Hello again, and welcome to the second installment of The Sand Trap Rules Quiz. In the first quiz, I concentrated on some of the lesser known rules of golf, and we had some tricky rulings to say the least.
This time around I am going to look at some of the more basic rules that we see everyday in our struggle to get around the golf course. Hopefully everyone will come away with a better understanding of how to proceed in some of these day-to-day occurrences.
So dust off your rule books, get your pencils ready, and let’s test our rules knowledge.
Robert, Bobby, Bob, and Ted have a weekly Saturday morning money game. While the stakes are never too high, it is still important to them to play by all the rules to make sure it is fair. So they have been nice enough to let us follow them around as the rules official while they tackle their local muni.
To see the answers, hover your mouse over the area between the  brackets.
One: How Do You Spell Relief?
On the very first hole Robert hits his drive into a large bush. He finds the ball but decides to take an unplayable lie. What are his options?
Answer: [Well, Robert has three options. He can go back to the tee and hit again from where he played his last stroke. He can drop a ball behind the spot where his original ball ended up making sure to keep that spot between himself and the flag, or he can drop a ball within two club lengths where the original ball was, no closer to the hole. The penalty is one stroke. Rule 28]
Two: That’s Not Relief!
So Robert decides to take a drop from the bush, he decides his best option is to take two club length relief from where his ball lies. He measures two club lengths out to the side of the bush, and drops his ball according to the rules. The ball hits a rock and rolls back into the same spot in the bush where it lay originally. He says he gets to redrop because he did not get any relief. Is he correct?
Answer: [Sorry Robert, but you are not correct. As long as, during the drop, the ball did not roll more than two club lengths or closer to the hole then the ball is again in play. Just because you take a drop from an unplayable lie does not mean you will automatically get full relief. If you decide to drop again, it will cost you another stroke. Decision 28/3]
Three: El Agua
Bobby steps up on the par-three third hole and slices his ball into a water hazard defined by red stakes. Bobby is unsure how to proceed so Robert explains his options to him. He tells him he can hit again from where he hit the original shot, or he can go up and drop a ball behind the hazard keeping the spot where it entered the hazard between himself and the flag. Bob chimes in and adds because it has red stakes it is a lateral water hazard and therefore Bobby has a third option available to him. What is it?
Answer: [Because his ball is in a lateral hazard Bobby gets a third option. He may drop a ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of and not nearer the hole than either the spot where his ball crossed into the water hazard or a point on the opposite side of the water hazard equidistant from the hole. Rule 26-1]
Four: The Dreaded Provisional
Ted steps up on the fifth hole and hits his ball toward the out-of-bounds stakes. They cannot see whether or not the ball stayed in bounds so Ted declares he is going to hit a provisional ball. He then proceeds to top his provisional ball, hitting it only 75 yards up the fairway. When he gets to his provisional ball Bob warns him not to hit it because if he does that means he has abandoned his first ball. Ted doesn’t agree. Who is correct?
Answer: [Ted can go ahead and hit his provisional ball until it gets to the point where he thinks his original ball is likely to be. The provisional ball is not the ball in play until his original ball is discovered out of bounds, is lost, or he hits the provisional ball from an area closer to the hole than where his original ball was thought to be. Rule 27-2b]
Five: Mushy, Mushy
On the next hole, Robert hits his ball into a low-lying area where the the grass is soft and mushy. He says he is entitled to relief due to casual water. Bobby says soft and mushy ground is not enough to get relief. What is the correct ruling?
Answer: [The definition of casual water states it is any temporary accumulation of water on the course that is not in a water hazard and is visible before or after the player takes his stance. So water must be visible around his feet when he steps in order to get relief. Soft and mushy earth must be played out of unless it has been deemed ground under repair by the course. See definition: Casual Water, Rule 25-1]
Six: The Root of All Evil
On hole number 13 Bob hits his ball into the trees lining the fairway. When he gets to it he finds that the ball is sitting right on top of a big tree root. He deems that the tree root is an abnormal ground condition and therefore he is intitled to free relief. Is he correct?
Answer: [Nobody wants to get hurt while playing golf, and hitting a ball off of a tree root is a dangerous thing to do. Nevertheless, Bob is not entitled to free relief from the root. He will have to declare his ball unplayable, take a penalty stroke, and drop his ball in accordance to the rules, sorry Bob. Rule 25-1]
Seven: Leaves Me Alone
On the next hole Robert hits his ball and it comes to rest next to a tree. The tree interferes with his backswing, but he decides to try an hit his shot from there anyway. He then proceeds to take a practice swing and in doing so accidentally knocks some leaves off of the tree. Has he broken any rules?
Answer: [It depends, if it is deemed that he improved the path of his intended swing by knocking off the leaves then he is assessed a two-stroke penalty. If it is deemed that his path of intended swing was not improved there is no penalty. Decision 13-2/22]
Eight: Moving Day
Bobby is getting ready to hit his second shot out of the severely sloping 15th fairway. He takes his stance, sets his club several inches behind the ball, and then watches the ball move on its own about an inch down the hill. What does Bobby have to do to fix this problem?
Answer: [Well unfortunately for Bobby, he addressed the ball when he took his stance and grounded his club, so he incurred a stroke penalty when his ball moved. He must move his ball back to its original place before he hits his next shot to avoid another penalty for playing from the wrong place. Rule 18-2b]
Nine: Who’s Driving This Thing?
We come to the 17th hole where we find Ted and Bob, who are sharing a cart. Ted is driving the cart as they drive around in circles searching for his golf ball in the rough. Bob sees Ted’s ball just as Ted drives over it. Ted thinks he has to call a penalty on himself because his equipment caused his ball to move. Is he correct?
Answer: [ Since Ted was driving, the cart is deemed part of his equipment, and so yes, he would have to call a one-stroke penalty on himself. Rule 18-2a and Decision 18/8]
Ten: Is That My Ball?
On the 18th fairway, Robert is getting ready to hit his second shot. Just after he hits it, Bobby calls over and tells him he has just hit the wrong ball. What does Robert have to do to fix his mistake?
Answer: [Hitting the wrong ball is an unfortunate accident to say the least. Robert has to take a two-stroke penalty then play his original ball from wherever it lies. The good news is at least the stroke he made at the wrong ball doesn’t count, but he is hitting his fourth shot when he gets to the original ball. Rule 15-3]
The guys in this foursome take pride in playing by the rules, plus any time money is going to exchange hands it is best to make sure the playing field is the same for all. Playing by the rules should never be a burden, but just the opposite: the rules should make the game more fun. Hopefully, this quiz explained some of the more typical rules situations in a way that was both interesting and informative. For more on the Rules of Golf click on the link to the USGA Website. And remember, play well and play by the rules.