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Miss Rules

To play golf correctly, it is important to know the rules. However, if you have ever read the USGA rules book, it can be quite daunting. Miss Rules is here to help you. Please send questions to:

Dear Miss Rules,
You should see some of the stuff parents do to help their kids out on the tournament circuit. I mean the nerve!! Just a month ago, I played in a tournament with the prissiest girls ever. In between two holes, we had to cross the street. I did not have a problem walking across the street, but one of the girls had her mother drive her across the street in her car. I was infuriated; the distance across the street was a mere forty yards. I wanted to give the girl a penalty, but I didn’t think I was allowed to. Did that girl deserve a penalty?

A: You are darn right she did! In Appendix 1 section 9 of the USGA rule book, it states that no player may ride in any form of unauthorized transportation. Added strokes for stroke play and hole losses for match play are always applied to the hole after the unauthorized transportation was utilized. In match play, for every hole in which the unauthorized transportation was used, a hole is lost. The maximum deduction in match play is two holes. In stroke play, a player receives a two-stroke of penalty for every hole in which unauthorized transportation is used. The maximum deduction in stroke play is four strokes. That girl deserved a two-stroke penalty. If her mother had continued to ride her around her around after someone told her that the transportation was unauthorized, then your competitor would have risked disqualification. Yikes!!

Dear Miss Rules,
There’s nothing worse than slow play on the golf course. I was playing golf with my aunt, and she took thirty minutes to find her golf ball. I love her to death, but she really needs to see her eye doctor. I know that in tournaments, maintaining pace of play is absolutely crucial. If my aunt were to take that long to find her ball during a tournament round, would she be penalized?

A: I hate to say it, but what your aunt did would be deemed illegal during a tournament round. If she took thirty minutes out of the round to find her ball, she would have been breaching rule 27-1c and would have received a two-stroke penalty during stroke play and lost the hole in match play. According to rule 27-1c of the USGA rules, after five minutes of searching for a ball (and this may include all players and caddies), the ball is deemed lost. A lost ball must be placed nearest to the point at which the ball was last played and a one-stroke penalty is incurred.

Dear Miss Rules,
When I was playing with my mom, the two of us were having so much fun; we could not stop giggling during the entire round. I told her a joke right before she hit her next shot, mid-swing she burst out into laughter, and her ball skidded off to the left into some thick rough. She dropped another ball in the same place. I told her that this would cost her a penalty stroke. She thought I was cracking another joke. Did my mom deserve a penalty?

A: There’s nothing like a fun round out on the golf course; is there? Unfortunately, your mom should have received a penalty stroke for her action. According to rule 27-1a, a player may at any time play a ball from where his or her last shot lay. However, the player receives a penalty for doing so. If your mom had not given herself the penalty during match play, she would have lost the hole or, during stroke play, received a two- stroke penalty due to her breach.

Dear Miss Rules,
My friend and I played in a father-daughter Father’s Day tournament in June. Our fathers caddied for us while we played the round at an executive course. I hit my ball out of the bunker onto the green on the fifteenth hole. My friend was really eager to putt, so my dad marked my ball. When it was my turn to putt, my dad gave me back my ball and then I replaced the marker with my ball. My friend told me that my dad should have put my ball back because he was the one who marked it in the first place. She told me not to worry about it because this tournament was not a very serious one. For future reference, did I deserve a penalty?

A: Nothing takes the fun out of a round like a penalty, but I’m sorry to say that you did deserve one. According to rule 20-3a, a ball may be replaced under the condition that the player, partner, or caddie who lifted or moved the ball must put it back. A player receives a one-stroke penalty if the ball is replaced by anyone other than the person who originally removed it. If your dad had gone and replaced your ball after you had, then you would have been spared a penalty according to rule 20-6. Even more unfortunately, in a tournament round you would have received a two-stroke penalty for ignoring the one-stroke penalty, which you deserved because of your original breach of 20-3a.

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