Rules’ clarifications–Are we getting it right??


I want to go over a couple of Rules’ situations that have come up recently to be sure we are “getting it right” when we play.

Provisional Ball, Rule 18.

This is one of the most useful rules, especially to speed up play when your ball may be out of bounds or lost, however it comes with specific instructions on how to use this rule.

1.  You must always announce to the other players that you intend to play a Provisional ball.  If you don’t then that ball will be the ball “in play” under stroke and distance, even if you find your first ball you cannot play it. 

2.  If you think your ball may be lost or OB you are allowed to leave the spot where you played your ? lost ball and then come backand hit a Provisional ball.  Once you you start searching where you think your original ball may be the three minutes search time starts.  You also have this same three minutes to return to where you last hit your ball and play a Provisional ball.  There is no penalty to do this as long as you return before the three minutes has ended, Rule 18.3a/2.  

3.  You cannot play a Provisional ball if you think your ball is lost in a Penalty area (e.g. water hazard).  Rule 17 covers the procedures for Penalty areas, and If you erroneously play a Provisional Ball in this situation it will be your “ball in play” under stroke and distance.  You will have lost the opportunity find your ball or to drop a ball closer to the hole where your ball crossed the Penalty Area. 

Dropping a ball, Rule 14

We are all aware how to drop a ball under the 2019 Rules changes, from knee height and it must be dropped within the one or two club length “relief area”. The dropped ball must stay inside this relief area, no closer to the hole. Choose carefully where you drop your ball in the relief area.  You may not like that it landed in a hole but you’re stuck with the lie. You cannot readjust the lie, it is what it is! 

I hope this helps you.




1.  Are you entitled to free relief from a boundary fence that marks out of bounds?

A.  No

B.  Yes

2.  If you hole out with the wrong ball do you still have the opportunity to correct your mistake or are you automatically disqualified?

A.  Yes

B.  No

3.  If your ball rests against the flagstick on the lip of the cup but part of the ball remains above the cup have you holed out?

A. Yes

B.  No

4.  Are you allowed to play music on the course?

A.  No

B.  Yes

5.  Are you allowed free relief in the General area for an embedded ball?

A.  Yes

B.  No

6.  Are you penalized if your ball is under a rake and the ball moves when you remove the rake.

A.  No

B.  Yes


  1. A.  No.  Objects such as wall, fences, and stakes defining Course boundaries are not deemed as obstructions and are fixed so there is no free relief.  Definition of Obstruction.
  2. A. Yes.  As long as you correct your mistake and hole out with the correct ball before you tee off at the next hole you will only incur a 2 stroke penalty.  Rule 6.3c.
  3. A.  Yes.  As long as any part of your ball is below the hole you have holed out.  Rule 13.2c.
  4. B.  Yes.  BUT……Check with your fellow players first. Be courteous.  Rule 4.3a(4), Rule 1.2.  Make sure playing music is acceptable to all and agree on the genre. Keep the sound level low so as not to distract other players.  Some courses do not allow music so check before you crank up your tunes!
  5. A.  Yes.  The General area is all of the course except for the teeing area, theputting green, bunkers and penalty areas.  For your ball to be embedded it MUST be embedded in its own pitch mark and be below the level of the ground.  The ball is not embedded if it is just sitting down into the grass.  Rule 16.3a.
  6. A.  No.   Replace your ball on its original spot and play on.  Rule 15.2a.

I hope this helps you.


September 2022 Rules Quiz

  1. When dropping a ball under a Rule, you drop the ball in the correct way twice and both times the ball comes to rest just outside the relief area, no nearer the hole.

What should you do?

  • You drop a ball under a Rule in the correct way in the relief area.  Your ball hits the ground first but then accidentally hits your foot before coming to rest in the relief area.

What should you do?

  •  In stroke play your ball is buried in the rough.  Without telling the other players you rotate your ball to identify it without marking it first.

What is the ruling?

  • The greenskeeper overwaters parts of the course, including the teeing area.  If after a stroke your ball lands in the accumulated water, are you allowed relief?

What is the ruling?

  • Your ball is in a bunker. 

What are your options for your next stroke?

