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Suspensions and Resumptions
Suspensions and Resumptions

Immediate and Normal Suspensions of Play

There are two types of suspensions of play that a Committee can order, each with different requirements for when players must stop play (see Rule 5.7b).
  • Immediate suspension (such as when there is imminent danger). If the Committee declares an immediate suspension of play, all players must stop play at once and must not make another stroke until the Committee resumes play.
  • Normal suspension (such as for darkness or unplayable course). If the Committee suspends play for normal reasons, what happens next depends on whether a group is between two holes or playing a hole.
The Committee should use a way of signalling an immediate suspension that is different than that used for a normal suspension. The signals to be used should be communicated to the players in the Local Rules. See Model Local Rule J-1 - Methods for Suspending and Resuming Play When play is suspended, the Committee will need to evaluate if the players should be left in position on the course or brought in to the clubhouse. Whether a suspension is immediate or normal, the Committee should resume play when it is possible to do so. Players will resume play from where they stopped (see Rule 5.7c).

Deciding When to Suspend and Resume Play

Deciding when play should be suspended and then resumed can be difficult decisions for a Committee. A Committee should take the following guidelines into consideration: Lightning The Committee should use whatever means it has available to determine if there is a danger from lightning and take what actions it believes are appropriate. Players may also stop play on their own when they believe there is a danger from lightning (see Rule 5.7a). When the Committee concludes there is no further danger from lightning and orders play to be resumed, players must resume play. See Interpretation 5.7c/1 for what to do if a player refuses to start because he or she feels there is still a danger from lightning. Visibility It is recommended that, if landing areas are no longer visible to players (for example, due to fog or darkness), play should be suspended. Similarly, if players are unable to read the line of play on a putting green due to a lack of visibility, play should be suspended. Water If all the area around a hole is covered in temporary water and it cannot be removed, in stroke play the course should be considered unplayable and the Committee should suspend play under Rule 5.7. In match play, if the water cannot be removed, the Committee may suspend play or relocate the hole. Wind Several balls being moved by the wind may be a reason to suspend play, but only one or two balls moving due to the wind on one green would not usually merit the Committee suspending play. On the putting green there are Rules in place to help players avoid getting penalties or for being advantaged if the ball is blown closer to the hole or disadvantaged if the ball is blown farther from the hole (see Rules 9.3 and 13.1). The Committee should consider suspending play due to wind only if there are several instances of balls moving and players are having problems with replacing the ball on the spot from which it was blown, or at least reasonably close to that spot if the ball will not remain at rest on the original spot.

Resumption of Play

When play is to be resumed following a suspension, players will resume play from where they stopped (see Rule 5.7d). The Committee should be prepared to consider the following:
  • If players were evacuated from the course, whether players should be given time to warm up before resuming play.
  • If the practice areas were closed during the suspension, when they should be reopened to give players sufficient time to get ready to play.
  • How to get players back to their positions on the course.
  • How to ensure that all players are back in position before resuming play. This might include having members of the Committee in position to observe and report when all players have returned.

Whether to Cancel Round

Match Play  A match should not be cancelled once play has begun as both players in a match are playing in the same conditions, without one having an advantage over the other. If the players stop play by agreement as allowed in Rule 5.7a or the Committee feels that conditions are such that play should be suspended, the match should resume from where it was suspended. In a team competition, if some matches are completed while others cannot be completed on the arranged day due to poor light or weather, the Terms of the Competition should clarify how the complete and incomplete matches will be treated (see Section 5A(4)). For example:
  • The result of completed matches stand as played and incomplete matches are to be continued or replayed on a later date,
  • All matches are to be replayed, and each team is free to alter its original team, or
  • Any matches that cannot be completed as scheduled are considered to be tied.
Stroke Play In stroke play there is no set guidance for when a Committee should cancel a round. The proper action depends on the circumstances in each case and is left to the judgment of the Committee. A round should be cancelled only in a case where it would be very unfair not to cancel it. For example, a small number of players begin a round under extremely bad weather conditions, conditions subsequently worsen and further play that day is impossible, but when play will resume the next day the weather is ideal. When a round is cancelled, all scores and penalties during that round are cancelled. That would normally include any disqualification penalty, but, if a player is disqualified for a serious misconduct (see Rule 1.2) or for a breach of the Code of Conduct, that disqualification should not be cancelled.

Player Refuses to Start or Picks Up Due to Weather Conditions

If, because of bad weather, a player refuses to start at the time arranged by the Committee or picks up during the round and the Committee later cancels that round, the player gets no penalty as all penalties in a cancelled round are cancelled.

Removal of Temporary Water or Loose Impediments from Putting Green

If temporary water, sand, leaves or other loose impediments accumulate on a putting green during a round, the Committee may do what is necessary to remove the condition, for example by using a squeegee, or by brushing or blowing the putting green. It is not necessary for the Committee to suspend play to take these actions. In such cases, the Committee may, when necessary, get the help of players to remove the loose impediments or sand. However, a player is in breach of Rule 8.1 if he or she removes temporary water on the line of play without the Committee's permission. A Committee may adopt a policy that clarifies what actions are considered appropriate for a Committee member, someone designated by the Committee (for example, a member of the maintenance staff), or players, to remove temporary water on the putting green. See Model Local Rule J-2: Model Local Rule for Allowing Temporary Water on Putting Green to be Removed by a Squeegee.

Match Begun in Ignorance Course Closed

If players begin a match when the course is closed and the Committee then learns of their action, the match should be replayed in its entirety as play on the closed course is considered null and void.
Section1The Role of the Committee
The Rules of Golf define the Committee as the person or group in charge of a competition or the course. The Committee is essential to the proper playing of the game. Committees have the responsibility of running the course on a day-to-day basis or for a specific competition and they should always act in ways that support the Rules of Golf. This part of the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf provides guidance to Committees in fulfilling this role. While many of the duties of a Committee are specific to running organized competitions, an important part of the Committee's duties relates to its responsibility for the course during general or every day play.
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