Confusion on Practice Shots during Play

There have been open discussions on when and where you can make practice shots.

Before Play: You may hit balls on the driving range, Chip balls around the Practice Putting Green, and of course putt on the Practice Green.

During Play: Rule 5.5b Between two holes, a player must NOT make a practice stroke with a ball. (Such as using a 3 iron)

Exception: Where Player Allowed to Practice Putting or Chipping:

The player may practice putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole just completed.
Example: You and your foursome just holed out on a hole. You can practice putting or chipping on that same hole, as long as you are not delaying play.

The teeing area of the next hole. (Not just your first)
Example: Your foursome is waiting to tee off. The foursome ahead of you is still within your range.
You may practice chipping only around the teeing area. If the fairway is clear, you must tee off.

These open discussions after and during play is only reinforcing our knowledge of The Rules of Golf.
Keep it up ladies, if you have any questions, please let me know and our Rules Chair will research and find your answer.


Rules FAQs in Fairways and Rough (General Area)

You can’t find a ball you think is Embedded
Q. I think my ball is stuck in the ground, but I can’t find it – how do I proceed?
A. If you can’t find your ball within three minutes, it is lost. Because it is lost, you must return to the spot of your previous stroke and play another ball for one penalty stroke (see Rule 18.2b).

Interference from Boundary Objects
Q. I have interference from an out of bounds fence, stake or wall – what are my options?
A. You do not get free relief from objects marking course boundaries or take free relief from them like you would from other artificial objects, like a cart path, a building, or a stake marking a penalty area. Your options are to play your ball as it lies, proceed under penalty of stroke and distance by playing again from the spot of your last stroke (see Rule 18.1), or decide your ball is unplayable (see Rule 19.1).

Relief Options for Unplayable Ball
Q. I don’t think I can play my ball as it lies (unplayable) – what are my options?
A. If you don’t want to or decide you cannot play your ball as it lies, you have the option to decide that it is unplayable for one penalty stroke (see Rule 19.2). This will give you three options on where you may drop your ball away from the spot where it came to rest. (1) You may play a ball at the spot of your previous stroke (see Rule 19.2a). (2) Take back-on-the-line relief (see Rule 19.2b). (3) Drop within two club-lengths and not nearer the hole than where your ball came to rest (see Rule 19.2c).

A few more rules you might want to check out!

Rule 5.2b: A player must not practice on the course before a round, EXCEPT: A player may practice putting or chipping on or near his or her first teeing area and on any practice area.

Rule 4.3a(6): During play, use of any type of golf training or swing aid (such as an alignment rod or weighted headcover or “donut”) or a non-conforming club to make a practice swing or in any way that creates a potential advantage by helping the player in preparing for or making a stroke is NOT ALLOWED. Julie Inkster used a weighted club during an event and was disqualified.

Rule 5.5a: No Practice strokes while playing Hole. While playing a hole, a player must not make a practice stroke at any ball on or off the course. Perfectly ok to clear out range balls with a club to “clean up” the course (such as #18) as long as you are not practicing hitting a ball (taking a stance, lining up, etc.)


Did you know you can’t move your ball when it rests next to Goose Poop?
Rule 15.1a: You can remove the Poop as a loose impediment but be careful not to move your ball or you get a one stroke penalty.

Did you know when taking relief from a sprinkler head or cart path you can’t just bump it a few inches?
Rule 16.1: You must take FULL relief. Find your nearest point of relief, then take a club length and mark relief area no closer to the hole and drop from the knee.

Do you know the correct way to drop a ball when taking relief?
Rule 14.3b: Ball must be dropped straight down from knee height without touching player or equipment.

Did you know you can practice putting and chipping between holes?
Rule 5.5b: A player is allowed to practice putting and chipping when she is between holes, and everyone has hole out. (As long as you don’t delay play)

PROTECT THE FIELD. These are simple rules we should all have in our bags.


Several changes to the DWGC by laws and operating procedures are being proposed by the Board of Directors. Please review and be prepared to vote on these changes at the next general membership meeting scheduled in July.


Check out the new USGA GHIN mobile apps for your phone!

For Apple users: go to the link on apple apps and search for USGA GHIN Mobile App. It is a Blue Box with USGA GHIN inside. Download and enter your name and GHIN Number and you are set to go.

For Android users: go to the link on play google and search for USGA GHIN Mobile App. Look for the Blue Box with USGA GHIN inside. Download and enter your name and GHIN Number and you are all set.


Net Double Bogey explainer – USGA Here is a link that clearly explains the Equitable Stroke Control.

