If you have any Rules Questions, send an email to rules@tlqmc.net. This will forward your question to our Rules Staff. They will confer and get back to you with an answer. Please limit your questions to those related to the rules of golf.

Here are some recent "RULES" related questions and answers...

Q.  My ball comes to rest on top of a rake in a bunker.  Am I allowed to pick up my ball, rake the area disturbed by the rake and then place my ball back on the sand?
A.  You are allowed to pick-up your ball, move the rake and then drop your ball within one club length of the reference point.  The ball must be dropped no nearer the hole and must be in the bunker.  You are not allowed to rake the sand prior to dropping the ball.


Q.  If your ball comes to rest on a sprinkler head and you are within one club length of the putting green, are you allowed to drop or place your ball on the green?
A.  No.  If the immovable obstruction is in the General Area, then your relief must be taken in the General Area.


My ball has come to rest in a “Red Stake” Penalty Area.  There is a sprinkler control box interfering with my swing.  Am I entitled to relief from the sprinkler control box?
Rule 17.3
No Relief Under Other Rules for Ball in Penalty Area
When a player’s ball is in a penalty area, there is no relief for:
*  Interference by an abnormal course condition (including immovable obstructions)
*  An embedded ball, or
*  An unplayable ball
The only relief option is to take penalty relief.  The only exception is for a dangerous animal condition, you may take free relief in the penalty area or penalty relief outside the  penalty area.



Question: My ball is teed up and I swing intending to hit it, and just graze the ball and it falls off the tee but does not roll out of the tee box, can I re-tee the ball without penalty? Does the bad swing count as a stroke?


Answer:  Yes, if you swing at a ball teed in the teeing area, that stroke counts. The rule is that the stroke counts and the player will be allowed to either re-tee the ball, move the ball to another spot or even switch out a ball if they wish, all without additional penalty.  If the ball is moved around in any of the instances, it must be inside the teeing area, which is within whatever color tee marker that player is playing from that day and two club lengths behind those markers.            


The player is now hitting their second shot.



Question: On our website it shows a picture of a ball on the cart path and on top of the DG. The rule states free drop since it is on the cart path but the nearest point of relief would place it on the DG. Are you allowed to drop on the other side of the cart path or would you then have a penalty for ending up in the no play zone?


Answer: You don’t have to drop in a penalty area, so your nearest point of relief is on the grass side of the path even though you’re closer to the DG.  Also, if the ball is in the penalty area and your nearest point of relief is the cart path, you can eliminate dropping on the path and use the opposite side of the path as your nearest point of relief.


Question: Player A hits his drive to the left of hole one and it may have gone into the acacia - therefore Player A plays a provisional off the tee and it goes down the fairway.
Player B hits a nice drive down the fairway.
Player A finds his first ball and hits it toward the green.
Then Player B hits Player A’s provisional ball by mistake. Then Player B finds his ball in the fairway and he hits his ball toward the green and finishes the hole playing his ball.
Does Player B get a two stroke penalty for hitting Player A’s provisional ball even though Player A’s provisional ball was “no longer relevant” once Player A found and played his first ball?


Answer: Rule 15-2 and 15-3 covers this and the penalty would apply.  It is the player's responsibility to assure the correct ball is played, he made a stroke at a wrong ball.  Loss of hole in Match Play and 2 stroke penalty in Stroke Play.  He must also continue by hitting the correct ball or he is disqualified.  Also, since the left side of #1 is now a penalty area, the player wouldn’t need to hit a provisional unless he thinks it may have gone out of bounds into the driving range.



Q:  Ball in the water behind holes 6, 9 & 18.  Unable to drop without dropping nearer the hole.

A:  Course will mark drop zones for this purpose.  Drop zones are not intended for balls in the water parallel to the fairway.

Q: Not wanting to call out any individuals, but can you please address the use of chippers and the 14 club rule. Specifically ”two sided” chippers are illegal and cannot be used even if you count it as two clubs.

A: After reviewing the rule book & the decisions book, the rules committee agrees with your interpretation.  Any club can only have one striking surface, except a putter.  The rule may have been different years ago, because I have heard the same argument about counting a two surface club as two clubs.  There is not a rule that I can find that allows that option.  Good question, as always.


Q: From the tee on Hole #4, a ball was hit left into the Acacia. The player finds his ball about two feet into the bushes and decides to declare his ball “unplayable”. He uses the two-club length option and drops his ball on the cart path. His ball rolls and comes to rest on the right side of the cart path less than two-club lengths from where he dropped it and not nearer the hole. He then finds his nearest point of relief, which is on the fairway side of the cart path and takes an additional one-club length for his drop. Has the player used the rules correctly and are there any penalties involved?

Answer: Yes, the player was entitled to this sequence of events. By declaring his ball “unplayable” (Rule 28c) it does cost the player one stroke, but the cart path relief is a free relief situation from an “Immovable Obstruction” (Rule 24-2).


Q: A rather large tree branch has snapped but not detached from the trunk and is hanging on the course.  Is there free relief if the ball is in the branches, or stance and swing compromised. 

A: The Rules Committee all agree that since the branch is still attached, it is not a loose impediment and must be played as it lies.  However, a player is entitled to declare his ball unplayable at any time and then take a one shot penalty and proceed with the options.  Also, the course could declare it ground under repair and mark it accordingly.  Thanks for a good question.

If it is still attached to the trunk, NO FREE RELIEF.  If it is not attached to the trunk, free relief is granted.


Q: I was asked by a member about the legality of using a range finders with a slope adjustment.  My answer was that the slope function must be turned off during any competitive play.  This was covered a couple of years ago at one of the SCGA Rules Seminar.  It used to be that any range finders with the slope function were illegal, but was changed to just turning the function off.


Rule 14-3. Appendix IV. Distance measuring devices are not allowed unless a local rule permits its use.  Even if approved by local rule it must not gauge or measure slope.  If the slope function can be turned-off, then it is acceptable.