Rule of the Month: Sleighing the Rules | Oregon Golf Association

Rule of the Month: Sleighing the Rules

By Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
Click Here for the Rule of the Month Archive

Sleighing the Rules

Everyone has played golf under the new Rules for almost an entire year and, for the most part, the transition has been a smooth process. Many of the contested rulings this past year have been attributed to the new Rules. However, many of those rulings would have been exactly the same prior to the changes that went into effect January 1 of this year.

Learning the new Rules took time and effort for every golfer and we thank you for including this article as part of that learning process. The Rule of the Month article continues to receive more clicks than any other content in OGA Member emails. Thank You!

As is our custom, for the final article of the year we’ve again changed the format by adding a Christmas theme. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a safe and joyful holiday season. See you in 2020.


  1. During the play of the 9th hole, Santa parks his reindeer powered golf cart near the putting green. When the following group arrives at the green, one of the elves, whose ball is on the fringe, discovers that hoof prints left by Comet and his friends are on his line of play. What are the elf’s options?
  2. Shortly after announcing the winner of the Island of Misfit Toys Club Championship, which meant the competition was closed, the Committee chair, King Moonracer, discovers that Yukon Cornelius, the winner, returned his scorecard without his marker, Rudolph certifying it. What is the ruling?
  3. After making a poor shot, the Grinch threw his club in anger, narrowly missing a member of the host of heavenly angels. How should the Committee handle this situation?
  4. Before making a stroke at his ball in a bunker, Frosty rakes the track marks he created on the way to the ball. He did this to save time because he intends to exit the bunker at a different spot than where he entered. What is the Ruling?
  5. During a match against Tiny Tim, Ebenezer Scrooge’s first stroke on hole #17 goes offline towards an area of deep rough. He doubts that he will be able to find the ball so he properly plays a provisional ball. The original ball is found in bounds by his caddie, Bob Cratchit, within the three minute search period. However, the ball is in a bad lie and unreachable in a thicket. Being the miser that he is, Scrooge sends Caddie Cratchit into the brambles and briers to retrieve his $0.50 golf ball that he purchased from the used and re-purposed bin in the clubhouse. Ebenezer decides to continue play of the hole using the provisional ball. The hole is tied. Before anyone tees off at the next hole, Tiny Tim requests a ruling regarding Ebenezer’s further play of the provisional ball after the original was found. How should the Committee rule?
  6. Charlie Brown’s ball came to rest near a small dilapidated fir tree that indicates 150 yards to the green. As a result of carefully taking his stance, the tree is moved out of the way of his backswing by his legs and several fir needles tinkle to the ground around his ball. Unsure of how to proceed he anxiously yells, “Can anyone tell me what the Rules of Golf are all about?” “Sure Charlie Brown, I know what the Rules of Golf are all about,” says Linus, another player in his group. Linus informs Charlie Brown that he has incurred no penalty and that he may also remove the fir needles from around his ball. Is Linus correct?
  7. The Abominable Snowman completes play of the first hole and leaves the putting green without repairing his footprints, spike marks and ball mark. When the following group arrives at the putting green, the Little Drummer Boy finds the damage on the green left by an abominable. The Little Drummer Boy is able to beat out some of the damage with a couple of small sticks but is not able to repair some of the deeper footprints. What are his options?
  8. In an attempt to win his own “major award” in a junior golf event, Ralphie is about to make a tough shot near a tree and is concerned about the wind direction. He pulls out his “official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time” and quickly determines that the wind is blowing 27 degrees northeast. He is about to make his shot when his mom offers one last piece of motherly advice, “Don’t shoot your eye out.” He makes the shot and the ball ricochets off the tree and hits Ralphie, you guessed it, in the eye. After the deflection, the ball comes to rest in a location where the tree is completely blocking his line of play. Has Ralphie breached a Rule by using a compass to determine the wind direction? Does the stroke count and must Ralphie play from where the ball came to rest after the deflection or is he required to cancel the stroke and replay from where he made the stroke?


  1. Rule 13.1. Many elves and others playing the game believe that the putting green may not be repaired unless the elf’s ball is on the green, a common misconception among golfers. Damage to the putting green may be repaired anytime, including when the ball is off the putting green. However, damage on the fringe or fairway must not be repaired and there is no free relief for it. If damage on the putting green is caused by natural wear, natural surface imperfections or normal maintenance practices, such as aeration holes or vertical mowing grooves, the elves must not attempt to repair the damage and must play the course as they find it.
  2. Rule 20.2e(2). In this case, King Moonracer and the Committee must determine if Yukon knew before the competition closed that he was in breach of a Rule with a penalty of disqualification. If Yukon was unaware of this fact, the competition stands as played with Yukon the winner of the “silver and gold."
  3. Rule 1.2. Every player is expected to play in the spirit of the game by acting with integrity, showing consideration to others and by taking good care of the course. While there is no required penalty for failing to act in this way, the Committee may choose to disqualify a grinch for serious misconduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game. Additionally, if the Committee has adopted a code of conduct for players, a grinch may be penalized under that Local Rule.
  4. Rule 12.2b(2). Provided that Frosty smoothed the sand in the bunker only to care for the course and didn’t rake the sand to test the condition of the bunker, there is no penalty. “Happy Birthday!” It is important to note that Frosty must be careful not to improve the lie of the ball, the area of his intended stance or swing and the line of play by the action as doing so would breach Rule 8.1.
  5. Rule 18.3c(3). Tiny Tim has made a timely request for a ruling as neither golfer in the match has played from the next teeing area. Scrooge was not permitted to continue with the provisional ball since the original ball was found in bounds. Further play with the provisional ball was play of a wrong ball and Scrooge incurs a loss of hole penalty. Tiny Tim, who can hardly contain his joy of winning the hole and going 1 up in the match with one hole to play, announces as the referee walks away “God bless us all, every one.”
  6. Rules 8.1b(6) and 15.1a. Yes, Linus truly knows what the Rules of Golf are all about. Provided that Charlie Brown took his stance in the least intrusive way, there is no penalty even if the area of his intended swing is improved. Additionally, the fir needles that fell around the ball are loose impediments and may be removed by any means. He should use caution when removing the loose impediments because a penalty will be incurred if the removal causes his ball to move. Charlie Brown should seriously consider making golf his sport of choice to play with his friends as it is obvious that baseball and football with Lucy will never end well.
  7. Rule 13.1c(2) & Interpretation 13.1c(2)/3. The Little Drummer Boy is allowed to repair any damage to the putting green caused by another golfer whether his ball is on or off the putting green. If he is unable to repair the damage, he may request that the Committee repair it. If the Committee is unable to repair the damage caused by an abominable, they should consider providing free relief for the golfer by declaring the damaged area as ground under repair.
  8. Rules 4.3a(1) & 11.1a. A player may use equipment other than clubs and balls during a round provided that the use doesn’t create a potential advantage by eliminating or reducing the need for a skill or judgement that is essential to the challenge of the game. Using a compass to determine the wind direction doesn’t give the player any advantage and therefore, Ralphie has not incurred a penalty. Also, the penalty for accidentally hitting yourself with your golf ball was eliminated this year and Ralphie must accept the result of the stroke and play the ball from where it came to rest after the deflection.

click here to print questions click here to print answers

Published / Last Updated On: