Know The Rules of Golf - MASSGOLF

KNOW THE RULES OF GOLF

Whether you are looking to brush up on the rules of golf or are new to the game and are learning the rules for the first time, Mass Golf has got you covered! Check out some of our growing content surrounding the rules of golf to gain a better understanding. Got questions? Our staff and volunteer rules officials are always here to help!

OBSTRUCTIONS, INTEGRAL OBJECTS, TEMPORARY IMMOVABLE OBSTRUCTIONS, BOUNDRY OBJECTS

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

 

Golf is played on the basic premise that you are out doors and thus natural objects such as twigs, leaves, branches, stones etc. are part of the environment.  But when it comes to man made objects, the rules are not quite as clear.

Man made objects have a few different labels, so as you encounter these objects you need to know which ‘label’ fits what you are facing.

Obstructions are artificial objects and can either be movable (water bottle, plastic bag, rakes, penalty area stakes, etc.) or immovable (irrigation control boxes, drains, buildings, rain shelters, etc.).  Free relief is granted from these movable and immovable obstructions.

Integral Objects are artificial objects defined by the Committee, or your local rules, as part of the challenge of playing the course and free relief is not allowed.  Integral objects defined by the Committee or local rules are not obstructions or boundary objects.  An example of an Integral Object would be a stone wall inside a penalty area.  If that stone wall is deemed an Integral Object and it interfered with your stance, and your ball was not in the penalty area, you would not get relief from the wall (Integral Object).  If the stone wall was not deemed an Integral Object, under the same circumstances (interference with stance, ball outside penalty area), you would get relief as it would be deemed an immovable obstruction.

Temporary Immovable Obstructions (TIOs) are obstructions temporarily place on or next to the course, are not normally present and are not considered part of the challenge of playing the course.  You most likely would not encounter these in most rounds of golf, but in tournaments (as seen on TV frequently) scoring tents, grand stands, concession stands etc. are considered TIO’s from which relief is given for not only swing, stance and lie of the ball but line of sight.

Boundary Objects are artificial objects defining or showing out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings, from which free relief is not allowed.  This includes any base or post of a boundary fence.  Boundary Objects are treated as immovable even if they are movable or any part of them is movable.  A white out of bounds stake is a good example of a Boundary Object.  Although it can easily be removed, because it is a Boundary Object it is considered immovable and you are not allowed to move it.

So as you encounter objects and obstructions along the way, make sure you understand what you are dealing with before you take any action.

 


IMMOVABLE OBSTRUCTIONS

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

Because golf is played outdoors, most of the obstacles we face are a part of the game, however, the rules do give us a hall pass for some objects that were not put there by Mother Nature.  This includes things such as Immovable Obstructions.

Under the current Rules, Immovable Obstructions are now a part of Rule 16 which describes the relief allowed and procedures for taking such relief from Abnormal Course Conditions.  Abnormal Course Conditions include Animal Holes, Ground Under Repair, Temporary Water and Immovable Obstructions.

This article will focus on Immovable Obstructions although the relief procedures are the same for all forms of Abnormal Course Condition.

An Immovable Obstruction is an artificial object (except integral objects and boundary objects) that:

  • Cannot be moved without unreasonable effort or without damaging the obstruction or the course and
  • Does not meet the definition of a Movable Obstruction

The Committee may define any obstruction as immovable, even if it meets the definition of movable.  This would be defined in the local rules and would most likely involve an object that the committee and/or course doesn’t want people moving around.  For example, a bird house on a pole may be movable with some effort but the local rules could define it as immovable.

Immovable Obstructions most frequently encountered on the course include cart paths, bridges, sprinkler heads, sprinkler control boxes, etc.  Relief is allowed for an Immovable Obstruction anywhere on the course except when the ball is in a penalty area.  Relief is not allowed if you are unable to play the ball if it is clearly unreasonable because of something other than the obstruction, such as the ball is in the middle of a bush.

Relief for an Immovable Obstruction is taken by finding your nearest point of complete relief no nearer the hole, create a one club length relief area and drop.  If you are taking relief from an obstruction:

  • In the general area, the relief area must remain in the general area
  • In a bunker (from a drain, stairs, etc.) the relief area must remain in the bunker (for free relief)

 

When taking relief for a ball on the putting green, find your nearest point of relief which can be either on the green or in the general area and place the ball on that spot.  You do not create a 1 club length relief area on the putting green but simply place the ball on the nearest point of relief.


PLAYING FROM THE WRONG PLACE

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

Last month’s article discussed playing a Wrong Ball.   Playing a Wrong Ball and playing from a Wrong Place can get confusing.

In last month’s article I included this scenario and it is applicable for a discussion on Wrong Place as well:

Do not confuse a Wrong Ball with playing from a Wrong Place.  If you find a ball on a cart path, for example, in an area where you thought you ball landed, and you pick up the ball, take proper cart path relief and play that ball, you have not played a Wrong Ball.  You have put a ball in play under an applicable rule, and your original ball in play is now no longer your ball in play (your original ball is now a Wrong Ball).  Rather you have played from a Wrong Place.

Playing from a Wrong Place is (to state the obvious!) any place on the course other than where the player is required or allowed to play her ball under the rules.  Examples of wrong place include:

  • Playing a ball after replacing it on the wrong spot (Lexi Thompson did this in a major a few years ago when replacing her ball on the putting green after having marked and lifted it).
  • Playing a dropped ball from outside the required relief area
  • Taking relief under a wrong rule, so that the ball is dropped in and played from a place not allowed under the rules
  • Placing a ball when putting it in play when the rules required the ball to be dropped
  • Playing from a no play zone

The penalty for playing from a Wrong Place is two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play.  In stroke play, the rules state that if the wrong place is a serious breach, the mistake must be corrected by playing from the right place.  And if unsure, the player must play out the hole with two balls, the one played from the wrong place, and one played from the right place.

The rules state that the Committee governing the competition must determine if the wrong place was a serious breach.  Factors to consider are whether playing from a wrong place could give the player a significant advantage compared to the stroke to be made from the right place.  Factors include the difficulty of the stroke, the distance of the ball from the hole, the effect of obstacles on the line of play and the conditions affecting the stroke.

