Flagstick in or out?

14 02 2019

A couple of weeks ago I posted a video my friend Peter had sent me which showed that it was definitely a good idea to leave the flagstick in when putting (see my most recent blog ‘As Shakespeare might have said’, below). Then my other friend Keith sent me this video which shows the exact opposite:

The plot thickens…

So I’m not exactly sure where that leaves us, except to say that a lot of golfers are going to be trying out both methods in the next wee while. Not here in the beautiful Comox Valley though, where there’s six inches of snow on the ground and sub zero temperatures are forecast for another week at least. Beautiful it may be, but it’s not much use for putting (see what I did there?) all the new rules of golf into practice…

All da best!

Dave B.

Rules Modernisation: final version

13 03 2018

Yesterday the USGA and the R & A unveiled the new rules of golf to be implemented as of January 1st 2019. There are several changes from the original draft published some months ago.

Below you will find a brief(ish) summary of the new rules, but for a clearer idea you’d be well advised to check out the information (and videos) provided on the USGA and R & A websites (usga.org and randa.org):

Modernisation of Rules, January 2019

 The R&A and the USGA finalised golf’s new Rules this month after an extensive review that included a request for feedback from the global golf community on the proposed changes.

The process to modernise the Rules began in 2012 and was initiated to ensure that the Rules are easier to understand and apply for all golfers and to make the game more attractive and accessible for newcomers.

While the majority of proposed Rules remain intact in the final version, several important changes to the initial proposals and further clarification of many Rules were incorporated. The most significant adjustments made following review of the feedback received from golfers around the world include:

  • Dropping procedure: When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested dropping from any height).
  • Measuring in taking relief: The golfer’s relief area will be measured by using the longest club in his/her bag (other than a putter) to measure one club-length or two club-lengths, depending on the situation, providing a consistent process for golfers to establish his/her relief area. (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested a 20-inch or 80-inch standard measurement).
  • Removing the penalty for a double hit:  The penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball more than once in the course of a stroke has been removed. Golfers will simply count the one stroke they made to strike the ball.  (Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 included the existing one-stroke penalty).
  • Balls Lost or Out of Bounds: Alternative to Stroke and Distance A new Local Rule will now be available in January 2019, permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty. It addresses concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance. The Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite level competitions. (Key change:  this is a new addition to support pace of play)

Major proposals introduced in 2017 that have been incorporated into the modernised Rules include:

  • Elimination or reduction of “ball moved” penalties: There will be no penalty for accidentally moving a ball on the putting green or in searching for a ball; and a player is not responsible for causing a ball to move unless it is “virtually certain” that he or she did so.
  • Relaxed putting green rules: There will be no penalty if a ball played from the putting green hits an unattended flagstick in the hole; players may putt without having the flagstick attended or removed. Players may repair spike marks and other damage made by shoes, animal damage and other damage on the putting green and there is no penalty for merely touching the line of putt.
  • Relaxed rules for “penalty areas” (currently called “water hazards”): Red and yellow-marked penalty areas may cover areas of desert, jungle, lava rock, etc., in addition to areas of water; expanded use of red penalty areas where lateral relief is allowed; and there will be no penalty for moving loose impediments or touching the ground or water in a penalty area.
  • Relaxed bunker rules: There will be no penalty for moving loose impediments in a bunker or for generally touching the sand with a hand or club. A limited set of restrictions (such as not grounding the club right next to the ball) is kept to preserve the challenge of playing from the sand; however, an extra relief option is added for an unplayable ball in a bunker, allowing the ball to be played from outside the bunker with a two-stroke penalty.
  • Relying on player integrity: A player’s “reasonable judgment” when estimating or measuring a spot, point, line, area or distance will be upheld, even if video evidence later shows it to be wrong; and elimination of announcement procedures when lifting a ball to identify it or to see if it is damaged.
  • Pace-of-play support: Reduced time for searching for a lost ball (from five minutes to three); affirmative encouragement of “ready golf” in stroke play; recommending that players take no more than 40 seconds to play a stroke and other changes intended to help with pace of play.

As you can see, we’re all going to have our work cut out to stay on top of the new rules. Like the changes or not (and in general I have to say I do), these are the rules we’ll be playing by come next January – so get ready!

