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Tue, Nov. 12

Gunby: Educating players on local golf rules

I am strongly suggesting that all golf clubs and courses get to work right now on marking their golf courses, having new Rule Books available, educating their players and developing their local rules to coincide with the new Rules of Golf that go in effect on January 1st. We will discuss an important Local Rule that a Club’s Committee may implement. Note: This Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite amateur level competitions.

Issues with pace of play can result from players needing to take stroke-and-distance relief for a ball that is out of bounds or cannot be found when a provisional ball has not been played. The purpose of this Local Rule that is outlined below is to allow a Committee to provide an extra relief option that means that a player may play on without returning to the location of the previous stroke.

This option allows the player to drop in a large area between the point where the ball is estimated to have come to rest or gone out of bounds and the edge of the fairway that is not nearer the hole. The player gets two penalty strokes when using this relief option, so that the relief is comparable to what could have been achieved if the player had taken stroke-and-distance relief.

There are two estimated reference points. One is the ball reference point. This is the point where the ball is estimated to have come to rest on the course or the ball last crossed the edge of the course boundary to go out of bounds.

The other reference point is the point of the fairway that is nearest to the to the ball reference point but is not nearer the hole. For this Local Rule, fairway means any area of grass that is cut to fairway height or less.

Let’s now discuss the potentially large relief area based on the two reference points described earlier. This relief area is anywhere between a line from the hole through the ball reference point (or within two club-lengths to the outside of that line), and a line from the hole to the fairway reference point (or within two club-lengths to the outside of that line). Using this Local Rule relief will result in a two-stroke penalty.

There are limits on the location of the relief area. First, it must be in the “general area”. General area is very similar to what we used to call “through the green”. Secondly, it must not be nearer the hole than the ball reference point. This Local Rule option cannot be used if the ball is known or virtually certain to have to rest in a penalty area or if the player has played another ball provisionally under penalty of stroke-and-distance.

Here’s where I see this Local Rule being used. Let’s assume you hit a big drive and it is close to the course boundary toward the end of its flight, eventually ending out-of-bounds. It would be advantageous to drop a ball in the fairway and hit from there instead of risking another drive going in the same direction with the possibly of another OB. On the other hand, if you shank a ball and it goes just a little way and out-of-bounds, you may be better off using the stroke-and-distance option.

More 2019 Rule changes will be discussed in future columns. Stay tuned.

John Gunby Sr. is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Reach him by email at

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