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Rules Committee News

Informative posts from your rules committee.  And here is a link to USGA Rules Videos .. very helpful.

2017 September Rules Message ... NEW Rock Rule

posted Sep 26, 2017, 8:31 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Jan 6, 2018, 12:32 PM by Susan Nuttall ]

If you were not part of our play on August 31st at Dogwood Hills, you missed the announcement regarding a major change in our WGC play day rules. The change is a complete “about-face” from the August Rules message regarding a “Rock Rule”. After a discussion with Darryl Muldoon, Golf Operations Manager and also among the Rules Committee and with our current WGC President and Vice-President, the decision was made to immediately institute a WGC Rock Rule. 

If you find yourself in a rocky area on any of our golf courses, you may take relief as you would in Ground Under Repair: Move your ball to the nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole. To proceed properly, you should mark the spot where your ball lies in the rocks, find your nearest point of relief, place the ball, check that your fellow competitor agrees that you are taking proper relief, remove the mark and play on. The Rock Rule will not apply if your ball is in a hazard. The Rock Rule will apply in all upcoming WGC events.

Secondly, there have been some questions arise regarding the breaking of limbs and/or causing leaves to fall while taking a practice swing. Rule 13-2 in the USGA Rules of Golf addresses this situation: Improving Lie, Area Of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play. 

A player must not improve or allow to be improved:  
  • The area of his intended stance or swing
  • The line of play
by any of the following actions:  
  • Moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (Including immovable obstructions and objects defining out-of-bounds).
Stroke play – 2 stroke penalty Match play – loss of hole

In other words, if you are under a tree with low hanging limbs or near bushes, be careful in taking a practice swing so you don’t knock limbs or leaves off of a tree. Also, you cannot bend a bush or branch of a bush or tree with your hands to take your stance. You cannot take a practice swing and remove leaves or limbs.

However, the player incurs no penalty if the action occurs: “In making a stroke or the backward movement of his club for a stroke and the stroke is made”.

Please click the following link to Rule 13-2 in the USGA Rules of Golf for the complete wording of this rule.

I hope this clarifies these situations for all of you, but please ask for more details if you have any questions or doubts about how to proceed in any situation on the golf course.

Happy golfing from your Rules Committee!

2016 Mid- Summer Rules Message

posted Jul 3, 2016, 3:00 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Jan 6, 2018, 12:12 PM by Susan Nuttall ]

We have a situation to clarify, some questions to answer, and some hints for keeping up the pace of play.

Clarification is needed on our “Local Rules” pertaining to hazards, and announcements made by Mr. Chuck Ritter prior to our shotgun start of the Firecracker Scramble. Please know that we all have the greatest respect for Chuck Ritter – he has been a part of Bella Vista Golf for many years, and with all his experience even he can make a mistake when it comes to the Rules of Golf and Local Rules. He announced that the Hazard Line was defined by the stakes – red or yellow – and not the “Mow Line”. This is actually the exact opposite of our Local Rules, which were adopted by Golf Operations at the end of last year and intended to be applied by all golf groups and events in Bella Vista. It is stated in our Local Rules that the Hazard Line will be defined by the Mow Line – I believe it is Rule #2.

Now for the questions: a member asked if it is allowable under the Rules of Golf to replay a putt on the green after all players have completed the hole. The answer is YES, unless it has been prohibited by a Local Rule. Most stroke play tournaments played outside of BV do have such a rule in place, to assist the pace of play. If any of you would like to see this Local Rule added to our BVWGC play day rules, please let me know. I think it might be a good idea.

Next question: If, in the process of taking a practice swing, the player brushes the limb of a tree or plant, is there a penalty for improving one’s position or condition or lie of the ball? The answer is NO; a penalty would be incurred if the player BROKE a limb or part of a plant.
Third question: a player discovers a 15th club in her bag prior to her round and does not have time to return it to her vehicle. She may simply declare that club out of play,but keep it in her bag or cart,and head to her hole. If, after playing several holes, she realizes that she declared the wrong club out of play, she may NOT correct that error.

Final question: If a player’s ball lands in a sand bunker and is against a rake, and the ball moves after removing the rake, the player must replace the ball as near as possible to the original position and re-create the original lie. The player is not allowed to drop the ball outside the bunker “because she believes the ball would have run out of the bunker had it not been stopped by the rake.”

Lastly, a few hints on pace of play, as listed in the July issue of Golf Digest magazine:
1. Play like you only have 3 hours to finish the round before the sun sets.
2. Don’t wait for dawdlers. They’ll start playing faster as a result.
3. Waiting? Take as many practice strokes as you want. Your turn? You get one.
4. Hit your ball first, then help others search. They’ll typically find the ball without your help.
5. Unless the cart is going to or from the tee box, there should never be more than one person in it.
6. Jokes and stories are best told AFTER teeing off, not before. Otherwise you are interrupting another player’s preparation.

There are actually 25 hints listed in the article – I just picked out my favorites, but they were all very good.

As always, we encourage our members to bring us all your questions regarding the Rules of Golf and we will do our very best to find the correct answer for you.


2016 May Rules Committee Message

posted May 15, 2016, 3:40 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Jan 6, 2018, 12:32 PM by Susan Nuttall ]

BVWGC Members,

I have been remiss in updates from your WGC Rules Committee but we are still here and hoping to continue to help everyone with Rules questions or issues that need to addressed. The Committee members are listed in your Handbook/Directory – please contact any of us and we will do our best to help.


We did have one question from members after play, concerning a ball “lost in hazard” and whether or not one absolutely must play according to the “lost ball” rule (stroke and distance). If the ball is not found in the hazard, Rule #27-2, “c” states: If it is known or virtually certain that the ball is in a water hazard (including lateral hazard), the player may proceed in accordance with Rule #26-1 “Relief for ball in water hazard”. This simply says that you are not required to replay the shot from the original position but may take 2 club lengths from where the ball last crossed the hazard and play your shot from that spot. Other options are to move back on the same line, keeping the spot where you entered the hazard between you and the green, or to replay the shot from the original position. The key words in the Rule are “KNOWN OR VIRTUALLY CERTAIN”. If this is not clearly explained, do please contact the committee to further clarify.

Please bring us your questions – we enjoy learning with you! And Happy Golfing to all of you!!

Stevie Lamar, Rules Chair

2014 August Rules Information

posted Aug 8, 2014, 2:30 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Jan 6, 2018, 12:17 PM by Susan Nuttall ]

Several good questions and situations have come up in recent weeks, and I have learned some rules in looking for answers, so I thank you again for bringing your questions to the Rules Committee.

This situation occurred during match play: Player A asked Player B (her opponent) to tend the flag while she putted. As the ball neared the hole, Player B was unable to remove the flagstick. The ball struck the stick and then dropped in the hole. In the “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” book, I found the following: If “B”s failure to remove the flagstick was not deliberate, since B was acting on A’s behalf, A incurs a penalty of loss of hole in Match and 2 strokes in stroke play under Rule 17-3. A must play the ball as it lies. B incurs no penalty. “ This emphasizes the fact that it is always a good idea to lift the flag up out of the hole while attending it for a fellow player. For further explanations of this rule, see page 73 in the Rules of Golf, or page 260 in the Decisions book.

A number of our members have asked me recently about our local rule of “Improved Lie”. On page 19 of our handbook, item #1 states: “Preferred or improved lie is allowed through the green (the whole area of the course except teeing ground, putting green and hazards). The ball may be lifted and placed within 12 inches, no nearer the hole.” Nowhere in our local rule is it stipulated that you must remain in the same cut of grass or in the same position (behind a tree, for instance), if in placing your ball within 12 inches, you can place it in the fairway or other more desirable location. The only stipulation is 12 Inches, No Nearer The Hole. Another name for improved lie is “lift, clean and cheat” – so we will not make a new rule to refine our cheating. You get 12 inches, period.

