Golf: Where was it? Part 17


HARARE – Golf2. Trees

Club B’s Local Rule reads, “A ball coming to rest within two club lengths of a young tree, less than two metres in height may be dropped within two club length, not nearer the hole without penalty.”

Comments: This local rule is subject to a lot of different interpretations because it is not clear. It does not state within two club lengths of what? The relief sought should fall under Rule 24-2 immovable obstruction.

Hence the procedure would be, first to determine the nearest point of relief from the tree and then drop the ball without penalty within one club length of that point which is not nearer the hole.

If for example the nearest point of relief is two club lengths away from the obstruction then the ball should be dropped within the next club length. The nearest point of relief should not be on the putting green or in a hazard.

The correct wording should have been “within one club length of the nearest point of relief.”  

Remember that it is within one club length and not two club lengths. Quite a number of golfers seem to think that it is within two club length.

3. Preffered lie

Club H’s Local Rule reads, “A ball lying on any closely mown area may be moved or lifted, but must be marked first, cleaned and placed on a similar closely mown area within one club length of where it originally lay, but not nearer the hole. If the ball rolls from the spot on which it was placed it may be replaced without penalty. However, if it moves after having been addressed a penalty of one stroke shall be incurred and it shall be replaced.”

Comments : The applicable rule for this situation is (Rule 25 — Abnormal ground conditions). The local rule of this Club is defective in that it permits a ball that rolls after having been placed to be replaced. That is not it. The ball can be placed only once (Rule 20-4).

Once placed the ball is in play.

If it subsequently rolls or moves from where it was placed the ball must be played as it lies at its new position where it rolled to, without any penalty. It is also important that the preferred lie should not be nearer the hole and it should not be in a hazard or on the putting green.

4. Burrowing Animals

Club J’s Local Rule reads, “In the interpretation of rule 32 white ants are regarded as burrowing animals.” There were several score cards I saw which had such a local rule.

Comments: This is completely wrong. Rule 32 has nothing to do with animals. Burrowing animals are dealt with under Rule 25 (Abnormal ground conditions ) not 32. Rule 32 deals with bogey, par and stableford competitions.

5. Flower beds

Club L’s Local Rule reads,  “ball coming to rest in the flower beds bordering the road on the right of no.1 may be played as it lies, or a penalty drop taken two club lengths, not nearer the hole.”

Comments: It is important to identify a specific rule that relates to the situation.

If the flower beds are to be taken as abnormal ground conditions there would be no penalty when a player decides to drop away from it. As it states two club lengths, not nearer the hole that can be for an unplayable ball. The question is, two club lengths from where? It should clearly state  “ within two club lengths of and not nearer the hole from where the ball lies.”  (Rule 28.)

6. General comments : From the examples of the few Local Rules which have been highlighted above, it is clear that the rules of golf are not adhered to at many golf clubs. The clubs through their committees are contributing greatly to the breaches. I stated in part one of this article that the greatest number of breaches on the Rules of Golf is from committees breaching Rule 33-8

(b). Local rules that are not consistent with the requirements of Rules 33-8 should be brought to the attention of the Clubs. But wait a minute, someone has got to know that particular local rules are wrong to be able to alert the clubs.

7. Recommendations: Golf clubs should sit down with a referee or referees and go through all their Local
Rules and discuss them and make sure that they conform with the expectations outlined under Rule 33 — the Committee, with particular reference to Rule 33-8.  

Again for emphasis, under Rule 33 the Committee may establish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions as long as they are consistent with the policy which is in Appendix 1 of the Rules of golf. It further states that a Rule of Golf must not be waived or modified by a Local Rule.

There is need to educate clubs on the basic rules as most of the breaches are not intentional, but rather due to ignorance.

The referees or referee’s associations should act as advisers to committees that run tournaments. However, if a club feels that there is an exceptional abnormal condition ( not covered under Appendix 1) at their course and needs to introduce a Local Rule to that effect, it must seek authorisation from the R & A.

It is very important that the game is played according to its Rules. Failure to do so will result in golfers inheriting wrong knowledge of the Rules.

For any feedback/ comments and any assistance you may need please contact the writer, Tavenganiswa Mabikacheche at The Centre for Training and Research Services on email:  or  +263712200922 /+263772319612

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