The situation with Lexi Thompson replacing her ball on a slightly different spot on the putting green would not be considered a serious breach.  However, if you have a 125 yard shot over a pond (red or yellow penalty area) to a green, you think your ball crossed the penalty area, landed on the green side of the pond and rolled back into the penalty area (red or yellow), so you play from the green side of the pond, that is a serious breach in playing from a wrong place.  The correct procedure is to play under the red or yellow penalty area relief options from the fairway side of the pond.

 


PLAYING A WRONG BALL

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

During the NCAA DII Women’s National Championship, I had the pleasure of being the starter on the first day of competition.  Each group was asked to identify their golf balls prior to teeing off and when all groups had teed off, I realized that every player was playing the same brand of golf ball.  While an interesting fact, it certainly could be a recipe for disaster when it comes to playing a wrong ball.  Unfortunately, if you play golf long enough, at some point you will play a wrong ball; it happens to all of us.  After the fact we ask ourselves how we could possibly have done it.  But it happens!

The rules state that you must not make a stroke at a wrong ball, and if you do, you incur a two-stroke penalty (loss of hole in match play).  In stroke play, you must correct you mistake by playing your correct ball in play, and the stroke(s) made with the wrong ball before the mistake is corrected (including penalty strokes) do not count.  If a player does not correct the mistake before making a stroke to being another hole, or for the final hole of the round before returning her scorecard, the player is disqualified.

A wrong ball is any ball other than the player’s:

  • Ball in play
  • Provisional ball
  • Second ball in stroke play played under Rules 14.7b (correcting an error of playing from a wrong place) or 20.1c (playing a second ball in stroke play when in doubt as to how to proceed)

Examples of a wrong ball are:

  • Another player’s ball in play
  • A stray ball
  • The players own ball that is out of bounds, has become lost or has been lifted and not yet put back in play

Do not confuse a wrong ball with playing from a wrong place.  If you find a ball on a cart path, for example, in an area where you thought you ball landed, and you pick up the ball, take proper cart path relief and play that ball, you have not played a wrong ball.  You have put a ball in play under an applicable rule, and your original ball in play is now no longer your ball in play (your original ball is now a wrong ball).  Rather you have played from a wrong place.  More on wrong playing from a wrong place next month…

Lastly, the wrong ball rule begs for players to put an identifying mark on your ball.  And remember, you are entitled to identify your ball anywhere on the golf course.  Just be sure to mark it first before you try to identify it.


 

Tidbits From Rule 14

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

Rule 14 is one of the longest rules in the Rules of Golf.  If you attend a USGA/PGA of America Rules of Golf Workshop, rarely if ever will this Rule be taught immediately after lunch!  The title of Rule 14 is “Procedures for Ball: Marking, Lifting and Cleaning; Replacing on Spot; Dropping in Relief Area; Playing from a Wrong Place.”   In prior Rules Tips, parts of Rule 14 have been covered:

December 2020 issue – Procedures for Cleaning Your Ball

August 2021 – Relief Areas

There are many important topics covered under Rule 14, and I will highlight a few here and address other parts in future Rules Tips.

Rule 14 covers when and how you may mark the spot of a ball at rest, how to lift, when to clean, and how to get it back in play so that it is played from the right place.

When a lifted or moved ball is to be replaced, the same ball must be set down on its original spot.  Thus, you may not substitute another ball at this time.

When taking free relief or penalty relief, a substituted ball or the original ball must be dropped in a particular relief area.

Before lifting a ball under a Rule requiring the ball to be replaced on its original spot, the player must mark the spot prior to lifting.

The rules describe marking the ball as placing a ball marker right behind or right next to the ball, or holding a club on the ground right behind or next to the ball.  A ball marker is defined as an artificial object such as a tee, coin, or object made to be a ball marker.

If the spot of the ball is marked with a ball marker, after replacing the ball the player must remove the ball-marker before making a stroke.

If a player lifts a ball with marking the spot (when replacing),  marks its spot in a wrong way or makes a stroke with the ball marker left in place the player gets one penalty stroke.

A mistake in using the procedures outlined in rule 14 may be corrected without penalty before the ball is played, but the player gets the general penalty if she plays the ball from a wrong place.  For example, if you measure three club lengths in taking relief from a red penalty area and drop a ball in that relief area when the rules only allow a two-club length relief area, before playing the ball you can avoid a two stroke penalty for playing from a wrong place by picking up your ball and dropping within a two club length relief area.  This is called the erasure rule!

 


event related documents

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

THE 2022 GOLFING SEASON IS HERE!!!

As the 2022 season gets started, it means that playing competitive rounds of golf is just around the corner!  In preparation for 2022 events, I wanted to write about the information that is made available by Mass Golf to players in advance of each tournament.  Knowing what is in these documents will help you on the course and could potentially save you unwanted penalty strokes.

Here is a brief overview of the documents you will find on the Mass Golf website for each event, and some of the information contained in each.

Local Rules

The Local Rules sheet will always state that USGA rules apply and the local course scorecard has no status in this event.  Some club scorecards have their own local rules imbedded within the scorecard, thus the statement that their scorecard has no status.  Mass Golf local rules sheet will always be specific to the host course.  It provides detailed information on what holes have out of bounds and penalty areas; it will tell how the cart paths are treated, for example, if cart paths are sandy areas, relief may not be allowed; information on abnormal course conditions, if there are No Play Zones on the course, and information on Pace of Play and Code of Conduct.

What are local rules? A Local Rule is a modification of a Rule or an additional Rule that the Committee adopts for general play or a particular competition. The Committee is responsible for deciding whether to adopt any Local Rules and for making sure they are consistent with the principles found in Section 8. The Committee needs to make sure that any Local Rules are available for players to see, whether on the scorecard, a separate handout, a notice board or the course’s website. Click Here to learn more about Local Rules.

Mass Golf Hard Card

This document provides the standard rules of play for competition that apply to all Mass Golf events.  It describes in broader terms how penalty areas, out of bounds, abnormal course conditions etc. are identified (lines, stakes), details the Code of Conduct including penalties, and what practicing is allowed.  The hard cart details how play is suspended for both an immediate suspension (dangerous situation) and normal suspension (such as darkness).  How play is suspended is important as an immediate suspension requires players to stop immediately and not make another stroke after the horn blast.

