hit more fairways. make more putts. avoid the hazards. play by the rules.
Top 10 Golf Rules Myths

Posted on Saturday 28 February 2009

From David Staebler at the USGA:

10. The Rules permit the use of rangefinders (distance measuring devices) during play.

9. You must inform your opponent in match play or fellow competitor in stroke play before you start a new hole with a different ball.

8. Whatever brand and type of ball you use to begin your round, you must use that same brand and type of ball for the entire round.

7. You cannot play a provisional ball if your ball might be lost in a water hazard, even if it might be lost somewhere outside a water hazard.

6. It is against the Rules to have the flagstick attended for a stroke played from off the putting green.

5. After your next stroke in match play has been conceded, if you putt and miss instead of picking it up the concession is nullified.

4. If you declare your ball lost it is lost even if someone finds it within 5 minutes.

3. If you run out of golf balls (or are about to run out) during a round you may not borrow or buy more balls from another player.

2. When a ball is replaced on the putting green it isn’t back in play until the ball marker is removed.

1. If a person other than the player marks and lifts a player’s ball on the putting green the person who lifted it must replace it. The player is penalized if anyone else replaces the ball.

Reasons etc. in the extended entry…

10. The Rules permit the use of rangefinders (distance measuring devices) during play.

The Rules permit the Committee in charge of a course or competition to adopt a local rule permitting the use of such devices, with restrictions, but Rule 14-3 specifically bars their use unless the Committee has acted. The penalty is disqualification.

9. You must inform your opponent in match play or fellow competitor in stroke play before you start a new hole with a different ball.

Nonsense. It might not be a bad idea to inform the other players in case there’s any question about whether a given ball is yours or not, but there’s no rule that say you have to do so.

8. Whatever brand and type of ball you use to begin your round, you must use that same brand and type of ball for the entire round.

We watch too much golf on TV and think we therefore understand the Rules. The only time this myth is a fact is when the ‘one ball rule’ is in effect. That is generally only a condition during PGA Tour and other events for highly skilled golfers. It is almost never in effect for regular play.

7. You cannot play a provisional ball if your ball might be lost in a water hazard, even if it might be lost somewhere outside a water hazard.

You may always play a provisional ball if you think your original ball is lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds. Let’s say you play a provisional because think your original ball is lost or may be in a water hazard and subsequently find your ball in the hazard. You must proceed under Rule 26 (Water Hazards) and abandon your provisional.

6. It is against the Rules to have the flagstick attended for a stroke played from off the putting green.

Rule 17-1 says you may have the flagstick attended, removed or held up prior to making a stroke from anywhere on the course. The ball better not hit the flagstick or the attendant, though, or it’ll cost you either loss of hole or two strokes.

5. After your next stroke in match play has been conceded, if you putt and miss instead of picking it up the concession is nullified.

Concessions, whether of stroke, hole or match, are permanent and non-retractable unless made based on information erroneously and purposely either given or withheld. Your play on the hole is over when your next stroke has been conceded, so anything you do after that point has no bearing on the outcome of the hole (assuming you don’t violate any Rules, like deflecting your opponent’s putt.)

4. If you declare your ball lost it is lost even if someone finds it within 5 minutes.

A ball isn’t lost until one of 5 conditions in the definition of lost ball kicks in. Simply declaring the ball lost isn’t one of them.

3. If you run out of golf balls (or are about to run out) during a round you may not borrow or buy more balls from another player.

The source of one’s equipment etc. is not a concern of the rule making bodies. What you can’t do is unduly delay play because you’ve got to run back to the pro shop for another 15 pack of Top Flites. However, if the one ball condition is in effect you might have trouble finding an acceptable ball unless you play a common brand and model.

2. When a ball is replaced on the putting green it isn’t back in play until the ball marker is removed.

Nope, the ball is back in play as soon as it’s replaced. We’ve all seen the tour pros leave the marker in place then fiddle with the orientation of the ball, but that’s acceptable procedure. However, if the ball is blown away from the marker after having been replaced it must be played from its new position. The presence of the marker means nothing once the ball has been replaced.

1. If a person other than the player marks and lifts a player’s ball on the putting green the person who lifted it must replace it. The player is penalized if anyone else replaces the ball.

Under Rule 20-3 the player, his partner or the person who lifted or moved it must replace it. If any person other than those three replaces the ball the player must correct the error or he will be penalized.


22 Comments for 'Top 10 Golf Rules Myths'

  1.  
    March 30, 2009 | 4:31 am
     

    [...] We watch too much golf on TV and think we therefore understand the Rules . The only time this myth is a fact is when the ‘one ball rule’ is in effect. That is generally only a condition during PGA Tour and other events for highly skilled .. Read more: jack barse » Top 10 Golf Rules Myths [...]

  2.  
    Henry L
    May 11, 2009 | 8:26 pm
     

    Have a question for you on the rule to replace a ball.
    Can the player replace a new ball after it’s been marked on the green? Does it have to be the same ball in the continuing tee box on next hole?

    Me & my golf buddy always fight over this, need to get a official ruling on this.

  3.  
    May 11, 2009 | 9:53 pm
     

    Can the player replace a new ball after it’s been marked on the green? Does it have to be the same ball in the continuing tee box on next hole?

    During the play of a hole, Rule 15-2 says that the player may only substitute a ball if he’s proceeding under a Rule which permits him to play, drop or place a ball. In general, then, you can’t substitute a ball on the green unless the ball is unfit for play.

