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Welcome and First Mistake



Welcome to my blog. I've decided to do something a little bit different from a normal golf blog by focusing a bit more on the Rules of Golf.

The impetus behind this blog is that I volunteered to be the Rules Chairman for my men's club this fall. Now, I am of fairly sound mind, but volunteering to do that is probably a bit crazy. It is fair to ask why I volunteered. Well, I've been interested in the Rules of Golf since I started playing golf seriously. I never really had them introduced to me, so I've been mostly self-taught. They aren't some arbitrary gobbledygook to me - I intuitively understand the reasoning behind most of the rules. Instead of learning as an 8 year old that you can't step on the line of your putt without understanding why, I get why that is a rule. I'm also a lawyer, so the rules do not intimidate me. They are very straightforward compared to what I deal with. I have a book of regulations that is 1003 pages long and contains 10 regulations. This tiny book that is what, 150 pages long, is no big deal in comparison to that. I have, on multiple occasions, been able to read the Rules on the course and figure out what to do quickly enough to not delay play. One time, I found a dead fish on grass within the margin of a water hazard, and wasn't sure what I could do, but I figured it out after quickly reading the rules (bonus points if you can tell me the answer below).

That said, our club is lucky enough to have an experienced and knowledgeable professional rules official in it. He was the former Rules Chairman, and I can lean on him for any help. Which I will likely need, as you'll see in a second.

To prepare for this redoubtable position, I have started to follow the Rules of Golf section here more closely. I have been learning a ton by the rules questions asked in there and finding the answers on my own. I also took a 2 day rules seminar put on by the Colorado Golf Association. That was ... fun. A bit dry, to be honest, but I learned a lot of nuances in the rules. I also affirmed that I had a decent, although not spectacular, handle on the rules already. So, I should be pretty good at this, right?

Well... our club has a biennial (every other year - I had to look that up originally, too) rules requirement. You can fulfill it by taking an online rules quiz (I'll have a post about that later), or be attending 1 of 2 seminars we host during the year. Last weekend was our first seminar. Fortunately, the experienced rules official ran it, so I didn't have to do much besides introduce him and help his explanations when needed. But, as I held myself out as an expert, I had a couple of people ask me questions after the formal presentation was over. One asked me about whether the nearest point of relief from an immovable obstruction could be in a hazard. I said, without consulting the Rules, that it could be in a hazard. Taking relief from an immovable obstruction doesn't guarantee you a good lie or line. Well, I was right about the second sentence, but not about the first. Turns out the nearest point of relief when you're taking relief from an immovable obstruction can't be in a hazard. D'oh. Sent an e-mail, with my figurative tail between my legs, later that day to apologize and correct myself. In my defense, that situation rarely, if ever, occurs at my home course.

So, lesson learned. Read the rules before opining on a nuance like that. Probably better that I learned that lesson when it didn't matter as opposed to when it could affect someone's score.

That's probably enough for me. I'm going to try to update this periodically with tales from rules questions at my club. Please comment away. I welcome all criticism, although I strongly prefer positive.


Recommended Comments

12 hours ago, Phil McGleno said:

Loose impediment-Do not touch it or move it.

Yep. I'll give you 1000 bonus points for that answer.

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7 hours ago, Mop Bucket said:

If the fish was living would it be different?

Pretty sure it would then be just an outside agency. So you could wait for it to move out of the hazard, or move it yourself.

Getting this from Decision 23/6.5:


Q. What is the status of a snake?

A. A live snake is an outside agency. A dead snake is both an outside agency and a loose impediment. It is possible for an item or person to fall under more than one Definition.

But since it's a loose impediment when it's dead, you cannot move it out of a hazard (that's in Rule 13-4).

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18 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

But since it's a loose impediment when it's dead, you cannot move it out of a hazard (that's in Rule 13-4).

Aha, so you can resuscitate it first, then move it!

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8 hours ago, Mop Bucket said:

If the fish was living would it be different?

A live fish would be considered an outside agency.  My thought is that as such, one would be allowed to move an outside agency interfering with one's stroke or stance.  Before you do that, you may want to get a better educated decision!  ;)

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So in the fish situation, the fish didn't really interfere with the ball at all. It was close, but you could make a swing pretty easily without the fish making a difference. Personally, if I don't absolutely need to, I'm not going to move anything in a hazard (this is assuming my ball is in the hazard). It's just safer that way, and you don't invite the question of doing something wrong. While you are technically allowed to move a beer can out of hazard, why even bother until your ball is out of the hazard. That way nobody will question you.

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2 minutes ago, DeadMan said:

... While you are technically allowed to move a beer can out of hazard, why even bother until your ball is out of the hazard. That way nobody will question you.

Precisely! I have played enough tournament golf to have arrived at the same opinion.

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1 hour ago, RandallT said:

Aha, so you can resuscitate it first, then move it!

Can you resuscitate a fish without touching it?

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Hahaha! golf is weird smetimes. "Time of death of the fish is 11:23 am, the exact moment it became of loose impediment."

Edited by Mop Bucket

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This fish is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late fish. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn't nailed it to the hazard, it would be pushing up the daisies. It's rung down the choir and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-fish.

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