Golf where was it?: Part 16

HARARE - One of these days you will cry or be very frustrated indeed when a fortune which will have come your way just disappears like a speeding stolen car.

Many golfers have lost thousands of dollars after finishing with fantastic scores, when what appeared to be a minor breach of a golf rule led to disqualification.You can avoid that by sparing time and read at least the Rules of Golf Booklet never mind the Decisions on the Rules of Golf. I shall go through some misleading local rules which you need to avoid.

To be able to avoid them you need to know the rules yourself. Quite a number of local rules you see at the back of the score cards breach the rules of golf.

I take Rule 13 (Ball Played As It Lies) as the benchmark of how the game of golf should be played. Rule 13-1 states “The ball must be played as it lies, except as otherwise provided in the Rules.”

The statement should be well understood to avoid arguments. Many golfers have a tendency of asking their markers for a relief now and again even when they are in thick rough. Some players request for relief if their balls are a) in an abnormal ground conditions, b) on an anthill, c) near a newly planted tree under two club length in height, d) embedded in its own pitch mark in the rough. These are just few situations under which players request for relief and they are many more.

Going back to the quoted statement, on the face of it there would be no relief on all the situations stated above.

However, the last part of that statement states, ”unless as otherwise provided in the Rules”.

Which Rules are being refereed to? For a better understanding I have to refer to the definition of the word “Rule” as defined in the Rules of Golf.

“The term “Rule” includes a) The Rules of Golf and their interpretations as contained in Decisions on the Rules of Golf; b) Any Conditions of Competitions established by the Committee under Rule 33-1 and Appendix 1; c) Any Local Rules established by the Committee under Rule 33-8a and Appendix 1; d)The specifications on clubs and the ball in Appendix 11 and 111 and their interpretations contained in “ A Guide to the Rules on Clubs and Balls”, and e) devices and other equipment in appendix 1V.

The above definition specifies different situations under which exceptions are allowed and should be made clear under the relevant Rule. If a player does not want to play the ball as it lies he should be able to refer to either a, b, c, d or e and be able to demonstrate the rule which gives that exception.

For a better illustration let us take any example of anthills.

If a player’s ball lies on an anthill, can he be given a relief without a penalty? Going through the Rules of Golf and their interpretations as contained in Decisions on the Rules of Golf there is nowhere where a mention for a relief is provided.

If a player feels that he deserves a relief he has to find another Rule that gives him that exemption.

He will have to look at the back of the scorecard.

Also one needs to look at the Conditions of Competitions, and Local Rules respectively.

If it is not specifically mentioned under these two then the ball has to be played as it lies unless he wishes to exercise any available option in accordance with a rule for a penalty, for example the player may declare his ball on an anthill unplayable and then proceed under the applicable Rule 28 for a penalty.

On the other hand if the Committee has put a Local Rule giving a player relief without a penalty under the local rules then the player may then decide not to play the ball as it lies.

This is where many players get into trouble.

For example, some clubs have a local rule that gives relief for anthills and others do not.

Those used to having a relief would insist on having a relief without a penalty when they play at other courses where there is no such local rule.

The most breached rule of golf is Rule 33, the Committee, to be precise Rule 33-8 Local Rules. Some club Committees have established local Rules that are not consistent with the policy set forth in Appendix 1.

In the past few years I have looked at the local rules of many clubs. I am therefore going to share with everybody what I have come across.

I am sure that the  players who have played at these courses I am going to highlight would have played under the local rules as per the club’s scorecard. I shall show examples of Local Rules I found written at the back of the scorecards and briefly explain why they are wrong.

1. Ditches

Club A’s Local Rule “ Free drop from all ditches.” Comments: The applicable rule for this situation is (Rule 26 Water Hazard ). Ditches are water hazards as per definition of water hazard.A Rule of Golf cannot be waived by a Local rule (Rule 33-8(b) and also the committee has no power to waive a Rule of Golf.

In the Rules, a water hazard is defined as (any sea, lake, pond, river, ditch, surface drainage ditch or other open water course (whether or not containing water) and anything of a similar nature. This local rule should therefore be removed from this club’s local rules.

To be continued.

For any feedback/ comments and any assistance you may need please contact the writer, Tavenganiswa Mabikacheche at The Centre for Training and Research Services on email:

“” or” mobile no. +263712200922 /+263772319612

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