Sterling Farms Men’s Club Local Rules
and application notes

I. Summary of Local Rules
A. Permanent Local Rules
B. Temporary Local Rules
II. Ground Under Repair designations
III. Immovable Obstruction designations
IV. Full text of Local Rules
V. Hole-by-Hole comments
VI. General USGA Rules notes/OB notes
VII. Rules in Action

 

SFMC Rules Committee:
 John McGroarty (jmcg75@mac.com – 203 554 7148)
Howard Meditz (howard.meditz@gmail.com – 203-912-3979 )
Frank Rubino

 

I. Summary of Local Rules

The Sterling Farms Men’s Club plays its events under the USGA’s Rules of Golf. It has adopted several of the USGA’s approved Local Rules for all play, and when conditions warrant may adopt other approved Local Rules on a temporary basis.

Following is a summary of the Club’s Local Rules. The full text from the Rules of Golf Appendix I Part A is provided toward the end of these notes.

It should be noted that these Local Rules are consistent with and supplemented by the Local Rules printed on the current scorecard. General Penalty for breach of these Local Rules: Stroke Play = 2 strokes / breach – Match Play = Loss of hole.

A. Permanent Local Rules
1) USGA Local Rule allowing distance measuring devices is in effect.

2) USGA Local Rule providing embedded ball relief through the green is in effect.

3) USGA Local Rule allowing removal of stones in bunkers is in effect.

4) USGA Local Rule providing dropping zones is in effect on two holes. These drop zones are in addition to normal relief options available under Rule 26: On hole #4, for balls hit in the Lateral Water Hazard directly in front of the tee box, there is a drop zone to the right of the hazard in front of the forward tee. For balls hit in the Lateral Water Hazard to the right of the fairway (between the fourth and third fairways) there is a drop zone to the left of the hazard.

On hole #11, for balls hit in the Lateral Water Hazard along the left side of the fairway, there is a drop zone near the hazard at the point where the fairway doglegs right. This drop zone may only be used for balls which are in the hazard and which last crossed the margin of the hazard at a point at or closer to the hole than the beginning of the drop zone. (See note in Hole-by-Hole section describing extended drop zone areas for these three drop zones.)

5) USGA Local Rule allowing Provisional Ball to be played for ball feared lost in Water Hazard at end of fairway in front of green on hole #2 and in Lateral Water Hazard (pond) on left side of hole #14.

6) USGA Local Rule eliminating penalty for accidental movement of a ball on a putting green is in effect.

Internal Out of Bounds Stakes – When playing a hole with internal Out of Bounds (left of 4, left of 10, right of 13, right of 16) the stakes used to define the boundary are not Obstructions, and therefore like typical Out of Bounds stakes they may not be moved nor is free relief available.  However, when playing an adjacent hole for which these stakes have no significance, the stakes are deemed to be Immovable Obstructions from which a free drop is available. (Decision 24/5.)  Note that free relief is never granted from the Out of Bounds stakes specifically defining the grave yard itself on 16, as the grave yard itself remains Out of Bounds when playing any hole.

B. Temporary Local Rules

When conditions warrant, the Club may institute a Local Rule to address the course’s condition. A Local Rule typically invoked is the USGA’s Winter Rules. On occasions when this is in play, players whose ball rests on the hole they are playing in a closely mown area (fairway height or less – including the fringe of the green) are allowed to mark their ball, clean it, and place it within one club length of its marked position no closer to the hole. Note that the ball may not be placed on the putting green if it is off the green to begin with. Note that the ball may not be rolled into position with a club.

II. Ground Under Repair designations

Unless on the putting green, a player may only obtain relief (nearest point of relief) from Ground Under Repair if the area interferes with lie, stance, or area of intended swing.

In addition to Ground Under Repair areas marked with white lines, the following areas are deemed Ground Under Repair:

All flower gardens

Newly planted (staked) trees

Three large holes containing exposed water drainage pipes: just short of the right side of the green on hole #1 (in the rough between hole #1 and hole #9), past the right side of the green across the cart path on hole #5 (on the downslope from the tee box on hole #6), and in the large open area of rough short of the maintenance barn on the right side of hole #10, between #10’s cart path and near the cart path going from 14 green to 15 tee. The stones lining the long drainage ditch behind the 8th green, and the culvert which the ditch feeds

III. Immovable Obstruction designations

Unless on the putting green, a player may only obtain relief (nearest point of relief) from Immovable Obstructions if the obstruction interferes with lie, stance, or area of intended swing. Immovable Obstructions include:

Buildings (except buildings that define out of bounds)

