Tee Time readers get answers

Contributing Columnist

It’s time I answered a few questions that have been submitted by the readers of this column.

I was playing in a tournament with two women. We got to the tee box on a par 3, but I couldn’t find a distance marker anywhere. Knowing that one of the women was a regular at this course, I asked if she knew how far we were from the hole. The other woman heard me and went berserk, claiming that I had to take a two-stroke penalty for even asking. I ignored her, but I had the nagging suspicion that she was right. Can this possibly be true?

According to Decision 8-1/1, distances are specifically excluded from the definition of “advice.” Regardless of whether there is a marker on the tee box, you are within your rights to ask either an opponent or fellow competitor how long a hole is. In fact, you are allowed to discuss any matter of distance on the course (e.g. how far away a particular bunker is) without penalty (Decision 8-1/2).


I was playing with two friends when I replaced my ball on the green. I stepped up to address it, but one buddy pointed out that my ball was a yellow one from my pocket, not the white one I had hit onto the green. I replaced it with the original ball, but my other friend then interceded, saying that since I had placed and addressed my ball on the green, I had already “played” the substituted ball, even without hitting it. What is the answer?

Although playing the substituted ball would have been a breach of Rule 15-2 (and a two-stroke penalty), Decision 15-2/2 makes it clear that the punishment should only be meted out if you actually hit the incorrect ball — simply placing and addressing it is not enough. As long as you replaced your original ball in the correct spot (and, assuming you marked and placed the yellow ball correctly, there is no reason to assume you didn’t), then you’re OK. Try keeping your hands out of your pockets in the future.


I hit a perfect layup tee shot in the middle of the fairway, 10 yards short of the water. When I got to the ball, half of it was buried. Thinking it had landed in old divot, I swung down as hard as I could. The ball rose 20 yards and into the water. After taking the shot, I noticed that the ball hadn’t been in a divot but actually on a drain with grass growing around it. I thought I had no choice but to drop, playing 4, but my playing partners told me I shouldn’t take a penalty, since the ball was on a drain. I took the free drop, landed on the green, two putts for a par four. Were they correct?

Had you noticed that your ball was on top of a drain and not in a divot, you obviously would have been entitled to a free drop under Rule 24-2. Unfortunately, your discovery was too little, too late. Once you hit your ball, you lost any claim you had relief, and instead were required to play from where it landed. Your drain shot counted and should have been treated like any other spot.


May a player carry a weighted club in addition to the 14 clubs selected for the round?

No, but a weighted training club may be selected as one of the 14 clubs carried by a player, provided it conforms with Rule 4-1 (e.g., an excessively weighted driver head may breach the limit of Moment of inertia — see Appendix II in the Rules).

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