Finally, the subject of tee markers has been discussed and it was requested that we allow the first group on each tee to re-set the markers if they are set so far back that one does not have the 2 club lengths back as stipulated by the USGA, or if there might be a sprinkler head that interferes with players’ stance. I asked our Maintenance Mgr., Keith Ihms, and our Director of Golf, Andy Mar, if they objected to this corrective action by our players. Neither one had any objection, but Mr.Ihms said he would address this issue in his next meeting with his Course Superintendents and ask for their attention to this detail. He has done so, and I believe we will see improvement on our tee boxes. So, if you are on your first tee, and the markers do not conform to the above description, you may re-set them to allow the 2 club lengths back, and away from sprinkler heads. Please remember, this applies only to your first tee box.

Please continue to bring us your questions and situations – you are helping all of us learn more about the Rules of Golf.

Play Happy!

Stevie Lamar – Rules Committee Chair

2014 Midsummer Rules Message

posted Jul 8, 2014, 2:35 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Jan 6, 2018, 12:19 PM by Susan Nuttall ]

We have not had many questions or comments since the last Rules message was posted in May. One of our members asked to have the following etiquette situation addressed:

The new gas carts at some of our courses are not the nice, quiet ride that we have been used to driving. The noise produced can be jarring in the middle of a golfer’s backswing, so we need to remember to look around and see what our fellow golfers are doing, before we stomp on the gas. This is especially important when the golf round is over for some, but not all of our WGC members. If your foursome is returning to the clubhouse and you are forced to drive through foursomes still completing their round, be considerate and let them make their shots while you wait. All we need to remember is to treat our fellow golfers the way we would like to be treated, right?

Another member brought it to my attention that some golfers are still unclear on taking relief from a cart path. If your ball is near the cart path and it’s position would require you to stand on the path, you are entitled to relief, one club length, no nearer the hole, after making sure that your stance is completely clear of the asphalt. If your ball is on the cart path, but the path does not interfere with your stance, you simply take the nearest point of relief no nearer the hole. You also have the option of playing the ball as it lies on the cart path, if your clubs are ready to be replaced! This option would probably only be used if your nearest point of relief put you behind a tree or in some other undesirable location. If this is still not completely clear, please do not hesitate to find me and I will be happy to demonstrate these situations on site.

Finally, we still have many copies of the current “Rules of Golf” books available for our members. These books are effective from 2012 through 2015, so please see me if you need a copy.

Please remember to enjoy every moment on the golf course – it is such a great game!

Stevie Lamar – Rules Committee Chair

2014 On Course Situational Rulings

posted May 12, 2014, 2:38 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Jan 6, 2018, 12:20 PM by Susan Nuttall ]

This month, 2 different situations have been brought to the Rules Committee for clarification. The first situation occurred at Dogwood recently, on Hole #18. The game on this particular day was Low Gross/Low Net. Player A put 3 balls in the water on #18, and was then instructed by Player B to pick up and take her ESC score of 8. In most cases, this would have been the correct way to proceed, and is indeed recommended to maintain pace of play. However, in a Low Gross/ Low Net competition, all players must play out every hole if they wish to remain eligible for prize monies. If the player wants to pick up on any hole, the player must withdraw from the competition. Remember, this applies to Low Gross/Low Net only.

The second situation occurred on hole #8 at Berksdale (par 5 with water on the right near the green). Player A could not find her ball that was on a trajectory toward the pond. Player B and Player C, after helping search for the ball of Player B, advised her that it had to have rolled into the pond, and to take her drop with penalty and proceed. She did so. As the group moved toward the green, the original ball was discovered. Player A was then advised by her fellow competitors to abandon the second ball and complete the hole with her original ball. This last advice was in error. In the “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” book, on page 413, this exact situation is addressed: BALL ASSUMED TO BE IN WATER HAZARD FOUND OUTSIDE WATER HAZARD AFTER ANOTHER BALL PLAYED UNDER STROKE-AND-DISTANCE PROCEDURE: The original ball is lost and the other ball is in play.......” see Rule 27-1a and the Definition of “Lost ball”(page 29, item “e”).

