RoG Updates for 2023

Key changes to the RoG from 1st January 2023 include:

  • Modifications for Players with Disabilities: The modifications to the Rules for players with disabilities have been made part of the Rules and are in effect for all players who fall under the categories covered in Rule 25.
  • Handicap Usage in Stroke Play: With the continued growth of digital scoring following the adoption of the World Handicap System, players are no longer required to show their handicap on their scorecard in stroke play. The Committee will be responsible for calculating the player’s handicap strokes for the competition and using that to calculate the player’s net score.
  • Club Damaged During Round: The Rule has been amended to allow a player to replace a club that is damaged during a round, provided the player did not damage it through abuse. 
  • Ball Moved by Natural Forces: A new Exception provides that a ball at rest must be replaced if it moves to another area of the course or comes to rest out of bounds after being dropped, placed or replaced.
  • Back-on-the-Line Relief Procedure: The back-on-the-line relief procedure, often used for penalty area and unplayable ball relief, has been simplified so that the player now drops their ball on the line, and the ball must come to rest within one club-length of where it is dropped. 

Lost Ball

There are only two situations when a ball is deemed lost, see Rule 18;

  • When a ball is lost out of bounds.
  • When a ball in the General Area cannot be found after 3 minutes of searching.

A ball cannot be declared lost other than in the situations above

If there is NO Local rule affording lateral relief, players who are certain that their ball is lost out of bounds must take a stroke and distance penalty by putting another ball in play from the spot where the last stroke was played. 
To save time players may play a Provisional ball, before going forward, if they think they might not find their ball in the General Area or if there is doubt, that their ball is in or out of bounds. 
If a player, having gone forward then finds their ball out of bounds or cannot find their ball in the General Area after 3 minutes and have not played a provisional ball they must return to the spot where the last stroke was played under penalty of stroke & distance.      
A ball cannot be lost in a Penalty Area. See Rule 17.

Preferred Lies

Winter Rules

Winter Rules, more correctly Preferred Lies will be in force from the 1st October and will remain in force until the 30th April. This feature of the game of golf often causes confusion. A ball that lies in the General Area* which is cut to fairway height or less may be marked, lifted and cleaned without penalty. The original ball or another ball should be replaced within 6 inches (150mm) of the original spot, not nearer the hole. Ensure you mark your ball before you lift it. You can only do this ONCE per occasion. If you pick the ball up again you will incur a one-stroke penalty. 

An Embedded Ball is one that is embedded in its own pitch-mark, where part of, or all of the ball lies below the surface in the general area*. The ball may be marked, lifted, cleaned and dropped in the relief area, not nearer the hole. See Rule 16.3b.

Exceptions: relief is not allowed under Rule 16.3b When a ball is embedded in sand.

*The general area is any part of the course other than the green and teeing area of the hole being played, all bunkers and all penalty areas.  

Taking A Drop

Under the Rules of Golf players are allowed relief from various course conditions. Some are free whilst others will be under penalty, for example dropping out of a penalty area. Examples, along with diagrams, are covered in the Players edition of the RoG 2019 Rules 14  to 19.  When you take free relief under the Rules, e.g. from an immovable obstruction, temporary water, GUR, wrong putting green etc, you must drop within one club-length of the Nearest Point of Relief, not nearer the hole.  The relief area is a quadrant measuring one club length by one club length. 

When taking a  drop under penalty, e.g. from an unplayable lie or a penalty area, there are several options available to players and the relief areas are larger. These are shown in Rules 17 to 19. 

In all cases, a ball, when dropped must remain in the relief area. If the ball rolls out of relief area it should be re-dropped a second time. If the second ball fails to stay in the relief area the ball should be placed as near as possible to the point where it first struck the course Rule 14.3. 

Putting Green Know How

Standing On or Near to the line of Putt
When a player takes his or her stance to putt, playing partners, caddies and opponents must not stand on or close to the line of the putt as the player plays the stroke.  Failure to heed this rule will get you a General Penalty in stroke play and loss of hole in match play. Rule 10 -2b.