Player Information Sheet

The event format is detailed on the Player Information Sheet.  Information on whether motorized golf carts are allowed, if caddies are allowed, spectator policy, approximate course yardage, if practice facilities/practice rounds are available, what food/beverage may be available and last but certainly not least, where restrooms are located.  The most important piece of information is the reminder to report to your starting tee immediately after the group in front has cleared (10 minutes before your tee time).

Evacuation Plan

This document describes evacuation plans in case of a suspension of play.  It gives detailed information hole by hole.  While not usually exciting reading, this document is extremely important for player safety.

Happy reading!


MATCH PLAY REMINDERS

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

The calendar says it is officially spring so that means the Spring Team matches are just around the corner.  These match play reminders were presented in the 2021 April monthly newsletter but because many of you will be braving the New England weather and heading out early in the morning to compete in this great tradition, I felt it worthwhile to publish these once again.

Match Play has specific Rules (particularly about concessions and giving information about the number of strokes taken) because you and your opponent compete solely against each other, can see each other’s play, and can protect you own interests.

General penalty: In stroke play the general penalty is 2 strokes, but in match play it is loss of hole.

Rules Issues:  Players may agree how to decide a Rules issue. The agreed outcome is conclusive even if it turns out to be wrong under the Rules but the players did not know it was wrong.  If the players do not agree or have doubt, a player may request a ruling (claim).  The player must notify the opponent that a later ruling will be sought on the facts, and the ruling request must be made in time and before either player makes a stroke to begin another hole.  A player who is uncertain about the correct procedure in a match is not allowed to play out the hole with 2 balls.

Concessions:  A player may concede the opponent’s next stroke, a hole or a match. This is allowed any time before the opponent’s next stroke is made.  A concession can be done either verbally or by an action that clearly shows the player’s intent to concede the stroke, hole or match. A concession is final and cannot be withdrawn.  Please make your concessions clear so there is no misunderstand about the concession!         

Information: A player has the right to know how many strokes an opponent has taken because it might affect the way she plays. Thus, a player is penalized for giving wrong information about the number of strokes taken – or for not informing her opponent of a penalty – unless she corrects the mistake before an opponent plays the next stroke. If a player asks an opponent how many strokes (including penalties) they have taken, the opponent must answer before the player makes another stroke.

Playing out of turn: If the player plays when it was the opponent’s turn to play, there is no penalty but the opponent may cancel the stroke, requiring the player to replay the stroke in the correct order. This must be done promptly and before either player makes another stroke.  ExceptionTo save time: The player may invite the opponent to play out of turn or may agree to the opponent’s request to play out of turn. If the opponent makes the stroke out of turn, the player has given up the right to cancel the stroke.

Playing outside teeing ground:  Your opponent may cancel the stroke promptly and before either player makes another stroke. There is no penalty and the ball may be re-teed within the proper teeing area.

Ball at rest moved:

By the player or opponent during search:  No penalty, must replace ball.

If the opponent lifts or deliberately touches the player’s ball at rest or causes it to move:

The opponent is penalized 1 stroke and the ball must be replaced.

Ball in motion accidentally hits an opponent or opponent’s equipment:

There is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies.

On the putting green, there is no penalty if your ball strikes your opponent’s ball at rest. Your ball is played as it lies and the opponent’s ball is replaced.

Playing wrong ball: loss of hole  

If the player and opponent play each other’s ball, the first to make a stroke at a wrong ball gets the penalty of loss of hole.  If players cannot determine where/when the exchange took place they continue to play out the hole with the exchanged balls.

Playing from a wrong place: loss of hole.

Good luck with your matches and have fun!


BALL OR BALL MARKER MOVES ON THE PUTTING GREEN

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

There is no penalty if a player, opponent (match play) or another player in stroke play accidentally moves the player’s ball or ball marker on the putting green.  The player must replace the ball on its original spot (if not know, the original spot must be estimated), or place a ball marker to mark the original spot.

A few examples of accidental movement include (but not limited to):

  • Taking a practice swing near the ball and accidentally striking or moving the ball;
  • Dropping a club, towel or other object on your ball (or ball marker) causing it to move;
  • Tapping down a ball marker and having it adhere to your putter, moving it off its original spot;
  • Or some other accidental clumsy act!

 

If natural forces* cause your ball on the putting green to move, where you must play from next depends on whether the ball had already been (marked), lifted and replaced.

  • If you had already marked, lifted and replaced your ball you now own that spot, and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (estimate if not known)
  • If the ball had not been lifted and is moved by natural forces the ball must be played from its now spot.

 

One interesting note to this rule is that when on the putting green, if you are taking relief, for example from temporary water on the putting green, or an abnormal course condition (damage on the green marked as Ground Under Repair), once you have found your nearest point of complete relief you place the ball on that spot.  Even if you do not mark/lift the ball after placing it, you now own that spot and if it moves by natural forces, you replace it.

*Natural forces are the effects of nature such as wind, water or when something happens for no apparent reason because of the effects of gravity.

 


CLARIFICATIONS OF THE 2019 RULES OF GOLF

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

In 2019 the USGA published their latest Rules of Golf.  This edition was a complete update of the previous rules, as we’ve all learned.  Because the USGA does not update their Rule books every year, in the interim they issue Clarifications.  Generally, they update their Clarifications quarterly.  Sometimes, the Clarifications are just that, to clarify what they mean to say initially.  In other instances, they are amending or changing the rules.  In those cases, the Clarification is done in the form of a Model Local Rule (MLR) which encompasses that particular Clarification.  When playing in a Mass Golf event, (or an event at your own club or elsewhere) you need to know which MLRs have been adopted.  For Mass Golf, those MLRs will be listed on what is referred to as the “Hard Card” or in some instances, in the Local Rules applicable for that event.  (Note, see the March 2021 Rules Tip for further information on Hard Card and other documents applicable to Mass Golf events).

Thus, if no MLRs are adopted for an event, the 2019 Rules of Golf as written stands.  However, the clarifications apply to the current rules.

The current list of Clarifications issued by the USGA is 16 pages long and addresses a variety of topics.  The purpose of this article is to make you aware of the Clarifications and to know where to find them for future reference.  At the end of this article, there is a link to the Clarifications on the USGA website which is under the Playing/Rules Home section.  Reading them is similar to reading the Rule book (!!), but I encourage a brief review of them for awareness purposes and its best to have your Rules of Golf book in hand to reference what is being amended. Good stuff for a sleepless night or a snow day.  Also look for MLRs in effect at your own club on their Local Rules, or at competitions you play in.