Question ... In the second situation, could the player have proclaimed that she was hitting a PROVISIONAL ball in case the original ball was found further down the course from where they were looking?

Reply from Stevie Lamar ... Unfortunately, if ball is presumed lost IN A HAZARD, one cannot play a provisional. Provisional balls are played only when lost or OB.

Please continue to bring all Rules questions and situations to the Rules Committee. We are learning with you, and enjoy finding answers to your questions!

And please remember, the most important rule is “Have Fun!”

Stevie Lamar
Rules Committee Chair

2014 "Pace of Play"

posted Apr 15, 2014, 2:43 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Jan 6, 2018, 12:22 PM by Susan Nuttall ]

Welcome back to WGC golf and the Rules message page – please be sure to contact your Rules Committee with any questions and problems you may have – we are here to help you enjoy the game!

We did not discuss “Pace of Play” at our Workshop this year, because we concentrated on that issue at our Rules Workshop in 2013 – so here are just a few reminders to keep the golfers in your group on pace with the group ahead of you (if the group ahead is on the green when you reach the tee box, you have fallen behind, EXCEPT on a Par 3 – if they are on the next tee, you are a hole behind and need to make haste!).

1. Be at your ball and ready to play when it is your turn – we all enjoy socializing with our friends during a round of golf, but do not let that interfere with your preparation for executing your shot.

2. Do not expect ball to ball cart service – park your cart in between your ball and your cart partner’s ball (when it is appropriate to do so – i.e. the balls lie within 20 or 30 yards of each other - and will not endanger either player) and be willing to walk a few yards with 2 or 3 clubs in your hand.

3. When you arrive at the green, always park your cart at least pin high – never leave it short of the green and then walk backward to retrieve it after completion of the hole, while the group behind watches and waits for you.

4. When leaving the green, get in your cart with club in hand and drive away. At the next tee, record scores from the previous hole and replace your putter and pull your driver (or selected club for that tee).

5. Play “READY GOLF” – no honors.

6. From Stina Steinberg in Golf Digest: “Iron head covers – they’re pace of play killers, easy to lose, and “dorky”. Invest in a golf bag with individual club dividers instead.”

7. From Dave Pelz in Golf Magazine: “Almost everyone needs to play faster, or we’ll all end up grumpy – or just playing less golf. Shave time off your rounds................and you’ll have more fun. Isn’t that why we play?

On a different subject, we had a question regarding relief from a cart path – which we covered at the Workshop – this must have been a player that did not attend. To reiterate, when taking a drop from a cart path, the player must always choose the nearest point of relief. There is no option of “either side” – it is the side nearest where your ball lies, OK?

Happy Golfing! - Stevie Lamar – Rules Chair


2014 Spring Rules Workshop

posted Mar 2, 2014, 6:02 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Mar 2, 2014, 6:28 PM by Sue Jacobson ]

The annual Rules As Tools Workshop will start at 8:30 am on March 20th at Metfield Clubhouse in the Dogwood Room (same location as last year). Continental breakfast will be served, Darryl Muldoon will present a short explanation on some specific “Rules situations” and answer questions. Rules Committee members will present a couple of skits to help us understand the Rules, and before the end of the morning, someone will win a very generous door prize! Call Stevie at 876-5844 and reserve your spot – space is limited.

2013 FALL Rules Message

posted Oct 26, 2013, 9:25 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Jan 6, 2018, 12:24 PM by Susan Nuttall ]

It is so hard to believe that we have come to the end of our 2013 golf season. They seem to be getting shorter every year. It is my hope that each of you enjoyed our WGC play days as much as I did. Our camaraderie, our friendly competition and shared love of the game make our group a truly delightful experience for me.