The line of putt does not extend forward beyond the hole, so standing in front of the player on or near the line will not attract a penalty, however, standing in a players eye line is poor etiquette. 

Marking Balls on the Green. A common error on putting greens is not marking and lifting the ball correctly. A player may mark and lift their ball as many times as they like on the green. Generally, the best way to mark the ball is behind the ball with a small coin or marker. Other items can be used such as tee pegs or any other equipment to hand. Remember to replace the ball on the same spot that it was at rest before being lifted.

Players are not obliged to mark and lift their ball as a matter of course unless requested to do so by another player. Don't go lifting your ball once another player has taken their stance, interrupting or delaying their stroke. The onus is on the player to ensure their ball when hit from the green does not hit another ball at rest on the green. If it does it is a two-shot general penalty but only in stroke play, there is no penalty in match play Rule11.1a.  The ball that was moved must be replaced. The offending ball is played as it lies. A ball must not be lifted when another ball is in motion. 

Lifting an Opponents Ball. 
Players MUST NOT lift an opponents ball without permission. To do so will incur a one-stroke penalty Rule 9.5b.
Exception: There is no penalty when opponent marks and lifts the player's ball on the putting green in the mistaken belief that it is the opponents own ball. Rule 9.5b. 

Who's turn is it anyway?  A common misconception is that balls lying off the green get played first. Not so, common courtesy is often afforded to players whose ball is just off the green to "come on" to save time taking out and replacing the flagstick, the simple rule is the player furthest from the hole has the honour no matter whether their ball is on or off the putting surface.

Having completed a hole, who has the Honour at the next tee? Under the new 2019 RoG, irrespective of the format being played it's the player with the lowest gross score. 
Finally, Having the Flagstick Tended. The flagstick may be held up or attended for another player no matter where they are on the course and is not limited to just those whose balls lying on the green. Under the new 2019 rules, you are now permitted to put with flag-stick in.   

Animal Scrapes

Under the new Rules of Golf, an animal scrape is one caused by any living animal, other than a human. 

If your ball comes to rest in an animal scrape you get free relief from the abnormal course condition, but this not always the case.  A common claim by many players when the ball comes to rest typically in an animal scrape and against a tree. The former is used to get them out of trouble! But is this always true? See the  following examples.

The ball comes to rest against a tree, but it is possible to play the ball sideways or backwards including making a stroke with the back of the club. 
The essential fact here is that the ball is playable

Just because the player can't play towards the pin does not qualify for relief.  However, if the ball was also in a scrape, relief would be afforded the player without penalty and quite possibly the interference of the tree would be removed. A good example of the rules working in the player's favour. 
In the second example a ball comes to rest against a tree but this time it lies deep within the roots such that no matter how the player tries the ball is unplayable.  

In this situation, the player must proceed under penalty. The fact that the ball is also in a scrape doesn't alter the fact that the ball is unplayable so the abnormal course condition cannot be used to gain relief from the unplayable lie. 

Remember a player can declare a ball unplayable anywhere on the course except in a penalty area. 

Balls Lifted or Moved

From the January 2019 new rules covering the accidental moving of a ball on the green is now included in the new Rules of Golf.  But what is accidental and what is the difference between moving a ball and lifting a ball? 

The following questions raised by a member.
  1. If a ball is lifted without marking it by accident can I replace it for free? 
  2. If a player lifts their ball believing it has been conceded but an opponent says it has not, is this accidental and is there a penalty? 
Accidentally moving a ball would be, for example, striking the ball with the flagstick when removing it from the hole or laying the flagstick down or dropping a piece of your equipment inadvertently on the ball etc.
Accidental should not be confused with mistakenly lifting the ball as described in the first question, where this is an error on the part of the player who incurs a penalty of one stroke. 
In the second question where the player either misheard or mistook what was said and picked up their ball cannot be considered as accidental, again this is about a ball being lifted as opposed to being moved. 
The general advice when a putt or a hole is conceded the player receiving the concession should always seek confirmation before lifting their ball.  The following example was covered in a previous edition of the Decisions on the Rules of Golf  2-4/3 which says:
Q: In a match between A&B, B made a statement that A interpreted as a concession and A lifted the ball, but B insisted they had not conceded A’s next stroke.  
A: If B’s statement could have reasonably led A to think the next stroke was conceded, in equity A should replace the ball as near as possible to the original spot without penalty. Otherwise, A would incur a penalty for lifting a ball without marking it. 

