Asked & Answered: Wind Gust on the Green

Question: Playing in a stroke play event on a very windy day. While on the green ready to make a stroke at a putt, the wind gusts and the ball moves but comes back to rest in the original spot. Is there a penalty?

Answer: This is an interesting situation since by definition the ball has not moved. Once the ball is returned to the original spot, it will be played as it lies.  And since natural forces (the wind) caused the ball to “move”, there is no penalty to any player. 

Submit a Rules question for Todd to answer here.

Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.

Asked & Answered: Outside Influences

Question: Playing in a stroke play tournament, tee shots landed in the fairway. All three members of the group are playing the same brand of ball. The conditions are under lift, clean, and place. Player one picks up player two’s ball which is covered in mud. As he is cleaning it he notices it is not his ball and places it in the vicinity of the original spot. Is there a penalty?

Answer: In a stroke play event, the individual players are outside influences to each other, so there is no penalty on player one in this situation.  We will just need to get the ball back on the estimated spot from where it was moved, then player 2 can lift clean and place the ball. 

Submit a Rules question for Todd to answer here.

Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.

Asked & Answered: Drains

Question: Drains are clearly immovable obstructions, but is there any relief from the (man-made) depression around a drain even if the drain itself does not interfere with one’s stance or swing?

Answer: Great question that stirs up a little bit of debate. The player is not entitled to relief just because of the ground indentation caused by the sprinkler being there, there must be physical interference from the immovable obstruction. It would be difficult to determine where the indentation no longer exists as sometimes you have large collection areas with slopes that can be dozen of feet long. However, if the area around a sprinkler has been dug out creating sharp edges, now you have a hole made by a greenskeeper and is by definition ground under repair, and relief from the hole is available.

Submit a Rules question for Todd to answer here.

Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.

Asked & Answered: Two Rules This Week!

Question: A player tees off and the ball strikes a maintenance vehicle parked in the left rough. What is the ruling?

Answer: When a player’s ball in motion accidentally deflects off an outside influence (the maintenance vehicle in this case), there is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies.

Question: My ball landed next to a tree trunk, do I get a free drop?

Answer: A tree is part of the challenge of golf, so there is no free drop if your ball comes to rest near a tree trunk or a tree stump. Remember, a tree stump is just a short tree! But if you are out there to have fun and not playing in a competition, I say take the free drop!!!

Submit a Rules question for Todd to answer here.

Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.


Asked & Answered: Stroke and Distance

Question: When is it allowed to re-tee other than OB off the tee? Stroke and distance. Ball in the woods or water off the tee?

Answer: Good question. A player may ALWAYS re-tee without exception, and you don’t even have to know where your ball is. No matter where the ball ends up (except in the hole of course) a player always has the option of replaying a stroke with a 1-stroke penalty (stroke and distance). The ball could be in the woods or water or even the fairway, and you can proceed under stroke and distance. A good example of this would be you tee off and hit a tree immediately and your ball goes 100 yards behind you but is still in bounds. Instead of playing the ball, for 1 stroke you may re-tee and play from the teeing area, even though your ball is in play 100 yards further from the hole! This is true of any stroke on the golf course, not just tee shots.

Submit a Rules question for Todd to answer here.

Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.

Asked & Answered: Ball Mark Repair

Submission: A player can repair a ball mark on the green at any time. The player’s ball does not need to be on the green to allow the repair. A player cannot repair a ball mark on the fringe if it is in the player’s line of play. Unless the mark occurred after the ball came to rest.

Question: What if any one of your playing partners repairs the mark without being requested to do so? On the other hand, are you allowed to ask a playing partner to repair the mark?

Answer: I assume you are referring to players in your group of a stroke play event who are NOT your partners (the answers will be different). 

Someone who is in your group but not your partner is an outside influence, and if they improve your line of play, that will get them a 2-stroke penalty, but nothing to you.  Additionally, you get the benefit of the repaired pitch mark.

If that person is your partner, you will both get a penalty of 2 strokes.

If you request the player to fix it for you and he does just that, both you and he will get the 2-stroke penalty.

Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.

Asked & Answered: Tiffany Greens Approach Shot Dilemma

Question: When playing at Tiffany Greens last weekend I hit my approach shot just off the left of the green on a par four. When looking for the ball I was unable to find it but there was a creek on the left side of the green. After a couple of minutes of looking for it, I just assumed bounced into the creek. I took a drop and finished out the hole. As I left the green and went towards the cart I found my ball. Am I able to finish the hole with my original ball at that point?

Answer: The short answer is no, once you drop a ball with the intent of putting it in play, the original ball can no longer be played, and this is true if the 3-minute search time has passed or not.  Additionally,  it sounds like the 3-minute search time was up so your original is now lost and cannot be played under any circumstance.

Long answer: Now if you dropped a ball and were not sure it was in the creek, then you find the original ball within 3 minutes of searching, it is your lucky day!  The original ball is still in play and there is no penalty to play it. 

But if you are sure (at least 95% sure) the original ball is in the creek and you drop a ball, it becomes the ball in play no matter what.  If you then happen to find your ball outside the creek, it is NOT your lucky day, that ball is no longer in play.  If you find your original ball in the creek, you still can’t play it, but it may change the reference point where you must drop the ball. Great Question!!

Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.

Asked & Answered: Member-Guest

Question: During our Member-Guest earlier this year. We were playing the gunch as a penalty area. The player hit his ball into the gunch or possibly OB, and proceeded to hit a provisional. While looking for his ball I asked why did he hit a provisional when we are playing this as a penalty area. He says “oh, yeah, I’ll just drop one,” I told him since he already hit a provisional he had to play that. He was not pleased. What’s the ruling?

Answer: If a ball may be possibly OB, the player may play a provisional, even if a penalty area is where the ball could be. This player had the right to play a provisional. However, once it is determined where the ball is or where it is lost, we must proceed with that Rule. So if it was determined the ball was OB, then the provisional becomes the ball in play. If it is determined the ball is in the penalty area, then the provisional must be abandoned, and then proceed under the penalty area rule. Those options are stroke and distance (and cannot use the provisional), back-on-the-line relief, or two club-lengths from where it entered the penalty area. If the player knew the ball was in the penalty area, then yes, you cannot play a provisional, it would become the ball in play.

Todd Stice is our in-house Rules of Golf Expert. You can learn more about Todd here.