I am very happy to report that our entire Rules Committee will continue intact for the 2014 season. The members of the Committee continue to work on the goal of helping our WGC members understand the Rules and how they can help each of us enjoy the game even more.

Now, I must share with you a specific Rule brought to my attention just a few days ago. Rule #22, “Ball assisting or interfering with play” (pages 88 &89): I was aware of the general intention of this rule – that a ball lifted must be properly marked and correctly replaced. I did NOT know that if a ball on the green is IN MOTION, you cannot lift and mark your ball if it “might influence the ball in motion”. In other words, if a fellow player strokes his ball on the green and you realize his ball might strike your ball, you cannot mark and lift your ball. It is too late. For further details, see Rule #22-1, “Note” and Rule #22-2 “Note 2”. Penalty for breach of Rule is two strokes. Lastly, let me emphasize, this all pertains to “BALL IN MOTION”. If you are asked to mark and remove your ball prior to your fellow player’s stroke, you should do so. Your other option is to putt out and eliminate the need (and time required) to mark and lift and then replace your ball. 
As always, you are encouraged to contact any member of the Rules Committee with questions or suggestions. Many thanks to WGC member Barbara Angstead for the above Rules clarification.

Even though our season has ended, we will continue to post information on our website throughout the off-season (HUGE thanks to Sandy Trigg and Sue Jacobson for all they do to maintain the site!), so keep checking the Rules Message space.

Have a great Winter!

Stevie Lamar - email:
Rules Chair

2013 August Rules Message

posted Aug 4, 2013, 3:59 AM by BV WGC   [ updated Jan 6, 2018, 12:25 PM by Susan Nuttall ]

Wow – our season is already more than half over – time really does fly when you’re having fun – and for me there is nothing more fun than golf! Time went so quickly in July that we missed getting our monthly message posted on this website, and I apologize for that – it may have something to do with playing golf almost every day..........Anyway, here are some thoughts on Rules for this month:

There was a question very recently regarding placing a club or clubs in a hazard. This is not a prohibited action, unless it is specifically done in order to test the condition of the hazard, or to improve the lie of your ball within the hazard. If, for instance, you walk into a bunker with 2 clubs in your hand, not knowing if you will need your sand wedge or might be able to use a gap or other wedge, it is perfectly OK to lay the extra club inside the hazard while you make your stroke with the chosen club. For further details on this situation, please refer to the Rules of Golf book, page 65 and 66. 

And this again brings me to the suggestion we made early this season in our Rules message. Please don’t attempt to impose penalties on fellow players if you are unsure of the Rule. It can lead to animosity and discomfort while playing a game that has FUN as the biggest goal. Yes, we have Rules for this game, as any sporting event does – but the Rules are not a weapon. The Rules are a tool used to increase our pleasure and knowledge of this wonderful game, and to keep it fair and enjoyable for all of us. If you “think” someone is in violation of a specific rule, please attempt to verify with a Pro or the Golf office.

We also would like to remind everyone of the USGA “While we’re young” campaign. If you go to the USGA site, there is a link where you can sign the pledge to help eliminate slow play. The USGA recognizes that we are losing golfers simply because it takes too long to play 18 holes – and we are not gaining new golfers, for the same reason. Bella Vista is part of this trend – and we need to increase Bella Vista golf rounds if we want to continue to enjoy the 126 holes of golf we currently have. But I digress – just please make an effort to find out how you can help in the effort to speed up the pace of play.
Another reminder: I have copies of the current Rules of Golf book in my vehicle. If you need one and see me at the course, don’t hesitate to ask.

Last reminder – please email me at with any Rules questions you may have. I am not an expert on the Rules, but I can always find an answer. That is why the Rules Committee exists.

Enjoy every minute of your day on the golf course!

Stevie Lamar – Rules Committee Chair          

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