Anchors & Resolutions

As the possibility of an early golf season peaks through the forecast with sixty degree days in a Western Pennsylvania February, let’s take a look at few things to ponder before getting out to your favorite track this spring.

Rule 14-1b, “Anchoring the Club” has been a hot topic around the world of golf. The prohibition of the anchored putter certainly did not stop notorious anchor putter, Adam Scott from claiming his first victory this weekend at Honda Classic under the new Rule. Let’s examine some of the facts about Rule 14-1b, which states…..In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point”.

•An anchor point is established when a gripping hand and/or the club establish a stable point in which the other hand may swing the club in a pendulum style.
•Anchoring your hand against your body is considered the same as anchoring the club against your body and is prohibited.
•This Rule is not a limitation on equipment, so don’t throw out your “belly” putter or “long” putter. These pieces of equipment are just fine to continue using, so long as you do not anchor them to your body during the stroke. Rules in Appendix II are unchanged regarding the length of a club.
•Can I press an elongated putter against my lead arm to make a stroke? The answer is yes. While you have created a fixed point by pressing the putter against your lead forearm, you have not created an anchor point. A stroke will still be made traditionally trough the motion of your arms and shoulders.

Rule 14-1b is a Rule of Golf and prohibits anchoring at all levels of competition and in no circumstance does a Committee (Rule 33) have the power to waive a Rule of Golf. The penalty for making an anchored stroke is two strokes for each breach in stroke play and loss of hole for each breach in match play. To see visuals on Rule 14-1b click here.

Etiquette and honor are core words within the game of golf, so how do I resolve a disagreement over the Rules with a competitor without making an uncomfortable mess of the situation? Playing by the Rules is essential, however, so is keeping things civil. Let’s take a look at how we may be able to best settle a Rules dispute on the golf course.

• If you are troubled by something you see happening on the course, speak up. Don’t hold onto seeing a violation, this is recipe for disaster, distrust and worse things to come. If you think you may have witnessed a violation speak up at that moment and certainly before that player makes their next stroke. Once a player has taken further action, ie…played another stroke, Rule 3-3 is no longer an option. In match play the claim must be made before teeing off on the next hole, while in stroke play there may be an investigative process by the Committee.
• Don’t say, “your cheating.” Tell the competitor, “that you are unsure if they proceeded properly and that the Committee should review the situation.” If all parties are in doubt encourage the player to play a second ball under Rule 3-3.
• When a player evokes Rule 3-3 a dialogue with Committee has automatically been created, taking the pressure off others in the group. Rule 3-3 states, “before returning his score card, the competitor must report the facts of the situation to the Committee. If he fails to do so, he is disqualified.
• Keep playing! Regardless of what happened, it happened. The facts need to be reported to the Committee, who will take the appropriate measures to modify the score or standing of the match based on their findings. The safest way in stroke play to keep playing without risking disqualification after teeing off on the next hole is employing Rule 3-3. In match play the opponents need to decide on a ruling and move on.
• Once you have made it clear that you think a player may have proceeded improperly, step aside. The player in question needs to make a decision on how they would like to proceed with their round.
• Report the facts to the committee as they happened and let them make a determination. This will assist in mitigating the personalities involved and any potential confrontation.

Seeing to it that those playing with you are playing by the Rules is as important as playing by them yourself. While getting involved in a Rules dispute is not what any of us want on our weekend morning at the club, I hope some of the tips above will assist you in handling such a situation.

written by: Matt Rusinko, Director of Competitions

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Explanation of “Fairly Taking His Stance”

Executive Director Jeff Rivard was a Rules of Golf official during the USGA Senior Open, July 12-15, played at Indianwood G&CC, Lake Orion, MI.

During the second round after his opening drive on the first hole, Sweden’s Mikael Hogberg sought Rivard for a ruling. His ball was under a pine tree bough, and Hogberg wanted to approach the ball from the back side to play his stroke. In so doing, he would move the bough and could gain an advantage by getting the branch out of his way.  Relief was not permitted as Rivard ruled, so Hogberg played his stroke approaching his ball from the ‘least intrusive’ angle. He hit the shot on his knees.

Decision 13-2/1 is called Explanation of “Fairly Taking His Stance.” The Decisions states in part that the ” . . . use of ‘fairly’ is intended to limit the player to what is reasonably necessary to take a stance for the selected stroke without unduly improving the position of his ball, his lie, area of intended stance or swing or line of play.” The Decision also says “The player is not entitled to a normal stance or swing.  He must accommodate the situation in which the ball is found and take a stance as normal as the circumstances permit.”

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Size limit of ball marker

Q: Is there a limit to the size of a ball marker that may be used to mark a ball on a green?

A: There is no limit to the size of a ball marker, but the note to Rule 20-1 says a ball ” . . . should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or similar object, immediately behind the ball.” Note the use of should rather than shall, so there is room for interpretation.  However, if a player uses an object that would make replacing the ball in accordance with this Rule difficult or would cause any questions, the player would be penalized one stroke for not complying with Rule 20-1, regardless of where the incident takes place on the course. This would be because the player cannot accurately replace the ball from the spot it was lifted.

Decision 20-1/16 specifically states there is no penalty for using an object that is not similar to a ball marker or small coin, making the note a “recommendation of best practice.” However, this Decision goes on to say that ” . . . it is necessary to physically mark the position of the ball.”

If such a mark could cause a deflection or distraction, a player could request that another object be used for marking a ball.

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Equity, Dangerous Situation

Q: My ball came to rest in a bunker near bees? Can I move away from them?