  •  Your ball lands on the white line that defines Out of Bounds.  

What is the ruling?


  1. You must place a ball on the spot in the relief area where the ball that was dropped the second time first touched the ground.

Rule 14.3c

  •  As you dropped your ball in the correct way it does not matter whether the ball, after hitting the ground touches any person, (i.e., your foot), equipment or other outside influence before coming to rest. If your ball is in the relief area you play the ball as it lies.  Rule 14.3c

3.        You do not need to advise anyone that you are going to lift your ball to identify it BUT you must mark its position first.  Failure to            mark is a ONE stroke penalty!  Rule 7.3

4.        You are allowed free relief from any temporary accumulation of water on the course that can be seen before or after you take       your stance, without pressing down excessively with your feet.    Rule 16.1 Abnormal Course Conditions

5.        When your ball is in a bunker you may:

A.  Play the ball as it lies

B. Use Rule 19.3 Unplayable lie as below with ONE penalty              stroke:

1.  Play a ball from where you made your last stroke

2.  Play a ball back on the line and drop a ball IN the bunker

3.  Take lateral relief from where the ball lies in the bunker              dropping a ball IN the bunker

Extra option for TWO penalty strokes

You make drop a ball back on the line of relief OUTSIDE the                         bunker.  (See page 119 of your small rules book)

6.        Your ball is only Out of Bounds when ALL of it is outside the            boundary edge of the course.  The white line is out of bounds.  If      all of your ball is on the line it is out of bounds.  If any part of the             ball still touches the course you are IN bounds!  Rule 18.2a.  (See             page 112 of your small rules book)

Red Stakes/Yellow Stakes




When you are certain that your ball has entered a penalty area (water hazard) whether it be lined with red or yellow stakes below are the options you are allowed to follow under the Rules of golf.

1st option.

Play another ball from where you are currently, i.e., where made your last stroke. 

Continue play with a one stroke penalty.

2nd option.

Go down to where you believe or saw you ball cross the margin/edge of the penalty area.  If you can see your ball in the penalty area you may play it as it lies.  You may ground your club, and make practice swings.  

Continue play with NO penalty.

3rd option.  Regardless of whether the stakes are RED or YELLOW

Determine the point where you estimate your ball last crossed the margin/edge of the penalty area and you may drop a ball in a relief area on a line going straight back from the hole through this estimated point.  The relief area is one club length in size either side of the point where you intend to drop a ball. You may go back on this line as far as you wish.

 Continue play with one stroke penalty.

4th option ONLY if the stakes are RED.

Red stakes usually line penalty areas which run laterally, as in along the course rather than across it making dropping a ball behind, in line with the pin, very difficult.  

Determine the point where you estimate your ball last crossed the margin/edge of this RED penalty area and drop a ball laterally within a two-club length relief area no closer to the hole.  This area is wedge shaped from your reference point where the ball crossed the margin.  See page 106 of your small 2019 Rules book for a great diagram.

Continue play with a one stroke penalty.  


Hole #12 Update

Hole #12 has a path along the left side of its fairway. Where it is bordered by the lake, penalty area, it is lined with round wood pilings. This path continues over the water and up to the back of the green.

Below is how to play your ball if it lands in the pilings or on the cart path .

The pilings are NOT in the water, penalty area, as can be seen by the red stakes that are attached to them along the water side. If your ball lands in them you get free relief on to the cart path, Rule 16.

If your ball is on the cart path you may take free relief from the path, Rule 16.

For our play if your ball is lodged in the pilings, you may do both these actions in one step.

Find your nearest point of relief in the grass where your feet are not on the path and drop a ball within one club length, no closer to the hole. Play on, no penalty. It MUST be your nearest point of relief so you may not go further out onto the fairway and play a ball!

Discovery Bay RECLAMATION DISTRICT 800 is responsible for the circulation of the lakes and lagoons that run through our course. On their official waterways map the path that runs across the water on hole #12 is designated as a bridge. Our club has deemed that this bridge, for terms of playing our course, is not a bridge but a cart path.

This area is played the same as above, free relief from pilings, and free relief from the “cart path”.