Roanoke Valley Senior Golf Tour

Revised Rules of Play Effective 2019

The USGA and R&A have streamlined the rules for 2019 and beyond. There are many changes and it is important that you take the time to read through the rules and begin using them in your casual play. This will help you avoid possible penalties once our tournament season begins.

Click here USGA 2019 RULES CHANGES to view the major rules changes for 2019.  There are approximately 30 videos and illustrations covering the most signiciant changes. You can also download a PDF file of the complete rules from the USGA website, or access them by clicking here Complete Rules for 2019

Expert Golf also has a video outlining the 20 Most Important Rules Changes.  < Click Link.  They also sell quick reference rules books for on course use.  

It is important to understand that this is a competitive tour, and the Tour expects all players to not only play by the rules, but also to enforce the rules. Each player is responsible to protect the field. Infractions may result in stroke assessments, disqualification, or suspension from the Tour. Consult the USGA website for more complete explanation of the rules.

PLEASE AVOID SLOW PLAY:   With our large field, it is critical that you keep pace with the group ahead of you. All of the courses should be played in no more than 4 hours & 30 minutes. Agree beforehand that your group will play ready golf.  Take a few clubs, walk to your ball, and be ready to play.  Also, take note that your search time is now limited to 3 minutes.

For complete information on rules, visit the USGA Website.


THE FOLLOWING IS A HYBRID VERSION OF THE NEW USGA RULES FALLING BETWEEN THE PLAYER'S EDITION AND THE FULL RULES.

I - FUNDAMENTALS of the GAME (Rules 1 - 4)

Rule 1 – The Game, Player Conduct and the Rules
 Introduces these central principles of the game for the player:
Application of Penalties
Levels of Penalties
Penalties are meant to cancel out any potential advantage to the player. There are three main penalty levels:
Rule 2 – The Course
Introduces the five defined areas of the course, and the importance of knowing the area of the course where the ball lies, and the status of any interfering objects and conditions which often affect the player’s options for playing the ball or taking relief. Course boundaries (usually white stakes or fences), or any area outside of those boundaries, are not considered part of the course.

There are five areas of the course:

 Objects or Conditions that can Interfere with Play
 Certain Rules may give free relief (relief with no penalty) from interference by certain defined objects or conditions, such as:
There is no free relief from course boundary markers, boundary objects (including objects outside the boundary), or integral objects of the course that interfere with play.

Rule 3 – The Competition
Covers the key elements of Roanoke Valley Senior Golf Tour competitions.
Rule 4 – The Player's Equipment
Covers the equipment that players may use during a round based on the principle that golf is a challenging game in which success should depend on the player’s judgment, skills and abilities.
For detailed requirements on conforming clubs, balls and other equipment see the Equipment Rules on the USGA website.

II - PLAYING the ROUND and a HOLE (Rules 5 - 6)

Rule 5 – Playing the Tournament Round

Covers how to play a tournament round – such as where and when a player may practice on the course before or during a round, when a round starts and ends, and what happens when play has to stop or resume. Players are expected to start each round on time, and play continuously at a prompt pace until the round is completed. When it is a player’s turn to play, it is recommended that you make the stroke in no more than 40 seconds, and usually more quickly than that.
Rule 6 – Playing a Hole
Covers how to play a hole – such as the specific Rules for teeing off to start a hole, the requirement to use the same ball for an entire hole, except when substitution is allowed, the order of play, and completing a hole.
 
III - PLAYING the BALL (Rules 7 - 11)

Rule 7 – Ball Search: Finding and Identifying Ball
Covers the reasonable actions to fairly search for your ball in play after each stroke, during which the player must be careful, as a penalty will apply if the player acts excessively and causes improvement to the conditions affecting his next stroke.  The player gets no penalty if the ball is accidentally moved in trying to find or identify it, but must then replace the ball on its original spot. Note: Search time is limited to 3 minutes.
Rule 8 – Course Played as It Is Found
Covers a central principle of the game: “play the course as you find it.”  When the player’s ball comes to rest, he normally has to accept the conditions affecting the stroke and not improve them before playing the ball. However, a player may take certain reasonable actions, even if they improve those conditions, and there are limited circumstances where conditions may be restored without penalty after they have been improved or worsened.  It applies to these specific areas:
Players Actions that are NOT ALLOWED which might Improve Conditions Affecting the Next Stroke:
 (1)  Move, bend or break any:
 •  Growing or attached natural object,
 •  Immovable obstruction, integral object or course boundary object, or
 • Tee-marker for the teeing area when playing a ball from that teeing area.
 (2)  Move a loose impediment or movable obstruction into position (such as to build a stance or to improve the line of play). 
 (3)  Alter the surface of the ground, including by:
•  Replacing divots in a divot hole, 
•  Removing or pressing down divots that have already been replaced or other cut turf that is already in place, or
•  Creating or eliminating holes, indentations or uneven surfaces.
 (4)  Remove or press down sand or loose soil, unless inside the teeing area, or on the green.
 (5)  Remove dew, frost or water.

Players Actions which are ALLOWED even if they might Improve Conditions Affecting the Next Stroke:
 (1)  Fairly search for his or her ball by taking reasonable actions to find and identify it (Rule 7).
 (2)  Take reasonable actions to remove loose impediments and movable obstructions (Rule 15).
 (3)  Take reasonable actions to mark the spot of a ball, and to lift and replace the ball under Rules 14.
 (4)  Ground the club lightly right in front of or right behind the ball.  But this does not allow:
 •  Pressing the club on the ground, or
 •  When a ball is in a bunker, touching the sand right in front of or right behind the ball (see Rule 12).
 (5)  Firmly place the feet in taking a stance, including a reasonable amount of digging in with the feet in sand or loose soil.
 (6)  Fairly take a stance by taking reasonable actions to get to the ball and take a stance.  But when doing so the player:
 •  Is not entitled to a normal stance or swing, and 
 •  Must use the least intrusive course of action to deal with the particular situation.
 (7)  Make a stroke, or the backswing for a stroke, which is then made. (Does not apply in bunkers.)
 (8)  In the teeing area:
 •  Place a tee, or build a tee using sand, dirt, grass, etc.
 •  Move, bend or break growing or attached natural objects (only within the teeing area).
 •  Alter the surface of the ground, remove or press down sand and soil, or remove dew, frost or water (Rule 6). 
 (9)  In a bunker, smooth sand to care for the course after a ball played from the bunker is now outside the bunker (Rule 12).
 (10) On the putting green, remove sand and loose soil and repair damage (Rule 13).
 (11) Move a natural object to see if it is loose. But if the object is found to be growing, attached, or embedded it must stay attached and be returned to its original position.
 
Penalty for Breach of Rule 8: General Penalty, unless before making the next stroke the player eliminates the improved conditions by restoring to the original conditions.

 
Rule 9 – Ball Played as It Lies; Ball at Rest Lifted or Moved
Covers the central principle of the game: "play the ball as it lies."
9.1 Ball Played as It Lies
          a. Playing Ball from Where It Came to Rest
             A player’s ball at rest on the course must be played as it lies, except when the Rules require or allow the player:
To play a ball from another place on the course, or 
To lift a ball and then replace it on its original spot. 
b. What to Do When Ball Moves During Backswing or Stroke 
   If a player’s ball at rest begins moving after the player has begun the stroke or the backswing for a stroke and the player goes on to make the stroke:
• The ball must not be replaced, no matter what caused it to move. Play the next stroke from where the ball comes to rest.
• If the player's actions caused the ball to move and the stroke is completed, the player incurs a one stroke penalty
 
 9.2 Deciding Whether Ball Moved and What Caused It to Move  
a. Deciding Whether Ball Moved
A player’s ball at rest is treated as having moved only if it is known or virtually certain that it did, otherwise, it is treated as not having moved and must be played as it lies.  
b. Deciding What Caused Ball to Move
This determines whether the player must replace the ball or play it as it lies, and whether there is a penalty.
 (1) Four Possible Causes: The Rules recognize only four possible causes for a ball at rest that moves before the player makes a stroke:
 Natural forces, such as wind or water (see Rule 9.3), (Play the ball on its new spot.)
 • The player, including the player’s caddie (see Rule 9.4),  
 • The opponent in match play, including the opponent’s caddie (see Rule 9.5), or
 • An outside influence, including any other player in stroke play (see Rule 9.6).
 (2) “Known or Virtually Certain” Standard for Deciding What Caused Ball to Move.
 • The player, the opponent or an outside influence is treated as having caused the ball to move only if it is known or virtually certain to be the cause.
 • If it is not known or virtually certain that at least one of these was the cause, the ball is treated as having been moved by natural forces).

In applying this standard, all reasonably available information must be considered, which means all information the player knows or can get with reasonable effort and without unreasonably delaying play.

 9.3 Ball Moved by Natural Forces (such as wind or water): 
• There is no penalty, and
• The ball must be played from its new spot.
Exception – Ball on Putting Green Must Be Replaced only if it Moves After Having Already Been Lifted and Replaced no matter what caused it to move (including natural forces). (Rules 13 & 14)
 
 9.4 Ball Lifted or Moved by Player  
This Rule applies only when it is known or virtually certain that a player lifted his ball at rest, or caused it to move.
 a. When Lifted or Moved Ball Must Be Replaced
If the player lifts his or her ball at rest or causes it to move, the ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2), except:
• When the player lifts the ball under a Rule to take relief or to replace the ball on a different spot (see Rules 14.2d and 14.2e), or
• When the ball moves only after the player has begun the stroke or the backswing for a stroke and then goes on to make the stroke (see Rule 9.1b).

 b. Penalty for Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball, or Causing It to Move -  one penalty stroke. But there are four exceptions: 
Exception 1 – Player Allowed to Lift or Move Ball: There is no penalty when the player lifts the ball or causes it to move under a Rule that:
• Allows the ball to be lifted and then replaced on its original spot,
• Requires a moved ball to be replaced on its original spot, or
• Requires or allows the player to drop or place a ball again or to play a ball from a different place.
Exception 2 – Accidental Movement Before Ball Is Found: There is no penalty when the player accidentally causes the ball during search or identification. (Rule 7) 
Exception 3 – Accidental Movement on Putting Green: There is no penalty when the player accidentally causes the ball to move on the putting green, no matter how that happens. (Rule 13)
Exception 4 – Accidental Movement Anywhere Except on Putting Green While Applying Rule: There is no penalty when the player takes resonable actions to:
• Mark the spot of the ball or lift or replace the ball, when allowed to do so (see Rules 14.1 and 14.2),
• Remove a movable obstruction (see Rule 15.2),• Restore worsened conditions, when allowed to do so (see Rule 8.1d),
• Take relief under a Rule, including in determining whether relief is available under a Rule (such as swinging a club to see if there is interference from a condition), or where to take relief (such as determining the nearest point of complete relief), or
• Measure under a Rule (such as to decide the order of play under Rule 6.4).
 

Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 9 - General Penalty
If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.

Rule 10 – Preparing for and Making a Stroke; Advice and Help
Covers preparing for and making a stroke, including advice and help the player may get from others. The principle is that golf is a game of skill and personal challenge.
 

10.1 Making a Stroke covers making a stroke and acts that are prohibited in doing so. A stroke is made by fairly striking at a ball with the head of a club as follows:.
 a. Fairly Striking the Ball -  In making a stroke:
• The player must fairly strike at the ball with the head of the club such that there is only momentary contact between the club.
• The ball and must not be pushed, scraped or scooped..

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

 b. Anchoring the Club - In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either:
• Directly, by holding the club or a gripping hand against any part of the body (except the player's hand or forearm), or
• Indirectly, through an “anchor point,” by holding a forearm against any part of the body to use a gripping hand as a stable point around which to swing the club.
If the player’s club, gripping hand or forearm merely touches his or her body or clothing during the stroke, without being held against the body, there is no breach of this Rule.
For the purposes of this Rule, “forearm” means the part of the arm below the elbow joint and includes the wrist.
 

 c. Making Stroke While Standing Across or on Line of Play
The player must not make a stroke from a stance with a foot deliberately placed on each side of, or with either foot deliberately touching, the line of play or an extension of that line behind the ball. 
For this Rule only, the line of play does not include a reasonable distance on either side.
Exception – There Is No Penalty If Stance Is Taken Accidentally or to Avoid Another Player’s Line of Play.

 d. Playing Moving Ball
 A player must not make a stroke at a moving ball:
• A ball in play is “moving” when it is not at rest on a spot. 
• If a ball that has come to rest is wobbling (oscillating) but stays on or returns to its original spot, it is treated as being at rest and is not a moving ball.
 But there are three exceptions where there is no penalty:
Exception 1 – Ball Begins to Move Only after Player Begins Backswing for Stroke: Making a stroke at a moving ball in this situation is covered by Rule 9.
Exception 2 – Ball Falling Off Tee: Making a stroke at a ball falling off a tee is covered by Rule 6.2b(5), not by this Rule.
Exception 3 – Ball Moving in Water: When a ball is moving in temporary water or in water in a penalty area:
• The player may make a stroke at the moving ball without penalty, or
• The player may take relief with penalty, under Rule 16 or 17, and may lift the moving ball.
 In either case, the player must not delay play (Rule 5) to allow the wind or water current to move the ball to a better place. 

 Penalty for Breach of Rule 10: General Penalty - 2 strokes..

 10.2 Advice and Other Help  - There are limits to the advice and other help the player may get during a round. 
a. Advice - During a round, a player must not:
  • Give advice to anyone playing on the course other than public information (location of hole, green, bunkers, penalty areas), distances, or available Rules., 
  • Ask anyone for advice, or
  • Touch another player’s equipment to learn information (such as touching the other player’s clubs or bag to see what club is being used).
 b. Other Help Prohibited during the round
  • No Setting Down Object to Help in Taking Stance. A player must not take a stance for the stroke using any object that was set down by or for the player to help in lining up his or her feet or body, such as a club set down on the ground to show the line of play.  If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away from the stance and removing the object.
  •  Physical Help and Protection from Elements. A player must not make a stroke while getting physical help from any other person, or by having any other person or object deliberately positioned to give protection from sunlight, rain, wind or other elements.
This Rule does not prohibit the player from taking his or her own actions to protect against the elements while making a stroke, such as by wearing protective clothing or holding an umbrella over his or her own head. 
Penalty for Breach of Rules 10.1 & 10.2: General Penalty.

  
Rule 11 – Ball in Motion Accidentally Hits Person, Animal or Object; Deliberate Actions to Affect Ball in Motion
Rule covers what to do if the player’s ball in motion hits a person, animal, equipment or anything else on the course. When this happens accidentally, there is no penalty and the player normally must accept the result, whether favorable or not, and play the ball from where it comes to rest. Rule 11 also restricts a player from deliberately taking actions to affect where any ball in motion might come to rest.

This Rule applies any time a ball in play is in motion (whether after a stroke or otherwise), except when a ball has been dropped in a relief area and has not yet come to rest. That situation is covered by Rule 14.

11.1 Ball in Motion Accidentally Hits Person or Outside Influence
 a. No Penalty to Any Player
 If a player’s ball in motion accidentally hits any person or outside influence:
• There is no penalty to any player.
• This is true even if the ball hits the player, the opponent or any other player or any of their caddies or equipment.
Exception Ball Played on Putting Green in Stroke Play: If the player’s ball in motion hits another ball at rest on the putting green and both balls were on the putting green before the stroke, the player gets the General Penalty (two penalty strokes).
 
b. Ball Must Be Played as It Lies
If a player’s ball in motion accidentally hits any person or outside influence, the ball must be played as it lies, except in two situations: 
Exception 1When the Ball Played from Anywhere Except Putting Green Comes to Rest on Any Person, Animal or Moving Outside Influence: The player must not play the ball as it lies. Instead, the player must take relief by:
When Ball Is Anywhere Except on Putting Green: The player must drop the original ball or another ball within one club-length of the estimated point where the ball first came to rest, no closer to the hole, in the same area of the course (General, Bunker, Penalty, Teeing area).
• When Ball Is on Putting Green: The player must place the original ball or another ball on the estimated spot right under where the ball first came to rest on the person, animal or moving outside influence, using the procedures for replacing a ball under Rules 14.

Exception 2 – When Ball Played from Putting Green Accidentally Hits Any Person, Animal or Movable Obstruction (Including Another Ball in Motion) on Putting Green: The stroke does not count and the original ball or another ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated except in these two cases:
 • Ball in Motion Hits Another Ball at Rest (General Penalty) or Ball-Marker on Putting Green. The stroke counts and the ball must be played as it lies.
 • Ball in Motion Accidentally Hits Flagstick or Person Attending Flagstick, see Rule 13.

11.2 Ball in Motion Deliberately Deflected or Stopped by Person
a. Rule 11.2 Applies only when it is known or virtually certain that a player’s ball in motion was deliberately deflected or stopped by a person, which is when: 
• A person deliberately touches the ball in motion, or
• The ball in motion hits any equipment or other object (except a ball-marker or another ball at rest before the ball was played or otherwise went into motion) or any person that a player deliberately positioned or left in a particular location so that the equipment, object or person might deflect or stop the ball in motion. 

A player’s right to have another player's ball or ball-marker lifted before a stroke is covered under Rule 15.

b. Penalty Applies to a Player When:
• He deliberately deflects or stops any ball in motion. 
• This is true whether it is the player’s own ball or a ball played by another player in stroke play. 

Exception – Ball Moving in Water: There is no penalty if a player lifts his or her ball moving in water, in temporary water, or in a penalty area when taking relief under Rule 16 or 17 (see Rule 10.1d Exception 3).
 
c. Place from Where Deliberately Deflected or Stopped Ball Must Be Played 
 If it is known or virtually certain that a player’s ball in motion was deliberately deflected or stopped by a person (whether or not the ball has been found), it must not be played as it lies. Instead, the player must take relief:
 (1) Stroke Made from Anywhere Except Putting Green: The player must take relief based on the estimated spot where the ball would have come to rest if not deflected or stopped:
• When Ball Would Have Come to Rest Anywhere on Course Except on Putting Green, player must drop within one club-length, no closer to the hole, in the same area of the course.(Rule 14).
• When Ball Would Have Come to Rest on Putting Green. The player must place ball on the estimated spot where the ball would have come to rest.
• When Ball Would Have Come to Rest Out of Bounds. The player must take stroke and-distance relief under Rule 18.
 (2) Stroke Made from on the Putting Green: The stroke does not count, and the original ball or another ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (Rule 14).

 Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 11.1 or 11.2: General Penalty under Rule 6 or 14.
 
11.3 Deliberately Moving Objects or Altering Conditions to Affect Ball in Motion 
When a ball is in motion, a player must not deliberately take any of these actions to affect where the ball (whether the player’s own ball or another player’s ball) might come to rest:
• Alter physical conditions by taking any of the actions listed in Rule 8 (such as replacing a divot or pressing down a raised area of turf), or
• Lift or move a loose impediment or a movable obstruction. (Rule 15)
 Exception – Moving Flagstick, Ball at Rest on Putting Green and Other Player Equipment: This Rule does not prohibit a player from lifting or moving:
• A removed flagstick,
• A ball at rest on the putting green, or 
• Any other player equipment (other than a ball at rest anywhere except the putting green or a ball-marker anywhere on the course).
 Removing the flagstick from the hole (including by attending it) while a ball is in motion is covered by Rule 13.2, not by this Rule.
 

 Penalty for Breach of Rule 11.3: General Penalty.
II - PLAYING the ROUND and a HOLE (Rules 5 - 6)
IV - SPECIFIC RULES for BUNKERS and PUTTING GREENS

Rule 12 – Bunkers
Rule 12 is a specific Rule for bunkers, which are specially prepared areas intended to test the player’s ability to play a ball from the sand. To make sure the player confronts this challenge, there are some restrictions on touching the sand before the stroke is made and on where relief may be taken for a ball in a bunker.
 
 12.1 When Ball Is in Bunker
 A ball is in a bunker when any part of the ball:
 • Touches sand on the ground inside the edge of the bunker, or
 • Is inside the edge of the bunker and rests:
  On ground where sand normally would be (such as where sand was blown or washed away by wind or water), or 
  In or on a loose impediment, movable obstruction, abnormal course condition or integral object that touches sand in the bunker or is on ground where sand normally would be.
 If a ball lies on soil or grass or other growing or attached natural objects inside the edge of the bunker without touching any sand, the ball is not in the bunker.
 If part of the ball is both in a bunker and in another area of the course, see Rule 2 to identify the specific area of the course where the ball lies.