    Rule 5-3 says that you can substitute a ball for a ball that’s become unfit for play as defined in that rule. So if the ball is cracked, out of round or cut it may be taken out of play and a different ball substituted. (Scrapes alone however, such as from hitting a cart path, don’t make a ball unfit for play.) There’s a procedure in 5-3 that tells you how to go about informing your opponent or fellow competitor before you make the substitution.

    There is no restriction on substituting a ball between play of holes, so putting a different ball in play on the next tee is perfectly fine. Check your local rules or conditions of the competition to make sure that the mis-named ‘one ball rule’ isn’t in effect, though. That might limit you to only using one brand and model ball during a given round. It’s rare to have that rule in effect for casual rounds.

  4.  
    Mike
    October 18, 2009 | 9:34 am
     

    I think your statement & conclusion on #7 (provisional ball) is misleading.
    As you can always hit a provisional ball if you think it is lost or out-of-bounds, that option does not exist if you think it is simply in a water hazard.
    It should be a matter of fact whether the original ball was traveling toward a water hazard or not… if you go to the spot where it last crossed the hazard line & find it, then it is in play or you can proceed under rule 26. If you hit a provisional ball, then you’ve decided it might be lost and rule 26 does not apply.
    The provisional ball defined the penalty (stroke & distance) if you do not find the ball. You do not have the luxury of looking for the ball and, not finding it, declare that it is in the water hazard… you’ve already decided it is lost by virtue of the provisional.

  5.  
    October 19, 2009 | 7:08 am
     

    Mike, if you’re not sure whether your ball is in a water hazard or may be lost outside the hazard you are entitled to play a provisional. See the Note to Rule 27-2a and Decisions 27-2a/2, 27-2a/2.2 and 27-2a/2.5.

    I agree with you that a player may not proceed under 26 simply because he can’t find his ball outside a hazard. He must know or be virtually certain the ball is in the hazard. See Decision 26-1/1.

    However, one has not ‘decided’ that one’s ball is lost merely by playing a provisional. A provisional is simply a time saver in case one’s ball is lost or OB.

  6.  
    Mike
    October 20, 2009 | 3:22 am
     

    I agree in principle to what you’re saying… my point is you can not play a provisional if you think the ball is in a water hazard… a provisional is only allowed if you think it is lost outside of a water hazard or out-of-bounds.
    As you stated above, ” He must know or be virtually certain the ball is in the hazard.”
    I just researched this and unless I’m mistaken, Greg Norman ended up disqualifing himself when he decided not to take a 2 stroke penalty for exactly this situation at the Honda Classic in 2004.
    I have run into this situation myself at my club where a hidden water hazard lies behind an area of thick grass and trees well right of the landing area of a par 4.
    It is difficult to determine if your slice carried far enough to reach the water hazard or if it is lost in the weeds… it makes a huge difference in the ruling.

  7.  
    Mike
    October 20, 2009 | 4:51 am
     

    I just finished checking the USGA website and the decisions you cited regarding rule 27.
    I direct your attention to decision #27-2/1.

  8.  
    Mike
    October 20, 2009 | 7:09 am
     

    Jack… I think we’ve beat this horse to death. I am hoping you can help me with a different ruling that I was searching for when I stumbled onto this web page.
    Many years ago I watched a tournament on TV and remember a PGA player hit his drive & it came to rest on a concrete cart path. The player opted not to take his free drop and hit an amazing shot to the green while standing on the cart path… which I guess was permitted under the rules.
    That same year in another tournament, another player hit his drive & it came to rest very near a concrete cart path, but not on it.
    The player opted not to take relief from the cart path and chose to stand on the cart path and play the ball.
    The next day it was announced that the player was disqualified for signing a wrong score card due to a penalty that was not assessed as a result of the shot taken while standing on the path.
    I may be remembering this incident wrong or there may have been a different infraction… but if I am right, do you know what the ruling or infraction was??
    All I can find about cart paths is that you can take free relief… it doesn’t seem to be mandatory.

  9.  
    October 20, 2009 | 8:13 am
     

    WRT Norman at the Honda in 2004, I believe that he hit a second ball from the tee thinking that his first ball was in a lateral hazard. If he had ‘reasonable evidence’ (the operative phrase in 2004) that his ball was in the hazard then playing another ball from the tee is an acceptable method of relief.

    However, he apparently had no ‘reasonable evidence’; therefore his second ball became the ball in play regardless of whether he called it a ‘provisional’ or not. When he went forward he found his original ball in a bunker and played it. Since it was not the ball in play it was a wrong ball. According to the reports I read he was given a chance to correct his error before he played from the next tee but he declined and was subsequently disqualified.

  10.  
    October 20, 2009 | 1:14 pm
     

    Regarding the cart path incidents: as you noted such paths are obstructions and a player may take relief if he or she wants but that relief is not mandatory. However, if the player elects to take relief he must take complete relief. So if a player elected to take relief and the ball, when dropped, rolled into a position where there was still interference from the path then the player would be obligated under Rule 20-2c(v) to redrop the ball. If he did not redrop it he’d be liable for a 2 stroke penalty. If the facts of the situation only came to the officials’ attention after the player had returned his card then he’d be subject to DQ.

  11.  
    Mike
    October 21, 2009 | 1:49 am
     

    OK… I guess the case I am remembering was like you said… he didn’t take complete relief.
    Thanx.

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