Teeing Area Rules

Trust me when I tell you that knowing the teeing area rules will help prevent penalties and confusion during your golf round.

I have a number of friends who tend to tee their ball up either right at the front edge of the tee markers or in front of them. I’m not sure why, but somehow they have fallen into this bad habit. It’s a slippery slope when you’re used to placing your tee that close to the front edge, and something I would recommend you try to avoid.

Teeing your ball up in front of the tee markers will cost you a two-stroke penalty in stroke play or you may have to replay your shot in match play, but there’s more to the story here (as usual). 

Here's What Happens If You Don't Tee Your Ball Inside the Teeing Area

 Teeing Area

According to the USGA Rules of Golf, the teeing area is a rectangle that is two club-lengths deep where

  • The front edge is defined by the line between the forward-most points of two tee-markers set by the committee, and
  • The side edges are defined by the lines back from the outside points of the tee-markers

When You Get The Call To Play In The Women’s Open

Brigitte Dunn earns spot in US Women's Amateur
Brigitte Dunn graduated from SMU last weekend. Then last night her phone rang.

The Qualifier

Brigitte played a 36-hole qualifier at Canyon Creek Country Club in Richardson, Texas just three weeks ago. With four birdies in the last five regulation holes, she ended up in a sudden-death playoff as night began to fall. She remembers thinking to herself “I am not coming back here tomorrow morning. I need to get this done”. She made a birdie in the dark to earn the first alternate spot.

Natural Athlete

Brigitte (pronounced the French way) is a multi-sport athlete. She played tennis, soccer and golf at Oaks Christian High School, in Westlake Village, Calif, and ultimately got serious about golf and wanted to play in college. She also surfs, skateboards and snowboards. She earned a spot on the golf team at Southern Methodist University and majored in sports management with an advertising minor. She has a creative side and enjoyed exploring her love for sports coupled with business and creativity at SMU.

Who's Your Caddie?

Of course, finding a caddie at the last minute isn’t easy. Brigitte had a couple of coaches and three good friends in mind to take the bag, and each of them had a very good reason they couldn’t spend this week in Charleston. Most of them said, “If I had known earlier I would have been there for you”. But of course, there was no way to know she’d get “the call” last night. Brigitte said she wanted someone to help keep her in the right frame of mind, but of course, knowing the course is important. After arriving in Charleston today, she went out to play 9 holes at The Country Club of Charleston and met one of the teaching pros, who has worked there for 19 years, so naturally, he knows it like the back of his hand. He offered to “loop” with her and she quickly knew he was the right person to be on her bag.

"Ultimately at the end of the day, it's me playing golf"

Brigitte likes to have a relaxed relationship with her caddie. “I just need someone to hang out with for four hours. I’m not someone who needs to over-analyze shots. I just have to do what I know how to do.”
Brigitte Dunn and her SMU teammates

In speaking with Brigitte on the phone today, it was clear that she has a calm demeanor and knows how to focus on her goals. When I asked her about the predicted 95 degree temperatures this week in Charleston, she said that wouldn’t bother her, and we both agreed we’d rather play in the heat than the cold.

Learn More About Brigitte And Other Players This Week

Be sure to follow me on Instagram as I head to the 74th US Women’s Open in Charleston, where I’ll blog and vlog about what it’s like to attend a major women’s golf tournament, and bring you back-stories on the players, and the women who make the golf industry a career.

Accidental Double Hit

Accidental double hit
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Accidental Double Hit is No Longer a Penalty!

One of the changes that I’m really happy about is Rule 10.1 – an accidental double hit is no longer a penalty!

If you accidentally double hit your ball (which can happen sometimes when when you’re in a rough or when you’re in a bunker) there is no longer a penalty.  And it can happen anywhere on the course. Just play it as it lies and go on with your round! Pretty cool, huh?

The Nitty Gritty:

Rule 10.1a (USGA)

If the player’s club accidentally hits the ball more than once, there has been only one stroke and there is no penalty.

Check out USGA’s site for exceptions and further details, but we can breathe a sigh of relief here. 

Free Relief From a Dangerous Animal

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Free Relief From a Dangerous Animal

Rule 16 provides relief from a dangerous animal. Dangerous Animal Conditions are considered Abnormal Course Conditions. Watch the bear video below for details.