Gravel Overspill from Paths

Loose Impediments

The margins of paths and buggy-paths are
clearly defined by the edging material in their construction. 

A player can take relief from the path if a) the ball comes to rest on the path or b) the path interferes with the player's stance or swing. 
In both cases relief should be taken at the nearest point of relief not nearer the hole, bearing in mind this could be in the rough or other unfavourable position. A player may also play the ball as it lies. Where a ball comes to rest in Overspill Gravel,  but not on the path its self there is no relief in this situation. The gravel is a Loose Impediment and can be removed without penalty.  The ball may not be lifted and if moved while removing the loose impediment the player will incur a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced. Rule 15.1b.

Out of Bounds

Confusion often occurs when a ball comes to rest near or against a boundary fence, boundary line or out-of-bounds post, which then interferes with a player's stance or swing.  

The is No Relief when a ball comes to rest near to or against any boundary fence or wall which then interferes with the players stance or swing.  A player may play the ball as it lies or declare the ball unplayable, taking relief under penalty of one stroke. OoB posts Must Not be removed.

The diagram is self explanatory regarding the position of the ball relative to the OOB. The course extends vertically upwards and any part of the ball touching the course is inbounds. The OOB line is one that runs on the course side of the posts. 

The exception to the above is the fence along the 17th which is both a safety fence, due to the steep drop, and the line of a No Play Penalty Area (red posts). A ball lying beyond the fence is in the Penalty Area. When a ball comes to rest against the fence on the 17th and the fence interferes with the players stance or swing relief without penalty is allowed.   

Playing From The Wrong Tee

A common mistake when you've been have been regularly  playing from the forward tees and then have to play from the back tees in a competition. 
In stroke play, if you play from the wrong teeing ground you will incur a General Penalty of two strokes and must replay the stroke from the correct teeing area before leaving the tee. 
Failure to correct the error will result in disqualification as does failing to record the penalty strokes on your card. 
In match play there is no penalty for playing from the wrong teeing area, however, your opponent(s) can ask you to play again or they can allow the stroke to stand whichever suits their needs. Rule 6.1b    

More Flagstick Questions.

Adjustment of Flagstick: Players Rights

Can a player have a leaning flagstick straightened up before making a stroke? Yes, a player may, when playing onto the green, leave a leaning flagstick if it is to his/her advantage or have the flagstick centred before making a stroke (Decisions17-4) No penalty.  However, a player cannot have the flagstick moved to a favourable position other than centre. Infringe this rule and it's a General Penalty of two strokes Rule13.2a.

Striking the Flagstick.
If the match ahead leaves the flagstick lying on the green, and players in your group strike the removed flag with their approach shots do they incur a penalty? No, However, if a ball played from the green strikes the flagstick which has been laid to one side during the play of the hole, the player will incur a General Penalty of 2 strokes Rule 11.2a. Players are permitted to putt with flagstick in place from anywhere on the course. 

Winter Rules (Preferred Lies). A few things to remember. 
  • Applies only to the General Area that is closely mown not in the rough.
  • Always mark your ball before lifting. 
  • Replace the ball within six inches no nearer the hole. 
  • Lift and replace it only once. 
  • If you pick it up a second time at the same spot you'll incur a 1 shot penalty. 

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29.05.2023 06:53
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Monday 29th May - The course is currently OPEN with NO RESTRICTIONS.
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