Ask Ted

Q: What are the new USGA rules for 2012?

A: Significant changes include:

  • Ball Moving After Address (Rule 18-2b). A new exception is added which exonerates the player from penalty if their ball moves after it has been addressed when it is known or virtually certain that they did not cause the ball to move. For example, if it is a gust of wind that moves the ball after it has been addressed, there is no penalty and the ball is played from its new position.
  • Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions (Rule 13-4). Exception 2 to this Rule is amended to permit a player to smooth sand or soil in a hazard at any time, including before playing from that hazard, provided it is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and Rule 13-2 (improving lie, area of intended stance or swing or line of play) is not breached.
  • Time of Starting (Rule 6-3a). The rule is amended to provide that the penalty for starting late, but within five minutes of the starting time, is reduced from disqualification to loss of the first hole in match play or two strokes at the first hole in stroke play. Previously this penalty reduction could be introduced as a condition of competition.
  • Q: What is the proper way to drop a ball after you are forced to drop?

    A: A ball to be dropped under the Rules must be dropped by the player himself. He must stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and arm's length and drop it. If a ball is dropped by any other person or in any other manner and the error is not corrected as provided in Rule 20-6, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke. If the ball when dropped touches any person or the equipment of any player before or after it strikes a part of the course and before it comes to rest, the ball must be re-dropped, without penalty. There is no limit to the number of times a ball must be re-dropped in these circumstances.

    Q: The ball lays in a bush in the desert in an area marked by red stakes. Where do I drop?

    A: If it is red staked, you treat as a lateral hazard. You always have the option of playing as it lies in the hazard without grounding the club. If you decide not to hit the ball as it lies, you have three options: 1, Re-hit the tee shot teed up or from the previous position if it was not your tee shot; 2, Drop within two club lengths of the red line or from the line created by the two stakes where the ball crossed the hazard line. (Note you can take relief on the other side of the hazard that is staked as well as long as the distance to the hole is the same on either side of the hazard. This works well with narrow hazards that are between holes. You sometimes have a better look at the hole from the other side of hazard) 3. Player may drop ball behind the hazard where entered as far back as desired with pin in line. (this option does not work when the lateral water hazard line is parallel to the fairway and rough since it is hard to get behind the hazard)

    Remember, Yellow stake hazards only have two options. Re-hit the shot from previous spot or as far back as you desire where the ball crossed the hazard with pin in line. They do not have the two club length since most yellow stake hazards are perpendicular to the hole versus lateral hazards that are parallel.

    Q: What is Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) and how does it work?

    A: ESC is used when a player's actual or most likely score exceeds a maximum number, based on the players course handicap from the tees played.

    Players with a course handicap of 9 or less can not get more than a double bogey on any hole. Players with a course handicap between 10 and 19 can not get more than a 7 on any hole. Players with a course handicap between 20 and 29 can not get more than an 8 on any hole. Players with a course handicap between 30 and 39 can not get more than a 9 on any hole. Players with a course handicap greater than 40 can not get more than a 10 on any hole.

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