A Committee may appoint referees to assist with the administration of a competition. A referee is an official named by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules.
Referees in Match Play
In match play, a referee's duties and authority depend on his or her assigned role:
When Assigned to One Match for Entire Round. As the referee is with the match throughout the round, he or she is responsible for acting on any breach of the Rules that he or she sees or is told about (see Rule 20.1b(1) and the definition of "referee").
When Assigned to Multiple Matches or to Certain Holes or Sections of the Course. As the referee is not assigned to accompany the match throughout the round, he or she should avoid becoming involved in a match unless:
A player in a match asks for help with the Rules or requests a ruling (see Rule 20.1b(2)). When making a ruling at the request of a player, the referee should always confirm that the request for the ruling was made in time (see Rules 20.1b(2) and 20.1b(3)).
A player or players in a match may be in breach of Rule 1.2b (Code of Conduct), Rule 1.3b(1) (Two or More Players Deliberately Agreeing to Ignore any Rule or Penalty they Know Applies), Rule 5.6a (Unreasonable Delay of Play) or Rule 5.6b (Prompt Pace of Play).
A player arrives late to his or her first tee (see Rule 5.3).
A player's search for a ball reaches three minutes (see Rule 5.6a and definition of "lost").
Referees in Stroke Play
In stroke play:
A referee is responsible for acting on any breach of the Rules that he or she sees or is told about.
This applies whether the referee is assigned to one group for the entire round or to monitor multiple groups or certain holes or parts of the course.
Limiting Role of Committee Members and Referees
The Committee is the person or group in charge of the competition or the course, but within that Committee:
The role of some members may be limited.
Some decisions may require the agreement of specific members.
Some responsibilities may be delegated to people outside the Committee.
Specifying that only certain members of the Committee can enforce a Pace of Play Policy by monitoring and timing players or groups, and by deciding when to give warnings or penalties.
Stating that a minimum of three members of the Committee is required to decide that a player should be disqualified for a serious breach of misconduct under Rule 1.2.
Giving authority to the professional, manager or other designated person to make rulings on behalf of the Committee.
Authorizing the head of the maintenance staff to suspend play on behalf of the Committee.
Preventing a member of the Committee who is competing in a competition from making the decision to suspend play during that competition.
Limiting which referees have the authority to define an unmarked area to be ground under repair during a competition.
The Committee may limit a referee's duties in stroke play or match play (such as when it believes this will help make rulings consistent for all of the players) by identifying items that may be handled only by the Committee or by a particular set of referees.Examples of such items are:
Declaring a part of the course to be ground under repair.
Enforcing a Pace of Play Policy by monitoring and timing players or groups, and deciding when to give warnings or penalties.
Disqualifying players for serious misconduct under Rule 1.2.
Referee Authorizes Player to Breach a Rule
A referee's decision is final and therefore if a referee authorizes a player to breach a Rule in error, the player will not be penalized. But see Rule 20.2d and Section 6C(10) or 6C(11) for situations where the error can be corrected.
Referee Warns Player About to Breach Rule
While a referee is not obliged to warn a player who is about to breach a Rule, it is strongly recommended that a referee should do so whenever possible in order to prevent a player from getting a penalty. A referee who acts in accordance with the recommendation by volunteering information on the Rules in order to prevent breaches of the Rules should do so uniformly to all players.But, in match play where the referee has not been assigned to one match for the entire round, he or she has no authority to intervene. The referee should not warn the player unless asked, and if the player does breach the Rule, the referee should not apply the penalty without the opponent requesting a ruling.
Disagreement with Referee’s Decision
If a player disagrees with a referee's decision in match play or stroke play, the player is generally not entitled to a second opinion, whether from another referee or the Committee (see Rule 20.2a), but the referee whose decision is questioned may agree to obtain a second opinion.The Committee can adopt a policy of always allowing all players a second opinion where they disagree with a referee's decision.
How to Resolve Questions of Fact
Resolving questions of fact is among the most difficult actions required of a referee or the Committee.
In all situations involving questions of fact, resolution of the doubt should be made in light of all the relevant circumstances and evaluation of the weight of the evidence, including the balance of probabilities where applicable. When the Committee is unable to determine the facts to its satisfaction, it should treat the situation in a way that is reasonable, fair and consistent with how similar situations are treated under the Rules.