12.2 Playing Ball in Bunker

This Rule applies both during a round and while play is stopped under Rule 5.
 a. Removing Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions
 Before playing a ball in a bunker, a player may remove loose impediments and movable obstructions under Rule 15.
 This includes any reasonable touching or movement of the sand in the bunker that happens while doing so.
 b. Restrictions on Touching Sand in Bunker

(1) When Touching Sand Results in Penalty. Before making a stroke at a ball in a bunker, a player must not:
 • Deliberately touch sand in the bunker with hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn information for the next stroke, or 
 • Touch sand in the bunker with a club:
 In the area right in front of or right behind the ball (except as allowed under Rule 7 searching for a ball or under Rule 12 removing a loose impediment or movable obstruction),
 In making a practice swing, or
 In making the backswing for a stroke.
 

(2) When Touching Sand Does Not Result in Penalty. Except as covered by 12.2 (1), this Rule does not prohibit the player from touching sand in the bunker in any other way, including:
• Digging in with the feet to take a stance for a practice swing or the stroke,
• Smoothing the bunker to care for the course,
• Placing clubs, equipment or other objects in the bunker (whether by throwing or setting them down),
• Measuring, marking, lifting, replacing or taking other actions under a Rule,
• Leaning on a club to rest, stay balanced or prevent a fall, or
• Striking the sand in frustration or anger.
But the player gets the General Penalty if his or her actions in touching the sand improve the conditions affecting the stroke in breach of Rule 8. 

(3) No Restrictions After Ball Is Played Out of Bunker. After a ball in a bunker is played and it is outside the bunker, the player may:
• Touch sand in the bunker without penalty under Rule 12.2b(1), and
• Smooth sand in the bunker to care for the course without penalty under Rule 8.1a. 
 This is true even if the ball comes to rest outside the bunker and: 
• The player is required or allowed by the Rules to take stroke-and-distance relief by dropping a ball in the bunker, or
• The sand in the bunker is on the player’s line of play for the next stroke from outside the bunker.
But if the ball played from the bunker comes back into the bunker, or the player takes relief by dropping a ball in the bunker, the restrictions in Rules 12.2b(1) and 8.1a again apply to that ball in play in the bunker.
Penalty for Breach of Rule 12.2: General Penalty.

 12.3 Specific Rules for Relief for Ball in Bunker
 When a ball is in a bunker, specific relief Rules may apply in these situations:
• Interference by an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1c),  
• Interference by a dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), and
• Unplayable ball (Rule 19.3).

Rule 13 – Putting Greens
Putting greens are specially prepared for playing the ball along the ground and there is a flagstick for the hole on each putting green, so certain different Rules apply than for other areas of the course.

13.1 Actions Allowed or Required on Putting Greens
This Rule allows the player to do things on the putting green that are normally not allowed off the putting green, such as being allowed to mark, lift, clean and replace a ball and to repair damage and remove sand and loose soil on the putting green. There is no penalty for accidentally causing a ball or ball-marker to move on the putting green.
 a. When Ball Is on Putting Green - A ball is on the putting green when any part of the ball:
• Touches the putting green, or  
• Lies on or in anything (such as a loose impediment or an obstruction) and is inside the edge of the putting green.
 If part of the ball is both on the putting green and in another area of the course, see Rule 2.2c.
 b. Marking, Lifting and Cleaning Ball on Putting Green
• A ball on the putting green may be lifted and cleaned (see Rule 14.1).  
• The spot of the ball must be marked before it is lifted and the ball must be replaced on its original spot (see Rule 14.2).
 c. Improvements Allowed on Putting Green
 During a round a player may take these two actions on the putting green, no matter whether the ball is on or off the putting green:
(1) Removal of Sand and Loose Soil. Sand and loose soil on the putting green (but not anywhere else on the course) may be removed without penalty.
 (2) Repair of Damage. A player may repair damage 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.
 
“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.
 
d. When Ball or Ball-Marker Moves on Putting Green

There are two specific Rules for a ball or ball-marker that moves on the putting green.
 

(1) No Penalty for Accidentally Causing Ball to Move if the player, opponent or another player in stroke play accidentally moves the player’s ball or ball-marker.
 The player must:
• Replace the ball on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2), or
• Place a ball-marker to mark that original spot.
 Exception – Ball Must Be Played as It Lies When Ball Begins to Move During Backswing or Stroke and Stroke Is Made (see Rule 9.1b).
 If the player or opponent deliberately lifts the player’s ball or ball-marker on the putting green, see Rule 9.4 or Rule 9.5 to find out if there is a penalty.

(2) When to Replace Ball Moved by Natural Forces. If natural forces cause a player’s ball on the putting green to move:
• Ball Already Lifted and Replaced. The ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14).
• Ball Not Already Lifted and Replaced. The ball must be played from its new spot (see Rule 9.3).
 

 e. No Deliberate Testing of Greens
 During a round and while play is stopped, a player must not deliberately take either of these actions to test the putting green or a wrong green:
 • Rub the surface, or
 • Roll a ball.
 Exception – Testing Greens When between Two Holes: Between two holes, a player may rub the surface of the hole just completed and on any practice green.
 

 Penalty for Testing the Putting Green or a Wrong Green in Breach of Rule 13.1e: General Penalty.
 If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).

 f. Relief Must Be Taken from Wrong Green
(1) Meaning of Interference by Wrong Green. Interference under this Rule exists when:
 • Any part of the player’s ball touches a wrong green or lies on or in anything inside the edge of a wrong green, or
 • A wrong green physically interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing.
(2) Relief Must Be Taken. When there is interference by a wrong green, a player must not play the ball as it lies.
 Instead, the player must take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):
Reference Point: The nearest point of complete relief in the same area of the course where the original ball came to rest.
Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length, no closer to the hole, taking complete relief from the wrong green.
(3) No Relief When Player Chooses a Club, Stance, Swing, or Direction of Play which is Clearly Unreasonable.
 
Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 13.1: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a.
If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).
 

13.2 The Flagstick
This Rule covers the player’s choices for dealing with the flagstick, and it applies to a ball played from anywhere on the course, whether on or off the putting green.

 a. Leaving Flagstick in Hole
(1) Player May Leave Flagstick in Hole. The player may make a stroke with the flagstick left in the hole, so that it is possible for the ball in motion to hit the flagstick.
The player must decide this before making the stroke, by either:
 • Leaving the flagstick where it is in the hole, or moving it so that it is centered in the hole and leaving it there, or 
 • Having a removed flagstick put back in the hole.
 In either case:
 • The player must not try to gain an advantage by deliberately moving the flagstick to a position other than centred in the hole. 
 • If the player does so and the ball in motion then hits the flagstick, he or she gets the general penalty.
 
(2) No Penalty If Ball Hits Flagstick Left in Hole. If the player makes a stroke with the flagstick left in the hole and the ball in motion then hits the flagstick:
• There is no penalty except as provided in 13.2a.(1), and
• The ball must be played as it lies.
 

(3) Limitation on Player Moving or Removing Flagstick in Hole While Ball Is in Motion. After making a stroke with the flagstick left in the hole: 
• The player must not deliberately move or remove the flagstick to affect where the player’s ball in motion might come to rest (such as to avoid having the ball hit the flagstick). If this is done, the player gets the general penalty.
• But there is no penalty if the player has the flagstick in the hole moved or removed for any other reason, such as when he reasonably believes that the ball in motion will not hit the flagstick before coming to rest.

(4) Limitation on Other Players Moving or Removing Flagstick When Player Has Decided to Leave It in Hole. When the player has left the flagstick in the hole and has not authorized anyone to attend the flagstick (see Rule 13.2b(1)), another player must not deliberately move or remove the flagstick to affect where the player’s ball in motion might come to rest.
• If another player does so before or during the stroke and the player makes the stroke without being aware of this, or does so while the player’s ball is in motion after the stroke, that other player gets the general penalty
• But there is no penalty if the other player moves or removes the flagstick for any other reason, such as when he or she:
  Reasonably believes that the player’s ball in motion will not hit the flagstick before coming to rest, or 
  Is not aware that the player is about to play or that the player’s ball is in motion. 
 
 b. Removing Flagstick from Hole
(1) Player May Have Flagstick Removed from Hole.
The player must decide this before making the stroke, by either:
• Having the flagstick removed from the hole before playing the ball, or  
• Authorizing someone to attend the flagstick, which means to remove it by:
 First holding the flagstick in, above or next to the hole before and during the stroke to show the player where the hole is, and 
 Then removing the flagstick after the stroke is made.
 The player is treated as having authorized the flagstick to be attended if
• The player asks any other person to attend the flagstick and that person does so, or 
• The player sees any other person holding the flagstick in, above or next to the hole or standing right next to the hole, and the player makes the stroke without asking that person to move away or to leave the flagstick in the hole.

(2) What to Do If Ball Hits Flagstick or Person Attending Flagstick.
If the player’s ball in motion hits a flagstick that the player had decided to have removed under (1), or hits the person who is attending the flagstick (or anything the person is holding), what happens depends on whether this was accidental or deliberate:
Ball Accidentally Hits Flagstick or Person Who Removed or Is Attending It. If the player’s ball in motion accidentally hits the flagstick or the person who removed or is attending it (or anything the person is holding), there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies.
Ball Deliberately Deflected or Stopped by Person Attending Flagstick. If the person who is attending the flagstick deliberately deflects or stops the player’s ball in motion, Rule 11.2c applies:
  Where Ball Is Played from. The player must not play the ball as it lies and instead must take relief under Rule 11.2c.
  When Penalty Applies. If the person who deliberately deflected or stopped the ball was another player, that player gets the general penalty for a breach of Rule 11.2.
 For purposes of this Rule, “deliberately deflected or stopped” means the same thing as Rule 11.2a, including when the player’s ball in motion hits:
• A removed flagstick that was deliberately positioned or left in a particular place on the ground so that it might deflect or stop the ball,
• An attended flagstick that the person deliberately failed to remove from the hole or to move out of the way of the ball, or
• The person who attended or removed the flagstick (or anything the person was holding), when he or she deliberately failed to move out of the way of the ball.
 Exception – Restrictions on Deliberately Moving Flagstick to Affect a Ball in Motion (see Rule 11.3).

c. Ball Resting against Flagstick in Hole
 If a player’s ball comes to rest against the flagstick left in the hole:
 • If any part of the ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green, the ball is treated as holed even if the entire ball is not below the surface.
 • If no part of the ball is in the hole below the surface of the putting green:
 The ball is not holed and must be played as it lies. 
  If the flagstick is removed and the ball moves (whether it falls into the hole or moves away from the hole), there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced on the lip of the hole (see Rule 14.2).
 Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 13.2c: General Penalty under Rule  6.3b or 14.7a.
 If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).

