If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either Bonny Wilcox, Julia Fox, Stacia Sower or Phyllis O’Brien


Once again, it must be time to review how to take relief from a ball declared unplayable by the player.

The player is the only person who may decide to treat her ball as unplayable by taking penalty relief under Rule 19.2 or 19.3.

Unplayable ball relief is allowed anywhere on the course, EXCEPT, in a penalty area (those areas marked with red lines/stakes-Quail 3 and 8, Roadrunner 4 and 8.  Relief from these areas is covered under Rule 17.)

There are three options in taking relief:

  1.  The player may take stroke and distance relief (i.e. Back to where she hit it originally –  tee or fairway)
  2.  The player may take back-on-the-line Relief – a line going straight back from the hole through the spot of the original ball, as far back as she wants.
  3. The player may take two club lengths relief no nearer the hole.


Explanation of a couple of Rules issues that occurred during last week’s play.

9.2b Deciding What Caused Ball to Move

When a player’s ball at rest on the putting green has moved, it must be decided what caused it to move. There are 4 possible causes:

  • natural forces, such as wind or water;
  • the player;
  • the opponent in Match Play; or
  • an Outside influence.

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. If the player’s ball on the putting green moves after the player had already lifted and replaced the ball on the spot from which it moved, the ball must be replaced on its original spot.  If the ball had not been previously lifted and marked, the player must play the ball from the new spot. No penalty to the player in either case.

16.1 Abnormal Course Conditions Including Immovable Obstructions.

Since there is no longer a penalty area in front of the R#9 green, if your ball happens to go under the cement bridge, you may get free relief from an Immovable Obstruction – no closer to the hole.  The relief area might be a bit awkward, but with help from your fellow competitors, you should be able to find some relief close to the immovable obstruction which is not nearer the hole.  If you can’t come to a consensus, play two balls in stroke play and check with rules/tournament members before signing your scorecard.


Rule 15.1-Relief from Loose Impediments

Did you know that you can remove loose impediments around your ball?  Of course, you did – but did you know you could use more than your hand to remove them?

Without penalty, a player may remove loose impediments 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).  So this means you don’t have to pick up the loose gravel (loose impediment) one by one.  Just don’t move your ball.

Exception:  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, she gets a one stroke penalty, but the loose impediment does not need to be replaced.

Rule 17 -Penalty Areas

Just a quick reminder that when your ball is in a penalty area (red areas marked on Quail 2, 3, & 8, RR 4 & 8, Coyote 9), you can always play your ball without taking relief, if you are able to do so, and you may ground your club.  Since 2019 you can play the ball as it lies, without penalty, under the same Rules that apply to a ball in the general area (the rest of the course).


RULE 1 – Player Conduct

All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by:

Acting with integrity – following the rules and being honest.

Showing consideration to others –  playing at a prompt pace and not disturbing your fellow players by moving, talking or making unnecessary noise. Do not stand on another player’s line of putt or, when she is making a stroke, cast a shadow over her line of putt.

DON’T expect your cart partner to be your caddie.  Grab a couple of clubs and walk to your ball while others are hitting assuming it is safe to do so.

Pace of Play – When we go to reverse shotguns this week, it will be imperative to keep up with the group ahead.  It is a group’s responsibility.  If it loses a clear hole and it is delaying the group behind, it should invite the group to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group.  Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn to play.  They should leave their bags or carts in such a position to enable quick movement off the green and toward the next tee. When play of the hole had been completed, players should immediately leave the green.


Lately, there have been several questions on what can be repaired on the putting green, so I would like to review Rule 13 that covers this area.

The new Rule effective 2019 says a player may repair damage on the putting green without penalty by taking reasonable actions to restore the putting green as nearly as possible to its original condition, but only by using her hand, foot or other part of her body or a normal ball-mark repair tool, tee, club, or similar item or normal equipment.  She can’t bring in a backhoe.

But if a payer improves the putting green by taking actions that exceed what is reasonable, there is a two-stroke penalty.

Can be fixed – damage to the putting green means:  Ball marks, shoe damage, scrapes or indentations, old hole plugs, seams and animal tracks or indentations, and imbedded objects such as a stone, acorn or tee.

Damage does not include and cannot be fixed means: natural wear of the hole. This is probably where all the issues arise.  If the hole is damaged, is it from natural wear or a player’s putter, flagstick or ball? Use your best judgement and try to come to a consensus in your group as to whether it is natural or man-made before you repair the damage.

My recommendation would be:  Don’t repair anything until after all of you have played the hole. 

I would like to welcome Julia Fox to the Rules Committee and thank Phyllis for agreeing to re-join us as well.  Please make them feel welcome.



Advice is any action or verbal comment that is intended to influence a player on:

  • Choosing a club – like showing her which club you just used
  • Making a stroke – like showing her the swing you are describing or telling her she has no shot at all and should take an unplayable.  You can share her options but cannot tell her what she should do.
  • Deciding on how to play during a hole or round – you cannot say “you know the wind is in your face and you will need more club”.

BUT YOU CAN give her public information such as:

  • The location of things on the course, such as hole location, penalty areas, bunkers, etc.  You can tell her the hole location is in the front third of the green.
  • The distance from one point to another.  You can tell her it is 85 yards to the penalty area.
  • The Rules – any rules.


This is a good time to review some putting green areas that might need our attention as we start the new year.

When your ball is on the putting green:

  1.  Your ball may be lifted and cleaned but must be marked before it is lifted and replaced on the original spot. (Rule 14.1)
  2. Sand and Loose Soil on the putting green, may be removed without penalty.  Anywhere else on the course including right in front of the green or on the fringe sand and loose soil cannot be removed. (Rule 13.1a)
  3. No penalty for accidentally causing your ball to move.  There is no penalty if the player, opponent or fellow competitor accidently moves the player’s ball or ball-marker. However, the player must replace the ball on its original spot (which if not known must be estimated) or place a ball marker to mark the spot. (Rule 14-2)
  4. Please repair your ball mark and at least one other on the green.  Remember, a repaired ball mark heals much quicker.