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Rules of Golf

The USGA and The R&A have issued a new Decision on the Rules of Golf to limit the use of video evidence in the game, effective immediately. The two organizations have also established a working group of LPGA, PGA Tour, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America representatives to immediately begin a comprehensive review of broader video issues, including viewer call-ins, which arise in televised competitions. New Decision 34-3/10 implements two standards for Rules committees to limit the use of video: 1) when video reveals evidence that could not reasonably be seen with the “naked eye,” and 2) when players use their “reasonable judgment” to determine a specific location when applying the Rules. The first standard states, “the use of video technology can make it possible to identify things that could not be seen with the naked eye.” An example includes a player who unknowingly touches a few grains of sand in taking a backswing with a club in a bunker when making a stroke. If the committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of the potential breach, the player will be deemed not to have breached the Rules, even when video technology shows otherwise. This is an extension of the provision on ball-at-rest-moved cases, which was introduced in 2014. The second standard applies when a player determines a spot, point, position, line, area, distance or other location in applying the Rules, and recognizes that a player should not be held to the degree of precision that can sometimes be provided by video technology. Examples include determining the nearest point of relief or replacing a lifted ball. So long as the player does what can reasonably be expected under the circumstances to make an accurate determination, the player’s reasonable judgment will be accepted, even if later shown to be inaccurate by the use of video evidence. Both of these standards have been extensively discussed as part of the Rules modernization initiative. The USGA and The R&A have decided to enact this Decision immediately because of the many difficult issues arising from video review in televised golf. The standards in the Decision do not change any of the current requirements in the Rules, as the player must still act with care, report all known breaches of the Rules and try to do what is reasonably expected in making an accurate determination when applying the Rules. Video-related topics that require a deeper evaluation by the working group include the use of information from sources other than participants such as phone calls, email or social media, and the application of penalties after a score card has been returned. USGA Executive Director/CEO Mike Davis said, “This important first step provides officials with tools that can have a direct and positive impact on the game. We recognize there is more work to be done. Advancements in video technology are enhancing the viewing experience for fans, but can also significantly affect the competition. We need to balance those advances with what is fair for all players when applying the Rules.” Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We have been considering the impact of video review on the game and feel it is important to introduce a Decision to give greater clarity in this area. Golf has always been a game of integrity and we want to ensure that the emphasis remains as much as possible on the reasonable judgment of the player rather than on what video technology can show.” The USGA and The R&A will consider additional modifications recommended by the working group for implementation in advance of Jan. 1, 2019, when the new code resulting from the collaborative work to modernize golf’s Rules takes effect.

Bunkers Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints made by them and any nearby made by others. If a rake is within reasonable proximity of the bunker, the rake should be used for this purpose. Repair of Divots, Ball-Marks and Damage by Shoes Players should carefully repair any divot holes made by them and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball (whether or not made by the player himself). On completion of the hole by all players in the group, damage to the putting green caused by golf shoes should be repaired. Preventing Unnecessary Damage Players should avoid causing damage to the course by removing divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason. Players should ensure that no damage is done to the putting green when putting down bags or the flagstick. In order to avoid damaging the hole, players and caddies should not stand too close to the hole and should take care during the handling of the flagstick and the removal of a ball from the hole. The head of a club should not be used to remove a ball from the hole. Players should not lean on their clubs when on the putting green, particularly when removing the ball from the hole. The flagstick should be properly replaced in the hole before the players leave the putting green. Local notices regulating the movement of golf carts should be strictly observed.

Check the Local Rules on the score card to identify the boundaries of the course. These are normally defined by fences, walls, white stakes or white lines. If your ball is lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds you must play another ball from the spot where the last shot was played, under penalty of one stroke, i.e. stroke and distance. You are allowed 5 minutes to search for a ball. If it is not found within 5 minutes, it is lost. If, after playing a shot, you think your ball may be lost outside a water hazard or out of bounds you should play a provisional ball. You must announce that it is a provisional ball and play it before you go forward to search for the original ball. If the original ball is lost (other than in a water hazard) or out of bounds, you must continue with the provisional ball, under penalty of one stroke. If the original ball is found in bounds within 5 minutes, you must continue play of the hole with it, and must stop playing the provisional ball.

The following are the main points of this New Local Rule R&A has advised that it must be put in to effect immediately:- It only applies on the putting green being played and nowhere else on the course. It only applies to a ball that is accidentally moved, not when a ball is purposely touched/moved, e.g. struck in anger, or lifted without having being marked. It applies to a ball in play, or a ball-marker used to mark a ball. It does not matter how the ball or ball-marker was accidentally moved, e.g. while making a practice putt, kicked, or because equipment was dropped on it. It applies to a player, their partner, their opponent(s), any of their caddies or equipment. The ball or ball-marker that was accidentally moved must be replaced. If the ball was moved as a result of wind, water or some other natural cause (including gravity), the ball must be played as it lies from its new location without penalty.

In stroke play, a player who is acting as a marker should, if necessary, on the way to the next tee, check the score with the player concerned and record it.

Players should always show consideration for other players on the course and should not disturb their play by moving, talking or making unnecessary noise. Players should ensure that any electronic device taken onto the course does not distract other players. On the teeing ground, a player should not tee his ball until it is his turn to play. Players should not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.