Oh, and did I mention there’s going to be a new handicap system, to be implemented in 2020? I’m just going to have a little lie down…

All da best!

Dave B



The rules of winter golf (according to Bud)

1 12 2017


The Budmeister gives a tip of the cap to golf’s winter rules (not).

The most venerable member of the Sandbaggers group at Glacier Greens is our good friend Bud Bryan. Being 79 years young, Bud – perhaps understandably – tends not to approve of all these new-fangled ideas in the golfing world. “Women golfers playing on Saturdays? They should stick to Tuesday mornings and leave Saturday Men’s club the way God intended it – for men only.” “Ready golf? Bah! You’ll not catch me stealing a man’s honour.”

So it may come as no surprise that Bud has not exactly embraced the proposed rule changes in golf, scheduled to be implemented in January 2019. It’s been bad enough trying to get him to accept that now the active season is over at Glacier Greens for the year, winter rules are in place to help golfers cope with the tricky conditions. Bud’s position is unwavering: “Lift, clean and place? Lift, clean and cheat, more like. Should never be allowed.”

So here are half a dozen winter golf situations to which Bud’s response is a firm “That’s cheating.” Is he right and, if so, what is the penalty? Answers below:

1. A player walks up to their ball on the fairway, addresses it and plays their stroke without placing it first under the Local Rule.

2. A player’s ball is at rest on the fairway. As they can see no mud, sand or grass cuttings on their ball they use the toe of their club to roll the ball into a grassy lie within the permitted 6 inches.

3. Under the Local Rule, a player has placed their ball immediately next to where it was at rest when they notice that there is still some mud on it. So they mark it again, clean the mud off and replace it at the ball-marker.

4. A player’s ball is at rest on the fairway. They mark and lift it and then place it within 6” on a tuft of grass in the rough, no nearer the hole.

5. Having marked, lifted and cleaned their ball, a player places it not nearer the hole and within 6” of where it lay onto a tuft of grass to the side of a repaired divot. As the player stands up, the ball topples off the tuft into the divot. They bend down and place it back onto the tuft of grass. 

6. A player marks, lifts and cleans their ball and then drops it within 6” of where it lay on the fairway, not nearer the hole.


1. No penalty – you may lift clean and place, but you don’t have to.

2. Oops. The ball should be placed, not rolled with a club. A one stroke penalty.

3. Oops again. Another one stroke penalty. Once you’ve moved the ball it’s in play, so you can’t touch it again.

4. No penalty – you’re not in a hazard or on the green, so you’re within the rules.

5. Double oops! A two stroke penalty. You’ve touched the ball after it should be in play and then played it from the wrong place.

6. Double oops! The rule says ‘lift, clean and place‘, not ‘drop‘. (However, if you realise your mistake before continuing play and correct it, there would be no penalty.)

So in fact Bud was correct 60% of the time. Not bad – but you can save yourself strokes every round this winter if you know all these winter rules.

Or perhaps you’re at the other end of the Budmeister scale and don’t bother about any of those pesky rules. And that’s absolutely fine by me – but, please, not if you’re playing at Glacier Greens in Saturday Men’s club!

All da best.

Bagger D.



Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules…

14 05 2010

You must have seen the classic movie ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’. Do you remember the bit early on when Harvey, one of the Hole in the Wall gang, challenges Butch for the leadership? In an attempt to delay things a bit (Harvey is very big and very very tough), Butch asks what the rules are. “Rules? In a knife fight?” asks Harvey scornfully. “There’s no rules in a knife fight”. Whereupon Butch kicks him in the family jewels and the fight is over before it begins.

Which brings us – admittedly by a somewhat contrived route – to the Rules of Golf.  Of all the sports I’ve played, golf is unique in that players are required to call penalties on themselves. Golfers and non golfers alike were impressed by a British pro named Brian Davis a few weeks ago when he called a penalty upon himself  in a playoff for the Verizon Championship and so lost the chance of winning his first PGA Tour event. We don’t play for a million dollars on Saturday mornings at Glacier Greens but it’s difficult to believe that anyone would deliberately cheat his fellow competitors out of so much as a cent. Certainly anyone who would do such a thing would find it hard to get a game with most foursomes out there.

