Ivan Morris Column - My take on an unusual rule

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris
In his weekly Limerick Leader golf column, Ivan Morris tackles an unusual situation - and his take on the rule.

In his weekly Limerick Leader golf column, Ivan Morris tackles an unusual situation - and his take on the rule.

Got ‘caught out’ by a fourball exiting the 18th green at my home club a few weeks ago.

They presented me with a conundrum, which they thought I could solve.

A ball had clearly entered a bunker that was ‘full of fallen leaves and was (as good as) lost’ - what was the ruling?

Could leaves in a bunker be moved? In my defence, I said I understood this particular situation was effected by a new decision on the rules fairly recently, and after checking I found that I was right! Here’s the answer, boys!

Rule 12-1b, which came into effect on 1st January 2012, in a hazard, if the player’s ball is covered by loose impediments to the extent that he cannot find or identify it, he may, without penalty, move loose impediments in order to find or identify the ball. If the ball is found or identified as his, the player must replace the loose impediments.

If the ball is moved during the touching or moving of loose impediments while searching for or identifying the ball, Rule 18-2a applies; if the ball is moved during the replacement of the loose impediments, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.

If the ball was entirely covered by loose impediments, the player must re-cover the ball but is permitted to leave a small part of the ball visible.

Thus provoked, I spent a wet and windy afternoon going through other decisions on the rules announced in the past year. I was surprised to find quite a lot of them!

When I would have thought that golf should be ‘used’ to get away from such distractions, technology appears to be inserting itself more and more into the rules.

For example: During a stipulated round, a player may now access local weather information (e.g. wind, temperature, humidity) through an application or Internet browser on a multi-functional device e.g. a smart phone.

Yikes – that’s another cast-iron method for slowing up play?

Here’s another fairly common occurrence that causes plenty of confusion: A player addressed his ball and it subsequently moved.

It is uncertain what caused the ball to move as the conditions at the time were calm, there were no outside agencies present and the player did nothing obvious to cause the ball to move.

The player believed that, as he did not cause his ball to move, it must have moved as a result of the effects of gravity and, therefore, the Exception to Rule 18-2b should apply.

Hard luck! The player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced. The effects of gravity do not satisfy the Exception to Rule 18-2b.

The Exception only applies when it is virtually certain that the player did not cause his ball to move.

In order to meet this standard, it must be known or virtually certain that some other observable factor (e.g. wind, water or an outside agency) caused the ball to move.

Q. A player plays a stroke from wet sand or soil and the ball adheres to the face of the club. What is the ruling?

A. In equity (Rule 1-4), the ball should be dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where the club was when the ball stuck to it.

Q. In a stroke play event, a competitor’s marker leaves the course at the end of the round and takes the competitor’s scorecard with him. What should the Committee do?

A. Committee should make every reasonable effort to contact the marker. If unsuccessful, the Committee should accept verification of the scores for each hole by someone else who witnessed the round (e.g. the marker’s caddie or the competitor’s caddie) or, if no one else is available, by the competitor himself.

In this exceptional case actions beyond the competitor’s control resulted in the return of a scorecard without a marker’s signature, there is no penalty.

Q. A player plays his second shot over a water hazard into a bunker behind the green.

He hits his third shot too hard and the ball comes to rest in the water hazard. The ball is not playable. What are the player’s options?

A. The player may, under penalty of one stroke: (a) drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the hazard margin between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped – Rule 26-1b.

This procedure would probably make it necessary for the player to return to the tee side of the hazard and play over the hazard again; or (b) drop a ball in the bunker at the spot where his second shot came to rest – Rule 26-1a. (Revised)