Rules of Golf - Recent Ruling
Written by: Darin Green, Senior Director of Rules & Competitions
The Rules of Golf are written in such a way that the Rules Committee does not have many instances where they must make a judgement call; most rulings are unambiguous. For instance, a ball is either in bounds or out of bounds, a player is either at the starting tee on time or late, and a ball was either played from the correct place or the wrong place. There are only a handful of instances where the Committee must make a judgement call when applying the Rules. The most common judgement calls are:
- Reasonable Actions – did the player use reasonable actions in taking their stance or searching for their ball?
- Reasonable Judgment – did the player use reasonable judgement in estimating the point where their ball last crossed into a penalty area, out of bounds, or into an abnormal course condition?
- Serious Misconduct – did a player commit serious misconduct?
- Unreasonable Delay of Play – did a player unreasonably delay play?
- Wrong Place, Serious Breach – when a player plays from a wrong place, did they gain a significant advantage and commit a serious breach?
- Ground Under Repair - should an area of the course be marked as ground under repair?
At a tournament recently, the Committee had to make a judgement call after hearing about a situation that happened on the course. There were some spectators and players questioning if a player dropped a ball in the correct location when taking relief from a red penalty area. The Committee interviewed the witnesses and then took the player back onto the course to where the situation occurred. In summary, the player said he was going for the par-5 green in two, and sliced a 3-wood right of the green towards a red penalty area. The player searched for the ball, but was unable to find it. He then dropped a ball outside the red penalty just right of the green and completed the hole. After listening to the player and witnesses, the Committee decided that the player did not use reasonable judgement in estimating the point where his ball last crossed into the red penalty area and he played from a wrong place. Additionally, the Committee agreed that the place he played from gave him a significant advantage and ruled it was a serious breach (he should have dropped much farther from the green and in a location that had a bunch of trees between him and the green). Regrettably, the penalty for playing from a wrong place, that is also a serious breach, is disqualification if not corrected before the player starts the next hole.
For more, please see Rule 14.7