Rule Tip of the Week: Incidentally

The New Mexico State Division 5A High School Golf Championships for 2017 were conducted at The Canyon Club in Albuquerque. During this 36-hole event, Rules Officials filled out “Incident Reports” in order to record their interactions with the players. While the occasional viewer of televised golf events might erroneously conclude that the sole job of Rules Officials is to penalize players, the more than 100 “incidents” from this high school tournament clearly demonstrate that Rules Officials are primarily there to assist players. Here are just a few examples of how the volunteer Rules Officials from the Sun Country Golf Association were helpful to the high school players:


  • On numerous occasions, the Rules Officials assisted players in searching for wayward balls within the five-minute search period stipulated in Rule 27-1c [Ball Not Found Within Five Minutes].


  • Unfortunately, there were many situations wherein a Rules Official had to inform a player that his or her original ball was out of bounds. If the player’s ball was out of bounds, and the player had not played a provisional ball to save time, the Rules Official transported the player to and from the area from which he or she had played the original ball to assist the player in proceeding under Rule 27-1a [Proceeding Under Stroke and Distance].


  • Rules Officials helped many players determine the actual or estimated point where their ball last crossed the margin of a water hazard or a lateral water hazard. If a player then expressed uncertainty regarding how to take relief from the hazard, the Rules Official informed the player of his or her options in taking relief from the hazard per Rule 26 [Water Hazards].


  • During the morning of the second round, Rules Officials monitored the movement of an electrical storm moving over the Sandia mountains just east of the course. When a lightning strike was detected within a 6-mile radius of the course, Rules Officials sounded their sirens for an immediate suspension of play and assisted with the evacuation of players off the course. After about a 90-minute suspension, Rules Officials assisted with the repositioning of players on the course, and then sounded their sirens to signal resumption of play. Also, Rules Officials assisted several players with the proper procedure for resuming play per Rule 6-8d [Procedure When Play Resumed].


  • A Rules Official discovered that a player had found her ball out of bounds and had proceeded incorrectly. Rather than proceeding under penalty of stroke and distance per Rule 27-1a, the player dropped a ball and played her next stroke near to where her ball had exited the course. The Rules Official actually saved the player from being disqualified by catching the error before the player had played from the next teeing ground. As noted in Decision 27-1/3 [Ball Dropped in Area Where Original Ball Lost; Ball Then Played], “In stroke play, the player incurs the stroke-and-distance penalty prescribed by Rule 27-1 and an additional penalty of two strokes for a breach of that Rule.” Since the player had committed a serious breach by gaining a significant advantage, the Rules Official made sure that the player corrected the error, and thereby kept the player from being disqualified.


  • During the first round, one player suddenly developed a serious nose bleed. Due to this sudden illness, Rules Officials allowed the player to discontinue play per Rule 6-8a(iv) [Discontinuance of Play … When Permitted]. While the player was trying to recover, Rules Officials authorized the following group to play through. When the player was unable to recuperate within 10 minutes or so, the Rules Officials had to inform her that she was disqualified for that round consistent with Decision 6-8a/3 [Discontinuing Play Due to Physical Problem]. The Rules Officials then made sure that this player signed off on the score card that she was marking, and then reassigned her responsibility as a marker to one of the fellow-competitors in her group.


May 2017 Rules