Monday, July 19, 2010

Handicap Scores

Can I count my svore for handicap purposes if I don't putt out on every hole?

The USGA accepts the recording of gimmes in friendly play when recording scores for handicap purposes. If a player's putt is conceded or she has a gimme, the player must count the stroke or strokes and record the score she most likely would have made if she had played out the hole. The "most likely score" may not exceed the player's Equitable Stroke Control limit, defined in Section 4-3. This "most likely score" should be preceded by an "X." (See Decision 4-1/1 of the Handicap System Manual.) Competition is different. Rule 3-2 states: "If a competitor fails to hole out at any hole and does not correct [her] mistake before [she] makes a stroke on the next teeing ground or, in the case of the last hole of the round, before [she] leaves the putting green, [she] is disqualified."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Clearing a path for swing

Can I trample grass, break tree branches or bend weeds when setting up to my ball (as long as the ball doesn't move)?

Your swing may look like you're wielding a scythe, but that doesn't mean you can clear the course like an Old West pioneer. Tall grass, bushes and trees are there because they're part of the design. Rule 13-2 reads: "A player must not improve or allow to be improved the position or lie of her ball, the area of her intended stance or swing, her line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole, or the area in which she is to drop or place a ball, by moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable obstructions and objects defining out of bounds)." Translation: If it's growing, be careful. You are entitled to take a stance, but don't bend any living organism beyond what is necessary to set up to the ball and make a stroke. If a branch is broken--or a bunch of leaves are knocked down--with a practice swing, add two strokes to your score.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Relief from a sprinkler head

Am I entitled to relief without penalty from a sprinkler head near the putting green if it interferes with my line of play?

You may take relief from a sprinkler head only if it interferes with your stroke or stance. According to Rule 24-2a: "Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, or when the obstruction interferes with the player's stance or the area of her intended swing...Otherwise, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, interference under this Rule." So just because you're putting from the fringe and the sprinkler head is on your line, you don't get a free drop. The possibility of your ball ricocheting off a sprinkler head does not mean you can take relief either. Suck it up, grab the wedge and chip over it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lifting a ball to identify

Question: Can a player lift her ball anywhere on the course to identify it?

Answer: There is a one-stroke penalty for moving a ball at rest without announcing and marking it, no matter where on the hole it is. Rule 18-2b states: "If the player, [her] partner or either of their caddies lifts or moves [the ball], touches it purposely (except with a club in the act of addressing it) or causes it to move except as permissed by a Rule; or equipment of the player or [her] partner causes the ball to move, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke." That goes for the fairway, the rough and the putting green. Telling your playing partners, "Let me just check to see if this one is mine," won't let you dodge a penalty. Stick a tee in the ground next to the ball, life the ball and identify it as yours, then place it back in its original position.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Additional clubs allowed in bunker?

Is placing or dropping my clubs in a bunker prior to making my stroke from the hazard against the rules?

You can place your entire bag in the bunker if you want, as long as you do not ground your club, test the conditions of the hazard or improve your lie (Rule 13-4, exception 1). Testing the conditions would consist of using a club to determine the texture, dampness or weight of the sand. In other words, you can't improve your chances of getting the ball out of the bunker. For you clumsy types, the exception also states: "...there is no penalty if the player (a) touches the ground in any a result of or to prevent falling, in removing an obstruction, in measuring or in retrieving, lifting, placing or replacing a ball under any Rule or (b) places [her] clubs in a hazard."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Someone moved my marker on the green..

I hit my ball out of a bunker, marked it and then went back to rake the sand. After I'd returned to the green, replaced my ball and holed my putt, my playing partner informed me she had moved my marker, which had been in her line. I hadn't move it back because I didn't know it had been moved. Is there a penalty?

Because you did not know that your ball marker had been moved, you should not have incurred a penalty (see Rule 18-1 and Decision 18-1/3). Had you known the marker had been moved and forgot to move it back, you would have been penalized two strokes.