Testimony of the players involved is important and should be given due consideration.
In some situations where the facts are not decisive, the doubt should be resolved in favour of the player whose ball is involved.
In others, the doubt should be resolved against the player whose ball is involved.
There is no set process for evaluating the testimony of the players or for assigning the weight to be given to such testimony and each situation should be treated on its own merits. The proper action depends on the circumstances in each case and should be left to the judgment of the referee, or the Committee.
When a player has been required to determine a spot, point, line, area or location under the Rules, the Committee should determine if the player used reasonable judgment in doing so. If so that decision will be accepted even if, after the stroke is made, the determination is shown to be wrong (see Rule 1.3b(2)).
Testimony of those who are not a part of the competition, including spectators, should be considered and evaluated. It is also appropriate to use television footage and the like to assist in resolving doubt, although the naked eye standard should be applied when using such evidence (see Rule 20.2c).
It is important that any questions of fact be resolved in a timely manner such that the competition may proceed in an orderly way. Thus, the referee may be limited to evaluating the evidence available to him or her in a timely manner. Any such ruling may be further reviewed by the referee, or the Committee if additional evidence becomes available after the initial ruling.
If a judgment is made by a referee, the player is entitled to proceed on the basis of that ruling whether it is an interpretation of the Rules of Golf or a resolution of a question of fact. In situations arising in both circumstances, if the ruling is found to be incorrect, the Committee may have the authority to make a correction (see Rule 20.2d and Section 6C(10) or 6C(11)). However, in all circumstances, including both match play and stroke play, the referee or Committee is limited in its ability to make corrections by the guidance contained in Rule 20.2d.Where there is a question relating to the Rules where it is one player's word against another's and the weight of evidence does not favour either player, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the player who made the stroke or whose score is involved.
True State of the Match Not Determinable
If two players complete their match but do not agree on the result, they should refer the matter to the Committee.The Committee should gather all available evidence and attempt to ascertain the true state of the match. If, after doing so, it is unable to determine the true state of the match, the Committee should resolve the situation in the fairest way, which could mean ruling that the match should be replayed if possible.
Handling Ruling When Player Proceeds Under Inapplicable Rule
When a player proceeds under a Rule that does not apply to his or her situation and then makes a stroke, the Committee is responsible for determining the Rule to apply in order to give a ruling based on the player's actions.For example:
A player took relief away from a boundary object under Rule 16.1b. He or she has proceeded under an inapplicable Rule. As Rule 19.1 (Unplayable Ball) requires the player to have decided to proceed under it before taking relief, the Committee may not apply Rule 19 to the player's actions. As there was no Rule that allowed the player to lift his or her ball in such a situation, the Committee should determine that Rule 9.4 applies and none of the Exceptions save the player from penalty.
A player decided that his or her ball was unplayable in a penalty area, dropped it according to the procedure of option b or c of Rule 19.2 and played it from within the penalty area. As Rule 17.1 is the only Rule that allows the player to lift his or her ball for relief in a penalty area, the Committee should determine that Rule 17 applies and rule accordingly. As a result, the player is considered to have played from a wrong place (see Rule 14.7) and, in addition, gets the one-stroke penalty under Rule 17.1.
A player’s ball lay in temporary water that he or she mistook for a penalty area. The player dropped and played a ball according to the procedure in Rule 17.1d(2). As Rule 16.1b was the only Rule that allowed the player to lift his or her ball for relief in that situation, the Committee should determine that Rule 16.1b applies and rule accordingly. As a result, assuming that the player did not drop a ball in and play from an area that satisfied Rule 16.1b, the player is considered to have played from a wrong place (see Rule 14.7).
A player did not know the location of his or her original ball but assumed, without knowledge or virtual certainty, that it was in ground under repair. The player dropped and played another ball under Rules 16.1e and 16.1b. As the player did not know the location of his or her original ball, in these circumstances, Rule 18.1 was the only Rule that the player could have proceeded under. Therefore, the Committee should determine that Rule 18.1 applies and rule accordingly. As a result, the player is considered to have put a ball into play under penalty of stroke and distance and to have played from a wrong place (see Rule 14.7) and, in addition, gets the stroke-and-distance penalty under Rule 18.1.
