be replaced under penalty of one. The exception being on the Putting Green when the ball must be replaced but no penalty will be incurred.
Movable Obstructions are man-made, artificial objects that can be easily moved without causing damage or delaying play, such as a water bottle or a rake. If the ball moves replace the ball without penalty.

Loos impediments 1 Moved by rake

If the ball is in or on the Movable Obstructions then you must mark underneath the Obstruction (plastic bag or golf towel) and the Ball. The Ball-Marker will be the Reference Point which must be in the same area of the course as the Obstruction and no nearer the hole. The Relief Area is within one club-length of the reference point, no nearer the hole and the ball must be dropped from knee height into the Relief Area and come to rest in the Relief Area without penalty.

Obstruction Moving Obstruction