So we all agree that golf is an honourable game. Does that mean, then, that Members’ Morning at Glacier Greens is an oasis of integrity, where rules are never broken ? Sadly, I suspect not…Maybe not deliberately, but my guess is that rules are broken every week by people who don’t know them as well as they probably should. For that reason I urge you all to attend the rules evening that is to be put on at Glacier on June 2nd. I think you’ll find it both informative and fun.

In the meantime, here’s a mini quiz to give you food for thought about those stinkin’ rules:

1 As you know, you may start a round with up to 14 clubs in your bag. If you start with fewer than 14, can you add more clubs during the round?

a) Yes

b) No

2 You are allowed to lay a bag on the putting green to shield your putt from the wind.

a) True

b) False

3 How many club lengths behind the tee markers may you tee up the ball?

a) One

b) Two

4 What is the penalty in match play if you tee off in front of the tee markers?

5 What exactly does the term ‘through the green’ mean?

6 What are your five options when your ball lies in a lateral hazard?

7 On reaching the putting green, may you change balls?

a) Yes

b) No

8 Which of the following is not casual water?

a) Ice

b) Snow

c) Dew

d) A puddle

9 In marking the position of a ball, the marker must be placed behind the ball.

a) True

b) False

10 May you remove a red stake if your ball lies in a lateral water hazard?

a) Yes

b) No

11 What is the penalty for hitting a ball out of bounds?

12 Describe the procedure for getting relief when your ball is on a cart path.


1 a) Yes. And you can replace a club if it’s broken during the normal course of play. (i.e. not if you’ve broken it by having a hissy fit after a missed putt or a duffed chip, for example).

2 b) False. You’re not allowed to take any action that influences the position or movement of a ball.

3 b) Two. Remember – you can stand outside the tee boxes but your ball has to be between them.

4 There is no penalty in match play, although your opponent may ask you to replay the shot. In stroke play, it’s a two shot penalty and the tee shot must be replayed.

5 ‘Through the green’ means the whole area of the golf course except all hazards and the teeing ground and green of the hole being played.

6 Your options in a water hazard are:

a) Play it as it lies.

b) Go back and drop your ball as close as possible to where you played your  previous shot.

c) Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball entered the hazard directly between the hole and where you drop the ball.

d) Drop a ball  outside the hazard within two club lengths of where the ball crossed the margin of the hazard, not nearer the hole.

e) Drop a ball on the opposite side of where the ball entered the water hazard, equidistant from the hole.

(Options b, c, d and e all incur a one shot penalty).

7 b) No (unless your ball is damaged and needs replacing, in which case you should always consult your playing partner(s) first. You may, however, always replace your ball between holes – always remembering, of course, to inform your playing partners).

8 c) Dew is not casual water.

9 b) False (although that is the procedure recommended by the RCGA). However you mark your ball, make sure you don’t flatten the surface of the green by pressing your marker down hard.

10 Yes (unless under local rules the stakes are deemed immovable obstructions, and that’s not the case at Glacier Greens).

11 Stroke and distance (i.e. replay the shot from where you were originally and also add a penalty stroke).

12 You find the nearest point of relief and drop your ball within one club length, not nearer the hole, but the exact process is a little too complicated to describe here. I strongly urge you to come to the rules clinic at 5:30 on June 2nd here at Glacier Greens, when  local rulesmeister John Davis will actually take you out onto the course and show you the answer to this and any other questions you might have.

So, remember how Butch and Sundance and the rest of the gang ended up and make sure you know the rules. When we’re playing the ball in competition, playing for money and/or entering scores in the computer we want to do things right. Right?

All da best.

Dave B.

P.S. In other, unrelated news, Glacier Greens played a home and home interclub with Crown Isle this week and last. The first leg, at Crown Isle, brought a fairly crushing 35.5 – 18.5 defeat for the G.G. boys. This week, at Glacier Greens, the boot was on the other foot and the home team won 39.5 – 14.5. I guess home course knowledge really does help. Thanks to Crown Isle for being such good sports and congratulations to Paul Schroeder, John Pringle, Chris Pouliot, Jean Cote, Glen Horsepool, Ross Dowe, Adrian Haut, Barry Howell, Glen Parsons, Glen Sweetman and Peter Leskovitch for the part they played in the win. Thanks also to the catering staff at both courses for terrific nosh. More interclubs are scheduled for later in the season. Don’t miss out – they’re great!