photo credit: Digital Sextant A recent Duke University survey of nearly 15,000 average golfers, found that the 5 most acceptable kinds of cheating when playing golf were: 1) Asking a player what club he used before you tee off. 2) Accidentally touching your ball during a practice swing and then replacing it in it’s original spot without a penalty. 3) Taking a first-tee mulligan. 4) Not taking a penalty when, while grounding your club behind the ball, the ball moves. 5) Moving your ball out of divot.
Most every-day golfers do not consider the breaking of some rules cheating, it is more of a rationalization. “I didn’t know,” or, “I didn’t realize,” or “I didn’t deserve that bad roll.” In every-day life these same golfers wouldn’t think of lying, cheating or stealing! Go figure?
photo credit: mhofstrand There are three options when you have an unplayable lie: A. Take a one stroke penalty and play from where you hit your previous shot. B. Take a one stroke penalty and drop within two club-lengths but no closer to the hole. C. Take a one stroke penalty and drop behind the point where the ball lay (no limit to distance) keeping that point between the hole and the spot where the ball is dropped. If the ball is sitting in a bunker, it must be dropped in the bunker.
An unplayable lie can be called at any time by the player. It can even be called when a player’s ball is on the green. It is the choice of the player when and where to call an “unplayable lie.”
photo credit: SethLemmons Ian Woosnam, playing in the British Open, received a two-shot penalty while tied for the lead at the start of the final round. Woosnam’s bag contained 15 clubs. The offending club was a second driver which would have been noticed on any other starting hole.
Jeff Maggert earned a two-shot penalty on the third hole of the final round, after a fairway bunker shot hit the lip of the hazard and rebounded to hit him in the chest. The resulting triple bogey-seven knocked Maggert out of the lead for a fifth place finish.
Craig Stadler was disqualified for kneeling on a towel while playing a shot from a muddy lie. He violated a rule against building a stance and failed to include that in his final score for the round.
Prior to the mid-twentieth century, the stymie was part of match play. If an opponents ball lay in your line on the green and if it was more than 6 inches away from yours, it would remain in place as you played. A golfer was required to find a way over or around it. Scorecards were made to be precisely 6 inches long to help measure the 6 inches. To deliberately “lay a stymie” on an opponent was considered to be bad sportsmanship.
A ball sitting in front of the hole could easily leave you stymied, consequently, there was no penalty for hitting an opponents ball in match play. After much consideration, in 1951, the USGA eliminated the stymie altogether.
The above rule does not apply if a ball that falls off a tee after it has been place there by the player. If the ball is accidentally bumped off the tee by the club, as long as it was unintentional, there is no penalty. A ball on a tee is not yet in play until after it has been intentionally hit.
When on the green, once the ball has been marked it is not in play. As soon as the ball is placed back on the green and the marker is removed, the ball is considered to be back in play.
The Scenario: You’ve hit your drive and now have 250 yards into the green. You hit a three wood and as it travels toward the green, it hits an overhanging power line and bounces into the rough. Now what?
The USGA rule 33-8/13 states that the course can enact a local rule requiring you to replay the shot without penalty. If the course doesn’t have this local rule, play the ball as it lies.
Unusual as they may be, obstructions such as power lines or man-made obstructions, usually fall under local course guidelines. Be sure to check the scorecard for course regulations.
White stakes indicate out-of-bounds. When the entire ball is on the other side of a white marker it is considered to be “off the course.” If any part of the ball is touching the boundary line, the ball is considered to be in bounds. If your ball goes out of bounds you have the following choices: 1) Hit a provisional ball from where your previous shot was played. Hit the shot, and only then should you start looking for the original ball. If your first ball was out of bounds, your provisional is now in play. Its a one stroke penalty to get back on the course. You must count the stroke of the original ball plus a stroke of your provisional. 2) Take a one stroke penalty and hit again from the spot where you just hit the shot out-of-bounds.
photo credit: josh99smith An “outside agency” refers to someone or something that takes your ball. It can be another player, a squirrel, a dog or anything that moves your ball that is not part of your match. If there is reasonable certainty that someone or something has taken your ball, you are entitled to take a drop as close as possible to the spot where your ball was lost, but no closer to the hole. There is no penalty, but you have to be absolutely sure the ball could not have been lost in another manner. If it was lost, you have to play the previous shot with a one-stroke penalty.
This problem commonly occurs when another player accidentally plays your ball, thinking it was their own.
photo credit: SubZeroConsciousness According to the USGA. Rules of Golf, there is no such thing as winter rules. What are winter rules? Winter rules are when conditions severely affect play in which case, you can “lift, clean and place” your golf ball. You may pick up your ball, clean it and replace it on the spot where it came to rest, without incurring a penalty.
A tournament committee or course manager can enact winter rules if the conditions require. Most of the time in extremely wet conditions, where there are very wet and low lying areas on the course, winter rules are applied. Winter rules are more common in the eastern section of the US. because of the dramatic changes in weather conditions that frequently occur.
photo credit: tienvijftien If you are on the green in the address position and your club has been grounded (resting on the putting surface), you can suffer a one stroke penalty if the wind moves your ball. The key here is grounding your club.
In windy conditions, the typical PGA Tour player will get into the address position without grounding their putter, if the ball moves, they will not be penalized. Padraig Harrington found this out in the 2009 Masters when his ball was moved by the wind after his club was grounded.
Once you’ve grounded your club, even if you step away and the ball moves, it is still a penalty. Another way to avert this problem is to remark your ball and start the sequence over.