Ladies – Understanding Penalties

Levels of Penalties.
Penalties are meant to cancel out any potential advantage to the player. There are three main penalty levels:

One-Stroke Penalty.
This penalty applies in both match play and stroke play under certain Rules where either (a) the potential advantage from a breach is minor or (b) a player takes penalty relief by playing a ball from a different place than where the original ball lies.

General Penalty (Loss of Hole in Match Play, Two-Stroke Penalty in Stroke Play).
This penalty applies for a breach of most Rules, where the potential advantage is more significant than where only one penalty stroke applies.

In both match play and stroke play, a player may be disqualified from the competition for certain actions or Rule breaches involving serious misconduct (see Rule 1.2) or where the potential advantage is too significant for the player’s score to be considered valid.

Meaning of “Penalty Strokes Solely From Playing That Ball”
When the strokes made at a particular ball do not count in the player’s score, any penalty strokes that the player gets while playing that ball do not count unless the player gets a penalty that could also apply to his or her ball in play.

Examples of penalties that are disregarded because they could not also apply to the ball in play include:

  • Deliberately touching or causing the ball to move.
  • The Player’s caddie standing behind the player while taking a stance.
  • Touching sand in the backswing for the stroke.

Examples of penalties that are not disregarded because they also apply to the ball in play include:

  • Making a practice stroke during a hole .
  • Playing a wrong ball.
  • Asking for or giving advice.

Playing the Game

Play within the parameters of the tee
The first tee shot of a round is always daunting, even for seasoned golfers, so make sure you tee up between and behind the front of the appropriate markers – usually white for medal tees, yellow for men, red for ladies – and within two club lengths. With all the swing thoughts that go through the average player’s head, it can be easy to forget about these basic parameters.  Penalty for teeing up the ball outside of them (just the ball – you may take your stance outside if you prefer) is two shots in Stroke Play.

Ball That Comes to Rest in Teeing Area Does Not Have to Be Played as it Lies
Any time a player’s ball is inside the teeing area, the player may move the ball to another spot within the teeing area, and may play it from a tee without penalty.

For example, a player makes his or her first stroke from the teeing area, barely making contact with the ball, and the ball either comes to rest on the ground within the teeing area or remains on the tee.

Since the ball is in the teeing area, the player may play the ball as it lies or, even though the ball is in play, may move the ball to any other spot within the teeing area and play from there without penalty. The player may also place the ball on a tee or adjust the height of the tee the ball is resting on.

Avoid playing the wrong ball
Sounds blindingly obvious but unless you mark your ball before you start, there’s a danger – with so many golf balls similarly stamped – you may mistake yours for another player’s.  Playing the wrong ball in Match Play could mean loss of hole in singles and will be a two stroke penalty in Stroke Play. To avoid such a penalty, then get marking your ball more clearly with distinctive personalised symbols.

But if you’re unsure the ball – in the rough, for example – is yours, notify your playing partners, mark it carefully with a tee peg, lift but do not clean it (only to identify it) and replace in the identical spot you’re within your rights..

Definition of ball striking
Striking the ball would seem like a matter of technique but it is also governed in part by the Rules.  For instance, if you find yourself in a difficult lie with an awkward stance, you must strike the ball with the head of the club.  You cannot spoon, scrape or flick it in a style that cannot be described as a ‘stroke’.  A two-shot penalty in Stroke Play and loss of hole in singles Match Play will be the outcome.

Fresh Air Shot, or Whiff
Each time you swing meaning to hit the ball it counts as a stroke, even if you miss the ball.  New rules allow for not intentionally moving the ball on the tee.

Play your ball as it lies
Always play your ball as it lies, wherever it comes to rest, unless the Rules allow you to do otherwise.  Most common exemptions include the affect of ‘loose impediments’ – you can remove leaves, loose twigs, litter – or ‘obstructions’, such as man-made paths, drainage, sprinklers, from which you will receive free relief and be able to drop your ball within one club length at the nearest point of relief, no nearer the hole.

Unplayable lies
Rule 19 covers the player’s several relief options for an unplayable ball. This allows the player to choose which option to use – normally with one penalty stroke – to get out of a difficult situation anywhere on the course (except in a penalty area).

If your ball has come to rest in a position that you believe to be unplayable, you have three options.  Either hit another ball from the point of your previous shot, drop a ball behind the unplayable lie (as far back as you wish keeping the original lie between you and the hole) or drop the ball within two club lengths either side of the unplayable lie.  Each option incurs a one stroke penalty.

