Featured Rules of the Month

 12-2. Lifting Ball For Identification
The responsibility for playing the proper ball rests with the player. Each player should put an identification mark on his ball.
If a player believes that a ball at rest might be his, but he cannot identify it, the player may lift the ball for identification, without penalty. The right to lift a ball for identification is in addition to the actions permitted under Rule 12-1.
Before lifting the ball, the player must announce his intention to his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play and mark the position of the ball. He may then lift the ball and identify it, provided that he gives his opponentmarker or fellow-competitor an opportunity to observe the lifting and replacement. The ball must not be cleaned beyond the extent necessary for identification when lifted under Rule 12-2.
If the ball is the player’s ball and he fails to comply with all or any part of this procedure, or he lifts his ball in order to identify it without having good reason to do so, he incurs a penalty of one stroke. If the lifted ball is the player’s ball, he must replace it. If he fails to do so, he incurs the general penalty for a breach of Rule 12-2, but there is no additional penalty under this Rule.
Note: If the original lie of a ball to be replaced has been altered, see Rule 20-3b.
Match Play – Loss of hole; Stroke Play – Two strokes.
*If a player incurs the general penalty for a breach of Rule 12-2, there is no additional penalty under this Rule.

26-2. Ball Played Within Water Hazard

a. Ball Comes to Rest in Same or Another Water Hazard

If a ball played from within a water hazard comes to rest in the same or another water hazard after the stroke, the player may:

(i) proceed under Rule 26-1a. If, after dropping in the hazard, the player elects not to play the dropped ball, he may:

(a) proceed under Rule 26-1b, or if applicable Rule 26-1c, adding the additional penalty of one stroke prescribed by the Rule and using as the reference point the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of this hazard before it came to rest in this hazard; or

(b) add an additional penalty of one stroke and play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the last stroke from outside a water hazard was made (see Rule 20-5); or

(ii) proceed under Rule 26-1b, or if applicable Rule 26-1c; or

(iii)under penalty of one stroke, play a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the last stroke from outside a water hazard was made (see Rule 20-5).

Nearest Point of Relief

The “nearest point of relief” is the reference point for taking relief without penalty from interference by an immovable obstruction (Rule 24-2), an abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1) or a wrong putting green (Rule 25-3).

It is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies:

(i) that is not nearer the hole, and

(ii) where, if the ball were so positioned, no interference by the condition from which relief is sought would exist for the stroke the player would have made from the original position if the condition were not there.

Note: In order to determine the nearest point of relief accurately, the player should use the club with which he would have made his next stroke if the condition were not there to simulate the address position, direction of play and swing for such a stroke.

New Decisions: 

A smart phone may be used to check the weather.  It may not be used to measure wind speed, temperature or slope  to target.  A compass may be used on the phone.

Decision 1-4/10 

Decision 1-4/10 in the Decisions on the Rules of Golf covers a situation in which a player's ball comes to rest in a dangerous situation, e.g., near a live rattlesnake or a bee's nest. The decision reads in part, "...It is unreasonable to expect the player to play from such a dangerous situation and unfair to require the player to incur a penalty under Rule 26 (Water Hazards) or Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable). If the ball lay through the green, the player may, without penalty, drop a ball within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green..."    

Rule clarification: 

Rule 18-2b.  Ball moving after address. 

“If God moves it, play it where it lies, no penalty.”  For example, if a gust of wind moves the ball.  
           Unfortunately, gravity does not count, so be careful when addressing a ball on a hill.  If you ground
            your club and ball moves, you are deemed to have moved the ball and that is a penalty.



27-1 Provisional Ball

a. Procedure

If a ball may be lost outside a water hazard or may be out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally in accordance with Rule 27-1. The player must inform his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play that he intends to play a provisional ball, and he must play it before he or his partner goes forward to search for the original ball.

If he fails to do so and plays another ball, that ball is not a provisional ball and becomes the ball in playunder penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1); the original ball is lost.

(Order of play from teeing ground – see Rule 10-3)

Note: If a provisional ball played under Rule 27-2a might be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds, the player may play another provisional ball. If another provisional ball is played, it bears the same relationship to the previous provisional ball as the first provisional ball bears to the original ball.

NOTE:  Local Rules on hole #3,  #6 and #12 allow provisional if not sure original ball hit into hazard may be playable.  There is no local rule for ball hit in ditch on #9, so provisional CANNOT be played on that hole because ball is in a hazard.  Player may either determine ball lost and drop behind hazard according to rules OR decide to look for ball in hazard and play it as it lies or return and drop another ball behind hazard.   Any ball hit into a non-hazard area on the course where the ball may be lost (e.g. high grassy areas in front of tees on #5 and #7 or left on # 13 or for any ball that might be out of bounds), a provisional ball should always be played to speed up play. 

8-1/2 Exchanging Distance Information

Information regarding the distance between two objects is public information and not advice. It is therefore permissible for players to exchange information relating to the distance between two objects. For example, a player may ask anyone, including his opponent, fellow-competitor or either of their caddies, the distance between his ball and the hole. (Revised)


25-1b/15 Measuring Across Ground Under Repair in Obtaining Relief

Q: A player obtaining relief from a narrow strip of ground under repair through the green determines his nearest point of relief (Point A) which is not in a hazard or on a putting green. Point A is on the right-hand side of the ground under repair. Within one club-length of Point A is a point (Point B) on the left side of the ground under repair which meets the requirements of Rule 25-1b(i). May the player drop his ball at Point B?

Yes. There is nothing in Rule 25-1b prohibiting measuring the one club-length across ground under repair in obtaining relief.

USGA Rules Changes for 2012
Rule 18-2b
Ball moving after address
A new exception is added which exonerates the player from penalty if his / her ball moves after it has been addressed when it is known or virtually certain that the player did not cause the ball to move. For example, if a gust of wind moves the ball after it has been addressed, there is no penalty and the ball is played from its new position.
Rule 13-4
Ball in Hazard: Prohibited Actions
Exception 2 to this Rule is amended to permit a player to smooth sand or soil in a hazard at any time, including before playing from that hazard, provided it is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and Rule 13-2 (improving lie, area of intended swing / stance or line of play) is not breached.
Rule 6-3a
Time of Starting
The Rule is amended to provide that the penalty for starting late, but within 5 minutes of starting time, is reduced from disqualification to loss of the first hole in Match Play or two stroke penalty in Stroke Play. Previously, this penalty reduction could be introduced as a condition of competition.

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