A: In a dangerous situation, the player may drop a ball without penalty on the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous. If a ball lies in a hazard, such as a bunker, the ball should be dropped in the same hazard, if possible, or in a nearby similar hazard. If this is not possible the player may drop a ball outside the hazard, UNDER PENALTY OF ONE STROKE, keeping the point where the ball lay between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped. This procedure applies to situations unrelated to conditions normally encountered on the course. Unpleasant lies, in poison ivy, for example, are a common occurrence which players must accept. USGA Decisions, 1-4/10 and 1-4/11

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Player putts with head cover on putter

Q: A player holed a short putt with the cover still on the clubhead.  Is there a penalty?

A: Yes, the player is disqualified in both stroke and match play under Rule 4-1, Form and Make of Clubs, for using a club that does not conform to the Rules.  Violations of 4-1, Form and Make of Clubs, and 4-2, Playing Characteristics Change and Foreign Material, involving making a stroke with a club in breach are disqualifications.

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Use of rangefinders

Joe . . .

On our Rules of Play Card, (hard card), we permit them as long as the functions are distance only related.  If the pinseeker is distance only, it’s OK.

This is a Local Rule authorized by the USGA.  If this Rule is not stated, they are prohibited under penalty of DQ.  The only time they cannot be used locally for USGA Qualifying Rounds.



Are non-slope rangefinders allowed like the Pinseeker 1500?  I have a qualifier tomorrow morning at Ebensburg Country Club.



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Boundary stake, ball unplayable


The best option is to declare the ball unplayable under Rule 28.  The player has the option of declaring his ball unplayable anywhere on the course except in a water hazard.

Since you were so close to Out of Bounds, 28c is the best–drop a ball within two club lengths from where the ball lay under penalty of one stroke.

However, you could return to the spot from where the stroke was played (28a), or drop a ball keeping the point where the ball lay between you and the hole (28b), which doesn’t work well with the out of bounds so close.


I had a situation yesterday where my tee ball landed close to out of bounds.  I hit a provisional ball.  I found that my first ball landed inbounds but within nine inches of an out of bound stake and since it was in bounds my next shot was to hit it.  The stake impeded my shot to the advance the ball.  I ended up hitting the ball laterally to the fairway but suffered two strokes as wiffs as I hit the stake twice missing the ball before successfully hitting the ball to the fairway.  Not too accurate on the first two shots because of the tightness of the stance and the stake.  What options did I have?


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Casual water in bunker, unplayable ball

Fred . . .

You have the right idea, you can get out of the bunker and the penalty is one stroke, but the Rule is specific.  Under Rule 25-1b (ii) (b) on page 75, the player is directed to keep the point where the ball lay in the bunker between the hole and where the ball is dropped with no limit as to how far one can go back to drop a ball.  It doesn’t have to be the ball, in case it’s hard to retrieve, it’s a ball.



The other day, after heavy rain the night before, I played a course and on the 3rd hole I hit my drive into the near (towards the tee end and away from the green end) of a bunker. That end of the bunker was completely full of (casual?) water, right up to the grass edges, no sand (muck!) available to drop within the bunker, my ball lay in the casual water near the tee end of the bunker. I took relief no nearer the hole but outside the bunker, taking a penalty stroke, and played on. Did I handle this situation correctly? Thanks.


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Status of hazard stake


The player can move the hazard stake as it’s a movable obstruction.  If the ball moves, it’s replaced without penalty.

If he elects not to play the ball, he has stroke and distance, keeping the point between him and the hole (sometimes out in #7 fairway), under Rule 26.  He can’t use two club lengths since it’s not a lateral water hazard.

He can also use the Dropping Zone for a one shot penalty.



Playing # 8 at Quicksilver last night with the water around the front of the green.  In front, there’s water, then a wood wall, then yellow stakes next to the wood wall, then the big apron area and then the green.  Occasionally, someone will hit the apron area, and then the ball trickles backwards and ends up against the wall, which is in the hazard, cause the wall is on the “bad” side of the yellow stakes.

So last night, a guy hits a nice high shot……….hits the apron and trickles backwards.  We get to the green and we see his ball……….wedged between the back edge of the yellow stake and the edge of the wood wall. If a golf all is an inch and a half in diameter……….then there was an inch between the wall edge and the stake.

I know you can’t move white stakes that are in the way of your stance/swing, but you can move red or yellow ones.   Not sure if moving them is legal if the ball is in the hazard though (as opposed to being outside the hazard.)

Also, there was absolutely no way to move the stake without the ball moving, so would that affect whether he could move the stake or not?

There is a ball drop area next to the green and with him being in the hazard, I’m confident that this was one of his options, as well as going back straight from the pin, which would have put him in # 7 fairway/rough. Or re-teeing. One club length would have been questionable as to whether he would be closer to the hole or not.


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Excess clubs declared out of play

Joe . . .

The opponent would be penalized for starting a round with more than fourteen clubs, as the Rules do not permit carrying excess clubs during a round that have been declared out of play, either in a golf bag or on the floor of the

The first step could be for you to inform the opponent to get rid of the clubs from his bag or his cart before play begins. There would be no penalty if he complies.

If the dicovery is made and you file a claim during the first hole, one hole
is deducted from the state of the match.

If you won the first hole, you are two up after the first hole. If the first hole is halved, you’re one up. If you lost the first hole, the match is all square.

If the discovery is made and the claim is filed later in the match, the maximum deduction for the opponent is two holes, and the application would be the same as outlined above.


In our club championship last year my opponent showed up at the first tee with sixteen clubs in his bag. He declared an extra putter and an extra driver “out of play,” and placed them on the floor of his cart. Is he allowed to do this, and if not, how should I handle such a situation in the future?


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