Rule of the Month: A Few More Exceptions | Oregon Golf Association

Rule of the Month: A Few More Exceptions

By OGA Senior Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly

With the exceptions to Rule 13-2 (Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play) out of the way, (click here to see last month’s article) we turn our focus to the exceptions in the other Rules.

Almost every Rule has an exception of some sort. Many will be written directly into the Rule or mentioned in either a Note or an Exception after the Rule. Still others will be found in the Definition section and even the Decisions. 

Knowing and playing by the Rules will always further the enjoyment of the game and knowing the exceptions to the Rules will reduce the confusion on the course when a Rules situation arises. Test your knowledge of the Exceptions to the Rules with the following True/False questions.

True/False Questions:

  1.  While waiting for the green to clear on a par three, a player asks his fellow-competitor if there is a bunker on the back side of the green.  The fellow-competitor answers.  Both players are in breach of Rule 8-1 by asking for and giving advice.
  2. The player’s ball lies in a greenside bunker.  As she walks past a different greenside bunker she notices that a previous player failed to rake the bunker after a stroke.  She quickly rakes the second bunker before continuing to her ball in the first bunker.  She has tested the condition of a similar hazard in breach of Rule 13-4a.
  3. A player’s ball comes to rest between tree roots and he is unable to make a stroke at the ball.  However, his stance is on a cart path.  He may drop the ball within one club-length of the nearest spot on the course where he may make the intended stroke without interference from the path.
  4. A ball has come to rest on a bridge within a water hazard.  Since the bridge is within the margin of the hazard the player must not ground his club on the bridge prior to the stroke.
  5.  A player’s ball lies just inside the margin of a lateral water hazard.  A sprinkler control box located outside the hazard interferes with his back swing for a stroke.  Since the obstruction is not in the hazard he is allowed relief without penalty and the proper procedure is to drop the ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief within the lateral water hazard.
  6. Once a player has started her round, she must not add any clubs to her bag even if she started the round with fewer than fourteen clubs.
  7.  During a round, a player must not test the speed of any putting green by rolling a ball.
  8. A leaf (loose impediment) lies against a ball on the putting green.  When the player removes the leaf, as permitted in Rule 23, the ball rolls closer to the hole.  The player has caused his ball in play to move and incurred a penalty under Rule 18.
  9. A player believes her ball has come to rest on a cart path beneath fallen leaves.  She sweeps away some of the leaves with her foot and moves the ball which was on the path.  She incurs a one stroke penalty for moving her ball and must replace the ball or proceed under Rule 24 for relief from the cart path. 
  10. Unsure of what club he will make his next stroke with, a player carries several clubs into a bunker and places the extra clubs on the sand before making a stroke.  He has incurred a penalty for touching the ground in a hazard with a club before his stroke.


  1. False.  The definition of Advice excludes any information on the Rules, distances and matters of public information.  Examples of public information include, but are not limited to, the location of water hazards, bunkers and even the position of the flagstick. 
  2. False.  Exception #2 in Rule 13-4 allows a player to smooth sand in a bunker, at any time, provided the smoothing is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing was done to breach Rule 13-2, i.e., improve the lie, area of intended stance or swing or the line of play.
  3. False.  In this situation, the player is not allowed relief without penalty.  The two Rules that deal with “free relief” are Rules 24 (Obstructions) and Rule 25 (Abnormal Ground Condition) and both Rules have an exception that prohibits relief without penalty when interference by anything other than the obstruction or abnormal ground condition makes the stroke clearly impracticable.  As the stroke was clearly impossible due to the tree roots, the player’s only option is to declare the ball unplayable incurring a one-stroke penalty.
  4. False.  While Rule 13-4 prohibits touching the ground in a hazard with a club prior to the stroke, the Note included in the Rule permits a player to touch any obstruction, grass, bush, tree or other growing thing.  Since the bridge is an immovable obstruction the player may ground his club on the bridge. 
  5. False.  Note #1 in Rule 24-2 prohibits a player from taking relief without penalty from an immovable obstruction when his ball is in the lateral water hazard.  This is applicable even when the obstruction is located outside the water hazard.  The Note also includes the player’s options which are to play the ball as it lies or to proceed under the lateral water hazard Rule incurring a one-stroke penalty.
  6.  False.  This is a situation that is written directly into Rule 4-4a and allows the player to add as many clubs as desired provided the total number of clubs does not exceed fourteen.  However, there are stipulations regarding the addition of clubs.  Doing so must not delay play and the player must not add or borrow any club that was originally selected for play by another player on the course.  She is also not permitted to assemble components of a club carried by her or for her during the round.
  7. False.  When a player is between the play of two holes, he may test the surface of any practice putting green and the putting green of the hole last played.  An exception to Rule 16-1d gives this permission but also allows a Committee in charge of the competition to prohibit the action. 
  8. False.  Provided the movement of the ball was directly attributable to the removal of the loose impediment there is no penalty.  This exception is listed in two Rules.  Rule 18 mentions it briefly and references Rule 23.  Rule 23 states that the movement of the ball must be directly attributable to the removal of the loose impediment for the player to be absolved of penalty.   It is important to note that this is only when the ball lies on the putting green.  In most circumstances, moving a loose impediment that causes the ball to move will result in a penalty. 
  9. False.  Generally, a player is not permitted to move her ball during the search.  However, the Exceptions to Rule 18-2 (Ball at Rest Moved) include a reference to Rule 12-1d which absolves  the player of penalty for moving her ball when searching in or on an obstruction or in an abnormal ground condition.  The ball must be replaced or the player may proceed directly under Rule 24 or 25 for relief without penalty from the condition. 
  10. False.  Exception #1 to Rule 13-4 allows a player to place his clubs in a hazard provided that the condition of the hazard is not tested and nothing is done to improve the lie of the ball. 


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