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2012 Principle Rule Changes

posted Jun 20, 2012, 8:59 PM by Tahoe Donner Womens Golf Club

A PDF file is attached that covers 2012 update to rules changes (Jean Lai covered these at our June 12 general meeting).

(un)marked balls, bridges, loose impediments

posted Sep 21, 2010, 7:32 AM by Tahoe Donner Womens Golf Club

There have been a number of rules questions asked recently that I would like to share with the group.


1.  Two people are hitting the same make of ball—even down to the number on the ball.  Neither has marked their ball with an identifying mark.  Both hit their balls and end up in the same general area.  When they arrive at their balls, one has a good lie, the other is under a bush.  As neither have an identifying mark, what happens if they cannot tell which ball belongs to each player?

      Answer: Decision 27/10:  Both balls are considered lost and both players must go back to where their original ball was played and hit again (stroke and distance).  Note: There is no rule that states that you must mark your ball, (Rule 6-5 and 12-2) but if either person had put a mark on her ball, this problem would have been avoided.


2.  What is the proper way to remove loose impediments either on the putting green or anywhere through the green? 

      Answer: Decision 23-1/1: Loose impediments may be moved by any means, except that in removing loose impediments on the line of putt the player must not press anything down (Rule 16-1a).  This would include removing loose impediments with a cap or towel (Dec. 16-1a/8) or brushing loose impediments, using many strokes with the palm of your hand (Dec 16-1a/9 – revised since 2008-09).  


3.  Some of the bridges (example: the bridge on the left side of the ditch on hole 10 or the bridge over the second ditch on hole 15), have flat stones that have been placed on either side of bridge.  If the ball comes to rest on these stones or the grass in between the stones, is a person entitled to free relief?

       Answer: (Rule 24-2b): Yes, these are considered to be immovable obstructions. The player may lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief.  The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard.

 Note:  This also applies to the stones that have been placed by the cart paths near the greens.  They are considered part of the cart path and hence subject to relief under the same rule.


  1. Can a player use a tee to mark her ball on the green?

      Answer:  Decision 20-1/16:  The note to Rule 20-1 states that the position a ball to be lifted should be marked with a ball marker, small coin or other similar object.   Other methods of marking, e.g., placing the tow of a club at the side or behind the ball, a tee or a loose impediment are permissible but not recommended.


A second question regarding the proper way to span a ball  on the green to avoid interfering with another player’s stance or stroke I had to forward to PWGA for the answer.  Here it is:


      Answer:  When moving a ball or ball-marker to the side to prevent it from interfering with another player’s stance or stroke, the player may measure from the side of the ball or ball-marker.  In order to accurately replace the ball on the spot from where it was lifted, the steps used to move the ball or the ball-marker should be reversed.



  1. A ball is hit and lands on the bridge over the ditch (which is marked with yellow stakes) on hole 14.  What are the options for playing the ball?

      Answer: Rule 26/1:  The bridge is considered part of the hazard as the margins of the hazard extend vertically upwards and downwards.  As part of the hazard you are may play the ball as it lies (on the bridge), or under penalty of one stroke, (1) play the ball at the place nearest to where the original ball was played, or (2) drop the ball behind the hazard, keeping the point at which the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped.


A second question in regarding the ball being played from the bridge is:   Can the player ground her club on the bridge?      

      Answer:  Decision 13-4/30:  Yes, the player may ground her club.  The bridge is an obstruction.  In a hazard, the club may touch an obstruction at address or in the backward movement for the stroke (see note under Rule 13-4).


This final question came from the Nine and Wine play day.   One of the player’s hit her ball into a hazard.  It was visible in tall grass so she opted to hit it out of the hazard.   When she hit her ball, another ball, which was not visible, was hit out of the hazard along with hers.  Was there a penalty involved?


      Answer (also thanks to PWGA) although it refers to a bunker, it is the same for any hazard.  In stroke play, B, in playing a stroke at his ball in a bunker, accidentally hits A’s ball that was also in the bunker.  Both balls come to rest outside the bunker.  A plays his ball from the spot to which it has been moved by B’s stroke.  What is the ruling?  A:  A was required to replace his ball in the bunker—Rule 18-4.  A’s breach of Rule 18-4 was a serious and he should have been disqualified under Rule 20-7c unless the serious breach was rectified as prescribed in the Rule.  B incurred no penalty – Rule 18-4.





Provisional & Lost Balls

posted Aug 5, 2010, 7:53 PM by Tahoe Donner Womens Golf Club   [ updated Aug 5, 2010, 7:58 PM ]

There were several comments regarding a provisional ball or lost ball  that were forwarded to me last week that I wanted to address for the membership.  I got to be rather longwinded, but I wanted to clarify the situations as much as possible as there are obviously women out on the course that are unsure of what action to take and who want to proceed properly.

