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Rules Riddler #15 - Resolved

Over the last 2 years, I have had the pleasure of presenting the Rules to over 4000 golfers and at nearly every presentation, many of the same questions continue to come up.  The intent of these questions and explanations is to enlighten golfers and banish many of the myths that continue to circulate about the Rules of Golf.  In doing so, I hope that all golfers will be able to better understand the Rules and attain more enjoyment from the game. In addition to the answer for Riddler #15 below, you can view a special holiday riddler by clicking here.  Riddler #16 is the first time our Riddlers have used the three-ball match play format and stars some famous holiday characters.

OGA Rules Riddler #15 addressed the following Rules and situations:

1. Rule 23 & Rule 13-4c:  Loose Impediments and restrictions related to hazards.
2. Rule 26:  Using one of the four options provided under the water hazard Rule.
3. Rule 20-1 & Rule 18-2a:  Moving your ball in play when marking or lifting is OK only in very specific situations.

Rules Riddler #15 – The Question

Bob and his fellow-competitors tee off on the par four 10th hole into gusting headwinds.  Bob’s tee shot slices right toward a lateral water hazard.  He arrives at his ball to find it sitting down a bit in deep grass about 5 yards inside the hazard margin.

The putting green in fronted by another water hazard and Bob is unsure if he can carry his ball over the hazard to the green.   While standing by his bag, he picks up some grass outside the hazard and throws it up into the air to check the wind.  There is a momentary calm and he decides the best play is to play for the green with his second.  After he takes his stance the wind again picks up.  He steps back and picks up some loose grass near the ball and tosses it into the air.  Not wanting to make things worse, he decides the best play is to drop outside the hazard.

He drops the ball outside the hazard, no closer to the hole and within two club-lengths from where it entered and plays a great shot to the green that comes to rest about 15 feet from the hole. 

When Bob arrives at the green he reaches down to mark his ball.  He accidentally drops the coin onto the ball, moving the ball about a centimeter.  He places the coin down to mark the location of where the ball was prior to being struck by the coin.  He picks up the ball, cleans it and replaces it to the original location.  He holes the putt and walks off the green telling his fellow-competitors how smart he was to drop out the hazard.

His marker looks to Bob for his score and Bob holds up four fingers in reply.  “Really?” a fellow-competitor questions.

What was Bob’s score on the hole?

Rules Riddler #15 – Resolved

If you paid attention to what happened to Ian Poulter in the recent Dubai World Championships play-off, you were well ahead of the curve on this question (for a recap from the OGA Rules Blog, click here).  However, there was another penalty incurred that may have been missed by much of the Committee.

The first Rules incident of this Riddler happens while Bob is trying to make a decision as to the best play at his ball lying in the water hazard.  He first picks up loose impediments (loose grass) outside the hazard margin and checks the wind.  This action is permitted by Rule 23, which governs when a player can and cannot move loose impediments.  After making the call to play for the green he addresses his ball and the wind picks up.  Beginning to doubt his decision, he picks up some more loose grass, this time inside the margin of the water hazard and tosses it up in the air.  Unfortunately for Bob, this action is not permitted by Rule 23 or Rule 13-4c which both specifically prohibit touching or moving loose impediments that lie in or touch the same hazard as the ball.  Bob would have been safe to pick up loose impediments outside of the hazard to test the wind or even carry them into the water hazard to check the wind but moving loose impediments already in the same hazard is a breach of the above Rules and he incurs two penalty strokes for his actions.

Bob then decided to drop the ball and accept the penalty stroke prescribed by the Water Hazard Rule.  He uses Rule 26-1c(i) and drops his ball within two club lengths, outside the hazard and no nearer the hole than where he crossed into the hazard.


He plays a great shot to the green and when he approaches his ball to mark the location, he accidentally drops his coin.  The coin strikes his ball in play and moves it about a centimeter.  As described in detail in Decision 20-1/15, and was the subject of much discussion in the recent Poulter penalty situation, a player is only exempt from movement when marking, lifting or replacing the ball when the movement is “directly attributable to the specific act.”  Dropping a coin has no part in the specific act of marking.  Therefore, Bob cannot escape penalty.  He is, however, required to replace the ball or mark prior to playing.  He does this and holes what he believes to long par save.  Unfortunately, he was not aware that a couple of his actions were not permitted under the Rules.

This is one of the unique qualities of golf.  A player is responsible for knowing the Rules and ignorance of a breach is no excuse for not including penalty strokes in your score.

To recap the hole:

1 – stroke from tee
2&3 – 2 stroke penalty (Rule 13-4c or Rule 23)
4 – 1 penalty stroke (Rule 26-1c)
5 – stroke to putting green
6 – 1 penalty stroke (Rule 18-2a or Rule 20-1)
7 – putt into hole

Congratulations to the 23% of you that correctly answered that Bob scored a seven on the hole.  To test your knowledge of the Rules on Riddler #16, including a holiday theme, click here.

Please direct comments and questions to Craig Winter with “Rules Riddler #15” in the subject line.

To learn more about the OGA's Rules Education Programs including "Public Rules Nights," please click here for more information.  Craig serves as the Director of Rules Education for the OGA and was one of twelve officials to achieve a perfect score on the 2010 PGA/USGA Rules of Golf Examination given to over 1200 Officials each year.




Does anyone know when the next hadicap revisions will be posted by the OGA

By Nerfy on 03/28/2012

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