Royleen discussed Unplayable lies in Blog #10.  Due to all the confusion about Jordan’s use of three rules  in the Open-here is a review.  (Content from USGA)

spieth-rules-open1. Spieth Takes an Unplayable lie after evaluating the situation and realizing that attempting to play his ball as it lay was not the best choice, Spieth decided to deem his ball unplayable. For a penalty of one stroke, there were three options available to him under Rule 28 .

Spieth decided to choose the back-on-a-line option (28b).  See Rule below.

Under Rule 28b there is no limit to how far back on the line a player may go, provided the location the original ball had come to rest remains between the hole and the spot where the player is going to drop the ball. In Spieth’s case, this option took him back to the practice range, which was not defined as out of bounds.

2. Temporary Immovable Obstruction (TIO) InterferenceOnce Spieth went back on the line, keeping the original location of his golf ball in line with the hole, he found himself in the middle of some equipment trucks, which were defined as Temporary Immovable Obstructions (TIOs).  Since the TIOs intervened directly between Spieth’s ball and the hole, and were on his intended line, they interfered with Spieth’s next stroke, and he was entitled to relief without additional penalty. Under the watchful eye of a referee, Spieth dropped a ball in the area where he was clear of interference from the TIOs.

3.  Pace of Play:  The 13th hole at Royal Birkdale took the final pairing longer to complete than expected, and as a result, Spieth and fellow-competitor Matt Kuchar fell more than a hole behind the preceding group. However, it is important to recognize that players cannot be held responsible for delays that are out of their control. Simple rulings take time, and very involved rulings like this one take even more time, especially when so many spectators are present.  In order to protect all of the players in the field, the referees used many available resources, including an overhead image of the situation, to ensure that Rule 28b, and the ruling as a whole, was properly executed.

After the ruling was complete, Spieth and his caddie, Michael Greller, made an educated guess of the yardage to the green, and once spectators were out of the way, Spieth swiftly made his stroke, with his ball coming to rest short of a greenside bunker. He would then get up and down from there for an excellent bogey, setting the stage for his historic finish.

RULE 28 – Unplayable Lie

The player may deem his ball unplayable at any place on the course, except when the ball is in a water hazard (yellow lines or stakes).  A player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is unplayable.

If the player deems his ball to be unplayable, he must, under penalty of one stroke:

a.  Proceed under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 27-1 by playing a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5); [Perhaps a good option if a player does not wish to play out of the sand or the ball is under the lip of the bunker and they are confident the repeat shot will not end up back into the bunker], or

Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind that point the ball may be dropped;
[This is tricky because you must draw a straight line from the hole to where the ball is located and drop anywhere behind that point, keeping the point between you and the hole on that straight imaginary line.  If relief is not good on that imaginary line going backwards, you might try option a or c], or

Drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole.

If the unplayable ball is in a bunker, the player may proceed under Clause a, b or c. If he elects to proceed under Clause b or c, a ball must be dropped in the bunker.   When proceeding under this Rule, the player may lift and clean his ball or substitute a ball.

Penalty for Breach of Rule:

Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.




Blog # 20 – Flagstick Rule 17

It will not be long before golf returns to Ely so let us begin reviewing those rules!

Blog #20  Rule 17 and Etiquette Regarding the Flagstick and Ball Marks
It is important to understand the rules and etiquette regarding the flagstick.  You will use this information every time you play golf.

If you are putting on the green, you must remove or tend the flagstick.  If you putt from the green and hit the flagstick, it is a two-stroke penalty in stroke play and loss of hole in match play.  Even if the flagstick is lying down on the green, and your ball strikes it, the player striking the ball is charged with a two stroke penalty.  There is no penalty when playing the ball from off the green.  You often see the pros playing from off the green and they leave the flagstick in the cup.  This occurs especially if the trajectory of the ball is downhill-hoping to slow or stop the ball running down the slope.

If you have a long putt and have difficulty seeing the hole, you may ask to have the flag attended.

Stroke Play:  If a putt is made from the putting green and it strikes the flag stick, the putt is cancelled and the ball must be replaced and replayed-plus the two stroke penalty.  Match Play:  Loss of hole.

If asked to attend the flagstick, you should approach the flagstick, taking care to avoid stepping on the putting line of all putts.  Stand arm’s length from the flagstick, holding the flag against the stick if it is windy.  Stand still and quietly as to not distract the player putting.  After the golfer makes contact with ball and it to begins rolling toward the cup, pull the flagstick straight up from the cup.  If you make the mistake of pulling the flag to the side, it might become stuck in the cup and the ball may strike the flagstick.  This may also result in pulling up the cup liner and the ball might strike the cup liner.

Cup Liner:  Striking a cup liner is “No” penalty but review Rule 19-outside agency or Rules and Decision 17/8 when a putt strikes the cup liner.

After removing the flagstick, take care to walk to the edge of the green again avoiding the putting line of any of the players.  Carefully place the flagstick off the putting surface, in a place where it is least likely to be hit by a ball.  When the hole is completed, retrieve the flagstick and place it in the hole-taking care to avoid damaging the edge of the hole.  Make sure the flag is standing straight up and completely seated in the hole.  One other reminder; be careful that your shadow does not fall on the line of the player putting.

In order to keep the pace of play moving, it is a faster procedure for the player closest to the hole to mark her ball and then offer to tend the flag.  Once the flag is removed and placed off the edge of the green all players can finish putting. The player who holes out first should retrieve the flag whenever if does not interfere with play.  Stand quietly at the edge of the green and then replace the flag when all players have holed out.  If players would follow the above procedure you would be able to exit the green more quickly.  Always remember to mark the scorecards after you exit the green area.

Ball Marks and the correct way to fix them:
Repairing ball marks on the green is essential to the smooth putting of each green.  It is not only important to repair them but to repair them the correct way.  Each golfer should carry a divot tool.  It is not actually for repairing divots (off the green), but to repair ball marks on the green.  I guess it is too lengthy to call it a “ball mark repair tool.”

A ball mark or depression occurs when a ball drops to the green from above.  If left unrepaired or improperly repaired, the grass could die or a crater remains which can  influence the line of putts.  A Kansas State University study showed that an incorrectly repaired mark can take up to (2) two weeks longer to repair than a correctly repaired ball mark.

A ball mark repair tool has two prongs on the end of it.  Step 1 in to insert the tool at the edge of the depression, not in the actual depression.  The next step is to push the edge of the ball mark toward the center, using your repair tool in a gentle twisting motion.  Most golfers make the mistake of trying to pry up the crater.  DO NOT DO THIS.  Pushing the bottom of the depression upward only tears the roots and kills the grass.
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Blog #17 – Tee Up The Ball

Blog # 17 – How High Should You Tee The Ball – Resource:  “About Golf”

You’re a beginning golfer stepping up to the tee box. You have a tee in your hand and you press it into the ground. But how far down into the ground does it go? How high or low should the ball be teed?

The answer is, it depends on the type of club you are using. The longer the club – (driver being the longest, the wedges being the shortest) – then the higher the ball should be teed.

Studies have shown that the best height to tee the ball when using a driver is equal to the crown (or top) of the driver. In other words, the bottom of the golf ball, resting on the tee, should be level with the top of the driver.  Another philosophy is that ½ of the ball should be above the top of the driver.  Experiment with both to determine which works best for you.

As the club you are using gets shorter, you will lower the height of the ball. For a 3-wood, leave about one-half to one-third of the ball above the crown of the club. For other fairway woods and hybrids, leave about one-third to one-quarter of the ball above the crown (about a half-inch of a standard tee should be above ground).

If you’re teeing off with an iron, less of the tee will be above ground. For long to mid-irons (4-, 5-irons), it is recommended that about a quarter-inch of the tee remain above ground.

For the shorter mid-irons and short irons (6, 7, 8, 9-irons and PW), press the tee all the way into the ground so that only its head is above ground.

To recap:

  • Driver: Bottom to ½ of ball level with top of driver
  • 3-wood: About half to a third of ball above the top of club head
  • Other fairway woods and hybrids: About a half-inch of tee above ground
  • Long to mid-iron: About a quarter-inch of tee above ground
  • 6-iron and shorter: Only the head of tee above ground

Save a few of those broken tees for the short irons.

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Blog # 16 – Ball Moved-Deflected-Stopped

 Blog #16 – Rules 18-19 Ball Moved

These are not the two most used rules, but it is important to note the difference between match and stroke play in these rules.

Rule 18: Ball is Moved

  • If you or your partner touches or moves your ball on purpose or accidentally, add a penalty stroke to your score and replace the ball. If you don’t replace it, add two penalty strokes.

The operative word here is partner.  Not to be confused with opponent.  This might occur in a scramble when you have a partner.

  • If someone or something else moves your ball there is no penalty, but you must replace it.

This is usually referred to as outside agency causing a ball to move.  A dog, bird or other wildlife may move your ball.  It is also possible that a ball might be moved by someone in your group while looking for a lost ball in long grass.  No problem, just replace it.

  • If the ball is moved by wind or water, you must play it as it lies.

This is pretty clear and might occur when your ball is on the green.  It is important to note that the examples are NOT when you are addressing your ball ready to play your shot.  When addressing the ball you would be penalized as the movement would count as a stroke.

Rule 19: Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped

  • If your ball hits you, your partner, your caddie, or your equipment you are penalized one stroke and you must play your ball as it lies.

This might occur when your ball rolls across the green and strikes your bag lying in the fringe.  (I must admit that I have never seen this happen.) It can also happen when your ball might be legally deflected off a tree before striking you or your golf bag or cart.  Do not replay your shot, but play it as it lies with a one-stroke penalty.  No penalty for hitting an opponent, not a good place to aim though.

  • In match play, if your ball hits your opponent, his caddie, or his equipment, there is no penalty; you may play the ball as it lies or replay the shot.

This is one of the interesting differences between match play and stroke play.  In either case, no penalty for striking opponent or her equipment, but you have the option to replay the shot or play it as it lies in match play.  It is generally the responsibility of the opponent to avoid placement of self or equipment that might be of advantage to your opponent.  

  • In stroke play, if your ball hits a fellow competitor, caddie, his equipment or anything else there is no penalty and the ball is played as it lies.

As discussed before, no penalty for stroke play for striking opponent or equipment, but you must play it as it lies with no option to replay.

  • If your ball hits another ball and moves it, you must play your ball as it lies. The owner of the other ball must replace it. If your ball is on the green when you play and the ball that your ball hits is also on the green, you are penalized two strokes in stroke play. Otherwise, there is no penalty.

When both balls are off the green, one ball striking another results in no penalty.  The displaced ball should be replaced as close as possible to its original position.  This most often occurs when one player is approaching the green with another ball already on the green.  The important part of this rule to remember occurs when both balls are on the green.  In stroke play, if one ball strikes another, there is a two-stroke penalty and the displaced ball must be replaced.  In order to avoid your ball striking an opponent’s ball, you should ask your opponent to mark her ball if she has not already done so.

Remember in match play, there is no penalty for striking your opponents ball while on the green.  To avoid allowing your opponent to gain any advantage by striking your ball, you should always mark it.  This is a good habit to get into-whether match play or stroke play.  Be careful while marking your ball that you do not walk on or stand on opponent’s putting line.

Blog #15 Obstructions-Abnormal Ground Conditions

Blog # 15 – Rules 24 & 25

Rule 24: Obstructions

Seems easy enough to distinguish between moveable or immoveable.  In a tournament the early 2000’s, Tiger was playing in Arizona.  His ball landed near a very large boulder.  He elicited the help of about 7-8 men who picked up the bolder and moved it a short distance.  This prevented Tiger from having to take an unplayable lie.  To this day I do not believe the USGA has clarified the rules to disallow this.  Be sure to have your friends along.

  • Movable obstructions anywhere on the course may be removed. If the ball moves when moving an obstruction, there’s no penalty and the ball must be replaced.

Remember no penalty if your ball moves, but it must be replaced.  A sand rake is a good example of a moveable obstruction.  Remove the rake and drop your ball as close to the original position as possible.  No penalty.

  • You may drop your ball away from an immovable obstruction if it interferes with your swing or stance. Find the nearest point not nearer the hole where the ball could be played without interference with your swing or stance. Drop the ball within one club-length of that point. Note: It is good practice not to pick up the ball until you have established the nearest point of relief.

Immovable obstructions on the Ely course include cart paths and shelters.  Unfortunately, trees and bushes are not considered immovable obstructions.  You will most commonly encounter a cart path problem.  If you land on the cart path, or the cart path interferes with your stance, you may drop to the nearest side of the cart (must be the nearest side).  As in the case of #7, the nearest side of the cart path would be to the right of the cart path near the long grass.  It might be to your advantage to play the ball as it lies near or on the cart path.  Some golfers carry a “junk” club for this situation.  The drop must be within one club length of the edge of the cart path not nearer the hole.  You really have to go out of your way for one of our shelters to interfere with your swing or stance.  You are entitled to one club length from the obstruction.  If the obstruction lies on your line to the hole, that is too bad and you might have to aim away from the hole.  Players are only entitled to relief for stance and swing.

Rule 25: Casual Water; Ground Under Repair; Animal Holes

  • Casual water is any temporary water caused by rain or over-watering. Ground under repair is any damaged area, which the Committee has marked as such.

Casual water can occur anywhere, but most often occurs on #5 on our course.  It is not always marked, but you and your foursome can easily decide.  Avoid driving on or playing from these areas.  Our local ground rule is if everyone in the group decides an unmarked area should be ground under repair-then play it as such.

  • If your ball or your stance is in casual water, ground under repair or a burrowing animal hole, you may either play the ball as it lies or find the nearest place not nearer the hole which gives you relief, and drop the ball within one club-length of that place.

Hard to imagine an advantage to playing from casual water or ground under repair unless your line of flight is severely affected.  This is played the same as immovable obstruction.

  • If your ball is in casual water, etc., and you cannot find it, determine where the ball entered the area and drop a ball within one club-length of that place without penalty.

Not a common occurrence.

  • If your ball is on the wrong putting green, find the nearest place off the green, not nearer the hole, and drop the ball within one club-length of that place.

I can’t think of any place on our course where you might land on the wrong green, however this is a possibility on other courses.  This is a common sense rule as you would not want to damage a green.


Blog # 14 – Golf Rules 20 – 23

Blog #14 – Rules 20-21-22-23*
by Royleen Tipton

Rule 20: Lifting and Dropping the Ball

  • If you are going to lift your ball under a Rule and the Rule requires that the ball be replaced, you must put a ball-marker (or a tee) by the ball before you lift it.

If you are lifting your ball to identify it, you are required to replace it.  You must mark your ball to ensure it is replaced in exactly the same spot.

  • When you drop a ball, stand erect and hold your arm out straight when dropping it.

Once upon a time when I was a kid, you had to drop the ball by holding it over your shoulder, behind your back and dropping it.  Now you are allowed to hold it at shoulder length in front of you and drop.  This prevents contortions to see exactly where your ball will land.  Be sure to hold it at shoulder height.

  • If a dropped ball hits the ground and rolls into a hazard, out of a hazard, comes to rest more than two club-lengths from where it first struck a part of the course, nearer the hole or, if you are dropping away from an immovable obstruction or ground under repair, etc., back where the obstruction or ground under repair still interferes with your stance or swing, you must re-drop. If the same thing happens when you re-drop, you must place the ball where it struck the ground when it was re-dropped.

This is an important procedure to understand and follow.  Be sure you have clearly marked with tees the exact area where you are to drop your ball.  If dropping from within a hazard, the ball must be dropped so that it stays in the hazard.  A common drop for the Ely ladies is a drop from a lateral water hazard.  You must clearly see where the ball entered the hazard.  From that spot place a tee in the ground.  Measure two club-lengths (using your longest club, probably your driver to measure) and place another tee.  You must drop the ball within the area marked by the two tees.  If the ball rolls outside the area, drop it again.  If this happens a third time, place the ball where it first touched the ground.  In this situation you have incurred a one-stroke penalty for hitting the ball inside the lateral water hazard.

  • If you play a ball from a wrong place, you lose the hole in match play, or two penalty strokes in stroke play.

This is another example where stroke play and match play penalties differ.  If you have doubts about whether you are playing from a correct location, it is ok to ask for advice from other players in your group or an official if one is available.

Rule 21: Cleaning the Ball

  • You may clean your ball when you lift it, with a few exceptions: when you are checking if it is unfit for play, identifying it, or if it either interferes with or assists another player’s play.

When lifting under the above examples (unfit for play, identifying it, or interferes with another players ball),  you may NOT clean your ball.  When lifting and marking on the green, embedded ball or playing away from immovable obstructions, you may clean your ball.

Rule 22: Ball Interfering with or Assisting Play

  • If another ball interferes with your swing or is on your line of play, you may ask the owner of the ball to lift it.

This is referring to a ball not on the green.   

  • If your ball is near the hole and might assist another player, you may (should) lift your ball.

Remember in match play there is no penalty for striking opponent’s ball on the green.  If you think your ball may assist your opponent’s play, you should mark it.  It is always a good habit to mark a ball on the green if there is any chance of another ball hitting it.

Rule 23: Loose Impediments

  • Loose impediments are natural objects that are not growing or fixed – such as loose leaves, twigs, fallen branches, stones and insects. You may remove a loose impediment except when your ball and the loose impediment lie in a bunker or water hazard. (Exception see Rule 12-1)
  • It is important to remember that you may not remove leaves, twigs, stones, etc. from a bunker or water hazard.
  • If your ball moves as a result of removing a loose impediment, you incur a penalty of one stroke unless your ball is on the putting green.

So be careful when removing that debris. 

BLOG # 13 -What Important Colors Do You Need TO Know?

Golf Blog #13 – What important colors do you need to know?
by Royleen Tipton  (Resource:  About Golf)

This is review of previous rules, but is important……

When it comes to colors on a golf course, the stakes are high. Crossing the line could cost you strokes.  We’re talking about the colored stakes and lines golfers encounter on golf courses – red stakes and red lines; yellow stakes and yellow lines; white stakes and white lines.  There are 3 colors to remember:  red, white, and yellow.

Do you remember what the colors represent?

White Stakes and White Lines: 
White stakes or white lines are used to indicate out-of-bounds. (A course can mark out-of-bounds in other ways, too; for example, a fence might mark the boundary along certain parts of a course.)

When stakes (or a fence) indicate out-of-bounds, then out-of-bounds begins at the nearest inside point of the stakes at ground level (excluding any kind of angled supports). When a line is used to indicate out-of-bounds, the line itself is out-of-bounds.

Out-of-bounds brings the dreaded stroke-and-distance penalty – a golfer must assess herself a 1-stroke penalty, return to the spot of the previous shot and hit it again. Of course, that’s time consuming. So when a golfer believes his ball may be OB, it’s a good idea to hit a provisional ball.

Rules governing out-of-bounds and provisional balls are covered in Rule 27.

White lines are also frequently used in bounds to designate ground under repair.

Yellow Stakes and Yellow Lines
Yellow stakes and lines indicate a water hazard. Why are indicators needed for a water hazard? Shouldn’t a water hazard be obvious?

Most of the time, yes, but sometimes a part of the golf course – say, a seasonal creek, or a ditch – might be designated a water hazard even though there is rarely (or never) water in it.

Golfers can try to play out of a water hazard, and sometimes that’s easy to do. If a ball crosses the margin of a water hazard (designated by the yellow stakes or yellow lines, which are themselves considered part of the hazard), but is not actually in water, it might be easily playable.  Remember ball in a hazard, you may not ground your club behind the ball.

If a ball is under water, however, it’s almost always best to take the penalty and put a new ball into play.

The penalty is one stroke. There are two options for putting a new ball into play. One is to return to the spot from where the previous stroke was played and hit it again. The second, and more commonly chosen option is to take a drop.

When a golfer takes a drop out of a water hazard, she must drop behind the point where his ball crossed the margin of the hazard. The drop can be made at any point, as far back as the golfer wishes, so long as the point where the ball crossed into the hazard is kept between the point of the drop and the hole.

A ball is considered in the hazard when it lies within the hazard or when any part of it touches the hazard (remember, stakes and lines are themselves part of the hazard).

Rules covering water hazards can be found in Rule 26.

The only water hazard on the Ely Course is the ditch in front of the ladies tee on #8.  This ditch is over-grown with weeds, iris and cat-tails.  Ladies who hit into this hazard should re-tee the ball with a one-stroke penalty.  Men will have to play within two club-lengths of where the ball the hazard, with a one-stroke penalty.

Red Stakes and Red Lines
Red stakes and lines indicate a lateral water hazard. A lateral water hazard is differentiated from a water hazard by the fact that it is, well, lateral. That is, it runs alongside or adjacent to the line of play, rather than across it.

Picture a typical water hazard, say, a creek that crosses the fairway or a pond in front of the green. If a golfer hits into such a water hazard, it’s no problem to take a drop behind the spot where his ball entered the hazard.

A lateral water hazard, however, might be a creek that runs alongside a hole, or a lake to the side of a fairway that extends all the way back to the teeing ground or beyond. Dropping behind such a hazard would not just be inconvenient, it would be unfair. That’s why lateral water hazards are handled differently than “normal” water hazards.

And, by the way, different sections of the same body of water on a golf course can be designated a water hazard and a lateral water hazard. Picture a pond that runs alongside the hole, then fingers out into the fairway. That part crossing the fairway – which can easily be dropped behind – would be marked with yellow stakes and lines; that part alongside the hole would be marked with red stakes and lines.

As for dealing with a ball that has entered a lateral water hazard: Golfers have the same option to play from the hazard if they so desire.

More likely, a golfer will assess herself a 1-stroke penalty and take a drop. The drop can be taken within two club-lengths of the point where the ball crossed the margin of the hazard, no nearer the hole. Or a golfer can go to the opposite side of the hazard and drop at a spot on the hazard’s margin that is equidistant from the hole. (The option to drop on a line behind the hazard, keeping the point of entry between you and the flag, also exists for lateral water hazards. But that option is rarely used because it is rarely practical or desirable.)  We will draw some pictures this summer to further explain this final option.  It can be hard to picture.

A ball is considered in the hazard when it lies within the hazard or when any part of it touches the hazard (remember, stakes and lines are themselves part of the hazard).  Lateral water hazards exist on the Ely Course to the left of #3 fairway, left and right of #4 fairway and right of #8 near the green.

Rules covering lateral water hazards are covered in Rule 26.  Blog #11