Handling Wrong Rulings in Match Play
Under Rule 20.2a, a player has no right to appeal a referee's ruling. But, if a ruling by a referee or the Committee is later found to be wrong, the ruling should be corrected if possible under the Rules (see Rule 20.2d). This section clarifies when an incorrect ruling should be corrected in match play.Correction of Incorrect Ruling by a Referee During Match
A referee should not correct an incorrect ruling after either player makes another stroke on a hole.
If no more strokes are made on a hole after a ruling has been made, a referee should not correct an incorrect ruling once either player makes a stroke from the next teeing area.
Otherwise, an incorrect ruling by a referee should be corrected.
In a situation where an incorrect ruling can be corrected, if the incorrect ruling has resulted in one or more players lifting his or her ball, the referee is responsible for directing the players to replace their balls and complete the hole, with the correct ruling applied.
The principles above also apply where a referee fails to penalize a player for a breach of a Rule due to misunderstanding the result of a hole.
For example, a referee fails to advise a player of a loss of hole penalty for a breach of the pace of play policy as he or she believed the player had already lost the hole. On the next hole, the referee learns that the player had not lost the hole. If the player or the opponent has made a stroke from the teeing area of that next hole, the referee can no longer correct the error.
Correction of Incorrect Ruling Made on Final Hole of Match Before Result Is FinalWhere a referee makes an incorrect ruling on the final hole of a match, it should be corrected at any time up until the result of the match is final, or if the match goes to extra holes, until either player makes a stroke from the next teeing area.Incorrect Ruling by Referee in Match Results in Player Making Stroke from Wrong PlaceIf a player in match play proceeds on the basis of a ruling from a referee, which involves dropping a ball and playing from a wrong place and the Committee then learns of the incorrect ruling, the following principles apply:
Unless a serious breach is involved, or the player has been seriously disadvantaged due to playing from a wrong place, it is too late to correct the ruling once the player has made a stroke from the wrong place. The strokes made after the incorrect ruling stand with no penalty for playing from the wrong place.
If a serious breach is involved or the player has been seriously disadvantaged due to playing from a wrong place, the Committee should correct the error if the opponent has not yet made his or her next stroke on the hole concerned. Otherwise it is too late to correct the ruling.
If a serious breach is involved and the opponent does not make a stroke on the hole after the ruling was given, the Committee should correct the ruling if neither player has made a stroke from the next teeing area or, in the case of the final hole of the match, before the result of the match is final. Otherwise it is too late to correct the ruling.
If a serious breach is involved and it is too late to correct the ruling, the strokes made after the incorrect ruling stand with no penalty.
Handling Wrong Rulings in Stroke Play
A player has no right to appeal a referee's ruling (see Rule 20.2a). But if a ruling by a referee or the Committee is later found to be wrong, the ruling should be corrected if possible under the Rules (see Rule 20.2d). This section clarifies when an incorrect ruling should be corrected in stroke play.Correction of Incorrect Ruling by Referee in Stroke PlayWhen possible, a referee should correct an incorrect ruling in stroke play that involves the incorrect application of a penalty or failure to apply a penalty, provided the competition has not closed (see Rule 20.2e).Player In Stroke Play Incorrectly Advised Stroke Does Not CountWhere a referee in stroke play incorrectly advises a player that his or her stroke does not count and to play again without penalty, the ruling stands and the player's score with the replayed stroke is the player's score for the hole.Player in Stroke Play Makes Stroke from Wrong Place Due to Incorrect Ruling; Procedure for Player When Error Is DiscoveredIn stroke play when a player proceeds on the basis of a ruling from a referee, which involves dropping a ball and playing from a wrong place and the Committee then learns of the incorrect ruling by the referee, the following principles apply:
Unless a serious breach is involved, or the player has been seriously disadvantaged due to playing from a wrong place, it is too late to correct the ruling and the strokes made after the incorrect ruling stand with no penalty for playing from the wrong place.
If a serious breach is involved or the player has been seriously disadvantaged due to playing from a wrong place, and the player has not made a stroke to begin another hole or, for the final hole of the round, before returning his or her scorecard, the Committee should correct the ruling. The Committee should direct the player to cancel the stroke made from the wrong place and any subsequent strokes and proceed correctly. The player incurs no penalty for playing from a wrong place. If it is too late to correct the ruling, the strokes made after the incorrect ruling stand with no penalty for playing from the wrong place.