13.3 Ball Overhanging Hole

 a. Waiting Time to See If Ball Overhanging Hole Will Fall into Hole
 If any part of a player’s ball overhangs the lip of the hole:
 • The player is allowed a reasonable time to reach the hole and ten more seconds to wait to see whether the ball will fall into the hole.
 • If the ball falls into the hole in this waiting time, the player has holed out with the previous stroke.
 • If the ball does not fall into the hole in this waiting time:
  The ball is treated as being at rest. 
   If the ball then falls into the hole before it is played, the player has holed out with the previous stroke, but gets one penalty stroke added to the score for the hole.
 
 b. What to Do If Ball Overhanging Hole Is Lifted or Moved Before Waiting Time Has Ended
If a ball overhanging the hole is lifted or moved before the waiting time under Rule 13.3a has ended, the ball is treated as having come to rest:
• The ball must be replaced on the lip of the hole (see Rule 14.2), and 
• The waiting time under Rule 13.3a no longer applies to the ball. (See Rule 9.3 for what to do if the replaced ball is then moved by natural forces.)
If another player in stroke play deliberately lifts or moves the player’s ball overhanging the hole before the waiting time has ended:
• In stroke play, the player who lifted or moved the ball gets the general penalty (two penalty strokes). The ball must be replaced on the lip of the hole (see Rule 14.2).

V - LIFTING and RETURNING a BALL to PLAY (RULE 14)

Rule 14 – Procedures for Ball: Marking, Lifting and Cleaning; Replacing on Spot; Dropping in Relief Area; Playing from Wrong Place

Rule 14 covers when and how the player may mark the spot of a ball at rest and lift and clean the ball and how to put a ball back into play so that the ball is played from the right place. 

  When a lifted or moved ball is to be replaced, the same ball must be set down on its original spot.
  When taking free relief (Rule 15) or penalty relief (Rule 16), a substituted ball or the original ball must be dropped in a particular relief area. 

 A mistake in using these procedures may be corrected without penalty before the ball is played, but the player gets a penalty if he or she plays the ball from the wrong place. 

14.1 Marking, Lifting and Cleaning Ball 

This Rule applies to the deliberate “lifting” of a player’s ball at rest, which includes picking up the ball by hand, rotating it or otherwise deliberately causing it to move from its spot.

 a. Spot of Ball to Be Lifted and Replaced Must Be Marked before lifting by doing one of the following:
 • Place a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or
 • Hold a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball.
 If the spot is marked with a ball-marker, after replacing the ball the player must remove the ball-marker before making a stroke.
 If the player lifts the ball without marking its spot, marks its spot in a wrong way or makes a stroke with a ball-marker left in place, the player gets one penalty stroke. 

c. Cleaning Lifted Ball   A ball lifted from the putting green may always be cleaned (see Rule 13.1b). 

A ball lifted from anywhere else may always be cleaned except when it is lifted:

 • To See If It Is Cut or Cracked. Cleaning is not allowed (see Rule 4.2c(1)).
 • To Identify It. Cleaning is allowed only as needed to identify it (see Rule 7.3).
 • Because It Interferes with Play. Cleaning is not allowed (see Rule 15.3b(2)).
 • To See If It Lies in Condition Where Relief Is Allowed. Cleaning is not allowed, unless the player then takes relief under a Rule (see Rule 16.4).
 If the player cleans a lifted ball when not allowed, he gets one penalty stroke

14.2 Replacing Ball on Spot

This Rule applies whenever a ball is lifted or moved and a Rule requires it to be replaced on a spot.
 a. Original Ball Must Be Used when replacing a ball>
 Exception – Another Ball May Be Used When: 
 • The original ball cannot be recovered with reasonable effort and in a few seconds, so long as the player did not deliberately cause the ball to become unrecoverable, 
 • The original ball is cut or cracked (see Rule 4.2c),
 • Play resumes after it had been stopped (see Rule 5.7d), or
 • The original ball was played by another player as a wrong ball (see Rule 6.3c(2)).

 b. Who Must Replace Ball and How It Must Be Replaced

 (1) Who May Replace Ball: The player’s ball must be replaced under the Rules only by:
 • The player, or
 • Any person who lifted the ball or caused it to move (even if that person was not allowed to do so under the Rules).
 If the player plays a ball that was replaced by someone not allowed to do so, the player gets one penalty stroke.
 (2) How Ball Must Be Replaced. The ball must be replaced by setting it down on the required spot and letting it go so that it stays on that spot.
 If the player plays a ball that was replaced in a wrong way but on the required spot, the player gets one penalty stroke.
 c. Spot Where Ball Is Replaced
The ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated), except when the ball must be replaced on a different spot under Rules 14.2d(2) and 14.2e. If the ball was at rest on, under or against any immovable obstruction, integral object, boundary object or growing or attached natural object:
 • The “spot” of the ball includes its vertical location relative to the ground.
 • This means that the ball must be replaced on its original spot on, under or against such object.
 If any loose impediments were removed as a result of the ball being lifted or moved or before the ball was replaced, they do not need to be replaced.
 For restrictions on removing loose impediments before replacing a lifted or moved ball see Rule 15.1a, Exception 1. 
 d. Where to Replace Ball When Original Lie Altered   If the lie of a lifted or moved ball that must be replaced is altered, the player must replace the ball in this way:
(1) Ball in Sand. When the ball was in sand, whether in a bunker or anywhere else on the course: 
 • In replacing the ball on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2c), the player must re-create the original lie as much as possible.
 • In re-creating the lie, the player may leave a small part of the ball visible if the ball had been covered by sand.
 If the player fails to re-create the lie in breach of this Rule, the player has played from a wrong place - General Penalty.
(2) Ball Anywhere Except in Sand. When the ball was anywhere except in sand, the player must replace the ball by placing it on the nearest spot with a lie most similar to the original lie that is:
 • Within one club-length from its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2c), 
 • Not nearer the hole, and
 • In the same area of the course as that spot.
 If the player knows that the original lie was altered but does not know what the lie was, the player must estimate the original lie and replace the ball under (1) or (2).
 Exception – For Lies Altered While Play is Stopped and Ball Has Been Lifted, see Rule 5.7d.
 e. What to Do If Replaced Ball Does Not Stay on Original Spot
If the player tries to replace a ball but it does not stay on its original spot, the player must try a second time.
If the ball again does not stay on that spot, the player must replace the ball by placing it on the nearest spot where the ball will stay at rest, but with these limits depending on where the original spot is located:
 • The spot must not be nearer the hole.
 • Original Spot in General Area. The nearest spot must be in the general area.
 • Original Spot in Bunker or Penalty Area. The nearest spot must be either in the same bunker or in the same penalty area.
 • Original Spot on Putting Green. The nearest spot must be either on the putting green or in the general area.
Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 14.2: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a.
 

14.3 Dropping Ball in Relief Area

This Rule applies whenever a player must drop a ball in taking relief under a Rule, including when the player must complete taking relief by placing a ball under Rule 14.3c(2).
If the player improves the relief area before or when dropping a ball, see Rules 8 and 15.1 for clarification.

a. Original Ball or Another Ball May Be Used 


b. Ball Must Be Dropped in Right Way The player must drop a ball in the right way, which means all three of these things:
 (1) Player Must Drop Ball. The ball must be dropped only by the player. Neither the player’s caddie nor anyone else may do so. 
 (2) Ball Must Be Dropped Straight Down from Knee Height Without Touching Player or Equipment. The player must let go of the ball from a location at knee height so that the ball:
 • Falls straight down, without the player throwing, spinning or rolling it or using any other motion that might affect where the ball will come to rest, and
 • Does not touch any part of the player’s body or equipment before it hits the ground.
 Knee height” means the height of the player’s knee when in a standing position.  
 (3) Ball Must Be Dropped in Relief Area.  The player may stand either inside or outside the relief area when dropping the ball.
 If a ball is dropped in a wrong way in breach of one or more of these three requirements:
 • The player must drop a ball again in the right way, and there is no limit to the number of times the player must do so.
 • A ball dropped in the wrong way does not count as one of the two drops required before a ball must be placed under Rule 14.3c(2).
 If the player does not drop again and instead makes a stroke at the ball from where it came to rest after being dropped in a wrong way:
 • If the ball was played from the relief area, the player gets one penalty stroke (but has not played from a wrong place under Rule 14.7a).
 • But if the ball was played from outside the relief area, or after it was placed when required to be dropped (no matter where it was played from), the player gets the general penalty.

Drop Procedure                  Drop Procedure

c. Ball Dropped in Right Way Must Come to Rest in Relief Area
 This Rule applies only when a ball is dropped in the right way under Rule 14.3b.
(1) Player Has Completed Taking Relief When Ball Dropped in Right Way Comes to Rest in Relief Area. The ball must come to rest in the relief area.
 It does not matter whether the ball, after hitting the ground, touches any person, equipment or other outside influence before coming to rest:
• If the ball comes to rest in the relief area, the player has completed taking relief and must play the ball as it lies.
• If the ball comes to rest outside the relief area, the player must use the procedures in Rule 14.3c(2).
 In either case, there is no penalty to any player if a ball dropped in the right way accidentally hits any person, equipment or other outside influence before coming to rest.
Exception – When Ball Dropped in Right Way is Deliberately Deflected or Stopped by Any Person, see Rule 14.3d.
(2) What to Do if Ball Dropped in Right Way Comes to Rest Outside Relief Area.
If the ball comes to rest outside the relief area, the player must drop a ball in the right way a second time. 
If the second dropped ball also comes to rest outside the relief area, the player must complete taking relief by placing a ball using the procedures for replacing a ball in Rules 14.2.
 • The player must place a ball on the spot where the ball dropped the second time first touched the ground.
 • If the placed ball does not stay at rest on that spot, the player must place a ball on that spot a second time.
 • If the ball placed a second time also does not stay on that spot, the player must place a ball on the nearest spot where the ball will stay at rest, subject to the limits in Rule 14.2e.
d. What to Do if Ball Dropped in Right Way is Deliberately Deflected or Stopped by Person
When a ball dropped in the right way is deliberately deflected or stopped by any person (whether in the relief area or outside the relief area) before it comes to rest:
• The player must drop a ball again, using the procedures in Rule 14.3b (which means that the ball that was deliberately deflected or stopped does not count as one of the two drops required before a ball must be placed under Rule 14.3c(2)).
• If the ball was deliberately deflected or stopped by any player or his or her caddie, that player gets the general penalty.
Exception – When There Is No Reasonable Chance Ball Will Come to Rest in Relief Area:
• There is no penalty to any player, and 
• The dropped ball is treated as having come to rest outside the relief area and counts as one of the two drops required before a ball must be placed under Rule 14.3c(2).
 
