Baby, It's Cold Outside
OGA Senior Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
November’s Rule of the Month focused on leaves, aka loose impediments, and the treatment of such. So as the mercury continues to drop, as well as the number of golfers willing to persevere in the chilly weather, our focus turns to snow, ice, frost and dew.
- After teeing a ball within the teeing ground, the player may remove dew from around his ball.
- A player’s ball lies through the green and a small pile of snow interferes with the player’s back swing. He may not remove the snow.
- A player’s ball lies in a bunker and a small pile of snow interferes with the player’s back swing. He may not remove the snow but may take relief without penalty for casual water.
- After drinking a soda, a player dumps the ice out of the cup into a bunker. Another player’s ball comes to rest near one of the ice cubes. The player may not remove the ice but may take relief for casual water.
- Dew and frost may not be removed from the line of putt.
- A player may remove snow and natural ice, other than frost, from the area he intends to drop a ball.
- The player’s ball comes to rest under a bush covered in dew. Several branches interfere with his intended swing. He may shake the dew off the branches prior to his stroke to prevent getting wet.
- A player removed dew when he removed several leaves from his line of putt with his putter. The player incurs a loss of hole penalty in match play or a two stroke penalty in stroke play.
- A player sees his ball come to rest in a large area of snow. He is unable to find the ball. He has a lost ball and must put another ball into play under the stroke and distance penalty.
- During a match, Pete purposely distracts Terry by throwing a snowball at him during a stroke. The Committee may disqualify Pete for a serious breach of etiquette.
- True. Dew and frost may always be removed from the teeing ground whether or not the ball is in play. See Rule 13-2.
- False. Snow and natural ice may be treated as a loose impediment or casual water at the option of the player. Therefore, the player may remove the snow or take relief without penalty under Rule 25 for an abnormal ground condition.
- True. As stated in Answer #2, snow and natural ice may be treated as a loose impediment or casual water. However, Rule 13-4 prohibits the removal of loose impediments in a hazard when the ball lies in the same hazard. Therefore, the player must play the ball as it lies or take relief without penalty under Rule 25 for casual water.
- False. Manufactured ice is treated much different than natural ice. It is not a loose impediment but rather manufactured ice is considered an obstruction and Rule 24-1 allows the removal of movable obstructions from a hazard (See Definition of casual water and Rule 24). Additionally, since it is a movable obstruction, it is never treated as casual water and the only relief without penalty would be for the player to remove the ice cube.
- True. Rule 13-2 prohibits the removal of dew or frost if it might improve the area of intended stance, swing or line of play and thus creating a potential advantage for the player. One exception is that a player may remove dew and frost from within the teeing ground without penalty.
- True. Snow and natural ice are loose impediments and may be removed from the area the player intends to drop a ball.
- False. Rule 13-2 prohibits the removal of water if it would improve the lie, area of intended stance or swing, or the line of play. In this case, by removing the dew, the player would be eliminating a potential distraction, thus improving his area of stance and swing. Also see Decision 13-2/23.
- False. While it is true that dew and frost may not be removed from the line of putt, there is no penalty if it occurs incidentally when the player is taking another action that is permitted by the Rules. A few examples include removing loose impediments (leaves) or obstructions, repairing ball marks on the putting green and addressing the ball.
- False. In this situation, the player’s ball is lost and he may proceed under the stroke and distance penalty or without penalty proceed under Rule 25-1c for a ball not found in an abnormal ground condition. Remember, there must be knowledge or virtual certainty that the ball is lost within the condition before proceeding without penalty. The proper procedure is to determine where the ball last crossed the outer most limits of the condition and the ball is deemed to lie at this spot. The player may then determine the nearest point of relief from this new reference point and drop a ball within one club-length, no closer to the hole.
- True. Rule 33-7 gives the Committee in charge of the competition the authority to disqualify a player for a serious breach of etiquette. In the situation presented, no Committee will have to worry about disqualifying Pete as Terry would not be caught on a golf course (unless officiating) when there is even a remote chance of cold weather, let alone snow.