Fences and stone walls (except border fences and walls that define out of bounds)

Stone walls that form tree wells or partial tree wells, such as those on the uphill side of a number of trees between the 11th and 12th holes in the rough shared by those two holes half way between the greens (nearest the 12th fairway side)

Bridges (relief granted only if ball is outside of a water hazard)

Artificially-surfaced cart paths (relief granted only if ball is outside of a water hazard)

Ball washers

Drinking fountains

Trap rock drainage areas (such as the dozens of artificially-placed large boulders near the driving range fence that borders the left rough off the 8th fairway)

Maintenance equipment

IV. Full text of Local Rules:

A. Distance measuring devices
For all play at Sterling Farms, a player may obtain distance information by use of a distance-measuring device. If, during a stipulated round, a player uses a distance-measuring device to gauge or measure other conditions that might affect his play (e.g., elevation changes, wind speed, etc.), the player is in breach of Rule 14-3.

B. Embedded ball relief through the green
Through the green, a ball that is embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground may be lifted, without penalty, cleaned and dropped as near as possible to where it lay but not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green.
Exceptions:

1. A player may not take relief under this Local Rule if the ball is embedded in sand in an area that is not closely mown.

2. A player may not take relief under this Local Rule if interference by anything other than the condition covered by this Local Rule makes the stroke clearly impracticable.
PENALTY FOR BREACH OF LOCAL RULE: Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.

C. Removal of stones in bunkers
Stones in bunkers are movable obstructions (Rule 24-1 applies).

D. Dropping zones
If a ball is in or it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in the water hazard on hole #4 or hole #11, the player may:

(i) proceed under Rule 26; or

(ii) as an additional option, drop a ball, under penalty of one stroke, in the dropping zone.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF LOCAL RULE: Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.”
Note: When using a dropping zone the following provisions apply regarding the dropping and re-dropping of the ball:

(a) The player does not have to stand within the dropping zone when dropping the ball.

(b) The dropped ball must first strike a part of the course within the dropping zone.

(c) If the dropping zone is defined by a line, the line is within the dropping zone.

(d) The dropped ball does not have to come to rest within the dropping zone.

(e) The dropped ball must be re-dropped if it rolls and comes to rest in a position covered by
Rule 20-2c(i-vi).

(f) The dropped ball may roll nearer the hole than the spot where it first struck a part of the course, provided it comes to rest within two clublengths of that spot and not into any of the positions covered by (e).

(g) Subject to the provisions of (e) and (f), the dropped ball may roll and come to rest nearer the hole than:
its original position or estimated position (see Rule 20-2b);
the Nearest Point of Relief or maximum available relief (Rule 24-2, 25-1 or 25-3); or
the point where the original ball last crossed the margin of the Water Hazard or Lateral Water Hazard (Rule 26-1).

E. Water Hazard/Ball Played Provisionally

If there is doubt whether a ball is in or is lost in the Water Hazard in front of the 2nd green or in the Lateral Water Hazard on the left side of the 14th hole, the player may play another ball provisionally under any of the applicable options in Rule 26-1.
If the original ball is found outside the water hazard, the player must continue play with it.
If the original ball is found in the water hazard, the player may either play the original ball as it lies or continue with the ball played provisionally under Rule 26-1.

If the original ball is not found or identified within the five-minute search period, the player must continue with the ball played provisionally.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF LOCAL RULE: Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.”

F. Accidental movement of a ball on a putting green

Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1 are modified as follows:

When a player’s ball lies on the putting green, there is no penalty if the ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved by the player, his partner, his opponent, or any of their caddies or equipment.

The moved ball or ball-marker must be replaced as provided in Rules 18-2, 18-3 and 20-1.

This Local Rule applies only when the player’s ball or ball-marker lies on the putting green and any movement is accidental.

Note: If it is determined that a player’s ball on the putting green was moved as a result of wind, water or some other natural cause such as the effects of gravity, the ball must be played as it lies from its new location. A ball-marker moved in such circumstances is replaced.”

G. Winter Rules (temporary Local Rule)

A ball lying on a closely mown area through the green of the hole being played may be lifted, without penalty, and cleaned. Before lifting the ball, the player must mark its position. Having lifted the ball, he must place it on a spot within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than where it originally lay, that is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.

A player may place his ball only once, and it is in play when it has been placed (Rule 20-4). If the ball fails to come to rest on the spot on which it is placed, Rule 20-3d applies. If the ball when placed comes to rest on the spot on which it is placed and it subsequently moves, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, unless the provisions of any other Rule apply.

