Leave the course as you found it

Contributing Columnist

I will try to answer a few questions that were submitted to me by mail and deserve a response, hopefully a correct one:

After raking a bunker, wouldn’t it be best to place the rake in the sand rather than lay it in the grass beside the sand?
This is a frequently asked question, and looking for the answer causes vexation and bafflement. Similarly, what is the meaning of life? What happens when we die? Where should bunker rakes be left? The USGA recommends leaving the rakes outside bunkers, placed where they won’t affect play. This is not a rule; it is a recommendation.

Can you wear gloves on both hands, and which rule covers this?
The USGA has determined that it is permissible to wear gloves on both hands. Rule 14-3 on artificial devices and unusual equipment prohibits anything that might assist a player in gripping the club, with several exceptions…one of which is that plain gloves may be worn.

Do tour pros protect themselves from the sun?
Yes, most do take extra precautions. Many tour pros have experienced cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions, so they are very careful about protecting themselves from the sun’s rays. Many use waterproof sunscreen so that sweat doesn’t dilute the sun block.

I recently hit a shot to the green and found my ball had plugged into the side of the cup, resting halfway in and halfway out. Was my ball holed out?
A ball is not considered holed out unless the entire ball is below the lip and at rest within the circumference (Decision 16/3). You could play the ball as it lay, or you could have lifted the ball, repaired the damage to the hole and marked the ball on the lip of the hole. However, if the ball had embedded in the side of the hole and was below the lip, you should consider the ball holed out.

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Leave it as you found it
One of the principle tenets of the game is to “leave the course as you found it.” That has some serious implications and requirements for all players. You should remember a few basic guidelines.

Tees: They are inexpensive and sometimes provided by the pro shop. That doesn’t mean you should leave tees in or on the ground, even in pieces. They can wreak havoc with mowers. Pick them up!

Practice swings: Try not to gouge out the turf with your practice swings. After your shot retrieve and replace your divots or, depending on the kind of grass, fill it with sand-and-seed mixture usually provided by the course. If the divots are to be replaced, put them back in the ground the way they came out and gently tamp down. If the divot hole needs to be filled, the mixture is generally found on your cart. Fill the hole, then pat down to ensure an even surface.

Bunkers: Take a rake with you and enter bunkers on the low side; you can cause an avalanche by entering from the high side. Set the rake down out of your way. Do not rake before you hit; that constitutes testing the conditions, a penalty. After you strike the ball, smooth any deep depressions with the flat side of the rake before using the teeth to finish the job, evening the surface and erasing footprints.

Ballmarks: Left unrepaired, these turn into putt-deflecting pockmarks. The rule should be “fix yours and another one, too.” Insert a tee or ballmark repair tool into the edges of the mark and bring them to the center with a gentle twist. Don’t lift the grass. Tamp down with your putter.

Do everyone a favor — practice those few basic precepts and you will leave the course as you found it.

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“Real golfers don’t cry when they line up their fourth putt. Half of golf is fun, the other half is putting.” –Peter Dobereiner

“A ball will always come to rest halfway down a hill, unless there is sand or water at the bottom.” –Henry Beard

“Actually, the only time I ever took out a one iron was to kill a tarantula. And I took seven to do that.” –Jim Murray

“I deny allegations made by Bob Hope that during my last game I hit an eagle, a birdie, an elk and a moose.” –Gerald Ford

“I’ve lost balls in every hazard and on every course I ever played. But when I lose a ball in the ball-washer, it’s time to take stock.” –Milton Gross

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