Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

March 5, 2014

Questions on the rules of golf

By Jeff Houston
Sun contributor

CROSSVILLE — We know everyone wants to play by the rules of golf. But sometimes it’s not the U.S.G.A. Rules of Golf. We would like to try and help people clarify any situation or rule that is confusing to them.

So, what we need are specific questions on the rules of golf. If you have a golfing situation, like which side of the cart path do I drop on, or have been witness to someone telling you a rule, we would like to hear about it. Please email your questions to or We will change the names to protect the innocent and write an article describing your situation and the proper rule to observe. If you would like us to talk to your group on the Heatherhurst patio we would be honored to have a rules clinic for your specific group.

Here is our first situation: Jeff and Jeremy were playing on a course far, far away. Jeff had hit his ball in a fairway bunker. As Jeff approached his ball, he noticed many, many pine cones from an overhanging pine tree littered in the bunker. Not thinking he was doing anything wrong, Jeff goes to moving them with his shoes. Has Jeff done anything wrong? He never moved his ball or improved his lie, stance or swing by moving the pine cones. He was angry he was in the bunker and went to kicking the pine cones out of frustration. We find our answer by looking first in the "Definitions of Loose Impediments." “Loose impediments” are natural objects, including: stones, leaves, twigs, branches, and the like. Ok, our pine cones are natural. Therefore, they are “loose impediments.” Now we move to "Rule 13: Ball Played As It Lies." The sub rule is "Rule 13-4 Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions." Rule 13-4c prohibits you from touching or moving a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard. Jeff’s penalty for breach of rule was two strokes.

There are four things you need to figure out when making a ruling: First, the form of play; second, who was involved; third, where the action took place; and fourth, what happened.

In the above example, 1. Individual Stroke play. 2. Jeff, the competitor 3. In a bunker, which is a hazard. 4. Jeff moved a pine cone, which is a loose impediment. Once you figure out these four things, most rulings will be very simple if you know definitions sections of the rule book. In this situation, five definitions are involved. 1. Individual Stroke play 2. Competitor 3. Bunker 4. Hazard 5. Loose impediment. So, for anyone wanting to improve their knowledge of the rules, spend some time looking over the definitions section in the rule book. If you do this, I promise the rest of the rule book will become easier for you to understand.

If you have any rules questions or would like us to have a rules clinic for you group please email us at or . Also, for more information, you can visit the Tennessee Golf Association Web site at . Here you will find information about four different rule workshops that will be conducted this spring around the state. The TGA rules clinics are free of charge, but you do have to sign up in advance. Also the USGA website has lots of info on the rules of golf, as well as info on their rules workshops. Send us an email or stop in the shop at Heatherhurst and talk to us if you have any questions.