No way back from Out of Bounds (OB)
Knowing what to do when your ball sails out of bounds is crucial to a beginner.  A ball hit beyond the confines of the course (usually marked by white stakes) must be re-played from the original position adding a penalty of one stroke.  The scorecard of any course should have its boundaries clearly marked or described.  If you believe a shot has gone OB or into a water hazard always play a provisional and declare it.  You have three minutes to search for it and if indeed it is lost you saved valuable time continuing with the provisional ball despite a one stroke penalty.  If your original is subsequently found in bounds or dry within three minutes of the point of search you must continue with the original ball.

Dropping procedure
When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), drop from knee height.

Green rulings
Once you have reached the green, there are a couple of key Rules of which you need to be aware.  Once the ball comes to rest on the putting surface you may mark it with a coin, disk or similar, lift and clean it but remember to replace in the exact spot.  You may repair any pitchmarks – not just yours – other damage such as spike marks on the green before the completion of the hole.  You can have the flagstick attended at all times but that is not necessary.  You can choose to leave the flag in or take it out or have it attended for your last put.  There is no longer a penalty for hitting the flag pole only if it is left in.  One stroke penalty if the pole is hit while attended or out.

Seeking advice
While it is one of the most sociable of sports, golf is a solitary game and this is reflected within the Rules.  You cannot ask advice on club selection for example from anyone other than your team mate (if you are playing fourball or foursomes for example) or a caddie.  Neither should you offer advice to opponents in competition. However, you may ask for information on the Rules, distances or positions of hazards or the flagstick.

Examples of advice that is not allowed.
Giving advice about the swing, stance or anything else that can be considered “golf tips” or golf instruction to an opponent or fellow-competitor is a violation.  Likewise, asking another golfer to advise you about your swing or offer other golf instruction topics during a round is not allowed.

You cannot ask a golfer what club she used before you’ve played your stroke.

While you can ask about yardages, you cannot ask for advice on which club to use for that shot. (OK: “How far is it from my ball to the back of the green?” Not OK: “Do you think I should use a 9-iron or pitching wedge for this shot?”)

You cannot intentionally mislead an opponent or fellow-competitor about what club you just used, e.g., saying, in a manner meant to be overheard, “That was a 5-iron” when you actually played a different club.

You cannot check a golfer’s bag seeking information about club selection if a physical act — say, moving a towel out of the way — is required to see the other golfer’s clubs.

In match play, a breach of Rule 10-2 results in loss of hole; in stroke play, a penalty of two strokes.

If a player gets advice from someone other than his or her caddie (such as a spectator) without asking for it, he or she gets no penalty. However, if the player continues to get advice from that same person, the player must try to stop that person from giving advice. If the player does not do so, he or she is treated as asking for that advice and gets the penalty under.

Score correctly
At the end of a Stroke Play round make sure your card has been completed correctly – achieved by comparing scores you have marked on a playing partner’s card (you will have exchanged cards at the start of the round) with those she has recorded.  Once you agree, the card must be signed by both parties as a correct record of each hole.  Addition doesn’t necessarily have to be accurate but individual hole scores must tally.  Incorrect scorecards, if lower scores are included, and unsigned ones will lead to disqualification.

How to Score Common Golf Penalty Shots
A stray shot in golf is frustrating, but it happens to the best golfers.  Where the ball is hit makes a difference in how it is played and scored.  Take a look at these common golf penalty shots and how to deal with them:

Out of Bounds: 1-stroke penalty plus distance.  Replay the ball from where it was just played (or tee up again if it was your first shot).

Unplayable lies: 1-stroke penalty. Drop the ball within two club lengths of the original spot, no nearer to the hole.  Or drop the ball as far back as you want, as long as you keep the original unplayable lie point between you and the hole. You may also return to the spot from which you played your original shot if you prefer.  An unplayable lie in a bunker must be dropped within the bunker.

Water hazard (yellow stakes): 1-stroke penalty.  Play the ball as near as possible to the place from which the original shot was hit.  Or drop a ball behind the water, as long as you keep the point at which the original ball crossed the edge of the water hazard directly between the hole (the flag) and the spot on which the ball is dropped.  There is no limit to how far behind the water hazard you can go with the ball.

Lateral water hazard (red stakes): 1-stroke penalty.  Drop a ball outside the lateral hazard within two club lengths of where the ball went in, but not nearer to the hole.  (N.B. Keeping a point on the opposite edge of the water hazard equidistant from the hole no longer applies.)