If you play golf in areas with dangerous animals like bears, alligators, or snakes, you’re going to want to hear about Rule 16.2b. This rule allows you to take free relief from a dangerous animal, such as a mama bear and her cubs out on the course.

Under this rule, you may take a drop at the Nearest Point of Complete Relief from the dangerous animal condition, no closer to the hole. You must of course really be threatened by it. You can’t just assume there are snakes in the rough, but you actually have to see them and be in danger from them in order to get free relief. 

More broadly, Rule 16 covers free relief from abnormal course conditions, which include Immovable Obstructions, Ground Under Repair, and Temporary Water. 

Read more about the relief from abnormal course conditions on USGA’s website.

Repairing Spike Marks On Putting Green 2019 Golf Rules

repairing spike marks on green

Repairing Spike Marks On Putting Green in 2019

In 2019 you’ll be happy to know that you’ll be able to repair spike marks on the green before you putt.  

Rule 13 states you’ll be able to repair any damage to the green, which would include pitch marks, spike marks, damage from the flagstick being dragged on the green, and any other damage.

However, you will not be able to repair greens that have been aerated/punched, vertical mowing, or regular wear and tear. 

The Nitty Gritty:

Rule 13.C2 (USGA)

Repair of Damage. A player may repair damage on the putting green without penalty by taking reasonable actions to restore the putting green as nearly as possible to its original condition, but only:

  • By using his or her hand, foot or other part of the body or a normal ball-mark repair tool, tee, club or similar item of normal equipment, and
  • Without unreasonably delaying play (see Rule 5.6a).

But if the player improves the putting green by taking actions that exceed what is reasonable to restore the putting green to its original condition (such as by creating a pathway to the hole or by using an object that is not allowed), the player gets the general penalty for breach of Rule 8.1a.

“Damage on the putting green ” means any damage caused by a person or outside influence, such as:

  • Ball marks, shoe damage (such as spike marks) and scrapes or indentations caused by equipment or a flagstick,
  • Old hole plugs, turf plugs, seams of cut turf and scrapes or indentations from maintenance tools or vehicles,
  • Animal tracks or hoof indentations, and
  • Embedded objects (such as a stone, acorn or tee).

But “damage on the putting green” does not include any damage or conditions that result from:

  • Normal practices for maintaining the overall condition of the putting green (such as aeration holes and grooves from vertical mowing),
  • Irrigation or rain or other natural forces,
  • Natural surface imperfections (such as weeds or areas of bare, diseased or uneven growth), or
  • Natural wear of the hole.

Check out USGA’s site for exceptions and further details, but we can breathe a sigh of relief here.

Check out How to Mark Your Ball on the Green.

Using a Club to Take Your Stance

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Using a Club To Take Your Stance

Another big change in 2019 is that using a club to take your stance will earn you a penalty.

According to rule 10.2b you may not take your stance for a stroke using any object that was set down to help you line up or show you the line of play.

This is true anywhere on the course, including the putting green. Watch this video to learn more.

And you can’t place it there, line up and then remove it – you’ll still incur the General Penalty which is two strokes in Stroke Play and loss of hole in Match Play.

Take a look at page 86 of the new 2019 Rules of Golf Book, it’s Rule 10.2b (3)

So many of the new rules were designed to help speed up pace-of-play, which we are all really excited about. Read more about the USGA 2019 Rules and Interpretations.

Advice from Caddies 2019

Getting Advice from Caddies

Rule 10.2b(4) contains new restrictions when getting assistance from caddies.

Have you ever seen an LPGA event on TV where a caddie has stood behind a player to line her up on the tee box so she knows exactly what direction she should be hitting?

Well, that is now a penalty! 

You can no longer have your caddie or partner line you up before you take your stance. This is on the putting green, on the tee, anywhere in the fairway, or anywhere on the course.

The Nitty Gritty

Rule 10.2(4) Restriction on Caddie Standing Behind Player. When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made:

  • The player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.
  • If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away.

Exception – Ball on Putting Green: When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.

See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player’s partner and the partner’s caddie may take the same actions (with the same limitations) as the player’s caddie may take under Rules 10.2b(2) and (4)

Check out Rule 11,  Ball In Motion Accidentally Hits a Person or Outside Influence.

How To Take Free Relief From a Cart Path

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How To Take Free Relief From a Cart Path

We probably all know that we can take  free relief from a cart path (when our ball is sitting on a cart path) but in this video I explain exactly how to take free relief from the cart path.

