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(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.