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place or Playing Ball that was Placed Instead of Dropped in Breach of Rule 14.3: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a.

14.4 When your Ball is Back in Play 
When a player’s ball in play is lifted from the course or is lost or out of bounds, the ball is no longer in play. The player has a ball in play again only when he or she:
• Plays the original ball or another ball from the teeing area, or
• Replaces, drops or places the original ball or another ball on the course with the intent for that ball to be in play.   If the player returns a ball to the course in any way with the intent for it to be in play, the ball is in play even if it was:
• Substituted for the original ball when not allowed under the Rules, or
• Replaced, dropped or placed (1) in a wrong place, (2) in a wrong way or (3) by using a procedure that did not apply.   A replaced ball is in play even if the ball-marker marking its spot has not been removed.
14.5 Correcting Mistake Made in Substituting, Replacing, Dropping or Placing Ball
a. Player May Lift Ball to Correct Mistake Before Ball Is Played
  • When a player has substituted another ball for the original ball when not allowed under the Rules, 
  • or the player’s ball in play was replaced, dropped, or placed (1) in a wrong place or came to rest in a wrong place, (2) in a wrong way or (3) by using a procedure that did not apply:
 • The player may lift the ball without penalty and correct the mistake.
 • But this is allowed only before the ball is played.
b. When Player May Change to a Different Rule or Relief Option When Correcting Mistake in Taking Relief
When correcting a mistake in taking relief, whether the player must use the same Rule and relief option originally used, or may change to a different Rule or relief option, depends on the nature of the mistake:
 (1) When Ball Was Put in Play under Rule That Did Not Apply.
• In correcting this mistake, the player may use any Rule that applies to his or her situation.
• For example, if the player mistakenly took unplayable ball relief for his or her ball in a penalty area (which Rule 19.1 does not allow), the player must correct the mistake by either replacing the ball (if it had been lifted) under Rule 9.4, or taking penalty relief under Rule 17 and may use any relief option under that Rule that applies to his or her situation.
 (2) When Ball Was Put in Play under Rule That Applied but Ball Was Dropped or Placed in Wrong Place. 
• In correcting this mistake, the player must go on to take relief under the same Rule but may use any relief option under that Rule that applies to his or her situation.
• For example, if when taking relief for an unplayable ball, the player used the lateral relief option Rule (19.2c) and mistakenly dropped the ball outside the required relief area, in correcting the mistake the player must go on to take relief under Rule 19.2 but may use any of the relief options in Rule 19.2a, b or c. 
 (3) When Ball Was Put in Play under Rule That Applied and Was Dropped or Placed in Right Place, but Rule Requires Ball to Be Dropped or Placed Again.
• In correcting this mistake, the player must go on to take relief using the same Rule and the same relief option under that Rule.
• For example, if when taking relief for an unplayable ball, the player used the lateral relief option (Rule 19.2c) and the ball was (1) dropped in the right relief area but (2) was dropped in a wrong way (see Rule 14.3b) or came to rest outside the relief area (see Rule 14.3c), in correcting the mistake the player must go on to take relief under Rule 19.2 and must use the same relief option (lateral relief under Rule 19.2c).
 c. No Penalties for Ball Lifted to Correct Mistake  When a ball is lifted under Rule 14.5a to correct a mistake: 
• The player does not count any penalty for actions that were taken relating to that ball after the mistake and before it was lifted, such as for accidentally causing it to move (see Rule 9.4b).
• But if those same actions were also in breach of a Rule relating to the ball that was put in play to correct the mistake (such as when those actions improved the conditions affecting the stroke for both the ball now in play and the original ball before it was lifted), the penalty applies to the ball now in play.

14.6 Making Next Stroke from Where Previous Stroke Made
This Rule applies whenever a player is required or allowed under the Rules to make the next stroke from where a previous stroke was made (that is, when taking stroke-and-distance relief, or playing again after a stroke that is cancelled or otherwise does not count).
 • How the player must put a ball in play depends on the area of the course where that previous stroke was made. 
 • In all of these situations, the player may use either the original ball or another ball.
 a. Previous Stroke Made from Teeing Area
 The original ball or another ball must be played from anywhere inside the teeing area (and may be teed) under Rule 6.2b.
 b. Previous Stroke Made from General Area, Penalty Area or Bunker
The original ball or another ball must be dropped in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):
 • Reference Point: The spot where the previous stroke was made (which if not known must be estimated).
 • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length, but with these limits:
 • Limits on Location of Relief Area: 
  Must be in the same area of the course as the reference point, and 
  Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point.
 c. Previous Stroke Made from Putting Green
The original ball or another ball must be placed on the spot where the previous stroke was made (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2), using the procedures for replacing a ball under Rules 14.2b(2) and 14.2e.
 Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 14.6: General Penalty Under Rule 14.7a.
 
 14.7 Playing from Wrong Place
 a. Place from Where Ball Must Be Played
 After starting a hole:
• A player must make each stroke from where his or her ball comes to rest, except when the Rules require or allow the player to play a ball from another place (see Rule 9.1).
• A player must not play his or her ball in play from a wrong place.
 Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 14.7a: General Penalty.

b. How to Complete a Hole after Playing from Wrong Place in Stroke Play

(1) Player Must Decide Whether to Play Out Hole with Ball Played from Wrong Place by either:
• Correcting the mistake and playing out the hole while taking the General Penalty.
• Picking up and taking the Local Tour Rule Triple Bogey Max for the hole.
  

VI - FREE RELIEF (RULES 15 & 16)

Rule 15 – Relief from Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions (including Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play) 

  These movable natural and artificial objects are not treated as part of the challenge of playing the course, and a player is normally allowed to remove them when they interfere with play. 
  But the player needs to be careful in moving loose impediments near his or her ball off the putting green, because there will be a penalty if moving them causes the ball to move.

 15.1 Loose Impediments

 a. Removal of Loose Impediment
Without penalty, a player may remove a loose impediment anywhere on or off the course, and may do so in any way (such as by using a hand or foot or a club or other equipment). This includes a relief area where a ball is to be dropped, or placed, but not replaced (see Exception 1).
 But there are two exceptions:
Exception 1 – Removing Loose Impediment Where Ball Must Be Replaced: Before replacing a ball that was lifted or moved from anywhere except the putting green:
 • A player must not deliberately remove a loose impediment that, if moved when the ball was at rest, would have been likely to have caused the ball to move
 • If the player does so, he or she gets one penalty stroke, but the removed loose impediment does not need to be replaced.
Exception 2 – Restrictions on Deliberately Removing Loose Impediments to Affect Ball in Motion (see Rule 11.3).

 b. Ball Moved When Removing Loose Impediment:  If a player’s removal of a loose impediment causes his or her ball to move: 

• The ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).

• If the moved ball had been at rest anywhere except on the putting green (see Rule 13.1d) or in the teeing area (see Rule 6.2b(6)), the player gets one penalty stroke under Rule 9.4b, except when Rule 7.4 applies (no penalty for ball moved during search) or when another exception to Rule 9.4b applies.

 Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 15.1: General Penalty Under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a.
 

15.2 Movable Obstructions
This Rule covers free relief that is allowed from artificial objects that meet the definition of movable obstruction.
 It does not give relief from immovable obstructions (a different type of free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1), or boundary objects, or integral objects (no free relief is allowed).
 

 a. Relief from Movable Obstruction
(1) Removal of Movable Obstruction. Without penalty, a player may remove a movable obstruction anywhere on or off the course and may do so in any way.
 But there are two exceptions:
 Exception 1 – Tee Markers Must Not be Moved When Ball Will Be Played from Teeing Area (see Rules 6.2b(4) and 8.1a(1)).
 Exception 2 – Restrictions on Deliberately Removing Movable Obstruction to Affect a Ball in Motion (see Rule 11.3).
 If a player’s ball moves while he or she is removing a movable obstruction:
 • There is no penalty, and
 • The ball must be replaced on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) (see Rule 14.2).
(2) Relief When Ball Is in or on Movable Obstruction Anywhere on Course Except on Putting Green. The player may take free relief by lifting the ball, removing the movable obstruction and dropping the original ball, or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):
 • Reference Point: The estimated point right under where the ball was at rest in or on the movable obstruction.
 • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length, but with these limits:
 • In the same area of the course as the reference point and not nearer the hole. 
(3) Relief When Ball Is in or on Movable Obstruction on Putting Green. The player may take free relief by:
 • Lifting the ball and removing the movable obstruction, and   • Placing the original ball or another ball on the estimated spot right under where the ball was at rest in or on the movable obstruction, using the procedures for replacing a ball under Rule 14.2b(2) and 14.2e.

Movable Obstruction Movable Obstructions

 b. Relief for Ball Not Found but In or On Movable Obstruction 
If a player’s ball has not been found, and it is known or virtually certain that it came to rest in or on a movable obstruction on the course, the player may use this relief option instead of taking stroke-and-distance relief:
• The player may take free relief under Rule 15.2a(2) or 15.2a(3), using the estimated point right under where the ball last crossed the edge of the movable obstruction on the course as the reference point. 
• Once the player puts another ball in play to take relief in this way:
  The original ball is no longer in play and must not be played.
  This is true even if it is then found on the course before the end of the three minute search time (see Rule 6.3b).
But if it is not known or virtually certain that the ball came to rest in or on a movable obstruction and the ball is lost, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 18.2.
Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 15.2: General Penalty Under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a.

