Rule 33-8 provides:
The Committee may establish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions if they are consistent with the policy set forth in Appendix I.
b. Waiving or Modifying a Rule
A Rule of Golf must not be waived by a Local Rule. However, if the Committee considers that local abnormal conditions interfere with the proper playing of the game to the extent that it is necessary to make a Local Rule that modifies the Rules of Golf, the Local Rule must be authorised by the R&A.”
Generally, Local Rules are introduced to clarify the course marking (e.g. clarifying the boundaries of the course, ground under repair, etc.) or to provide relief from local abnormal conditions that are not covered by the Rules themselves. Appendix I to the Rules of Golf suggest specific matters for which Local Rules may be advisable. In addition, “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” provides detailed information regarding acceptable and prohibited Local Rules under Rule 33-8.
It is the duty of Committees to interpret their own Local Rules and, if a doubt arises about the applicability or interpretation of a Local Rule, it is the responsibility of the Committee to give a decision. The R&A’s Rules of Golf Committee, while giving advice on the drafting of Local Rules and considering cases where a modification of a Rule of Golf is requested, does not interpret Local Rules other than those covered by Appendix I in the Rules of Golf.
The R&A and the USGA Rule books contain identical versions of Appendix I. Consequently, it is possible for a Committee wishing to adopt the recommended wording for a Local Rule provided in Appendix I to simply refer to the Rule book. For example, if the Committee is adopting the standard wording for a Local Rule for immovable obstructions close to the putting green, the Local Rule could read:
“Immovable Obstructions Close to Putting Green
The specimen Local Rule in the Rules of Golf is in effect – see page 134-135.”
It is important to note that Local Rules may not be introduced or altered after a stroke play round has started. All competitors in a given round must play under uniform Rules. However, it is permissible to alter the Local Rules for different rounds in an event consisting of more than one round, although this should be avoided if at all possible.
For an example of tournament Local Rules, see Appendix C.