Rules Corner #4

Last time, we dealt with some “hazard” issues, as we played a couple of holes with Mark Mostyn. To follow up on that, we will play a hole with Perry Dixon, before looking at a situation that Mark Smith encountered in a pennants match.

Scenario 7Perry tees off at the 2nd, and his ball leaks towards the creek on the right. When he reaches his ball, he sees that the red stake has stopped the ball running into the creek. The ball is resting against the stake. How should he proceed? One of his playing partners says he can prefer his lie and play on (assuming preferred lies through the green). Another (assuming preferred lies on fairways only) says the stake can be moved and play on. Yet another says the stake is an immovable obstruction, so he can drop away and play on.


The rules tell us that the stake is inside the hazard and that a ball is in the hazard when any part of it touches the hazard, and that the stake is an obstruction (see Definitions: Lateral Water Hazard on page 37). So, if the stake was a movable obstruction, Perry could remove it and play on (if the ball moved, replace without penalty). BUT, at Springwood (and most clubs) there is a local rule that says that stakes are immovable obstructions! So, the first partner was incorrect because you can’t prefer a lie in a hazard; the second was incorrect because the stake is not movable; the third was incorrect because there is no free relief from an immovable instruction in a hazard. SO, the rules tell us (24-2 Note 1, on page 107) that Perry must play the ball as it lies or, with a one stroke penalty, take relief from the hazard with the usual options.

Scenario 8Preferring lies is a popular past-time at Springwood (especially when it is through the green!) and some care needs to be taken. Mark Smith was playing a pennants match when his opponent preferred his lie. He marked it, lifted and cleaned it, and placed it within 30cm, not nearer the hole. So far, so good (if he had failed to mark it, or moved the marker, or rolled the ball with his club, he would earn a one stroke penalty: see page 144). But as he was preparing to hit, the ball moved! (presumably to a less salubrious lie!). How should he proceed?

The rules tell us (Appendix 1 Part A, 3b on page 144) that there is no penalty and he must play the ball as it lies. Only if the ball moves in trying to place it, must you re-place it, with no penalty. If Mark’s opponent had preferred his lie again, then Mark could claim the hole, due to a breach of a local rule.

While on preferred lies through the green, if your ball is just in the rough, then you may place it on the fairway; but if your ball is just off the green, you must NOT place it on the green, even if it is within 30cm and not nearer the hole (again see page 144).

Claire MurrayComment