Referee Gives Player Incorrect Information; Player Acts on Information in Subsequent PlayPlayers are expected to recognize when they have breached a Rule and to be honest in applying their own penalties (see Rule 1.3b). But if a referee provides the player with incorrect information on the Rules, the player is entitled to act on such information in his or her subsequent play.Consequently, the Committee may be required to make a judgment as to both the duration of the player's entitlement and his or her proper score when, as a result of proceeding according to the incorrect information provided, the player is liable to a penalty under the Rules.In these situations, the Committee should resolve the matter in whatever manner it considers most fair, in light of all the facts and with the objective of ensuring that no player receives an undue advantage or disadvantage. In cases where the incorrect information significantly affects the results of the competition, the Committee may have no option but to cancel the round. The following principles are applicable:
General guidance on the Rules When a member of the Committee or a referee provides incorrect information in the nature of general guidance about the Rules, the player should not be exempt from penalty.
Specific ruling When a referee makes a specific ruling that is contrary to the Rules in that particular situation, the player is exempt from penalty. The Committee should extend this exemption for the duration of the round in circumstances where the player proceeds incorrectly on his or her own in exactly the same manner as advised by a referee earlier in the round. However, that exemption ceases if, in that round, the player becomes aware of the proper procedure or has his or her actions questioned. For example, a player asks a referee for help in taking relief from a red penalty area and the referee incorrectly tells the player that he or she must drop again because his or her stance is in the penalty area. If the player drops again for that same reason when taking relief from a red penalty area three holes later the Committee should not penalise the player for playing from a wrong place.
Guidance on Local Rules or Terms of the Competition When a member of the Committee or a referee gives incorrect information on whether a Local Rule or Term of the Competition is in effect, the player should be exempt from penalty for acting on that information. This exemption applies for the duration of the round unless corrected earlier, in which case, the exemption should cease at that point. For example, if the player is told by a referee that distance-measuring devices that measure effective playing distance are permitted even though the Local Rule prohibiting their use is in effect, that player does not incur a penalty for measuring effective playing distance during the round. However, if the Committee learns of the incorrect ruling, the player should be informed of the mistake as soon as possible.
Equipment ruling When a member of the Committee or a referee rules that a non-conforming club is conforming, the player is exempt from penalty for using the club. This exemption applies for the duration of the competition unless corrected earlier, in which case, the exemption ceases at the completion of the round during which the correction was made.
Player Lifts Ball Without Authority Due to Misunderstanding Referee's InstructionsIf a player lifts his or her ball when not permitted to do so as a result of a reasonable misunderstanding of a referee's instructions, there is no penalty, and the ball must be replaced unless the player proceeds under another Rule.For example, a player's ball comes to rest against a movable obstruction and he or she asks for relief. A referee correctly advises the player that the obstruction may be removed under Rule 15.2 and that the spot of the ball should be marked in case it moves during the removal of the obstruction. The player marks the position of the ball and lifts it before the referee can stop him or her.The player will normally be penalized one stroke under Rule 9.4 for lifting his or her ball where it is not allowed, but, provided the referee is satisfied that the player misunderstood the instruction, the ball is replaced without penalty.Player Incorrectly Advised to Continue with Provisional Ball by RefereeA player had reason to play a provisional ball from the teeing area and finds his or her original ball in a penalty area. The player is then incorrectly told by a referee that he or she must continue with the provisional ball and completes the hole with the provisional ball. The player incurs no penalty for playing a wrong ball (the provisional ball, which the player was required to abandon under Rule 18.3c).If the Committee then becomes aware of the wrong ruling, it should rule that the player's score for the hole consists of the tee shot with the original ball plus the number of strokes the player took to complete the hole with the provisional ball after the incorrect ruling, with the second stroke with the provisional ball being the player's second stroke on the hole. However, if it would have been clearly unreasonable for the player to have played the original ball from the penalty area, he or she must also add one penalty stroke under Rule 17.1 to the score for the hole.Committee Makes Incorrect Ruling When Player Has Played Two Balls Under Rule 20.1c(3); When Ruling May Be CorrectedIn stroke play, a player plays two balls under Rule 20.1c(3), reports the facts to the Committee, and the Committee tells the player to score with the incorrect ball. Such a mistake is an incorrect ruling and not an administrative error. Therefore Rule 20.2d applies and the answer depends on when the Committee learns of its incorrect ruling:
If the Committee learns of the incorrect ruling before the competition closes, it should correct the ruling by changing the score for the hole in question to that of the correct ball.