A player may play a stroke with any part of the club head, provided the ball is fairly struck at (Rule 14-1) and the club conforms to Rule 4-1.

You are. As long as the rake is not used to test the condition of the sand prior to playing your shot, there's nothing wrong with placing the rake in the bunker. Likewise, the rules do not prohibit placing other clubs in the bunker, as long as they are not used to test the sand conditions. The same applies to water hazards. Of course, the rake or clubs must not have any effect on your ball or the lie.

Players should ensure that no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like when they make a stroke or practice swing. Players should not play until the players in front are out of range. Players should always alert greenstaff nearby or ahead when they are about to make a stroke that might endanger them. If a player plays a ball in a direction where there is a danger of hitting someone, he should immediately shout a warning. The traditional word of warning in such situations is “fore.”

Golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.

The Rule is amended to establish more clearly that, if a player intentionally takes an action to influence the movement of a ball or to alter physical conditions affecting the playing of a hole in a way that is not permitted by the Rules, it applies only when the action is not already covered in another Rule.

A player may concede a match at any time prior to the start or conclusion of that match. A player may concede a hole at any time prior to the start or conclusion of that hole. A player may concede his opponent’s next stroke at any time, provided the opponent’s ball is at rest. The opponent is considered to have holed out with his next stroke, and the ball may be removed by either side. A concession may not be declined or withdrawn.

A match is won when one side leads by a number of holes greater than the number remaining to be played. If there is a tie, the Committee may extend the stipulated round by as many holes as are required for a match to be won.

A hole is halved if each side holes out in the same number of strokes. When a player has holed out and his opponent has been left with a stroke for the half, if the player subsequently incurs a penalty, the hole is halved.

There are three options for continuing play when your ball gets stuck in a tree: play the ball as it lies; declare the ball unplayable; or take a lost ball. Play It as It Lies What this means, of course, is that you're willing to climb up into the tree and take a swing at the ball. And if you did, you wouldn't be the first. Nick Faldo famously played a ball from a tree once. But the odds of coming up with a decent shot in such a scenario are mighty slim. The odds of further messing up the hole are much greater Unplayable You can declare the ball unplayable under Rule 28, take a one-stroke penalty and, most likely, drop within two club-lengths of the ball (there are other options for continuing under the unplayable rule, but this is the most likely to be used in this scenario). The spot from which you measure the two club-lengths is that spot on the ground directly under where the ball rests in the tree. But in order to use the unplayable option, you must be able to identify your ball. You can't just assume that it's up there somewhere, and you can't just assume that a ball you see in the tree is yours. You must positively identify it as yours. Lost Ball Of course, you may not be able to find a ball that has lodged in a tree, even if you know it's there. The only option then is to declare a lost ball and proceed under Rule 27 (Ball Lost or Out of Bounds). The lost ball penalty is stroke-and-distance; that means assessing a one-stroke penalty and returning to the spot of the previous stroke, where you must replay the shot. Even if you see a ball up in the tree, you'll have to take a lost ball penalty unless you can positively identify it as yours

You may repair ball marks and old hole plugs on the line of your putt but not any other damage, including spike marks. You may mark, lift and clean your ball on the putting green. Always replace it on the exact spot. Don't test the putting surface by scraping it or rolling a ball over it. Ball played from putting green strikes flagstick - in match play you lose the hole; in stroke play you incur a two-stroke penalty.

If your ball is at rest and it is moved by you, your partner or your caddie, except as permitted by the Rules, or if it moves after you have addressed it, add a penalty stroke and replace your ball. If your ball is at rest and is moved by someone else or another ball, replace it without penalty to you. Don't look for original ball If you hit a great shot with a provisional ball, and/or you think your first ball might be in a truly awful place, you don't have to look for the original. The choice is completely up to you. Once you play the provisional from the area the original ball is likely to be (or nearer the hole), it becomes your ball in play, incurring a stroke-and-distance penalty. If somebody finds your original before your provisional ball becomes in play, however, you have to play the original. Place ball after two drops If, when you drop a ball, it rolls away twice to where a re-drop would be required, you get to place the ball on the spot where it hit the ground on the second drop. If you're proceeding under a Rule which gives you an area to drop into, and you think you will end up placing the ball after two drops, you should scout for an area of nice turf before dropping. Rough to fairway In taking relief from an abnormal ground condition, such as casual water, the nearest point of relief is determined without regard for fairway or rough. So, if your ball is in the rough, you might be able to move it to the fairway (the one club length from the nearest point might help you). But this is a double-edged sword -- if your ball is in the fairway, the nearest point of relief might be in the rough, or even under a bush. There is only one "nearest point"; you can't go looking for the best option. So think before acting on this particular rule. Out from Under a Tree If your ball is under a tree, but also in a situation that allows free relief, you can take relief if you are physically able to swing at the ball. If your drop puts you in a position where you are able to play at the green instead of chipping out sideways, that's fine. Play from the Previous Spot If you somehow mess up an easy chip shot or hit a putt into a water hazard or an unplayable position, remember that one of your options is to return to the spot of your previous stroke, under penalty of one stroke. It could leave you in a better position.