Rules Dispute

March 22, 2007

"There's a deception to every rule."


John Garrison of Shadow Glen Golf Club in Olathe, Kan., writes to dispute our article on "Ten Commandments to Avoid Rules Disputes" in the April issue (p 82): __"First, Commandment number 4 states that Drops 'in most cases' may not end up closer to the hole, a commandment can't have a 'in most cases' in it.  Imagine this commandment 'in most cases' thou shall not covet they neighbor's wife.   Doesn't work.  Lastly, I don't think Commandment 9 is accurate.  If you are in a bunker, which is a hazard under the rules and play the wrong ball you have broken the rules.  The rules of golf allow for moving sand for identification purposes, and lifting the ball (but not cleaning it) then recreating the lie in order to idenitfy that it is in fact your ball."

__John, I'm not going to argue with your first point—"in most cases"—not with my wife looking over my shoulder. However, you're off base on the second. Rule 15-3 says: *There is no penalty if a player makes a stroke at a wrong ball in a hazard. * Yes, in a hazard you may, according to Rule 12-1, remove as much sand as you need to see your ball. (Though you may not lift it). But you aren't penalized if you make a mistake and hit the wrong ball.

John Mazzitelli of Sicklerville, NJ, also has a beef, with our Commandment No. 3, on provisionals. __"Are you saying I have to declare that I want to play the provisional and declare the original ball lost before I leave the spot of the original shot?  If so, this is not true. I think you are confused with Rule 27-2(a) where it says, 'and he must play it before he... goes forward to search for the original ball.'  This just says that if you say you are going to play a provisional, you have to hit that provisional ball before going to look for your possibly lost ball - but by no means are you declaring that your original ball is lost and will be taking a penalty!  That defeats the purpose of hitting a provisional!"

__Right you are, sir.  Yes, you must not walk away from your first shot before declaring a provisional, but you are not committed to the provisional until you reach the point where you think your original ball may have been lost. If you continue to play the provisional after that, it's your ball in play. Check out the rules and decisions on the rules at

--Bob Carney