Rule of the Month: Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful
By OGA Senior Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
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Does the game of golf really need more challenges? Those golfers brave (or foolish) enough to be playing in poor weather conditions face the additional challenges of a wet and windy course and added clothing that makes swinging a club difficult. On the bright side, it is very easy to get a tee time when the weather conditions are not perfect.
The Rules of Golf provide some relief when dealing with certain course conditions. But generally, more generous relief is granted when a Committee enacts additional Local Rules to offset the disadvantages of playing under poor conditions. This month we focus on the Rules and Local Rules that come into play when dealing with winter conditions.
- In a competition where the Local Rule for “Cleaning Ball” is allowed, a player may lift his or her ball, clean it and place it within six inches of the original lie.
- If the Local Rule for “Preferred Lies” is in effect, a player may lift, clean and place the ball in a preferred lie usually within a certain distance (for instance, six inches). This may be done anywhere on the course except when the ball is in a hazard.
- After a rain shower, a tree branch near a player’s ball interferes with the intended swing. The branch may be shaken to remove the water.
- When lifting an embedded ball, it may be cleaned prior to dropping the ball.
- In stroke play, players in a group may agree among themselves to discontinue play due to heavy rain.
- If a player believes there is danger from lightning, he or she may discontinue play without fear of being disqualified.
- A player may have a caddie or another player hold an umbrella over his or her head while making a putt.
- The player’s ball lies on the fringe of the putting green and casual water on the putting green interferes with his or her line of play. Free relief is provided because the casual water is on the putting green.
- The official score card issued at the beginning of the round has become wet and illegible. A different card with the hole scores and attestation signatures was returned at the end of the round. The new card is acceptable for scoring purposes.
- Scores made using either the “Preferred Lies” or “Cleaning Ball” Local Rules are not acceptable scores for handicap posting.
- False. This Local Rule is often confused with the Preferred Lies Rule. Under “Cleaning Ball” the ball may be lifted and cleaned but it must be replaced on the original spot. The location of the ball must be marked prior to lifting it. This Local Rule is advantageous as it allows the player to take this action everywhere on the course except when the ball is in a hazard. See Appendix I Part A.
- False. The “Preferred Lies” Local Rule listed in the Appendix is very precise as to where this action may be performed. It is true that the ball must not be in a hazard but it must also lie on closely mown (fairway height or less) grass. If the ball lies anywhere other than a closely mown area, it must not be lifted under this Local Rule.
- False. Rule 13-2 prohibits the removal of water if it might improve the area of the intended swing. By removing water from the branch, the player has improved the area of his or her swing by eliminating a possible distraction.
- True. The player is not permitted to substitute a ball under Rule 25-2 for an embedded ball but may clean the original ball before dropping it.
- False. Rule 6-8a states that bad weather is not of itself a good reason for discontinuing play without the Committee’s permission. In this circumstance, any player discontinuing play is subject to disqualification.
- True. This is one of the rare occasions in the Rules when a player may discontinue play without the specific permission from the Committee. If a player chooses to discontinue play under this Rule, he or she must report to the Committee as soon as possible or be subject to disqualification. See Rule 6-8.
- False. Under Rule 14-2, a player must not make a stroke from anywhere while accepting protection from the elements by anyone. However, a player may hold the umbrella over his or her own head when making the stroke.
- False. Free relief under Rule 25 for interference from the line of play is only provided when the ball and the casual water both lie on the putting green. In this situation, the player is prohibited from removing the water and must play the ball as it lies unless the water also interferes with the area of intended stance or swing.
- True. Decision 6-6a/7 gives the Committee permission to accept a different card other than the official card issued. The same principle applies if the official card is lost.
- False. Provided the course is located in an area observing an active posting season, the scores must be posted. While this is not one of the thirty-four Rules of Golf, it is an often asked question. See the Handicap System Manual Section 7-1 for further clarification.