GUIDELINES ON LOCAL RULES
This document is intended to provide guidance only for Competition Secretaries in a range of matters relating to Local Rules. It provides broad advice on the policy to adopt when writing Local Rules, sample wordings for Local Rules and sample wordings for Local Rules of a temporary nature based on recommendations within the Rules of Golf.
This will help Clubs in determining the fairest course of action regarding the implementation of Local Rules. It also guides Clubs on what Local Rules should appear on the scorecard and how they should appear, and how to express these in the most accessible manner.
In short, it is hoped that this will provide clear, precise and concise guidelines for Secretaries, whether they are new to their position or seasoned experts.
Tips for Writing Local Rules
When writing Local Rules, Rule 33-8 of the Rules of Golf applies:
a. Policy: The Committee may establish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions if they are consistent with the policy set forth in Appendix I.
b. Waiving or Modifying a Rule: A Rule of Golf must not be waived by a Local Rule. However, if a Committee considers that local abnormal conditions interfere with the proper playing of the game to the extent that it is necessary to make a Local Rule that modifies the Rules of Golf, the Local Rule must be authorised by the R&A.
Read related decisions to Rule 33-8 in the ‘Decisions in the Rules of Golf’ for further information. Efforts should be made to have the course play to its natural elements. In all situations, ask the question: “Is it necessary to give relief?” Relief situations should be kept to a minimum.
Local Rules which are likely to be in operation for less than 12 months duration should not be on the scorecard.
When a Local Rule is being introduced, it should be double-checked to ensure that it does not contravene a Rule of Golf.
Tree stumps still attached to the ground and other such similar features should be categorized as an Integral Part of the Course.
Clubs should publish their Local Rules on their website. This would be particularly beneficial for visitors, many of whom view the website of a Club before visiting the course.
Short-Term Local Rules--
A copy of Short-Term Local Rules should be on display in an area where the golfer is likely to see them before they go to the first tee. An ideal place would be in a display case close to the first Tee.
The following relief measures – where they are in operation – should be on display in the same manner as Short-Term Local Rules:
*Relief from sprinkler heads close to the putting green
*Use of measuring device
*Relief for embedded ball through the green
(Guidance on wordings for these rules is provided at the end of this document – see Temporary Local Rules.)
This would leave more space available on the card for the Local Rules and any other information.
Sample Local Rules
Beyond any wall, fence, white stakes/lines defining the boundary of the course
(a) Where Out of Bounds is defined by white stakes or fence posts (excluding angled support) the line joining the nearest inside points at ground level of such stakes or posts defines the boundary. A ball is Out of Bounds when all of it lies on or over such line.
(b) Where any continuing white line is in existence, it defines the boundary. A ball is Out of Bounds when all of it lies on or over such line.
(c) A ball which crosses a road defined as out of bounds and comes to rest beyond the road is out of bounds even though it may lie on another part of the course.
Internal Out of Bounds (example):
The 15th hole when playing the 8th as marked by the line of white stakes. When playing the 8th these stakes are Out of Bounds Stakes with no relief. When playing the 15th these stakes can be treated as Immovable Obstructions.
All immovable artificial items (except those listed as Integral Parts of the course), fixed course furniture, artificial path surfaces, roadways, distance discs in the fairways, wooden steps.
Bridges - Relief “Relief can be taken where interference to stance or swing occurs from a bridge, when the ball is not in the hazard”(an alternative is to declare a bridge as an Integral Part of the Course).
Overhead Cables - Relief “When a ball strikes an overhead cable (that is over the course) or a support carrying same, the stroke must be cancelled and replayed without Penalty”
Relief may be obtained from the sleepers on the edges of pathways where the stroke or stance is impeded. Nearest point of relief and one club length.
Stones and rakes in bunkers, all water hazard posts, distance marking stakes. All items not listed as “Integral Parts of the Course” that are easily moved without holding up play.
All ground circled by a white line and or marked GUR, gravel topped drains. Relief may not be granted if stance only effected (Committee Decision).
(Play may be allowed from these areas or forbidden as the Committee decides)
Integral Parts of the Course (example)
All stakes supporting trees.
All outcropping walls and stonewall on the right of the 13th fairway.
Tree stumps attached to the ground.
Water hazards are marked with yellow stakes / lines.
Lateral water hazards, are marked with red stakes/lines.
All bridges within the Yellow/Red Lines are within the hazard. There is no relief (except with penalty) but a player may ground his club on the bridge.
Overhead Power Line and Supporting Towers or Poles
A ball striking an overhead power line or supporting tower or pole carrying same, within the bounds of the course, must be replayed without Penalty. A ball must be dropped as close as possible to where the original stroke was played.
Young Plantation (Example)
The plantation running along the right of the 6th and 7th fairway (marked with blue markers) is to be treated as G.U.R. Play is forbidden.
Relief: Nearest Drop Zone (or nearest Point of relief if there is no Drop Zone) which is not nearer the Pin.
Relief of one club length from the nearest point of relief if stance or swing is impeded.
Sprinkler Heads Close to Putting Green
Relief is granted. Read notice on the notice board at the 1st tee for procedure.
May be used on the course. Read notice on the notice board at the 1st. tee for list of restrictions.
On the right hand side of the 12th and 13th holes only (For procedure and restrictions read notice on notice board at the 1st tee).
Penalty for Breach of Local Rule
Match Play: Loss of hole
Stroke Play: Two strokes
Temporary Local Rules
The two Bunkers on the right of the 6th Green, which are flooded and damaged, are deemed G.U.R and classified as through the green. Relief may be taken outside the bunkers (nearest Point of Relief to the position of the ball that is not nearer to the pin) without penalty.
Tractor and Machinery marks
At the 16th Tee (being re-built) a player may take relief from the damaged area, which is circled with a white line (nearest point of Relief from the position of the ball).
If a ball lies off the putting green but not in a hazard and a sprinkler on the green or within 2 club lengths of the putting green, and within 2 club lengths of the ball, intervenes on the line of play between the ball and the hole, the player may take relief as follows:
The ball must be lifted and dropped at the nearest point to where the ball lay that (a) is not nearer the hole, (b) avoids intervention and (c) is not in a hazard or on a putting green. The ball may be cleaned when lifted.
Distance- Measuring Devices.
A player may obtain distance information by using a device that measures distance only. If during a stipulated round , a player uses a distance-measuring device that is designed to gauge or measure other conditions that might affect his play (e.g. gradient, wind speed, temperature etc.) the player is in breach of Rule 14-3, for which the penalty is disqualification, regardless of whether any such additional function is actually used.
Through the green, a ball that is embedded in its own pitch mark in the ground may be lifted, without penalty, cleaned and dropped as near as possible to where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green.
Exception 1: A player may not take relief under this local rule if it embedded in sand in an area that is not closely mown.
Exception 2: A player may not take relief under this Local Rule if it is clearly unreasonable for him to make a stroke because of interference by anything other than the condition covered by this Local Rule.
Provincial Council Member GUI Munster Branch
Golfing Union of Ireland Munster Branch
6 Townview, Mallow, Co Cork