The other day whilst walking my dog across Frodsham Golf Course, I came across a four ball, in which one of the team members whose ball had landed under a tree was clearly breaking the rules.
As his backswing was being restricted by one of the branches on the tree, he was busy dismembering it from owner, whilst the other three members of his group looked on with looks ranging from bemusement to amusement.
None of them spoke up and I can only assume that they were all oblivious to rule 13-2 of the Royal and Ancient Rules of Golf. The rule clearly states that a player must not improve or allow to be improved the area of his intended stance or swing by moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable obstructions and objects defining out of bounds).
Whilst this particular infringement of the rules was clear (although not to his playing partners), it made me wonder whether there are still a few rules that hardly anyone knows, or have no idea how to follow them. Well the R & A may not of covered everything in the rules, but in a 600-page document entitled “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” they have certainly tried.
Let’s look a few:
Number One: Losing Your Head
This is one of my favourite weird rules of golf because it actually happened to a friend and playing partner of mine. If your club head falls of during the backswing and you complete the swing but miss the ball, it doesn’t count as a stroke. But if your club head falls of during the downswing and you complete the swing but miss the ball, it does count as a stroke.
The reason I like it, is that a friend of mine once connected with another golf club his bag during the back swing knocking the club head off. To be fair, he was more concerned about his £200 driver than any rules he may or may not of broken.
Number Two: Is The Clubhouse Out Of Bounds?
A few months ago I was sitting in the clubhouse and noticed that someone had fired a ball straight through the window. It transpired that the player in questions had seen his tee shot ricochet off a tree. I’m not sure whether he had given himself a penalty for this minor accident but rule 24-2b/13 states that if your shot ends up in the clubhouse, and the clubhouse is not considered out-of-bounds, you may open a window or door and play your next shot without penalty.
Try and get that one past Tim and Richard.
Number Three: When Is A Loose Impediment Not A Loose Impediment
This one is a cracker. Apparently, moving a fly, daddy longlegs or butterfly from behind your ball in a hazard incurs a penalty stroke. However, if it’s hovering over your ball its fair game, so swat away.
Number Four: Using Your Water Bottle As A Spirit Level
Whilst I have never actually seen this done (and I can see why you wouldn’t be able to do it), apparently some people have been known to try and learn the break on a put by resting their water bottle on the green and checking the level against the ground. Please take note this is a rules infringement, but don’t ask me which one.
Number Five: Artificially Propelled Air?
If a gust of wind moves your ball, you can play it from its new position.
But if artificially propelled air moves your ball, you must replace it without penalty. For this to be considered by the R & A, someone must of tried it. For example, bringing a can of air onto the course and blowing your ball closer to the hole. The things some people do!
Number Six: The Lose Ball In The Bunker
Now, this actually happened to me on a course in Spain. I hit what I thought was the perfect shot into the green, only to see it hit the top of a green side bunker. However, when I got to the bunker it was nowhere to be seen.
After a couple of minutes of searching, I finally uncovered my ball, only to be told that I needed to recover it before I could hit. I was allowed to leave a bit of the ball showing so I know roughly where it was. This is Rule 12-1b.
Number Seven: Please Stand Well Clear Of That Flagstick
Most people know that you can have the flag attended even if you are off the green.
However, most people don’t know that if someone is standing near enough to the stick to touch it then they are deemed to be attending the flag.
If the ball then hits the flag the player making the stroke incurs a two shot penalty.
Number Eight: Can You Just Stand There Please
Whoever thought this one up had definitely been on the sauce.
If you hit your playing partner and he was standing out of the way of your shot and out of bounds and your balls lands out of bounds, you can replay your shot.
Don’t forget to say thanks and offer to buy the poor guy a pint afterwards.