 15.3 Ball or Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play

 a. Ball on Putting Green Helping Play  Rule 15.3a applies only to a ball at rest on the putting green, not anywhere else on the course.
If a player reasonably believes that a ball on the putting green might help anyone’s play (such as by serving as a possible backstop near the hole), the player may:
• Mark the spot of the ball and lift it under Rule 13.1b if it is his or her own ball, or if the ball belongs to another player, require the other player to mark the spot and lift the ball (see Rule 14.1).
• The lifted ball must be replaced on its original spot (see Rule 14.2).
• A player who is required to lift a ball may play first instead, and
• If two or more players agree to leave a ball in place to help any player, and that player then makes a stroke with the helping ball left in place, each player who made the agreement gets the general penalty (two penalty strokes).

 b. Ball Anywhere on Course Interfering with Play
(1) Meaning of Interference by Another Player’s Ball. Interference under this Rule exists when another player’s ball at rest:
• Might interfere with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing,
• Is on or close to the player’s line of play such that, given the intended stroke, there is a reasonable chance the player’s ball in motion could hit that ball, or 
• Is close enough to distract the player in making the stroke.  
(2) When Relief Is Allowed from Interfering Ball. If a player reasonably believes that another player’s ball anywhere on the course might interfere with the player’s own play:
• The player may require the other player to mark the spot and lift the ball (see Rule 14.1), and the ball must not be cleaned (except when lifted from the putting green under Rule 13.1b) and must be replaced on its original spot (see Rule 14.2).
• If the other player does not mark the spot before lifting the ball, or cleans the lifted ball when not allowed, he or she gets one penalty stroke.
• In stroke play only, a player required to lift his or her ball under this Rule may play first instead.
A player is not allowed to lift his or her ball under this Rule based only on the player’s own belief that the ball might interfere with another player’s play.
If the player lifts his or her ball when not required to do so by the other player (except when lifting the ball on the putting green under Rule 13.1b), the player gets one penalty stroke.
 

 c. Ball-Marker Helping or Interfering with Play
If a ball-marker might help or interfere with play, a player may:
• Move the ball-marker out of the way if it is his or her own, or 
• If the ball-marker belongs to another player, require that player to move the ballmarker out of the way, for the same reasons as he or she may require a ball to be lifted under Rules 15.3a and 15.3b.
The ball-marker must be moved out of the way to a new spot measured from its original spot, such as by using one or more clubhead-lengths.
Either the lifted ball must be replaced on its original spot (see Rule 14.2) or the ball-marker must be replaced to mark that spot.
Penalty for Breach of Rule 15.3: General Penalty.
This penalty also applies if the player: 
• Makes a stroke without waiting for a helping ball or ball-marker to be lifted or moved after becoming aware that another player (1) intended to lift or move it under this Rule or (2) had required someone else to do so, or
• Refuses to lift his or her ball or move his or her ball-marker when required to do so and a stroke is then made by the other player whose play might have been helped or interfered with.
Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 15.3: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a.

Rule 16 – Relief from Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions), Dangerous Animal Condition, Embedded Ball 

Rule 16 covers when and how the player may take free relief by playing a ball from a different place, such as when there is interference by an abnormal course condition or a dangerous animal condition, or when a player’s ball is embedded in its own pitch mark in the general area.
  These conditions are not treated as part of the challenge of playing the course, and free relief is generally allowed except in a penalty area.
  The player normally takes relief by dropping a ball in a relief area based on the nearest point of complete relief.
 
16.1 Abnormal Course Conditions (Including Immovable Obstructions)
 This Rule covers free relief that is allowed from interference by animal holes, ground under repair, immovable obstructions or temporary water: 
 • These are collectively called abnormal course conditions, but each has a separate Definition. 
 • This Rule does not give relief from movable obstructions (a different type of free relief is allowed under Rule 15.2a) or boundary objects or integral objects (no free relief is allowed).
 
a. When Relief Is Allowed

(1)  Meaning of Interference by Abnormal Course Condition. Interference exists when any one of these is true:
• The player’s ball touches or is in or on an abnormal course condition,
• An abnormal course condition physically interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing, or
• Only when the ball is on the putting green, an abnormal course condition on or off the putting green intervenes on the line of play. 
 If the abnormal course condition is close enough to distract the player but does not meet any of these requirements, there is no interference under this Rule.
 (2) Relief Allowed Anywhere on Course Except When Ball Is in Penalty Area. Relief from interference by an abnormal course condition is allowed under Rule 16.1 only when both:
• The abnormal course condition is on the course (not out of bounds), and
• The ball is anywhere on the course, except in a penalty area (where the player’s only relief is under Rule 17).
 (3) No Relief When Clearly Unreasonable to Play Ball. There is no relief under Rule 16.1:
When playing the ball as it lies is clearly unreasonable because of something other than an abnormal course condition (such as when a player is standing in temporary water, or on an immovable obstruction, but is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush), or
• When interference exists only because a player chooses a club, type of stance or swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances.
 
 b. Relief for Ball in General Area
If a player’s ball is in the general area and there is interference by an abnormal course condition on the course, the player may take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):
 • Reference Point: The nearest point of complete relief in the general area.
 • Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length in the general area, no closer to hole. Must take complete relief from abnormal condition.

ACC Relief    
General Area Relief    Bunker Relief
  
 c. Relief for Ball in Bunker
 If a player’s ball is in a bunker and there is interference by an abnormal course condition on the course, the player may take either free relief under (1), or penalty relief under (2):
(1) Free Relief: Playing from Bunker. The player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b, except that:
• The nearest point of complete relief and the relief area must be in the bunker.
• If there is no such nearest point of complete relief in the bunker, the player may still take this relief by using the point of maximum available relief in the bunker as the reference point.
(2) Penalty Relief: Playing from Outside Bunker (Back-On-the-Line Relief). For one penalty stroke, the player may drop the original ball or another ball (see Rule 14.3) in a relief area
that is based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball:
• Reference Point: A point on the course chosen by the player that is on the reference line and is farther from the hole than that original spot (with no limit on how far back on the line):
 In choosing this reference point, the player should indicate the point by using an object (such as a tee).
 If the player drops the ball without having chosen this point, the reference point is treated as being the point on the line that is the same distance from the hole as where the dropped ball first touched the ground.
Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length, but with these limits: 
 Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
 May be in any area of the course, but   
 If more than one area of the course is located within one club-length of the reference point, the ball must come to rest in the relief area in the same area of the course that the ball first touched when dropped in the relief area.
 

 d. Relief for Ball on Putting Green
If a player’s ball is on the putting green and there is interference by an abnormal course condition on the course, the player may take free relief by placing the original ball or another ball on the spot of the nearest point of complete relief, using the procedures for replacing a ball under Rules 14.2b(2) and 14.2e.
• The nearest point of complete relief must be either on the putting green or in the general area.
• If there is no such nearest point of complete relief, the player may still take this free relief by using the point of maximum available relief as the reference point, which must be either on the putting green or in the general area.

Relief on Green
 

 e. Relief for Ball Not Found but Known to be In or On Abnormal Course Condition
If a player’s ball has not been found and it is known or virtually certain that the ball came to rest in or on an abnormal course condition on the course, the player may use this relief option instead of taking stroke-and-distance relief: 
• The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b, c or d, using the estimated point where the ball last crossed the edge of the abnormal course condition on the course as the spot of the ball for purposes of finding the nearest point of complete relief.
• Once the player puts another ball in play to take relief in this way:
 The original ball is no longer in play and must not be played.
 This is true even if it is then found on the course before the end of the threeminute search time (see Rule 6.3b)
 But if it is not known or virtually certain that the ball came to rest in or on an abnormal course condition and the ball is lost, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 18.2.
 

 f. Relief Must Be Taken from Interference by No Play Zone (area of course where play is prohibited by course or committee) in Abnormal Course Condition
 In each of these situations, the ball must not be played as it lies:
(1) When Ball Is in No Play Zone. If the player’s ball is in a no play zone in or on an abnormal course condition in the general area, in a bunker or on the putting green:
 • No Play Zone in General Area. The player must take free relief under Rule 16.1b.
 • No Play Zone in Bunker. The player must take free relief or penalty relief under Rule 16.1c(1) or (2).
 • No Play Zone on Putting Green. The player must take free relief under Rule 16.1d.
(2) When No Play Zone Interferes with Stance or Swing for Ball Anywhere on Course Except Penalty Area. If a player’s ball is outside a no play zone and is in the general area, in a bunker or on the putting green; and a no play zone (whether in an abnormal course condition or in a penalty area) interferes with the player’s area of intended stance, or area of intended swing, the player must either:
 • Take relief if allowed under Rule 16.1b, c or d, depending on whether the ball is in the general area, in a bunker or on the putting green, or
 • Take unplayable ball relief under Rule 19.
 For what to do when there is interference by a no play zone for a ball in a penalty area, see Rule 17.1e.
 Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 16.1: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a.

16.2 Dangerous Animal Condition

A “dangerous animal condition” exists when a dangerous animal (such as poisonous snakes, stinging bees, alligators, fire ants or bears) near a ball could cause serious physical injury to the player if he or she had to play the ball as it lies.

a. When Relief Is Allowed  
A player may take relief under Rule 16.2b from interference by a dangerous animal condition no matter where his or her ball is on the course, except that relief is not allowed:

When playing the ball as it lies is clearly unreasonable because of something other than the dangerous animal condition (for example, when a player is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush), or
When interference exists only because the player chooses a club, type of stance or swing or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances.

 b. Relief For Dangerous Animal Condition  

(1) When Ball Is Anywhere Except Penalty Area. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b, c or d, depending on whether the ball is in the general area, in a bunker or on the putting green.

(2) When Ball Is in Penalty Area. The player may take free relief or penalty relief:
Free Relief: Playing from Inside Penalty Area. The player may take free relief under Rule 16.1b, except that the nearest point of complete relief and the relief area must be in the penalty area. 
Penalty Relief: Playing from Outside Penalty Area. 
 The player may take penalty relief under Rule 17.1d. 
 If there is interference by a dangerous animal condition where the ball would be played after taking this penalty relief outside the penalty area, the player may take further relief under (1) without additional penalty.

 For purposes of this Rule, the nearest point of complete relief means the nearest point (not nearer the hole) where the dangerous animal condition does not exist.
 Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 16.2: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a. 

