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I'll Bet This has Happened to You at some Time

As a Referee I came across three players looking for a ball in a Red Penalty Area.  They explained the shot had hit a tree within the penalty area and had bounced, but they didn't know if it was off a rock in the penalty area or something else.  They were convinced (Virtually Certain), however, that the ball was in the penalty area.  After a significant search without finding the ball, the player asked what options she had.

I explained the three options (Rule 17) and she opted to take relief back on the line from the point of entry.  Off a steep downhill, side hill lie, she hit a nice draw around the tree in the penalty area and back into the fairway.  When she went forward to hit her fourth shot, she said, "Here is my first ball on the cart path.  Where do I take relief?"

Sorry.  Rule 14.4 says that once the original ball has been abandoned, it may no longer be played on that hole, it is a Wrong Ball.  She had to lift it and continue on with her substituted ball.

Rory Playing in the Sand

For both of you who might have missed it, on August 8, Rory McIlroy tried to move a loose impediment in a fairway bunker.  When he started to touch it, he realized it might not be a stone as he thought, but could be a clump of sand instead.  He admitted to touching the clump, but it didn't move and he did nothing to improve his lie in the bunker.  The referee he called over called for clarification and after some discussion the committee decided that Rory had earned the General Penalty -- two strokes.

Rule 12.2a permits removing loose impediments an movable obstructions in a bunker.  It further explains that "...any reasonable touching or movement of the sand in the bunker while doing so" is permitted.

Rule 12.2a(1) describes when touching sand will result in a penalty. 
     Before making a stroke at a ball in a bunker, a player must not:
         Deliberately touch sand in the bunker with a hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn inf…

Bucket List Time

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This has nothing to do with the Rules, but since it is my Blog, my rules.

A couple of weeks ago (June 27), I had an opportunity to put one more item into my personal bucket of things to do before I can't do them anymore.  I had a $500 gift card for Pebble Beach and since I was visiting my sister in California, I took the opportunity to play the Links.  I call about a week ahead of time to see about availability and got a time of 1:40 pm on the 27th, joining a twosome and another single.  Since I was not staying at the Lodge, it only cost me another $95 to play.

The rough was still about 3-3 1/2 inches (after the US Open less than two weeks earlier) and the greens were relatively slow, stimping at 9 according to both the proshop and my feel for them.  I played to course from the white tees (6200 yds, roughly, 72.0/135) and managed a 94 with my 10 course handicap.

For you stats geeks, I hit nine fairways, two greens (three putted one and birdied the other) and couldn't advance t…

Putting with Flagstick in the Hole

I noticed during the play of the LPGA Tour stop in Evian, France, that Shenshen Feng putted with the flagstick in the hole -- all perfectly legal as we all know.  When she holed her ball and it was at rest against the flagstick, but not at the bottom of the hole, she always wiggled the flagstick to allow the ball to fall to the bottom.  She apparently didn't know (as my faithful readers do) that the ball is holed if the ball is touching the flagstick and any part of the ball is below the surface of the green (Rule 13.2c).  She could have simply removed the ball as it was suspended, resting against the flagstick.

I know from personal experience that it is easier to remove the ball near the top of the hole, than it is to reach all the way down to the bottom of the hole. (from a Morbidly Obese (according to my Wii Fit) fellow golfer.
Aloha, this is courtesy of Gordon Cho.
During a particularly windy 4 Ball stroke event, Partner A was on the green and putting.  His Partner B's coffee cup, which was in the shared cart, blew out and struck Partner A's ball as he putted, causing it to move off line.  No one knew what to do in this circumstance and Partner B went ahead and played the ball as it lay without penalty.
Because the coffee cup belonged to his partner, should it have been considered equipment belonging to the partnership or would this be considered accidental movement of the ball on the green?
A paper cup, having blown out of the cart was not anybody's equipment, it was an outside influence, thus the answer lies . . . not in the wind, but in Rule 11.1b, Exception 2.  The stroke is cancelled and must be replayed.  When Player A putted from where his ball came to a stop, he played from a Wrong Place and should have incurred the General Penalty, or two strokes in this case.  Hopefully, his partner score…

Ball in the Drink -- Penalty?

Joe MacDonald (who was all over this) had an interesting call on the 18th hole at Kapolei during the USGA Amateur Qualifier this week.  After marking his ball on the back of the 18th green, the player tossed his ball to his caddy, who fumble-fingered as he was, dropped it and it rolled into the red penalty area next to the green.  They couldn't retrieve the ball, so the player substituted a new ball and placed it on the green.  Then the fun began as the players tried to figure out if a penalty was involved.  They all seemed to know that if you dropped a ball anywhere on the course, you could freely substitute a ball, but on the green? 

Joe to the rescue.  Rule 14.2a requires a ball to be replaced on the green must be the original ball.  However, an exception to this rule says that if the original ball cannot be recovered with reasonable effort and in a few seconds, so long as the player did not deliberately cause the ball to become unrecoverable, another ball may be used.  Thus, n…
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Aloha, this week has been pretty quiet on the pro tours as regards the rules, so we'll go back and review a couple of definitions that have changed.
Abnormal Course Condition now includes immovable obstructions (cart paths, sprinkler heads and the like) as well as Animal Holes, Ground Under Repair and Temporary Water.  Generally you can play from these areas if you want, or you can take relief.  Sometimes, however, the course has defined these areas as No Play Zones, so that you MUST take relief.  
If you know where your ball is in an Abnormal Course Condition then you establish a Reference Point which is the nearest point on the course where the condition does not impact your stance or area of intended swing.  Then you get one club length (remember, always the longest club in your bag) from that Reference Point.
No Play Zones are areas that the committee (or course) prohibits play.  They can be environmentally protected, cultural in nature or any other reason the committee decides …