Examples of a few Clarifications issued include:

  • A Tee that is being used by the player is the players equipment (such as a tee being used to mark a reference point when taking relief) (Rule 14.3b(2)
  • Damage on the putting green caused by hail may be repaired (Rule 13.1c(2))
  • The 2019 Rules prohibit a Caddie from deliberately standing behind or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball to line up a player (Rule 10.2b(4)).  When initially written, if a player backed away when this occurred on the putting green, they avoided the penalty, however, if this happened in any area of the course other than the putting green, even if the player backed away, it was a penalty.  The clarification now states that if the player backs away (putting green or elsewhere) the penalty is avoided.
  • Definition of a “Club Length” in partner forms of play is expanded to include either partner’s longest club (except a putter) may be used for defining the teeing area or determining the size of the relief area.

 

Two Model Local Rules recently published include:

  • Model Local Rule G10 Prohibits the Use of Clubs longer than 46 inches.
  • Model Local Rule G-11 Restricts the use of green reading materials.

 

And to reiterate, these two MLRs would need to be incorporated into the Rules for a Competition in order to be in effect.

Link to the USGA Clarification of the 2019 Rules of Golf

 


THE PUTTING GREEN

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

Your ball is on the putting green when any part of the ball touches the putting green or lies on or in anything (loose impediment) and is inside the edge of the putting green.

A ball on the putting green may be lifted and cleaned, but must be marked first.  The marker must be removed before you putt, otherwise, it’s a one stroke penalty.

The 2019 Revision to the Rules of Golf expanded the ‘repairs’ that may now be done on the putting green.  During a round, you may take the following actions on the putting green, whether your ball is on or off the putting green:

  • Remove sand or loose soil on the putting green (but not anywhere else on the course);
  • Repair Damage, by taking reasonable actions, by using your hand, foot or other part of the body or a normal ball mark repair tool, tee, club or similar item;

Damage on the putting green means any damage caused by a person or outside influence, such as

  • Ball marks, shoe damage (spike marks), scrapes or indentations caused by equipment or the flag;
  • Old hole plugs, turf plugs, seams of cut turf and scrapes or indentations from maintenance tools or vehicles;
  • Animal tracks or hoof indentations;
  • Embedded objects such as a stone, acorn or tee

Damages does not include

  • Normal practices for maintaining the overall condition of the putting green (aeration holes, grooves from vertical mowing)
  • Irrigation, rain or other natural forces
  • Natural surface imperfections (areas of bare, diseased or uneven growth)
  • Natural wear and tear

 

Wishing you all a happy holiday season and hoping your New Year is filled with birdies, one putts and free drops!

 


Autumn golf!

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

As the leaves start to fall and we face frosty mornings, many have put their clubs away for the winter.  But for those hearty souls who love fall golf, it seems like a good time to see what the rules permit when searching for your ball.

The player is responsible for finding her ball in play after each stroke.  But what about that big pile of leaves?  The rules say you may fairly search for the ball by taking reasonable actions to find and identify it.  But those underlined words are rather broad.  Thus, the rules state that you may:

  • Move sand and water
  • Move loose impediments and remove movable obstructions
  • Move or bend grass, bushes, tree branches and other growing or attached natural objects, and also break such objects, BUT only if such breaking is a result of other reasonable actions taken to find or identify the ball

If those reasonable actions as part of a fair search improve the conditions affecting the stroke there is no penalty.  But if the improvements result from actions that exceeded what was reasonable, the player gets the general penalty.

If you find a ball and cannot identify it, you are entitled to identify your ball anywhere on the course.  You must mark the spot of the ball first before lifting to identify it.  You are not allowed to clean the ball when lifting it to identify it.  Once identified, the ball must be replaced.  If you clean the ball, or fail to mark the spot of the ball when lifting it you will incur a one stroke penalty.

And lastly, what if you accidentally move your ball while searching for it.  Under the new rules there is no penalty if your ball is accidentally moved by you, an opponent or anyone else while trying to find or identify it.  If the ball is moved, it must be replaced on its original spot.  If the ball was covered by sand, the original lie must be re-created and the ball must be replaced in that lie; you may leave a small part of the ball visible when doing so.

Enjoy the rest of the golfing season!

 


 

WHAT is the unplayable ball rule?

CHRISTINE VEATOR – VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

The unplayable ball rule allows a player to get out of a difficult situation, normally with a one stroke penalty.  The unique thing about this rule is that the player is the only person who may decide to treat her ball as unplayable.  And, you may declare you ball unplayable anywhere on the course except in a penalty area (where your only relief option would be to proceed under the penalty area relief rule).

When you encounter a situation where you might take relief, whether its free or for a penalty stroke, the best advice I can give you is to understand all your relief options before you pick up your ball.  When taking unplayable ball relief, your relief area may not be any better than where the ball currently lies.   And when taking nearest point relief (for example obstructions, abnormal course conditions), it’s the nearest point not nicest point.

Unplayable ball relief in the General Area or on the Putting Green

For a penalty of one stroke you may take unplayable ball relief anywhere in the general area or putting green and there are three options for that relief:

  • Stroke and Distance Relief – you may play the original or another ball from where the previous stroke was made.
  • Back on the Line – you may drop the original or another ball in a relief area* based on a reference point that is a line going straight back from the hole/flag through the spot of the original ball. If more than one area of the course is located within one club length of the reference point the ball must come to rest in the relief area and in the same area of the course that the ball first touched when dropped in the relief area.
  • Lateral Relief – you may drop the original or another ball in a relief area that is two club lengths in any direction, no nearer the hole, with the reference point being the spot where the original ball lies. If more than one area of the course is located within two club lengths of the reference point the ball must come to rest in the relief area and in the same area of the course that the ball first touched when dropped in the relief area.

Note, you must find your ball in order to take back on the line or lateral relief options.

Unplayable ball relief in Bunker

For one penalty stroke you may take any of the three relief options listed above except that when taking back on the line or lateral relief, the ball must be dropped and come to rest in the relief area in the bunker.

The rules now allow you an additional option when you encounter an unplayable ball in a bunker.  For two penalty strokes you may take back on the line relief outside the bunker.

