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Unauthorized Local Rules
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Section 8K
Section 9
Unauthorized Local Rules

While a Committee has significant authority under the Rules of Golf to adopt Local Rules to fit the particular needs of a course or competition, any Local Rules that it chooses to put in place must be consistent with the policies established in Section 8, Model Local Rules.

Rule 1.3c(3) states that the Committee does not have the authority to apply penalties in a different way than stated in the Rules of Golf. Therefore, it is inappropriate for a Committee to write an unauthorized Local Rule that waives a penalty or changes a penalty. For example, a Committee cannot change the penalty for using a non-conforming club from disqualification to the general penalty or change the general penalty for failing to replace a ball which was moved to a single stroke. The Committee must not impose penalties when the Rules do not impose them, for example, penalizing a player who failed to total his or her score on the scorecard in stroke play.

In addition, Committees must not write a Local Rule that goes beyond the authorized Local Rules in ways which compromise the basic principles of the Rules of Golf. As examples, allowing players to use preferred lies throughout the general area or giving free relief from divot holes in the fairway compromise the basic principle under Rule 1.1 of playing the ball as it lies.

As a general principle, when a player is playing a round that is to be posted for handicapping purposes, he or she is required to play that round under the Rules of Golf. If the Committee authorizes players to play under Local Rules that differ significantly from the Rules of Golf, the player may not be permitted to post the score for handicapping purposes. For allowable exceptions, consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.

If the Committee believes that a Local Rule not covered by the policies established in Section 8 may be needed because of local abnormal conditions that interfere with fair play, it should:

  • Consult to check if any additional Model Local Rule is available to cover such a condition or situation, or
  • Consult The R&A directly.