If the player fails to mark the position of the ball before lifting it or moves the ball in any other manner, such as rolling it with a club, he incurs a penalty of one stroke.

Note: “Closely mown area” means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.
*PENALTY FOR BREACH OF LOCAL RULE: Match play – Loss of hole; Stroke play – Two strokes.
*If a player incurs the general penalty for a breach of this Local Rule, no additional penalty under the Local Rule is applied.”

V. Hole-By-Hole Comments

Hole 1: Ditch on left after fairway bunker is a Lateral Water Hazard. For Water Hazard relief, it must be known or virtually certain that ball remained in the hazard and is not lost or out of bounds left. Note that exposed drainage pipe just short of this Lateral Water Hazard is an Immovable Obstruction. Exposed drainage pipe and hole surrounding it short and right of green in rough between 1st and 9th fairway is deemed Ground Under Repair.

Hole 2: Ditch on left is a Lateral Water Hazard. For Water Hazard relief, it must be known or virtually certain that ball remained in the hazard and is not lost or out of bounds left. No free relief from swale in rough. Note that provisional ball may be played for ball feared lost in Water Hazard crossing fairway in front of green – see Local Rule.

Hole 3: Pond on right is a Lateral Water Hazard. Fence over green identifies out of bounds, and is therefore not an Immovable Obstruction.

Hole 4: Internal out of bounds left of pond in front of tee box and as defined by white stakes, white markings on trees, and paint on cart path left of green. (This internal out of bounds is only applicable to hole #4.) There are two Lateral Water Hazard drop areas, one for the pond in front of the tee and one for the pond right of the fairway. Special note for drop zones: As these two drop areas are sometimes riddled with divot holes, to provide additional drop area (potentially free of divot holes) the drop area is defined as extending anywhere within one club length of the painted circles – effectively making a larger circumference within which you may drop (even the part closer to the hole).

Hole 5: Pond on left and behind green is a Lateral Water Hazard. Note that exposed drainage pipe and hole surrounding it right of cart path past green and on downslope from 6th tee is deemed Ground Under Repair.

Hole 7: Ditch on right, left and behind green is a Lateral Water Hazard.

Hole 8: Ditch on left is a Lateral Water Hazard. For Water Hazard relief, it must be known or virtually certain that ball remained in the hazard and is not lost or out of bounds left. Note that near the driving range fence on the left side of the rough, the dozens of large, artificially-placed boulders are Immovable Obstructions. The stones lining the long drainage ditch behind the green and the culvert there are designated as Ground Under Repair.

Hole 9: Driving Range is out of bounds.  The poles holding up the fence define OB at their inside (fairway side) points at ground level, and there is no free relief from either the fence, the poles holding up the fence or the horizontal poles at the base of the fence.  Free relief is granted only for the angled lines supporting the fence. Additional out of bounds anywhere in parking lot and as defined by lines, when present, behind green. Note that exposed drainage pipe and hole surrounding it just past the red tee box in the right rough between the 9th and 1st holes is deemed Ground Under Repair.

Hole 10: Out of bounds on left as defined by white stakes, walls of buildings, and white markings on trees and cart path left of green. Green fences left of fairway and green are out of bounds. Out of bounds line extends to end of white line on cart path just past end of driving range fence. The last white building in the row of buildings on left (building labeled #7) has a small attached alcove which juts in bounds – this alcove is deemed an Integral Part of the Course from which, like the buildings which are entirely out of bounds, no free relief is granted. Note that exposed drainage pipe and hole surrounding it in large area of rough short of maintenance barn on right and between the cart path for hole 10 and nearest the cart path between 14th green and 15th tee is deemed Ground Under Repair.

Hole 11: Left side is a Lateral Water Hazard defined by red stakes and lines. Drop is permitted two club-lengths to the right side of the cart path or red line. Drop zone option is present for balls which last crossed the margin of the hazard closer to the hole than the beginning of the drop zone (near the point where the fairway doglegs right). For Water Hazard relief, it must be known or virtually certain that ball remained in the hazard and is not lost or out of bounds over chain link fence left of and deep into Lateral Water Hazard. Special note for drop zone: As the drop zone is sometimes riddled with divot holes, to provide additional drop area (potentially free of divot holes) the drop area is defined as extending anywhere within one club length of the painted line – effectively making a larger area within which you may drop (even the part closer to the hole). Ditch in front of green is a Water Hazard defined by yellow stakes and lines. No free relief from swales in fairway. Chain link fence over green defines out of bounds, and is therefore not an Immovable Obstruction. Note that a number of trees between the 11th and 12th holes (nearest the 12th fairway) in the rough have artificially-placed semicircular stone wall tree wells which are Immovable Obstructions.

