Local Rules

By: Barry Rhodes | Tue 10 May 2011 | Comments ()


We all know that we should arrive at the course well before our starting time, in order to prepare properly for the round. But when we are playing a course that is unfamiliar to us, we often forget about what I consider to be the most important task, to read the Local Rules pertaining. This involves reading the permanent Local Rules, usually found on the score card, and then finding out if there are any temporary Local Rules, usually posted on the notice board or in the Pro Shop.

It is Rule 33-8a that permits Committees to make and publish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions, providing they are consistent with the policy established in Appendix l to the Rules book.

Let us consider why it is so important to familiarise yourself with Local Rules by posing a few questions.

If there are no Local Rules in effect;

  1. May you take relief without penalty when your ball comes to rest on a teeing area?
  2. May you remove stones from bunkers?
  3. May you use an artificial device that solely measures distances?
  4. May you use binoculars?
  5. May you take relief from young, staked trees?
  6. May you take relief from woodchip pathways?
  7. May you choose to play from ground under repair rather than take relief?
  8. May you take relief without penalty for a ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the fairway?
  9. May you take line of putt relief from a sprinkler head located at the edge of a putting green?
  10. May you take relief without penalty if your ball comes to rest in an aeration hole made by a greenkeeper?

Here are the answers. Remember, this is when there are no Local Rules in effect;

  1. May you take relief without penalty when your ball comes to rest on a teeing area? No.
  2. May you remove stones from bunkers? No.
  3. May you use an artificial device that solely measures distances? No.
  4. May you use binoculars? Yes.
  5. May you take relief from young, staked trees? No.
  6. May you take relief from woodchip pathways? Yes.
  7. May you choose to play from ground under repair rather than take relief? Yes.
  8. May you take relief without penalty for a ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the fairway? Yes.
  9. May you take line of putt relief from a sprinkler head located at the edge of a putting green? No.
  10. May you take relief without penalty if your ball comes to rest in an aeration hole made by a greenkeeper? No.

How many out of 10 did you get right?

Now, if the Committee had introduced Local Rules; to prohibit playing from all teeing areas; permitting the removal of stones from bunkers, relief from sprinkler heads located close to putting greens and the use of devices to measure distances only; making it mandatory to take relief from staked trees and GUR; then six of these answers would have been different. I hope that this persuades you that it is imperative to scrutinise the Local Rules before you start a competitive round of golf.

A related point that many players overlook is that if you do not fully comply with a Local Rule then you still incur the penalty. For example, if your ball comes to rest close to a staked tree and there is a Local Rule stating that you must take relief from staked trees, you must ensure that neither your club nor any part of your body touches any part of that tree during your stroke or you will incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play. This is true even if you have taken relief, but not sufficiently to have avoided the tree during your stroke. That is, you must take full relief from the staked tree that interferes with your stance or stroke.

Knowing the Local Rules and Conditions of Competition that are in effect is essential before commencing any round of golf.


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Article from Barry Rhodes author of the book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf 2016’

Barry is author of the book, ‘999 More Questions on the Rules of Golf 2016’ and writes a regular blog of miscellaneous content on the rules of Golf at www.barryrhodes.com

 



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Barry Rhodes

Barry is author of the book, '999 Updated Questions on the Rules of Golf 2012 - 2015' and writes a regular blog of miscellaneous content on the rules of Golf at www.barryrhodes.com

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