It's In The Book, Trust Us

November 2013

There are plenty of rules situations you probably already know how to handle, but what happens if your ball is embedded in an orange? And how should you proceed if your clubhead breaks off—midswing—but you still finish the swing? The USGA and R&A might not have thought of everything when it comes to rules scenarios, but they've certainly given it a try in their 600-plus-page Decisions on the Rules of Golf. Here are our 10 favorites.

1. If your ball comes to rest next to a cactus, you may wrap an arm or leg in a towel to protect yourself from the needles when you play your shot. But you can't cover the cactus with a towel. DECISION 1-2/10

1. You may spit on your clubface before playing a shot to clean it, but not if you're trying to reduce spin to hit a straighter shot. DECISION 4-2/4

1. Even when they're attached to something, spider webs are considered loose impediments. DECISION 23/5.5

1. If your clubhead falls off during the backswing, and you complete the swing but miss the ball, it doesn't count as a stroke. But if your clubhead falls off during the downswing, and you complete the swing but miss the ball, it counts as a stroke. DECISIONS 14/2, 14/3

1. A log is considered a loose impediment, but if legs were added to make a bench, it's an obstruction. Wood also becomes an obstruction if it's "manufactured into a charcoal briquette." DECISION 23/1

1. If your shot ends up in the clubhouse, and the clubhouse is not considered out-of-bounds, you may open a window or door and play your next shot without penalty. DECISION 24-2b/14

1. Although you're not allowed to move loose impediments, such as insects in a hazard, and the boundary of a water hazard extends vertically, it's OK to swat a flying insect before playing from a hazard. DECISION 13-4/16.5

1. You cannot place a water bottle on a green and use it as a level to determine how a putt will break. DECISION 14-3/12.5

1. If a gust of wind moves your ball, you can play it from its new position. But if artificially propelled air moves your ball, you must replace it without penalty. DECISION 18-1/2

1. If your ball is lodged in an orange, you cannot take relief without penalty. DECISION 23/10

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