Saving Strokes 1: Read the Local Rules

Do you know the Local Rules at your own course? When did you last read them? Did you know they will have changed in 2019? When playing a another course do you read the Local Rules?

This is one of the first things a Rules Official will do before play starts. Understanding them is essential and they are different on every course. Knowing them can save you strokes by allowing you take relief. Not knowing them can cost you strokes – breaking a local rule normally incurs the General Penalty (2 strokes / loss of hole)

Have a look at the examples above – in every one there are potential pitfalls or benefits

  • Brokenhurst – Blue stakes mark No Play Zones
  • High Post – Free relief available from a bridle path on the first 3 holes and a track across the 12th, 13th, & 18th which are not obviously Immovable Obstructions
  • Kingsdown – Blue Stakes indicate bridle paths from which there is no relief
  • Kingsdown – free relief from bedrock stones on the 12th, 13th, and 15th but not from the 3 stones on the ridge crossing the 16th
  • Petersfield – Red stakes with green tops mark a No Play Zone
  • Petersfield – Stroke cancelled if it hits overhead wires or supporting pole
  • Salisbury & South Wilts – Blue line marks a No Play Zone and relief may be taken in the nearest drop zone which may be nearer the hole

You can even get caught out playing on your own course……

Some time ago I was a member of West Surrey and was playing in the Pro-Am there for the first time. The first hole has a right to left slope on the fairway and with my usual draw I needed to aim down the right hand rough for the ball to finish on the fairway – all too often I would hit a straight push and end up on the practice ground. This wasn’t too much of a problem as I could normally shape a second around the trees near to the front of the green and I had a shot on the hole anyway. The only issue was that when a lot of practice balls had been hit you needed to do a bit of a search to find which ball was yours.

So, first tee shot in the Pro-Am and I hit my straight push onto the edge of the practice ground and the starter immediately said “You’d better hit another one”. When I replied to say it wasn’t a problem and that I would be able to find he then told me it was out of bounds, I argued the point and he informed me that it was “always out of bounds in the pro-am” and gave me the sheet of local rules in play for the day (only previously handed to the Pro in the group). I wasn’t best pleased!

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