Hole 12: Left side is a Lateral Water Hazard defined by red stakes and lines. Note that almost the entire cart path has red lines painted on its right edge, indicating that this long, painted section of the cart path both defines and is within the margin of the hazard. No free relief from the cart path if your ball is within the hazard margin — play it as it lies or take Lateral Water Hazard relief. (Free relief from cart path may only be taken if ball is outside of hazard line and path interferes with stance or swing).

Hole 13: Left side is a Lateral Water Hazard defined by red stakes and lines. Note that part of the cart path near boulders has red lines painted on its right edge, indicating that this painted section of the cart path both defines and is within the margin of the hazard. No free relief from the cart path if your ball is within the hazard margin — play it as it lies or take Lateral Water Hazard relief. (Free relief from cart path may only be taken if ball is outside of hazard line and path interferes with stance or swing.). Internal out of bounds right of pond to the right of tee box, and further on all along the right side as defined by white stakes, white markings on trees, and white paint on the cart path near the green.. Out of bounds on right side ends at painted tree past green near far end of tee box for 14th hole. This internal out of bounds is only applicable when playing the 13th hole. Close to green there is also out of bounds left, at this point near the Lateral Water Hazard. For Water Hazard relief, it must be known or virtually certain that ball remained in the hazard and is not lost or out of bounds left.

Hole 14: No out of bounds. Out of bounds stakes on right apply to 13th hole only. Note that provisional ball may be played for ball feared lost in Lateral Water Hazard on left side of hole – see Local Rule.

Hole 15: Flower garden behind green is deemed Ground Under Repair. Small stone wall surrounding garden is an Immovable Obstruction.

Hole 16: Cemetery and walls of cemetery are out of bounds. White stakes on right and white paint on trees and cart path near the green define internal out of bounds. Out of bounds ends at painted tree past green near forward tee box for 17th hole (painted tree visible near 14th tee box is not part of 16th hole out of bounds marking). Note that the cemetery itself is out of bounds when playing any hole, but the other internal out of bounds only applies when playing the 16th hole.

Hole 17: Chain link fence over green and to the left of the rough area identifies out of bounds, and is therefore not an Immovable Obstruction.

Hole 18: Left fence and stone wall are boundary fences and not Immovable Obstructions. Stone wall behind green is out of bounds and not an Immovable Obstruction. The gate going through the fence on the left of 18 about 200 yards out opens to a small, aged, gravel-surfaced patch of road. This road may be played from, and the gravel pieces considered loose impediments and therefore movable, or the player may play the artificially surfaced road as a whole as an Immovable Obstruction. (See Decision 23/14.) With the exception of the cemetery itself near hole #16, there is no out of bounds on the right side of hole #18.

VI. General USGA Rules Notes/OB notes

USGA rules govern all play except as modified by these local rules.

When in doubt about a rule in stroke play only, a second ball may be played. You must state your interest in playing a second ball and state which of the two balls you would prefer to score. Finish the hole with both balls and consult the committee. See Rule 3-3 for details. Water Hazard – Yellow stakes and lines. (Two relief options under Rules 26-1 a and 26-1 b.) Lateral Water Hazard – Red stakes and lines. (Four relief options under Rules 26-1 a, 26-1 b, and 26-1 c.) Out of Bounds – As defined by white stakes, white markings on fences, trees and cart paths, and the interior margin of fences and rock walls defining property boundaries. Parking lot and driving range are out of bounds. Special note for white markings on trees: Unless there is also a while line painted on the ground, the point at ground level directly under the innermost aspect of the painted line on the tree defines the edge of the OB line – the trunk of the tree and the roots of the tree are irrelevant. Please see Hole-by-Hole Comments for more details.

VII. Rules in Action

Situation:
Player A launched a wild shot off the 16th tee. The ball ended up near the practice green to the left of the 15th. Player A had a clear shot to the green except for one thing-about ten yards in front of him stood a chain link fence surrounding some meteorological equipment. Player A yelled to some friends on the 15th tee, who said that he could take relief, since the chain link fence interfered with his line to the green. Player A then moved the ball to a position clear of the fence, made sure that he was no closer to the hole and took a drop. Was he within the rules?

Ruling:
No. Since the fence was ten yards in front of him, there was no interference to his swing or stance and, hence, no relief. Further, since the fence is a permanent fixture on the course and not a Temporary Immovable Obstruction (like a scoreboard or bleachers meant to be removed after a tournament) the player could not claim relief under the Temporary Immovable Obstruction clause. (See Appendix 1 Rule 7.)


