Our first Rules Corner last month generated some interest, and some suggestions for future articles; namely, problems in and around trees and bushes, options when you find yourself in a water hazard, options when you’re not sure if you’ve hit into a water hazard, what happens when your ball is resting against red peg, issues around “preferring your lie”. So, keep those cards and letters coming, we would love to know what gets up your nose!

The rules have been evolving over hundreds of years, and are being revised as we speak. If you don’t like historical anecdotes, then skip this paragraph. In 1912, the great Ivo Whitton won the first of his 5 Australian Open titles. A few days later, the AGU (Aust Golf Union) investigated claims that he had breached the rules in Round 3. According to spectators (things haven’t changed much, have they!), he hit into a bush and declared it unplayable. A rules official said he could take a 2 shot penalty and drop away (harsh). He did and took a triple bogey. The spectators argued he should have gone back to where he hit from (harsher). The AGU ruled in his favour but the case was referred to the R&A in Scotland, who ruled he should have been disqualified (harshest). The AGU ignored the advice! The message is that the rules need to give clear guidance to players and officials alike, guidance that is acceptable and reliable. So, keep away from the trees! And if you can’t, know the rules! Hence the next two scenarios.

Scenario 3Ted Hobson pushes his drive on the 4th into those big conifers up the left, between the fairway and Hawkesbury Road. He finds his ball and declares it unplayable. What are his options, apart from projecting his club towards his cart!

The rules tell us (Rule 28 on page 118) that, with a one stroke penalty, Ted has 3 options: go back to the tee and replay his shot; OR drop within 2 club-lengths of where his ball lies, not nearer the hole (knowing of course that it can roll up to another 2 club-lengths and that there is no guarantee he will have a swing); OR drop anywhere on the line from the pin to the ball, going back as far as he likes.


Scenario 4. Phil Horton is playing with Ted and they drive off the 5th. Phil pulls his tee shot into the small gums up on the left. His ball is under the branches and he doesn’t have a full swing. He takes a practice swing and accidentally hits a branch, breaking off some leaves, etc. Ted smiles mischievously! Phil, knowing the rules, penalises himself 2 shots in stroke play (or loses the hole in match play).

The rules tell us (Rule 13-2 on page 78) that a player must not improve the area of his intended stance/swing, by moving/bending/breaking anything growing. We need to be very careful when we’re near trees and taking practice swings!

Claire MurrayComment