 

*See August Newsletter on Relief Area

 


WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS FOR AN EMBEDDED BALL?

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

After a very rainy July, and then the downpours from the remnants of Fred, Henri and Ida, it is probably a good time to discuss your options for an embedded ball.

First the definition of an embedded ball: “When a players ball is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of the player’s previous stroke and where part of the ball is below the level of the ground.  A ball does not necessarily have to touch soil to be embedded (for example, grass and loose impediments may be between the ball and the soil).”

There are three key components of this definition which will help you to determine if your ball is embedded, per the rules.  It must be embedded in its own pitch-mark, must be from your previous stroke, and below the level of the ground.

The rules allow free relief for an embedded ball that is in the General Area.  When the ball is embedded in sand in a part of the general area that is not cut to fairway height or less there is no free relief.  (a waste area, sandy cart path, etc).  The rules also allow free relief for a ball embedded on a putting green.

For a ball embedded on the putting green, you may mark the spot of the ball, lift and clean the ball, repair the damage caused by the impact, and replace the ball on its original spot.

To take relief for your ball embedded in the general area, your reference point is a spot right behind where the ball is embedded.  Your relief area is one club length, must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and it must be in the general area.

Let’s hope for a dry, sunny, crisp fall so that we won’t have to worry about embedded balls.  But if you do encounter one, you now know your options.


RELIEF AREA

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

The 2019 revision to the Rules of Golf simplified taking relief under an applicable rule.  The concept of a Relief Area was introduced; it is the area where you must drop the ball under the following rules:

Abnormal Course Conditions (such as temporary water or ground under repair)

Immovable Obstructions (cart path, sprinkler head, for example)

Dangerous Animal Conditions

Embedded Ball

Penalty Areas

Ball Lost or Out of Bounds

Unplayable Ball

 

Each of these rules require you to create a reference point:

For Abnormal Course Conditions, Immovable Obstructions or Dangerous Animal Conditions, that reference point is your nearest (not always nicest) point of relief.

Embedded Ball reference point – the spot right behind where the ball is embedded.

Penalty area reference point: for lateral relief it is the estimated spot where the ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area.  Back on the line would be a point on the course chosen by the player that is on the reference line going straight back from the hole through the estimated point where the original ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area, with no limit on how far back on the line.

Ball Lost or Out of Bounds – the spot from where the previous stroke was made, which if not known must be estimated.

Unplayable ball, for lateral relief the reference point is the spot of the original ball.  Back on the line would be a point on the course chosen by the player that is on the reference line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball, with no limit on how far back on the line.

Once you have created your reference point, you then create a relief area.  The size of the relief area is governed by the rule you are taking relief under:

One Club Length from the reference point for Abnormal Course Condition, Immovable Obstructions, Dangerous Animal Condition, Embedded ball;

Two Club Lengths from the reference point for Penalty Areas, Unplayable Ball;

Ball Lost or Out of Bounds – one club length from reference point (where original ball was played).  Note whenever making a stroke from where the previous stroke was made the relief area is one club length.

There are limits on the location of the relief area, and that is governed by the rule under which you are taking relief.  In general:

The relief area must not be nearer the hole than the reference point (regardless of the rule you taking relief under);

Must be in certain areas of the course, such as in a bunker when taking relief in a bunker, or in any area of the course except where you are taking relief from such as a penalty area.

The area of the course where the ball first strikes the course, for example, if taking relief in the general area and a ball is dropped in the general area and rolls into a bunker, it must be redropped, and stay in the general area.

When taking relief there must be no interference from the condition from which relief is being taken.

This is a lot to digest, but if you understand the basic premise of a relief area, it will help better understand relief options under the various rules.


LOOSE IMPEDIMENTS AND MOVABLE OBSTRUCTIONS

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

Golf is played in a very different ‘arena’ than most other sports and because of that, the rules take into consideration objects that we may encounter during a round.

A Loose Impediment is any unattached natural object.  Some examples are stones, loose grass, leaves, branches, sticks, dead animals, animal waste, worms, insects and similar animals that can be removed easily, as well as the mounds or casts they build (such as worm casts and ant hills).  Loose Impediments do not include anything that is growing/attached, solidly embedded in the ground or sticking to the ball.

A player is allowed to move a Loose Impediment anywhere on the course (general area, bunker, penalty area, putting green, teeing area).  However, if the players ball moves as a result of moving the loose impediment, the player incurs a one stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced, unless it happens on the putting green where there is not penalty, but the ball must be replaced.

A Movable Obstruction is an artificial object that can be moved with reasonable effort and without damaging the obstruction or the course.  Examples of Movable Obstructions are a rake in a bunker, discarded water bottle or scorecard, a stray ball, towel, paper cup, etc.  A player may remove a Movable Obstruction anywhere on course (general area, penalty area, bunker, putting green) and if your ball moves there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.

It’s important to understand the difference between Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions.  The logic of a penalty for moving your ball when attempting to remove a Loose Impediment and not a Movable Obstruction is that Loose Impediments are part of the natural surroundings of the golf course and Movable Obstructions are not a part of the natural surroundings.

 


LOST OR OUT OF BOUNDS!

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

When the Rules of Golf were revised effective 2019, the USGA established Model Local Rule E-5 which provides an alternative to stroke-and-distance for a ball Lost or Ball Out of Bounds. When a provisional ball has not been played, and a player then realizes their ball is either Lost or Out of Bounds, significant pace of play issues arise in trying to correct this.  Thus, the Model Local Rule was meant for general play where golfers are playing casual rounds as an option to speed up play.  Unfortunately, this Model Local Rule has created misunderstanding among golfers of what exactly the rules are now for Lost and/or Out of Bounds.

First, here’s what the of Rules of Golf, Rule 18 states regarding a Ball Lost or Out of Bounds: If there is a chance a ball may be Lost or Out of Bounds, this rule allows for a provisional ball to be played.  (Be sure to clearly announce you are playing a provisional ball.  If you fail to do so, the ‘reload’ becomes your ball in play!)  If the initial ball is not found within 3 minutes it is Lost, or if found Out of Bounds, the provisional ball becomes the ball in play, for a penalty of one stroke, thus the stroke-and-distance rule.

