Ask Golf DigestOctober 29, 2019

Why don't they clear the sand off the green on the PGA Tour?

The rules allow players to clean bunker sand on a green if it's in their putting line. So why don't they always clear it off the green?

Q: Since the Rules allow players to clean bunker sand on a green if it’s on their putting line, why doesn’t the PGA Tour clear the greens of any sand between groups? Why penalize subsequent players by leaving sand on the green? —BOB WILLIS, SUMMERVILLE, S.C.

A: The PGA Tour’s agronomy team actually does monitor greens, looking for sand, leaves and other debris. It will dispatch someone to clean up between groups, a tour spokesman says. Ditto the USGA and the LPGA Tour. We just don’t usually see it on TV. Are they perfect at it? No. There will be times when the pros have to tidy up another group’s mess, just like us amateurs.

Q: I’ve been looking for some books on golf history. Do you have two or three recommendations? —TERRY FORMAN, OMAHA

Ask a bunch of editors for book ideas, and you’ll always get more than two or three! You can’t go wrong with A History of Golf in Britain by Bernard Darwin and The Story of American Golf by Herbert Warren Wind. World Atlas of Golf focuses on great courses around the world, and each description includes famous players and tournaments, so the book also serves as a broad overview of championship golf’s evolution. The most entertaining writing on golf can be found in P.G. Wodehouse’s The Golf Omnibus and Dan Jenkins’ The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate. Looking for some instruction to go with your golf history? Check out The Masters of Golf: Learning from Their Methods by Dick Aultman and Ken Bowden. We’ve got a library full of suggestions here.

RELATED: Make bunker shots fun again

Q: A cartpath made of wood chips is considered an artificial surface, so we get a free drop from it. Why don’t we get a free drop when these chips are put around trees? —RICH PRUCHNIK, SANFORD, N.C

We hear you. Wood chips are nice enough to look at, but it’s no fun trying to hit a delicate shot off them. (Wood chunk is more like it.) Under the Rules of Golf, wood chips are considered loose impediments, which means you can move individual wood chips (see Rule 15.1). However, you don’t get a free drop unless the competition committee or the course decides to treat the wood-chipped area as an immovable obstruction (see Rule 16.1).

RELATED: Short-Game Saver: Master the straight-arm chip to gain control around the green

Q: What happens if my ball in motion hits another ball at rest on the putting green and both balls were on the green before my stroke? The rules woman for my ladies league says there is no penalty. —JO ANN NAFF, KEIZER, ORE.

A: It depends on what kind of competition you’re playing. In stroke play, under Rule 11.1a, you would suffer a two-stroke penalty because both balls were on the putting green before the stroke. In match play, there is no penalty. Either way, the ball in motion is played as it lies and the ball at rest has to be put back where it was before your stroke.

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(This article appears in the November 2019 issue of Golf Digest)


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