16.3 Embedded Ball

a. When Relief Is Allowed

(1) Ball Must Be Embedded in General Area. Relief is allowed under Rule 16.3b only when a player’s ball is embedded in the general area.
• There is no relief under this Rule if the ball is embedded anywhere except in the general area.
• But if the ball is embedded on the putting green, the player may mark the spot of the ball and lift and clean the ball, repair the damage caused by the ball’s impact, and replace the ball on its original spot (see Rule 13.1c(2)).
 Exceptions – When Relief Not Allowed for Ball Embedded in General Area: Relief under Rule 16.3b is not allowed:
• When the ball is embedded in sand in a part of the general area that is not cut to fairway height or less, or
• When interference by anything other than the ball being embedded makes the stroke clearly unreasonable (for example, when a player is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush).

(2) Determining Whether Ball Is Embedded. A player’s ball is embedded only if:

• It is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of the player’s previous stroke, and 
• Part of the ball is below the level of the ground.

A ball is not embedded if it is below the level of the ground as a result of anything other than the player’s previous stroke, such as when: 

• The ball is pushed into the ground by someone stepping on it, 
• The ball is driven straight into the ground without becoming airborne, or
• The ball was dropped in taking relief under a Rule. 

Embedded Ball  Embedded Ball Relief

 b. Relief for Embedded Ball 

 When a player’s ball is embedded in the general area and relief is allowed under Rule 16.3a, the player may take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (see Rule 14.3):
• Reference Point: The spot right behind where the ball is embedded.
• Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length, but with these limits:
• Limits on Location of Relief Area: 
  Must be in the general area, and 
  Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point.  
 Penalty for Playing a Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 16.3: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a.

16.4 Lifting Ball to See If It Lies in Condition Where Relief Allowed
If a player reasonably believes that his or her ball lies in a condition where free relief is allowed under Rule 15.2, 16.1 or 16.3, but cannot decide that without lifting the ball:
• The player may lift the ball to see if relief is allowed, but:
• The spot of the ball must first be marked, and the lifted ball must not be cleaned (except on the putting green) (see Rule 14.1).
If the player lifts the ball without having this reasonable belief (except on the putting green where the player may lift under Rule 13.1b), he gets one penalty stroke.
If relief is allowed and the player takes relief, there is no penalty even if the player did not mark the spot of the ball before lifting it, or cleaned the lifted ball.
If relief is not allowed, or if the player chooses not to take relief that is allowed:
• The player gets one penalty stroke if he did not mark the spot of the ball before lifting it, or cleaned the lifted ball when not allowed, and
• The ball must be replaced on its original spot (see Rule 14.2). 
Penalty for Playing Incorrectly Substituted Ball or Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 16.4: General Penalty under Rule 6.3b or 14.7a.

VII - PENALTY RELIEF (RULES 17 & 19)

Rule 17 – Penalty Areas 

Rule 17 is a specific Rule for penalty areas, which are bodies of water or other areas defined by the Committee where a ball is often lost or unable to be played. For one penalty stroke, players may use specific relief options to play a ball from outside the penalty area. 

17.1 Options for Ball in Penalty Area 
 Penalty areas are defined as either red or yellow. This affects the player’s relief options (see Rule 17.1d).
 A player may stand in a penalty area to play a ball outside the penalty area, including after taking relief from the penalty area.

a. When Ball Is in Penalty Area
A ball is in a penalty area when any part of the ball:
• Lies on or touches the ground or anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the edge of the penalty area, or
• Is above the edge or any other part of the penalty area.
If part of the ball is both in a penalty area and in another area of the course, see Rule 2.2c.
b. Player May Play Ball as It Lies in Penalty Area or Take Penalty Relief
The player may either:
• Play the ball as it lies without penalty, under the same Rules that apply to a ball in the general area (specific limitations on how a ball may be played from a penalty area), or
• Play a ball from outside the penalty area by taking penalty relief under Rule 17.1d or 17.2.
Exception – Relief Must Be Taken from Interference by No Play Zone in Penalty Area (see Rule 17.1e).
c. Relief for Ball Not Found but in Penalty Area 
If a player’s ball has not been found and it is known or virtually certain that the ball came to rest in a penalty area:
• The player may take penalty relief under Rule 17.1d or 17.2.
• Once the player puts another ball in play to take relief in this way:
 The original ball is no longer in play and must not be played.
 This is true even if it is then found on the course before the end of the threeminute search time (see Rule 6.3b).
But if it is not known or virtually certain that the ball came to rest in a penalty area and the ball is lost, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 18.2.
d. Relief for Ball in Penalty Area (Yellow or Red)
If a player’s ball is in a penalty area, including when it is known or virtually certain to be in a penalty area even though not found, the player has these relief options, each for one penalty stroke:
(1) Stroke-and-Distance Relief. The player may play the original ball or another ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).

(2) Back-On-the-Line Relief.
The player may drop the original ball or another ball (see Rule 14.3) in a relief area that is based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the estimated point where the original ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area:
• Reference Point: A point on the course chosen by the player that is on the reference line and is farther from the hole than the estimated point (with no limit on how far back on the line):
• Mark the point, drop ball within one club length, no closer to hole, not in the same penalty area.
• If more than one area of the course is located within one club-length of the reference point, the ball must come to rest in the relief area in the same area of the course that the ball first touched when dropped in the relief area.
 
(3) Lateral Relief (Red Penalty Area Only).
When the ball last crossed the edge of a red penalty area, the player may drop the original ball or another ball in this lateral relief area (Rule 14):
Reference Point: The estimated point where the original ball last crossed the edge of the red penalty area.
Mark the point, drop ball within two club-lengths, no closer to hole, not in same penalty area.
If more than one area of the course is located within two club-lengths of the reference point, the ball must come to rest in the relief area in the same area of the course that the ball first touched when dropped in the relief area. 

Yellow Penalty Area    Red Penatly Area

e. Relief Must Be Taken from Interference by No Play Zone in Penalty Area

In each of these situations, the player must not play the ball as it lies:
(1) When Ball Is in No Play Zone in Penalty Area. The player must take penalty relief under Rule 17.1d or 17.2.

(2) When No Play Zone on Course Interferes with Stance or Swing for Ball in Penalty Area.
If a player’s ball is in a penalty area, and is outside a no play zone but a no play zone (whether in an abnormal course condition or in a penalty area) interferes with his or her area of intended stance or area of intended swing, the player must either:
• Take penalty relief outside the penalty area under Rule 17.1d or 17.2, or
• Take free relief by dropping the original ball or another ball in this relief area (if it exists) in the penalty area (see Rule 14.3):
 Reference Point: The nearest point of complete relief from the no play zone. Drop within one club-length, not nearer the hole, in the same penalty area where the ball lies.
But there is no free relief from interference by the no play zone under (2):
• When playing the ball as it lies is clearly unreasonable because of something other than the no play zone (for example, when a player is unable to make a stroke because of where the ball lies in a bush), or 
• When interference exists only because the player chooses a club, type of stance or swing, or direction of play that is clearly unreasonable under the circumstances.
For what to do when there is interference by a no play zone for a ball anywhere except in a penalty area, see Rule 16.1f.
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 17.1: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a. 

17.2 Options After Playing Ball from Penalty Area
 a. When Ball Played from Penalty Area Comes to Rest in Same or Another Penalty Area
If a ball played from a penalty area comes to rest in the same penalty area or another penalty area, the player may play the ball as it lies (see Rule 17.1b)., or
for one penalty stroke, the player may take relief under any of these options:
(1) Normal Relief Options. The player may take stroke-and-distance relief, back-on-the-line relief, or, for a red penalty area, lateral relief under Rule 17.1d(1, 2,or 3). 
Under Rule 17.1d(2) or (3), the estimated point used to determine the relief area is where the original ball last crossed the edge of the penalty area where the ball now lies.
If the player takes stroke-and-distance relief by dropping a ball in the penalty area (see Rule 14.6) and then decides not to play the dropped ball from where it comes to rest:
 • The player may take further relief outside the penalty area under Rule 17.1d(2) or (3) (for a red penalty area) or under Rule 17.2a(2).
 • If the player does so, he or she gets one more penalty stroke, for a total of two penalty strokes: one stroke for taking stroke-and-distance relief, and one stroke for taking relief outside the penalty area.
(2) Extra Relief Option: Playing from Where Last Stroke Made Outside a Penalty Area. Instead of using one of the normal relief options under (1), the player may choose to play the original ball or another ball from where he or she made the last stroke from outside a penalty area (see Rule 14.6).

Penalty Areas       
Penalty Areas    
 
 b. When Ball Played from Penalty Area Is Lost, Out of Bounds or Unplayable Outside Penalty Area
After playing a ball from a penalty area, a player may sometimes be required or choose to take stroke-and-distance relief because the original ball is either:
• Out of bounds or lost outside the penalty area (see Rule 18.2), or
• Unplayable outside the penalty area (see Rule 19.2a).
If the player takes stroke-and-distance relief by dropping a ball in the penalty area (see Rule 14.6) and then decides not to play the dropped ball from where it comes to rest:
• The player may take further relief outside the penalty area under Rule 17.1d(2) or (3) (for a red penalty area) or under Rule 17.2a(2)
• If the player does so, he gets one more penalty stroke, for a total of two penalty strokes: one stroke for taking stroke-and-distance relief, and one stroke for taking relief outside the penalty area.
The player may directly take such relief outside the penalty area without first dropping a ball in the penalty area, but still gets a total of two penalty strokes.
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 17.2: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a.

Penalty Areas


17.3 No Relief under Other Rules for Ball in Penalty Area
 When a player’s ball is in a penalty area, there is no relief for:
 • Interference by an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1),
 • An embedded ball (Rule 16.3), or
 • An unplayable ball (Rule 19).
 The player’s only relief option is to take penalty relief under Rule 17.
 But when a dangerous animal condition interferes with the play of a ball in a penalty area, the player may take either free relief in the penalty area or penalty relief outside the penalty area (see Rule 16.2b(2)).

Rule 18 – Stroke-and-Distance Relief, Ball Lost or Out of Bounds, Provisional Ball -  Local Rule is presented after this Rule

Rule 18 covers taking relief under penalty of stroke and distance. When a ball is lost outside a penalty area, or comes to rest out of bounds, the required progression of playing from the teeing area to the hole is broken; the player must resume that progression by playing again from where the previous stroke was made. This Rule also covers how and when a provisional ball may be played to save time when the ball in play might have gone out of bounds or be lost outside a penalty area.

