Rule of the Month: Remove, Replace, Restore
By Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
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Part 3: Course Played As It Is Found — Restoring Conditions
First the bad news. There are times when a player purposely or inadvertently improves the conditions affecting a stroke and incurs a penalty. The good news is, in certain situations, the penalty may be avoided by eliminating the improvement prior to making a stroke.
However, there are also circumstances when a player can’t avoid the penalty by restoring the original conditions. Additionally, there are situations when the player may or may not restore conditions that might have been worsened. Does your head ache yet?
As we have seen in the previous two articles, there are many actions that a player is allowed or prohibited from doing that might improve the conditions affecting the stroke. In this final article of the series, test your knowledge on playing the course as you find it and restoring conditions that might have been improved or worsened.
Questions: True / False
- A player backs into a bush to take a stance and then pushes a branch behind his or her back because it obscured the view of the ball. If the player returns the branch to the original position prior to the stroke, there is no penalty.
- A ball is believed to be buried in sand. The player moves sand and uncovers the ball. The player incurs no penalty and the lie of the ball must be re-created but a small part of the ball may remain visible.
- A boundary stake is removed to eliminate interference with the swing of a player. The player is in breach of improving the conditions affecting the stroke and can’t avoid the penalty.
- In the previous question, a boundary stake is removed. If the stake was broken off instead of removed, the player may avoid the penalty by eliminating the improvement by using tape or string to repair the stake.
- If a player moves a tee-marker to eliminate the interference to his or her stance, the penalty may be avoided if the tee-marker is returned to its original position prior to a stroke being made.
- The player intends to putt from off the green and improves the line of play by replacing a divot in front of his or her ball. If the divot is removed prior to the stroke there is no penalty.
- Player A’s ball comes to rest on the fringe of the putting green. Player B’s ball then creates a pitch-mark on the fringe and on the line of play for player A. Player A may repair the pitch-mark on the fringe.
- A player walks through a bunker to retrieve a rake and creates footprints on his or her line of play. Because the line of play was worsened after the player’s ball came to rest the player may restore the bunker to its original condition.
- If a player eliminates interference from a gopher mound by smoothing it out to be level with the surrounding ground, there is no penalty and the player is not required to restore the conditions.
- A moveable object that is out of bounds interferes with the backswing for a stroke at a ball in bounds. The player improves the conditions affecting the stroke by removing the obstruction. To avoid a penalty, the player must replace the obstruction before making the stroke.
- True. Rule 8.1c. A tree branch that has been purposely bent to eliminate interference may be returned to its original position without penalty. However, if the branch is bent or broken and can’t be returned to its original position, the player incurs a penalty for a breach of Rule 8.1a.
- True. Rule 7.1b. This applies anywhere on the course including bunkers, penalty areas or the general area. The player is permitted to move sand in order to find and/or identify the ball. If the ball is moved there is no penalty and the original lie must be re-created. In re-creating the lie, the player may leave a small part of the ball visible.
- False. Rule 8.1c. Provided that the original stake is used, it may be replaced prior to the stroke and the penalty for improving the conditions affecting the stroke is avoided.
- False. Rule 8.1c. The player is prohibited from using any other material to repair the boundary stake. In this case, the improvement can’t be eliminated and the player gets the general penalty.
- True. Rule 8.1c. If the tee-marker is not replaced prior to the player making a stroke, the player incurs a penalty for a breach of Rule 8.1a for improving the conditions affecting the stroke.
- False. Rules 8.1c & 8.1a. In this case, the player has altered the surface of the ground and improved the line of play by replacing the divot. The penalty for improving the area by altering the surface of the ground by replacing, or pressing down divots can’t be avoided.
- True. Rule 8.1d & Interpretation 8.1d(1). This question highlights another principle in the Rules that the player is allowed the conditions affecting the stroke that resulted from his or her previous stroke. Therefore, Player A may repair the pitch-mark made by Player B’s ball because it was created after Player A’s ball came to rest.
- False. Rule 8.1d(2) & Interpretation 8.1d(2)/3. If the conditions affecting the stroke are worsened by the player or his or her caddie, the player is not permitted to restore the area to its original condition. Doing so would be a breach of Rule 8.1a.
- False. Rules 8.1a(3) & 8.1c. The player has improved the conditions affecting the stroke by eliminating a surface irregularity and can’t avoid the penalty by restoring the conditions.
- False. Rule 15.2a(1). Movable obstructions and loose impediments may be removed anywhere on or off the course without penalty.