Model Local Rule E-5 allows the player to drop in an area between the point where the ball is estimated to have come to rest (Lost) or gone Out of Bounds, and the edge of the fairway of the hole being played that is not nearer the hole.  The player gets two penalty strokes when using this relief option.  This means that the relief is comparable to what could have been achieved if the player had taken stroke-and-distance relief.

Model Local Rule E-5 must be adopted and a part of the Local Rules governing play in order for a player to operate its provisions. It is important to know what the local rules are when playing, even a casual round. In Mass Golf Championships this local rule will never be in effect. Mass Golf did put Model Local Rule E-5 in play for Member Days in 2019.

The bottom line is you need to know the local rules when proceeding under Lost or Out of Bounds. Many clubs have put this local rule into effect to speed up play; others clubs have not thinking it would be confusing to put it in play for day-to-day play but not for competitions, thus creating uncertainty for players.  If you are in doubt, playing a provisional ball and proceeding under Rule 18 (rather than the local rule) will always be an option.  Hitting ‘em straight down the middle is also an option!!


BUNKERS!

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

I don’t know many players (other than the pros perhaps) who enjoy being in a bunker.  But if you follow the news about the pro tours, you’ll see that even they occasionally encounter penalties when playing from the bunker.  Recently Abraham Ancer was penalized following his first round at the Masters for touching the sand on his backswing, and Anna Nordquist had the same penalty assessed to her in the final round and final hole of the 2016 US Women’s Open.

The revision to the Rules of Golf effective 2019 allow players a bit more freedom in what can be done in a bunker, however, you still cannot:

  • Deliberately touch the sand with your hand, a club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand (intent based)
  • Touch the sand in the bunker with a club in the area right in front of our right behind the ball when making a practice swing or in making the backswing for a stroke

 

Players may now remove loose impediments (natural unattached objects such as leaves, acorns, etc) in a bunker.  However, if moving the loose impediment causes your ball to move, that is a one stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced.  You may also remove movable obstructions (man made objects) such as a rake, scorecard, etc. in a bunker.  If your ball moves as a result of moving the movable obstruction, no penalty and you must replace it.  If you ball is near a rake, for example, and you think the ball will move when the rake is moved, be sure to mark the spot of your ball before moving the rake (or other movable obstruction).

If you encounter an unplayable lie in a bunker the 2019 rules now allow 4 options for taking relief:

  • For one penalty stroke, you may take lateral relief.  The reference point is the spot where the ball lies and the relief area is two club lengths from that reference point in any direction, no near the hole, but relief must be in the bunker;
  • For one penalty stroke you can take back on the line relief, keeping the spot of the ball (reference point) in line with the flag and dropping on that line, but relief must be in the bunker, and no closer to the hole;
  • For one penalty stroke you can take the stroke and distance relief option which is to return to where you played your last shot from;
  • And for two penalty strokes, a new option allows the player to take back on the line relief outside the bunker, keeping the spot where the ball lies in the bunker in line with the flag and dropping outside the bunker on that line.

 

Hopefully you won’t have occasion to use these penalty options, but if you do, understanding your options will help.

Rule 12 – Bunkers


MATCH PLAY REMINDERS

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

It is April and that means Spring Team matches are just around the corner.  Many of you will be braving the New England weather and heading out early in the morning to compete in this great tradition!  With that in mind, I wanted to provide some match play reminders that might be helpful during your matches.

Match Play has specific Rules (particularly about concessions and giving information about the number of strokes taken) because you and your opponent compete solely against each other, can see each other’s play, and can protect you own interests.

 

General penalty: In stroke play the general penalty is 2 strokes, but in match play it is loss of hole.

 

Rules Issues:  Players may agree how to decide a Rules issue. The agreed outcome is conclusive even if it turns out to be wrong under the Rules but the players did not know it was wrong.  If the players do not agree or have doubt, a player may request a ruling (claim).  The player must notify the opponent that a later ruling will be sought on the facts, and the ruling request must be made in time and before either player makes a stroke to begin another hole.  A player who is uncertain about the correct procedure in a match is not allowed to play out the hole with 2 balls.

 

Concessions:  A player may concede the opponent’s next stroke, a hole or a match. This is allowed any time before the opponent’s next stroke is made.  A concession can be done either verbally or by an action that clearly shows the player’s intent to concede the stroke, hole or match. A concession is final and cannot be withdrawn.  Please make your concessions clear so there is no misunderstand about the concession!

 

 

Information: A player has the right to know how many strokes an opponent has taken because it might affect the way she plays. Thus, a player is penalized for given wrong information about the number of strokes taken – or for not informing her opponent of a penalty – unless she corrects the mistake before an opponent plays the next stroke.

 

Playing out of turn: If the player plays when it was the opponent’s turn to play, there is no penalty but the opponent may cancel the stroke, requiring the player to replay the stroke in the correct order. This must be done promptly and before either player makes another stroke.  ExceptionTo save time: The player may invite the opponent to play out of turn or may agree to the opponent’s request to play out of turn. If the opponent makes the stroke out of turn, the player has given up the right to cancel the stroke.

 

Playing outside teeing ground:  Your opponent may cancel the stroke promptly and before either player makes another stroke. There is no penalty and the ball may be re-teed within the proper teeing area.

 

Ball at rest moved: By the player or opponent during search:  No penalty, must replace ball. If the opponent lifts or deliberately touches the player’s ball at rest or causes it to move: The opponent is penalized 1 stroke and the ball must be replaced.

 

Ball in motion accidentally hits an opponent or opponent’s equipment: There is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies. On the putting green, there is no penalty if your ball strikes your opponent’s ball at rest. Your ball is played as it lies and the opponent’s ball is replaced.

 

Playing wrong ball: Loss of hole  

If the player and opponent play each other’s ball, the first to make a stroke at a wrong ball gets the penalty of loss of hole.  If players cannot determine where/when the exchange took place they continue to play out the hole with the exchanged balls.

 

Playing from a wrong place: Loss of hole.

 

Good luck with your matches and have fun!

 


UNDERSTANDING EVENT LITERATURE

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

The entire Mass Golf staff is excited to get the 2021 season started.  Staggered signups began March 2nd which means that the 2021 golfing season is just around the corner!  In preparation for 2021 events, I wanted to write about the information that is made available to players in advance of each tournament.  Knowing what is in these documents will help you on the course and could potentially save your unwanted penalty strokes. 