18.1 Relief under Penalty of Stroke and Distance Allowed at Any Time

 At any time, a player may take stroke-and-distance relief by adding one penalty stroke and playing the original ball, or another ball, from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6). 
 The player always has this stroke-and-distance relief option:
 • No matter where the player’s ball is on the course, and
 • Even when a Rule requires the player to take relief in a certain way, or to play a ball from a certain place. 
 Once the player puts another ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 14.4):
 • The original ball is no longer in play and must not be played.
 • This is true even if the original ball is then found on the course before the end of the three-minute search time (see Rule 6.3b).
 But this does not apply to a ball to be played from where the previous stroke was made when the player:
 • Announces that he or she is playing a provisional ball (see Rule 18.3b),
 • Is playing a second ball in stroke play under Rule 14.7b or 20.1c(3).

 
18.2 Ball Lost or Out of Bounds: Stroke-and-Distance Relief Must Be Taken

 a. When Ball Is Lost or Out of Bounds
(1) When Ball Is Lost. A ball is lost if not found in three minutes after the player or his or her caddie begins to search for it.
 If a ball is found in that time but it is uncertain whether it is the player’s ball:
• The player must promptly attempt to identify the ball (see Rule 7.2) and is allowed a reasonable time to do so, even if that happens after the three-minute search time has ended.
• This includes a reasonable time to get to the ball if the player is not where the ball is found.
 If the player does not identify his or her ball in that reasonable time, the ball is lost.
(2) When Ball Is Out of Bounds. A ball at rest is out of bounds only when all of it is outside the boundary edge of the course.
 A ball is in bounds when any part of the ball:
 • Lies on or touches the ground or anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the boundary edge, or 
 • Is above the boundary edge or any other part of the course.
 A player may stand out of bounds to play a ball on the course.

Out of Bounds

 b. What to Do When Ball Is Lost or Out of Bounds
If a ball is lost or out of bounds, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief by adding one penalty stroke and playing the original ball, or another ball, from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).
ExceptionPlayer May Substitute Another Ball under Other Rule When It Is Known or Virtually Certain What Happened to Ball: Instead of taking stroke-and-distance relief, the player may substitute another ball as allowed under a Rule that applies when his or her ball has not been found and it is known or virtually certain that the ball:
 • Came to rest on the course and was moved by an outside influence (see Rule 9.6) or played as a wrong ball by another player (see Rule 6.3c(2)),
 • Came to rest on the course in or on a movable obstruction (see Rule 15.2b) or an abnormal course condition (see Rule 16.1e), 
 • Is in a penalty area (see Rule 17.1c), or
 • Was deliberately deflected or stopped by any person (see Rule 11.2c). 
 Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 18.2: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a.

18.3 Provisional Ball

a. When Provisional Ball Is Allowed
If a ball might be lost outside a penalty area or be out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 14.6). 
For a ball that might be lost, this applies:
• When the original ball has not been found and identified and is not yet lost, and
• When a ball might be lost in a penalty area but also might be lost somewhere else on the course.
But if the player is aware that the only possible place the original ball could be lost is in a penalty area, a provisional ball is not allowed and a ball played from where the previous stroke was made becomes the player’s ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 18.1).
If a provisional ball itself might be lost outside a penalty area or be out of bounds:
• The player may play another provisional ball. 
• That provisional ball then has the same relationship to the first provisional ball as the first one has to the original ball.
b. Announcing Play of Provisional Ball
Before the stroke is made, the player must announce that he or she is going to play a provisional ball:
It is not enough for the player only to say that he or she is playing another ball or is playing again. 
The player must use the word “provisional” or otherwise clearly indicate that he or she is playing the ball provisionally under Rule 18.3.
If the player does not announce this (even if he intended to play a provisional ball) and plays a ball from where the previous stroke was made, that ball is the player’s ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (see Rule 18.1).

c. Playing Provisional Ball Until It Becomes the Ball in Play or Is Abandoned

(1) Playing Provisional Ball More Than Once.   The player may continue to play the provisional ball, without it losing its status as a provisional ball, so long as it is played from a spot that is the same distance or farther from the hole than where the original ball is estimated to be. This is true even if the provisional ball is played several times.
But it stops being a provisional ball when it becomes the ball in play under (2), or is abandoned under (3) and therefore becomes a wrong ball.

(2) When Provisional Ball Becomes Ball in Play.
The provisional ball becomes the player’s ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance in either of these two cases: 
When Original Ball Is Lost Anywhere on Course Except in Penalty Area or Is Out of Bounds. The original ball is no longer in play (even if it is then found on the course after the end of the three-minute search time) and is now a wrong ball that must not be played (see Rule 6.3c).
When Provisional Ball Is Played from Spot Nearer Hole Than Where Original Ball Is Estimated to Be. The original ball is no longer in play (even if it is then found on the course before the end of the three-minute search time or is found nearer the hole than had been estimated) and is now a wrong ball that must not be played (see Rule 6.3c).

If the player plays a provisional ball into the same general location as the original ball and is unable to identify which ball is which:
• If only one of the balls is found on the course, that ball is treated as the provisional ball which is now in play.
• If both balls are found on the course, the player must choose one of the balls to be treated as the provisional ball which is now in play, and the other ball is treated as lost and must not be played.
Exception – Player May Substitute Another Ball Under Other Rule When It Is Known or Virtually Certain What Happened to Ball: The player has an extra option when his or her ball has not been found and it is known or virtually certain that the ball:
• Came to rest on the course and was moved by an outside influence (see Rule 9.6), 
• Came to rest on the course in or on a movable obstruction (see Rule 15.2b) or an abnormal course condition (see Rule 16.1e), or
• Was deliberately deflected or stopped by any person (see Rule 11.2c).
When one of those Rules applies, the player may either:
• Substitute another ball as allowed under that Rule, or
• Treat the provisional ball as the ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance.

Provisional Ball

(3) When Provisional Ball Must Be Abandoned.
When a provisional ball has not yet become the ball in play, it must be abandoned in either of these two cases:
When Original Ball Is Found on Course Outside Penalty Area Before the End of the Three Minute Search Time. The player must play the original ball as it lies.
When Original Ball Is Found in Penalty Area or Is Known or Virtually Certain to Be in Penalty Area. The player must either play the original ball as it lies or take penalty relief under Rule 17.1d.
In either case:
• The player must not make any more strokes with the provisional ball which is now a wrong ball (see Rule 6.3c), and
• All strokes with that provisional ball before it was abandoned (including strokes made and any penalty strokes solely from playing that ball) do not count.
 

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 18.3: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a.

Rule 18L - RVSGT Local Rule Supplement  This rule is being implemented for improved pace of play.

Following a player's stroke, if his ball might be lost outside a penalty area, or be out of bounds, to save time the player may play another ball provisionally under penalty of stroke and distance under Rule 18.3 above: or, the player may proceed to search for his original ball. If his ball has not been found within the 3 minute search time, or when the ball is known or virtually certain to be out-of-bounds, the player must proceed under this local rule, and does not have the option of replaying the previous stroke under stroke and distance. 

If the player proceeds with 18.3, and plays a provisional ball, this local rule is no longer an option, unless the provisional ball is also lost or out-of-bounds. The player must then proceed with this local rule for the provisional ball, or pick up for Triple Bogey Max on the hole in play.

Local Rule - For two penalty strokes, the player may take relief by dropping a ball in the applicable relief area illustrated in one of the next three images:

18 Local 118 Local 2

18 Local 3

Rule 19 – Unplayable Ball

Rule 19 covers the player’s several relief options for an unplayable ball. This allows the player to choose which option to use – normally with one penalty stroke – to get out of a difficult situation anywhere on the course (except in a penalty area).  

19.1 Player is only Person who May Decide to Take Unplayable Ball Relief Anywhere Except Penalty Area

• Unplayable ball relief is allowed anywhere on the course, except in a penalty area.
• If a ball is unplayable in a penalty area, the player’s only relief option is to take penalty relief under Rule 17.

19.2 Relief Options for Unplayable Ball in General Area or on Putting Green
in each case adding one penalty stroke:
• The player may take stroke-and-distance relief under Rule 19.2a even if the original ball has not been found and identified.
• But to take back-on-the-line relief under Rule 19.2b or lateral relief under Rule 19.2c, the player must know the spot of the original ball.

a. Stroke-and-Distance Relief
 
The player may play the original ball or another ball from where the previous stroke was made (see Rule 14.6).
b. Back-on-the-Line Relief 
The player may drop the original ball or another ball (see Rule 14.3) in a relief area that is based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball:
• Reference Point: A point on the course chosen by the player that is on the reference line and is farther from the hole than the spot of the original ball (with no limit on how far back on the line):
 In choosing this point, the player should indicate the point by using an object (such as a tee).
 If the player drops the ball without having chosen this point, the reference point is treated as being the point on the line that is the same distance from the hole as where the dropped ball first touched the ground.
• Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: One club-length, but with these limits:
• Limits on Location of Relief Area: 
 Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and 
 May be in any area of the course, but  
 If more than one area of the course is located within one club-length of the reference point, the ball must come to rest in the relief area in the same area of the course that the ball first touched when dropped in the relief area.
c. Lateral Relief 
The player may drop the original ball or another ball in this lateral relief area (see Rule 14.3):
• Reference Point: The spot of the original ball.
• Size of Relief Area Measured from Reference Point: Two club-lengths, but with these limits:
• Limits on Location of Relief Area: 
 Must not be nearer the hole than the reference point, and
 May be in any area of the course, but  
 If more than one area of the course is located within two club-lengths of the reference point, the ball must come to rest in the relief area in the same area of the course that the ball first touched when dropped in the relief area.
Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 19.2: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a.

Unplayable Lie

19.3 Relief Options for Unplayable Ball in Bunker

a. Normal Relief Options (One Penalty Stroke)
When a player’s ball is in a bunker:
• The player may take unplayable ball relief for one penalty stroke under any of the options in Rule 19.2, except that:
• The ball must be dropped in and come to rest in a relief area in the bunker if the player takes either back-on-the-line relief (see Rule 19.2b) or lateral relief (see Rule 19.2c).
b. Extra Relief Option (Two Penalty Strokes)
As an extra relief option when a player’s ball is in a bunker, for a total of two penalty strokes, the player may take back-on-the-line relief outside the bunker under Rule 19.2b. 

Penalty for Playing Ball from a Wrong Place in Breach of Rule 19.3: General Penalty under Rule 14.7a.

Unplayable Lie 

  RESERVED FOR FUTURE INFORMATION