For posting purposes only, the maximum score per hole is Par +2 (Double Bogey) + any pops you might receive on that hole.

  • Example:
  • If you receive 2 pops on a par 4 you would post: 6 (par 4 + Dbl Bogey 2) + 2 pops = 8.
  • If you receive 1 pop on a par 3 you would post: 5 (par 3 + Dbl Bogey 2) + 1 pop = 6.
  • If you receive 2 pops on a par 5 you would post: 7 (par 5 + Dbl Bogey 2) + 2 pops = 9.

Hidden Penalties

Common Situations With Not So Well Known Penalties

–Dan Wettstein NCGA Volunteer Official

Two of the major goals of the 2019 golf rules revisions were to simplify the rules and to speed up play. Pleased to say both goals have been successfully achieved. Tournament golf in the hundreds of NCGA tourney days has moved along at a quicker pace and with fewer penalties, making the game easier and less stressful for players and officials. That is not to say that there are not rules that still catch players by surprise. What follows are five situations that have occurred in events this year. Add these to your rules data bank.

The Backstop

“Hey! Leave your ball there. It may help me out. Sure, go for it.”  That brief verbal exchange, which occurs when a ball close to the hole might help out a ball about to be played from off the green results in a two-stroke penalty on the players involved. The reason:  such a procedure may be detrimental to the rest of the field wherein players are not helping each other. Rule 15.3a is an intent based rule not outcome based. The penalty is assessed once the players make the agreement even if the balls don’t collide. The rule is also applied even if the two players don’t know about the penalty. And, if the players do know that such an agreement is not allowed they are disqualified for deliberately ignoring the rule. This is a stroke play situation only. In match play, all the players involved are present to protect their rights.

The Quick Peek

It’s both prudent and proper for a player to pick up a ball to identify it if the player can’t be positive it’s his or her ball. However, whether the ball is lifted or just rolled a bit to check for id, the ball must be marked first. Simply lifting quickly and putting the ball back in the same spot without marking results in a penalty of one stroke. A similar quick peek is when the ball may be embedded in the general area or sitting on a hidden sprinkler head or an animal hole or track or trail. Now the situation has an interesting variation. If the player knows for sure the ball is, for example, embedded and a free drop under 16.4 is available, marking the ball is not necessary because the ball is not going to be replaced in the same spot; however, if the player is not sure, the ball should be marked first because if the ball is not in a relief situation and then must be replaced lifting without marking results in one penalty stroke. So, mark before lifting.

The Neat Freak

It’s sometimes necessary for a player to mark and pick up his or her ball when it interferes with another player’s ball. For example, if two balls end up side by side just off the green, one player may request the other to mark and lift the interfering ball. The key point in this situation is that the lifted ball may not be cleaned before it is replaced. Cleaning the ball adds one penalty stroke (Rule 15.3b).

Too Helpful

Related to the neat freak is the too helpful player who assumes he or she should mark and lift his or her ball because it lies close to another player’s ball. Unless the ball is on the green, a player can’t lift the ball in play in this situation unless requested. Doing so is one penalty stroke (Rule 15.3b).

Sacred Ground

With your ball on or off the green, ball marks or other damage on the green may be repaired. However, having a putter in your hand with your ball off the green but close enough to putt restricts what you can do with the line of play. That ball mark or old divot or just puffed up grass short of the green may not be altered. Play the course as you find it. Leave the ground as it is. Otherwise, Rule 8.1 gives you the general penalty.

Play well; no penalties!

Hole #7

What to Do (and Don’t Do) When Your Ball Goes in the Water

If you hit a ball that could be either in the water or playable outside the penalty area, the rules do not allow a provisional ball to be played from the tee or a second ball from the drop zone and then go to check on the status of the original ball and playing the first ball (and picking up the second ball) if that first ball happens to be “up.”

Check to determine the status of the first ball before deciding which option to take if the ball is, indeed, in the penalty area or proceeding with the first ball if it is playable. Ask players in your group to help you double check where your ball ended up. If the ball is in the penalty area the options are:

  • Hit again from the previous spot,
  • Use the drop zone,
  • Drop the ball anywhere on the flagstick line.

Each option operates under penalty of one stroke. Rule 18.3 When a Provisional Ball is Allowed states:

If your ball might be lost outside a penalty area or be out of bounds, to
save time you may play another ball provisionally under penalty of
stroke and distance.

BUT… if you are aware that the only possible place your original ball could be lost is in a penalty area, a provisional ball is not allowed and a ball played from where the previous stroke was made becomes your ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance.