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.
Stevie Lamar – Rules Committee Chair