So here is a brief overview of the documents you will find on the Mass Golf website for each event, and some of the information contained in each.

Local Rules

The Local Rules sheet will always state that USGA rules apply and the local course scorecard has no status in this event.  Some club scorecards have their own local rules imbedded within the scorecard, thus the statement that their scorecard has no status.  Mass Golf local rules sheet will always be specific to the host course.  It provides detailed information on what holes have out of bounds and penalty areas; it will tell how the cart paths are treated, for example, if cart paths are sandy areas, relief may not be allowed; information on abnormal course conditions, if there are No Play Zones on the course, and information on Pace of Play and Code of Conduct.  In 2020, the local rules also clarified Mass Golf’s COVID guidelines for the flagstick and bunkers.

Player Information Sheet

The event format is detailed on the Player Information Sheet.  Information on whether motorized golf carts are allowed, if caddies are allowed, spectator policy, approximate course yardage, if practice facilities/practice rounds are available, what food/beverage may be available and last but certainly not least, where restrooms are located.  The most important piece of information is the reminder to report to your starting tee immediately after the group in front has cleared (10 minutes before your tee time).

Mass Golf Hard Card

This document provides the standard rules of play for competition that apply to all Mass Golf events.  It describes in broader terms how penalty areas, out of bounds, abnormal course conditions etc. are identified (lines, stakes), details the Code of Conduct including penalties, and what practicing is allowed.  The hard cart details how play is suspended for both an immediate suspension (dangerous situation) and normal suspension (such as darkness).  How play is suspended is important as an immediate suspension requires players to stop immediately and not make another stroke after the horn blast.

Evacuation Plan

This document describes evacuation plans in case of a suspension of play.  It gives detailed information hole by hole.  While not usually exciting reading, this document is extremely important for player safety.

Happy reading!

 


PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

We all learned growing up that practice makes perfect.  In golf, however, there are times when practice is not allowed and, therefore, does not make for perfect!

To understand when and where you are allowed to practice before, during and after a competitive round, you need to understand first what constitutes practice.  A stroke is the forward movement of the club made (intent) to strike the ball.  Thus, a practice stroke involves a club and ball.  A practice swing does not involve a ball, simply a club.  When the rules discuss practice, it will mean a practice stroke (not practice swing) and includes testing the surface of the putting green by rolling a ball or rubbing the surface.

Limitations on practice on the course before or between rounds apply only to the player, not to the player’s caddie.  The rules for practice before or between rounds are different for match play and stroke play.    In match play a player may practice on the course before a round or between rounds of a match play competition.

In stroke play on the day of a stroke play competition a player must not practice on the course before a round, except that a player may practice putting or chipping on or near his or her first teeing area (as defined) and practice on any practice area.   A player may practice on the course after completing play (including a playoff) of his or her final round for that day.

While playing a hole a player must not make a practice stroke at any ball on or off the course.  Between two holes a player must not make a practice stroke.  But there is an exception: a player may practice putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole just completed and any practice green, and on or near the teeing are of the next hole.  This practice between two holes does not allow practice from a bunker, and is only permitted between the play of two holes if it does not delay play or is prohibited by a local rule (always read your local rules/player information sheet).

The penalty for practicing on the course before or between rounds is the general penalty (two strokes) for the first breach (making a stroke), and disqualification for the second breach. The penalty for practice between two holes (other than exception above) is the general penalty and it applies to the next hole.

Refer to rule 5 for more detailed information on practice.

 


INTERFERING VS HELPING

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

The difference between a golf ball interfering and helping can be confusing.  Darin Green, Head Rules Official for Florida State Golf Association wrote this article recently.  I feel he did a great job in explaining this rather confusing subject, and rather than trying to recreate an article on the subject, Darin has graciously agreed to let me share it with our Mass Golf-The Up and Down Women’s Newsletter readers.   Kudo’s and thank you to Darin!

Written by: Darin Green, Senior Director of Rules & Competitions, Florida State Golf Association

There are many misconceptions regarding what can be done to other golf balls that are either interfering with your stroke or that might help your stroke. People often ask, “Who controls that ball?” That is not the correct question, rather, we first need to determine if we are dealing with a ball that is interfering or helping.

Interference” occurs when a player believes that another ball might interfere with their stance, lie of their ball, area of intended swing, line of play, or it is a distraction. Only the player about to make a stroke makes this determination. If a player believes another golf ball is interfering with their play, they may require the owner of that ball to mark and lift it anywhere on the course. In stroke play, the other player may first rather than lifting their ball.

Be careful, you cannot decide that your ball is interfering with someone else and lift it. If you marked and lifted your ball anywhere on the course, except the putting green or teeing area, because you alone thought your ball was interfering with someone else you will receive a one-stroke penalty.

Summary – Interfering is only decided by the player about to play the next stroke and can require any ball interfering to be marked and lifted. If the other player refuses and the stroke is made, then the other player receives the General Penalty (loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play).

Helping” occurs when a ball lies on the putting green and any player believes the ball might help another player. If any player believes a ball on the putting green may help another player, they may require the ball to be marked and lifted. The same applies to any ball marker on the putting green; if you think that big coin near the hole may deflect an offline shot from another play into the hole, you may have that ball marker moved. Note – a ball can only “help” when it is on the putting the green.

In stroke play only, if two or more players agree to leave a ball in place to help any player, and that player then makes a stroke with the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets the general penalty (two penalty strokes).

Summary – Helping only applies to a ball on the putting green and can be determined by any player. If any player believes a ball on the putting green may help another player, they may require the ball to be marked and lifted. Refusing to lift the ball and the stroke is made, the other player receives the General Penalty (loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play).

 


MAY I CLEAN MY GOLF BALL?

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

The revision to the Rules of Golf effective January 1, 2019 create a more user-friendly world for enjoying the game of golf.  Many of the new rules are intent based (actions that are accidental versus purposeful).

