Rule of the Month: Time, Talk and Togetherness

By Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly

Time, Talk and Togetherness

That sounds dangerously like relationship therapy. Rest easy. The OGA has no plans to venture into that realm. However, there is no better way to strengthen a relationship than to enjoy 4-5 hours on a beautiful golf course with your favorite friends, provided you are playing stroke play. If match play is the chosen format, watch out and tread lightly. You may need relationship therapy once your best friend cancels your perfect drive because you played from just outside the teeing ground.

Rule of the Month

Getting back to the Rules of Golf, this month’s article will tackle the topics of time on the course, any announcements that must be made by the golfer and who must play together in the same group.

Test your knowledge of time, talk and togetherness with the following questions.

Questions: True / False

  1. A player has three minutes from the time he or she arrives in the area where their ball is believed to be to find his or her ball.
  2. In stroke play, a player must remain in the group set by the Committee unless the Committee approves a change either before or after it happens.
  3. After a stroke, the ball comes to rest overhanging the lip of the hole. The player is allowed a reasonable time to reach the hole and ten more seconds to see if the ball will fall into the hole.
  4. Players in a match are unable to agree on a mutual time to play. Provided they have a marker to record their scores, they may play the course separately and compare scorecards to determine the winner of the match.
  5. Before playing a provisional ball, the player must announce by using the word “provisional” or making it clear that he or she is playing the ball provisionally under Rule 18.3.
  6. After finishing a stroke play round, the player must return his or her scorecard to the Committee within 30 minutes and before the following group does so.
  7. Continuing to search for a ball after the three minutes allowed for the search have expired could get the player a penalty for unreasonably delaying play.
  8. In stroke play, a player who is uncertain about how to proceed may complete the hole with two balls. The player should announce to his or her marker or another player which ball he or she would like to count if the Rules permit.
  9. In stroke play, when completing a hole with two balls, such as when correcting a serious error of playing from a wrong place, or when uncertain as to the proper procedure, the player must report the facts of the situation to the Committee before returning his or her scorecard unless the score with both balls is the same.
  10. After the third hole, a player used an adjustable feature on his or her driver to change the degree of loft. Before making a stroke with any club, the player must restore the driver to as near as possible to its original loft position. Failure to do so results in disqualification.


  1. False. Rule 18.2. It is true that the player has three minutes to search for their ball, but the timer doesn’t start until the search begins. If the search is delayed, such as to allow another group to play through, even though the player is in the area where the ball is believed to be, the clock starts when the search starts.
  2. True. Rule 5.4b. If a player changes groups and the Committee considers the reason appropriate, there is no penalty. Otherwise, the player is disqualified.
  3. True. Rule 13.3a. If the ball falls into the hole during this time, the player has holed out with the previous stroke. If the ball falls into the hole after this time frame, the player has holed out with the previous stroke but must add one penalty stroke to his or her score for the hole.
  4. False. Rule 5.4a. There is no gray area in this Rule. The player and opponent must play each hole in the same group. The penalty for failing to do so is disqualification.
  5. True. Rule 18.3b. As the Rule states, “It is not enough for the player to say that he or she is playing another ball or is playing again.” Failure to make it known that the ball is a provisional ball puts the second ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance.
  6. False. Rule 3.3b. There is no time frame for returning a scorecard, but the Rule requires it to be returned promptly. To satisfy this broad time requirement, a player should proceed directly to the scoring area after completing the round. Failure to promptly return the scorecard will result in disqualification.
  7. True. Rule 5.6a and Interpretation 5.6a/1. A player has three minutes to search for a ball. But there are circumstances when he or she may continue to search, such as when waiting for the group in front to finish on the green. If the continued search either delays other players or the competition, the player gets one penalty stroke for the first breach and the general penalty for the second breach. A third breach will result in the disqualification of the player.
  8. True. Rule 20.1c(3). If the player does not announce which ball is to count, the Rule will decide for them. This could be detrimental to the player’s score if the Rule determines the ball with the higher score is the player’s score for the hole.
  9. False. Rules 14.7a(2) and 20.1c(3). Failure to report the facts of the situation to the Committee will get the player disqualified. This is true even if the player’s score for both balls is the same. A good rule of thumb is to report to the Committee any unusual occurrences that have happened during the round.
  10. False. Rule 4.1a(3). It is true that the player is not allowed to adjust a club in this way during a round and then use the club. And it is also true that the penalty for doing so is disqualification. However, the player must restore the club to its original condition before a stroke is made with the club. Note: There is no penalty for only carrying the adjusted club.