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.

New Rules of Golf, Players Edition for 2019

 The new Rules of Golf came into force on the 1st January 2019. The Players Edition of the Rules of Golf has been published and is now available free to all players from your Pro-Shop. The new rules have been reduced in number and written more simply, including colour diagrams to help in decision making. While many of the existing rules remain unchanged the rule numbers will have changed. So take care when making reference to your favourite rule.
The full version of the Rules of Golf is available online from the Apple Apps Store for smartphones and tablets, includes Committee Procedures and Rules of Players with Disabilities.

Preferred Lies

Winter Rules

Winter Rules or more correctly Preferred Lies will be in force from the 1st October and will remain in force until the 30th April 2019. This feature of the game of golf often causes confusion. A ball that lies in the General Area* of the course on any area cut to fairway height or less may be marked, lifted and cleaned without penalty. The ball should be placed within 6 inches (150mm) of the original spot, not nearer the hole. Ensure you mark your ball before you lift it. Remember 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 or in the General Area not cut to fairway height or less. Rule 16.3a

*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.  

Bunker Etiquette

Chiltern Forest is not overly blessed with bunkers, unlike the 2018 Open venue Royal Birkdale which has many more bunkers than CFGC, in fact, Birkdale has two holes, the 8th and the 15th each with 13 bunkers a piece. Chiltern Forest has only nine in total and twelve holes with no bunkers. A timeless and contentious issue in golf, probably since the game began hundreds of years ago, has been where to place the rake?
In a recent conversation with a Golf England tour referee, said professional tour events the rakes are placed in the bunker, along the line of play and well away from the edge. The reason, if you leave them outside the bunker the rake could deflect the ball into the bunker and if you leave it in the bunker close to the edge it could trap the ball against the lip. Golf is hard enough without these avoidable complications. Some may have seen the BBC coverage of the Open with Ken Brown describing the difficulty of dealing with pot bunkers and will have spotted Birkdale bunker rakes have labels telling players to leave the rake in the middle of the bunker. A sensible approach for all levels of play. When you’ve raked the bunker after your shot put the bunker rake well into bunker out of harm's way. If your ball comes to rest against the rake in the bunker inform your playing partners of your intention, mark your ball, lift the ball, remove the rake and replace your ball without penalty.  

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 of 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. In match play only, players MUST not lift an opponents ball without their permission. To do so will incur a one-stroke penalty Rule 9.5  

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 lie 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 against a tree and in an animal scrape. The latter used to get them out of trouble! But is this always true?  Let's look at two 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. As 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 were raised by a member recently.
  1. If a ball is lifted without marking it by accident can I replace it for free? 
  2. If a player lifts his 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.  This is covered in 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 his/her ball, but B insisted he/she 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 (Rule1) A should replace his/her ball as near as possible to the original spot without penalty. Otherwise, A would incur a penalty for lifting his/her 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. 
Any item deemed as a loose impediment must be picked up and not brushed away. 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.

Playing in the Wind

Members recently raised the following question: Can a player shield his/her ball from the wind by placing an item such as golf-bag or even getting a playing partner to lay down as a windbreak? 

The answer is NO. Such an action would be deemed as intentionally influencing the movement of the ball and or improper use of a players equipment. Rule4.3. This is a two-stroke penalty for infringing the rule.  For serious breaches of this rule, the Committee can disqualify a player.

Playing From The Wrong Tee

A common mistake when you've been have been 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. 

Course Status
Currently closed
05.01.2021 07:11
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Following the Government’s announcement the course and clubhouse are closed. We will keep you updated on the situation regarding golf course closures as and when we hear anything from England Golf. For more information please contact Golf Services on golfservices@chilternforest.co.uk.
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