One area that has not changed from the prior rules is when a player is allowed to clean their ball in play.  A ball marked/lifted from the putting green may always be cleaned.  A ball lifted anywhere else may be cleaned except when you have lifted the ball under the following four circumstances:

  • If you lift your ball in play to determine if it is unfit for play (cut or cracked), you are not allowed to clean it.
  • If you lift your ball in play to identify it you are not allowed to clean it.
  • If you lift your ball at the request of a fellow competitor or opponent because it interferes with their play, you are not allowed to clean it.
  • If you lift your ball in play to determine if a particular condition allows you relief under a rule, you are not allowed to clean it unless you are then taking relief under the applicable rule.  (For example, determining if a ball is embedded).

 

If a player cleans a ball when not allowed as stated above, he or she gets a one stroke penalty. In these four circumstances, remember to mark your ball before you lift it!

 


playing a competitive round of golf – IS IT IN OR OUT???

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

The 2019 revision to the Rules of Golf states there are 5 areas of the course:  The general area covers the entire course except for the four specific areas of the course which are the teeing area of the hole being played, all penalty areas, all bunkers and the putting green of the hole being played.

When a rules official is called upon to make a ruling, a key (but basic) factor is where the ball is.  Is the ball in the players hand, or on the ground?  If on the ground, the specific area of the course where the ball lies will obviously determine which rule(s) will apply.  Thus, its important to know where your ball lies when applying the rules.

In a previous Mass Golf/The Up & Down Women’s Newsletter, we discussed what constitutes the teeing area of the hole being played.

Rules 17 (Penalty Areas) states that a ball is in a penalty area when any part of the ball lies on or touches the ground inside the edge of the penalty area or is above the penalty area (such as on a bridge over a penalty area).  When defined by stakes, the edge of the penalty area is defined by a line between the outside points of the stakes at ground level and the stakes are inside the penalty area. When defined by a painted line on the ground, the edge of the penalty area is the outside edge of the line and the line itself is in the penalty area.  Thus, if your ball is touching a red or yellow penalty area line, it is in the penalty area.  When a penalty area is defined by both lines and stakes, the stakes are merely to identify that it is a penalty area.

Understanding when we are in a bunker may not be as easy as it sounds.  As sand spills out of the bunkers from normal play, the edge of the bunker becomes distorted.  By definition a bunker is a specifically prepared area of sand.  Any wall, lip or face of the bunker which consists of soil, grass, stacked turf or artificial objects are not part of the bunker.  Sand that has spilled outside the edge of the ‘prepared area’ of the bunker is not part of the bunker.

The putting green is an area specifically prepared for putting.   A ball is on the putting green when any part of the ball touches the putting green.  But this only applies to the putting green of the hole being played; all other putting greens are wrong greens and part of the general area.

And lastly, although not a specific area of the course, its important to know what constitutes out of bounds.  When out of bounds is defined by boundary objects (white stakes, a fence) the boundary edge is defined by the line between the course-side points of the stakes or fence posts at ground level; those stakes or fence posts are out of bounds.  When defined by a painted line on the ground, the boundary edge is the course side edge of the ground and the line itself is out of bounds.  If a ball is completely touching the line it is out of bounds; if a part of the ball is on the general area, it is in bounds.

 

 


playing a competitive round of golf – KEEPING SCORE

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

With the introduction of electronic scoring, and more recently, the restrictions resulting from COVID-19, scorecards for a competitive round can have a very different look, as well as some additional guidelines for verifying a player’s score when electronic scoring is utilized.

When playing in a competition that offers the option of both paper scorecard or electronic scoring, you need to know which form of scorecard is considered the ‘official’ scorecard.

If a competition is using paper scorecards, you will exchange scorecards with another player so that you have a marker for your score, and you will also be a marker for another player in your group.  At the completion of the round, the scorecard must be signed by both the player and the marker.  You are encouraged to keep your own score so that you can do a hole by hole comparison with your marker at the end of your round before signing the scorecard.  Hole by hole is encouraged rather than simply comparing total scores.

Mass Golf, along with most clubs, is now using the USGA Tournament Management App, known as Golf Genius.  If a competition is using electronic scoring as the official scorecard, you should maintain a paper scorecard to verify your own score at the end of the round.  Only one person in each group will need to enter the electronic scores.  Verifying scores at the end of the round when electronic scorecards are utilized can be done in a few different ways, but the goal is the same as with paper scorecards; you will want to verify your electronic score hole by hole and give a verbal signature/approval.

Golf Genius Software

 

In a handicap competition, whether you are using an electronic scoring or a paper scorecard, each player is responsible for playing to their correct handicap.  If you play to an incorrect handicap that is lower than your handicap, your score will stand.  If you play to a handicap that is higher, the penalty is disqualification.  With the changes that have occurred in the handicap system this year, handicaps are updated daily.  Thus, in order to know your correct handicap, you will need to know the date the handicap was established for scoring purposes for your competitive round.

 


Rules tips when playing a competitive round of golf

CHRISTINE VEATOR – BOD MEMBER AND VOLUNTEER RULES OFFICIAL

A competitive round of golf begins with your starting time.  Mass Golf encourages players to arrive at their assigned teeing area 10 minutes before your tee time.  A player must be ready to play at their assigned starting time and at their starting point (tee assigned).   An 8:00 am starting time means 8:00:00.  If a player arrives at their starting time ready to play no more than 5 minutes late, they get the general penalty (2 strokes added to their score on the first hole of play).  If they arrive more than 5 minutes late the penalty is disqualification.

Play begins within the teeing area of the starting hole assigned.  The teeing area is a rectangle that is two club lengths deep where the front edge is defined by the line between the forward most points of the two tee markers and the side edges are defined by the lines back and from the outside points of the tee markers.   All other areas of the ‘tee boxes’ outside this rectangular area on the hole being played are considered the general area.

If a player makes a stroke to start play of the hole or round from outside the teeing area, in stroke play, the player gets the general penalty (two penalty strokes added to the score of that hole) and must correct the mistake by playing from inside the teeing area.  The ball played from outside the teeing area is not in play and any further strokes made with that ball before the mistake is corrected do not count.  If a player does not correct the mistake before making a stroke to begin the next hole (or on the final hole before returning a scorecard) they are disqualified.

In match play, there is no penalty for starting play outside the teeing area, however, your opponent may cancel the stroke.  This must be done promptly and before either player makes another stroke.

Other hints when starting a competitive round of golf:  make sure you have no more than 14 clubs in your bag and place an identifying mark on your golf ball.

For more information on Rule 6 – Playing a Hole, CLICK HERE