First Step - Determine Your Nearest Point Of Relief

You will first want to determine your “nearest point of relief”, and that isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Many players think they get to pick and choose where they can take their drop, but unfortunately that’s not exactly true. You must find your “nearest point of relief” and it’s not necessarily on the side of the path that you think or where you want it to be.

In this scenario, after we went through the steps shown on the video to determine which side of the path Karen could take her free drop on, she was happy it happened to be on the fairway side of this cart path, and not the side of the tall rough, which could have resulted in a undesirable lie. (Of course an “undesirable lie” does not warrant free relief! 

Second Step - Measuring   (Little Known Fact)

In order to determine your nearest point of relief, you must use the club you intend to use for your swing. But after you’ve found that point, then you get up to one additional club length, and that can be measured with any club you want. This is a very little known fact, but can be useful!

TIP: One club length or two?  You get up to one additional club length if it is a free drop, and up to two additional club lengths if it is a drop that is costing you a penalty stroke. 

Third Step - Take Your Drop And Be Sure Your Ball Doesn't Roll Too Far

When you’re ready to take your drop, you will want to watch where it hit the ground and where it ends up because if it rolls either more than two club lengths from the point where it touched the ground, or closer to the hole, or back to where you don’t have complete relief, then you’ll need to drop again.

How many times can you drop it before placing it? It’s two attempts at a good drop, and if neither of those are “good”, then you may place the ball (as shown on the video) where it hit the ground on the second drop.

You Must Take Complete Relief

My husband actually had a penalty in a tournament because he had taken free relief from an immovable obstruction/cart path, but when he dropped his ball, his new spot to play from still required him to have a potion of his foot on the cart path. The rules say you must take “complete relief” so having a foot stand on the path was not “complete relief”. He took second instead of first in that tournament, and was quite bummed that his fellow competitor was so anxious to tell him this after he hit his ball, and not before he swung.

Local Rule -  Stones Near The Cart Path

At The Santaluz Club, where Karen and I were playing during this video, there are stones near the cart path that have been designated as part of the actual path, as a local rule. You’ll see in the video t hat I was going to put a tee in the ground on the opposite side of the cart path, but then decided against it because my ball would be sitting on rocks, which would still be considered cart path, and therefore not complete relief.

You may also always play the ball as it lies, as I chose to do in this video above since the stones directly adjacent to the cement cart path are considered cart path under a local rule.

TIP: It’s important to take a peek at the back of the scorecard or the rules for a tournament before you begin your round as there may be local rules that can help you during your round. 

As you can see from this video above, sometimes you might want to just try to hit the ball from where it lies on the cart path. Be careful, though!

The Nitty Gritty On The Actual Rule From USGA’s Website:

24-2. Immovable Obstruction

a. Interference

Interference by an immovable obstruction occurs when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, or when the obstruction interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing. If the player’s ball lies on the putting green, interference also occurs if an immovable obstruction on the putting green intervenes on his line of putt. Otherwise, intervention on the line of play is not, of itself, interference under this Rule.

b. Relief

Except when the ball is in a water hazard or a lateral water hazard, a player may take relief from interference by an immovable obstruction as follows:

(i)

Through the Green: If the ball lies through the green, the player must lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When the ball is dropped within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the immovable obstruction and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.

Yes, there’s a ton of golf rules,  but I hope my videos and posts are helping you!  Stay tuned for updates on the new rules of golf for 2019!

Are You A Sandbagger?

Are you a sandbagger?

Are You A Sandbagger?

We all joke about being sandbaggers, but how do you know if you are a sandbagger?

What Is Sandbagging?

Sandbagging is when you intentionally play below your potential so that you increase your handicap to make it easier for you to win in the future. You’ve seen it before, golfers who just swat at their putt when they are about to make a birdie because they don’t want to have a super-low score.

Playing By The Rules

Golf is a game of rules, a “gentleman’s sport” so-to-speak (but I prefer gentle-person). In addition to needing to play by the rules of golf, if we are going to play in any tournaments, guest days or gamble while playing, we must be sure to keep an accurate golf index, which enables us to calculate our course handicap.

Watch this video to discover if you or someone you play with is a sandbagger, and what you can do about it!

See details on Equitable Stroke Control and the maximum you can post on any given golf hole.