October - 2009

In writing about the Rules of Golf and trying to make it interesting for our members, one of my goals is to show how the decisions affecting the Rules can be fair and yet at times so odd. I often just glance through the Decisions book and shake my head at all the things that have happened, and how interwoven the rules are to try to cover everything that potentially can happen.
I've pulled a few examples from the Decisions book to show what I mean (although there are many more…)

14-1/4 Striking Ball with Half an Inch Backswing Q. A player's ball lies close to an out of bounds fence, but there is room behind the ball to insert an iron club or a putter and leave a space of half an inch between the ball and the face of the club. If the player plays a stroke with such a limited backswing, is he in breach of Rule 14-1?

A. It is possible to strike a ball fairly with a half inch backswing. However, in most such cases the player would be pushing the ball, contrary to Rule 14-1. In the absence of strong evidence to the contrary, it should be ruled that the player has pushed the ball. In order to strike the ball fairly, it must be swung at with the clubhead. If the ball is moved by any other method, it has been pushed, scraped or spooned. If a ball is fairly struck at, there is only momentary contact between the clubhead and the ball or whatever intervenes between the clubhead and the ball.

14-1/6 Player Holds Club with Left Hand and Moves Ball by Striking Shaft with Other Hand
Q. A player addresses his ball lying in high grass on a steep bank. His ball does not move, but the player believes it will move if he takes a backswing. Accordingly, the player holds the club with his left hand and strikes the shaft of the club with his right hand, thereby moving the ball. Is this permissible?

A. No. The player pushed the ball, contrary to Rule 14-1.

14-1/7 Using More Than One Club to Make Stroke
Q. A player, whose ball was lodged in a bush, swung at the ball with three clubs to minimize the chance of missing it. Is this permissible?

A. No. Rule 14-1 requires that the ball be struck at with the "head of the club;" the word "club" is in the singular. The player was in breach of this Rule when he swung at the ball with three clubs