 

Situation:
Player A hooked a tee shot into the fence separating the driving range from the ninth hole. The ball dropped straight down and came to rest between the fence and an out of bounds line painted on the ground. In fact, the ball actually grazed the line. Unable to make a swing and uncertain if his ball was in bounds or out, Player A played two balls. With the first, he took an unplayable lie, dropped within two club lengths, knocked the ball onto the green and made a two-putt bogey. With the second, he went back to the tee, launched one into the bunker, jacked his fourth onto the green and made a two-putt double. Which ball counted?

Ruling:
Unfortunately, the second ball. When a line is painted on the ground to mark out of bounds, the line itself is out of bounds. So a ball that’s touching the line, if no other portion of the ball is overhanging in bounds, is out of bounds. Had Player A submitted the five, he would have been DQed, so playing the second ball and submitting the six was a good idea.


 

Situation:
Player A duffed his tee shot off the second tee. The ball went dead straight and died somewhere on the hillside below the ladies’ tee-box. Surprisingly, Player A was unable to find the ball. He knew that it wasn’t in the creek on the left or trees on the right and didn’t believe that he should be forced to take a lost ball penalty. After a few minutes of searching, he told his playing companion that the ball had to be under one of the many leaves in the area and that he was taking a free drop under the “Leaf Rule” provision. His playing companion objected, claiming that there’s no such thing as the “Leaf Rule.” Who was right?

Ruling:
In this instance, neither player was entirely right, but Player A was at least partially right. There is such a thing as the “Leaf Rule.” (See Rule 33-8, which allows the Committee to establish local rules for local abnormal conditions, such as excessive leaves.) But the Committee must state that the “Leaf Rule” is in effect and must specify where exactly the abnormal conditions exist-for instance, on a certain hole, fairways only, or through the green. Since Player A had no idea if the “Leaf Rule” was in effect or where it might be in effect, he was invoking a privilege that may or may not have existed. Fortunately for him, as the players were discussing this matter, the wind blew and uncovered the ball from beneath a leaf, allowing him to play on.


 

Situation:
A player hit left of the 9th green, and his ball came to rest in bounds just three inches inside the parking lot’s macadam berm (which at Sterling Farms represents an OB line). A car parked in the lot interfered with the player’s backswing, so he found the nearest point of relief from the car that was no closer to the hole and took free relief by dropping within one club length of that point. Did he do the right thing?

Ruling:
He may have proceeded correctly, but it depends. If the owner of the car happened to be there and able to move the car, the car was a Movable Obstruction and the correct thing to do would be to move the car instead of the ball. If the owner wasn’t there, and if all of the car was out of bounds, the car was not an Immovable Obstruction as defined by the Rules but simply an immovable artificial object from which no free relief is granted. Lastly, if part of the car was intruding on the course by overhanging the berm, that part of the car that was in bounds (and only that part) was an Immovable Obstruction. The player was entitled to free relief, and he proceeded correctly.


 

Situation:
In a match, Player A’s third shot overshot the 6th green. His ball bounced on the cart path behind the green and came to rest in the plants in the prepared bed between the 6th green and the 1st green. Player B, his opponent, hit his third shot which hit the cart path to the left of the 6th green and came to rest in the plants in another prepared bed between the 6th green and the 7th tee. Both players found the nearest point of relief from their prepared areas of plantings, and dropped within one club length no closer to the hole. They both got up and down and claimed to have scored pars. Player A nevertheless insisted that he won the hole. Was he correct?

Ruling:
Player A did in fact win the hole. Sterling Farms employs a Local Rule defining flower beds as Ground Under Repair. The prepared area between the 6th and 1st greens that Player A’s ball ended up in contains flowers, and this entire prepared area qualifies as a flower bed — and therefore Ground Under Repair. So Player A’s free drop was appropriate. On the other hand, the plantings in the prepared bed between the 6th green and 7th tee in which Player B’s ball ended up contains only bushes but no flowers. In addition, there are no artificial materials used in the construction of the area. So Player B had no right to take a free drop from his location, and consequently he lost the hole. (Just because a part of the course is specially prepared as a “bed” doesn’t mean that it qualifies for free relief. For instance, wood chips or mulch spread around a hollowed out area at the base of a tree do not qualify for a free drop. You may move the chips (they are loose impediments) — as long as you are careful not to move your ball — but you otherwise must play the ball as it lies or take an unplayable lie penalty. These “tree basins” don’t qualify for free relief unless there is some artificial construction there which is an Immovable Obstruction and which grants free relief on that basis.