Again, let me start by saying

  1. You hit a provisional ball because you think your ball might be lost or out of bounds.
  2. You do not hit a provisional if you think that your ball may be lost in a hazard.
  3. You and/or your opponent or fellow-competitor have 5 minutes to search for the ball once you get to the place where you think that your ball might be.  In equity (Rule 1-4) your opponent may continue to search even though you may wish abandon it and play your provisional. Your opponent may continue that 5 minute search,  provided that in the meantime you do not play a stroke with the provisional ball, it (the provisional ball) being nearer the hole than the place where the original ball is likely to be. (D: 27-2b/1)
  4. Also, if your fellow competitor finds your original ball, it remains the ball in play.  Any further decisions regarding the ball (ie. GUR, unplayable, etc) must apply to the original ball.  If for example your original ball is unplayable and your best option is to replay from where you last hit the ball (even though you had hit a provisional for a possibly lost ball) you must take your original ball back and re-hit it. The provisional ball cannot be used. It only speeds up play IF the original ball cannot be found.
  5.  If you cannot find your ball within the 5 minute time, that ball is deemed lost and you must go back and hit another ball as nearly as possible at the spot where the original ball lay (stroke and distance), or play your provisional. (Rule 27-1).
  6. If  you find your ball after exceeding the 5 minute search and  play it, you are playing the wrong ball (Dec 27/8) and subject to loss of hole in match play or a 2 stroke penalty in stroke play.

When the player has not played a provisional ball and has to return either to the teeing ground or to the spot nearest to where the original ball lay to re-hit because she assumes her ball is lost… here are 2 scenarios:

(D 27-1/1):  The player has teed ball and within the 5 minute search period, the original ball is found.  May the player abandon the teed ball and play the original ball?  Yes, the teed ball was not in play since the player had not yet made a stroke at it (see definition of Ball in Play) and the original ball was not lost (see definition of Lost ball).

(D 27-1/2) A player plays a second shot, searches briefly and then goes back and drops a ball under Rule 27-1. Before she plays the dropped ball and within the 5 minute period, the original ball is found.  Is the player required to continue with the dropped ball?  Yes.  When the player put the substituted ball into play at the spot of the previous stroke with the intent to play the ball under penalty of stroke and distance, the original ball was lost.  Therefore, Rule 20-6 does not apply, and she must continue with the substituted ball. If she had not yet dropped the ball, and the original ball had been found within 5 minutes, she could continue to play with the original ball.

(D 27-1/2.3) What if the player continues to play with the original ball instead of the ball that had been dropped?  As the original ball is no longer the player’s ball in play, it is a wrong ball and the provisions of Rule 15-3 apply (loss of hole in stroke play; 2 stoke penalty in stroke play).

Provisional Ball

posted Aug 5, 2010, 9:16 AM by Tahoe Donner Womens Golf Club   [ updated Aug 5, 2010, 7:57 PM ]

What is a provisional ball and when should I play it?  See Rule 27

     A provisional ball is a ball that is played when the ball that you hit may be lost (other than in a water hazard) or out of bounds.  It is a procedure used to save the time as the relief from a lost ball is to replay another ball from the place where the original ball was hit (stroke and distance).

    Play a provisional ball when your ball has gone into the woods or tall rough around the fairways or when you are not sure that you will be able to find your ball.  Do not play a provisional ball if you are not sure whether your ball has landed in a water hazard. A provisional ball is not just used on your drive, but should be used any time you think that you may not be able to find your ball through the green.   

     You do this by announcing to your group that you are going to play a provisional ball, and describe the ball (I’m playing a Titleist #3) that you are about to hit.

Then when you go forward to search, your fellow competitors will know which ball is your first ball and which is your second ball. 

      If you do not announce that it is your provisional ball, it becomes the ball in play and a 1 stroke penalty is incurred at that time. 

      If the provisional ball does not go as far as your original ball, you may play another stroke(s) until it reaches the area where your original ball is believed to be.  If you find your original ball, the provisional ball is abandoned and none of the strokes with the provisional ball count in your score.  If you do not find your original ball, the strokes played with the provisional ball count plus the 1 stroke penalty (stroke and distance).   If you make a stroke with your provisional ball from the place where your original ball is likely to be, OR from a point nearer the hole than that place, then your original ball is considered lost (even if found) and the provisional ball comes into play (again under stroke and distance Rule 27.1(A).

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