The new rules are very generous and are based upon the general understanding that players follow the golf rules.
However there are still many situations where it’s difficult to define what is correct. This is not about the little things, like if the ball moves a fraction at addressing or so. No this is about the rules that makes a big difference and have a big impact on the results.
Questioning a fellow golfer, regarding the rules can cause problems sometimes.
To avoid suspicions and conflicts there are some easy actions a player can do.
In any dubious situation a player should call his or her fellow player/marker to make sure the correct decision is taken. This way everything is hopefully sorted there and then.
A few examples:
1. Playing a provisional ball.
a. Before hitting another ball the player MUST declare it "provisional". He must say that particular word. Otherwise it’s a new ball in play. I’ll hit another or similar expressions are just not good enough.
b. Before playing the (now declared provisional ball) he/she should tell the fellow player how to identify the two different balls. Neglecting that – both balls should be considered provisional if there is any doubt regarding which ball was the first or second.
2. Ball is near OB
a. If the ball is very near (in) or on the line of OB, or there can be any doubt from a distance, the player should invite/ask his fellow player/marker to take a look for a second opinion. Failing to do that creates suspicions and problems.
3. Declaring a ball unplayable and taking relief
a. If there is a large gain depending on where to drop a new ball in play, like bush or tree in front of the player, then whoever is taking the relief should invite the fellow player/marker to check that that the correct relief is taken.
4. Ball in Penalty area
a. If any doubt about where the ball last crossed in to the penalty area the player should invite a fellow player/marker to decide where to take the relief. Many players just walk up to where the ball lies in the water – they then take it out and drop it right there (90 degree) and then play it. Doing this regardless of where the ball last crossed into the penalty area is wrong, as it can be a long way back.
5. Plugged ball anywhere on the Course except in bunker sand
a. We now get relief and can drop the ball within a clubs length. But, if any doubt, before lifting it out a player should invite a fellow player/marker to have a look and check that the drop is done correctly.
6. Unusual conditions like temporary water
a. If there could be any doubt a player should inform his fellow player/marker of his intentions to take a relief. So that they can verify that the correct decision is taken.
7. Identifying a ball in rough
a. Lifting the ball is NOT allowed. Correct action is to gently rotate the ball until it can be identified.
b. If, by any chance, it gets moved into a new position (like higher up in the grass) it MUST be replaced/pushed back down.
8. Dropping a ball into play
a. Unless the ball rolls out of the release area and rolls closer to the hole than the original position, or rolls into a penalty area or rolls on to the green, then the ball is in play.
b. If the player is not happy by the new position, e.g. it rolls back into the bush from where the relief was taken, then the player has the option of taking another relief with the cost of another penalty shot. The ball is in play and cannot be moved again without penalty.
A player who ignores his playing partners/marker’s right to decision-making when in doubt is disrespectful.