If the Committee learns of the incorrect ruling after the competition has closed, the score with the incorrect ball remains the player's score for the hole in question. Under Rule 20.2d, such a ruling is final once the competition has closed.
Disqualification Penalty Wrongly Applied to Winner of Event; Error Discovered After Two Other Players Play Off for First PlaceIf, as a result of an incorrect ruling by the Committee, the rightful winner of a competition is disqualified and two other players play-off for first place, the best procedure depends on when the Committee realizes its error. If the Committee learns of its incorrect ruling before the result of the competition is final, the Committee should correct the incorrect ruling by rescinding the disqualification penalty and declaring the player to be the winner. If the Committee learns of the incorrect ruling after the result of the competition is final, the result stands, with the player disqualified.Application of Disqualification Penalty in Competition in Which Not All Scores Used to Determine WinnerIn a scenario such as a multiple round stroke-play team competition when not all the player's scores count towards the team's score for a round, a player's score cannot count for the round when he or she is disqualified but could count for other rounds. For example, where two scores of three team members count, if a player is disqualified in the first of four rounds, the disqualification applies only to the first round and his or her scores for the remaining rounds could still be used.This applies to all competitions in which not all scores are used to determine the winner (for example, an individual competition in which the player counts his or her three best scores from four rounds).If a player is disqualified for a breach of Rule 1.3b or the Committee's Code of Conduct, it is up to the Committee to determine whether the disqualification should be for the round or the entire competition.
Combining Match Play and Stroke Play
The combining of match play and stroke play is discouraged as certain Rules are substantially different between the two formats. But there will be times when players either request to combine the two forms of play or, having done so on their own, request a ruling. The Committee should make its best efforts to support players at these times and should use the following guidelines in doing so.When players request to combine match play and stroke playIf a Committee chooses to allow players to play a match while competing in a stroke-play competition, it is recommended that the players be advised that the Rules for stroke play apply throughout. For example, no concessions are allowed and if one player plays out of turn, the other does not have the option of recalling the stroke.When players request a ruling having combined match play and stroke playIf the Committee is asked for a ruling when players have combined match play and stroke play, it should apply the Rules of Golf as they would apply to each of match play and stroke play separately. For example, if one player did not complete a hole for whatever reason then he or she is disqualified from the stroke-play competition for a breach of Rule 3.3c. But, for Stableford, Maximum Score and Par/Bogey see Rules 21.1c(2), 21.2c and 21.3c(2) respectively.
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.
Marking the course and refreshing those markings as needed is an ongoing task for which the Committee is responsible.A well-marked course allows a player to play by the Rules and helps to eliminate confusion for players. For example, a player may not know how to proceed if a pond (penalty area) is not marked or if he or she is unable to determine if a ball is in bounds or out of bounds.
A Local Rule is a modification of a Rule or an additional Rule that the Committee adopts for general play or a particular competition. The Committee is responsible for deciding whether to adopt any Local Rules and for making sure they are consistent with the principles found in Section 8. The Committee needs to make sure that any Local Rules are available for players to see, whether on the scorecard, a separate handout, a notice board or the course's website.Local Rules that may be adopted for general play fall into the following general categories:
Defining Course Boundaries and other Areas of the Course (Sections 8A-8D),
Defining Special or Required Relief Procedures (Section 8E), and
Defining Abnormal Course Conditions and Integral Objects (Section 8F).
The Committee should also take note of Section 8L - Unauthorized Local Rules.A full listing of Model Local Rules can be found at the start of Section 8.See Section 5C for other types of Local Rules that are more commonly adopted for competitions than for general play.
The resources available to a Committee will differ depending on the course or the level of competition being run and so a Committee may not be able to implement all of the suggested practices. Where this is the case, the Committee will need to decide its priorities for each competition.The period before the competition begins is arguably the most important in terms of preparation to ensure the smooth running of the competition. The Committee's duties during this period include:
Terms of the Competition determine the structure of each competition including who may enter, how to enter, what the schedule and format of the competition will be and how ties will be decided. It is the responsibility of the Committee to:
Set clear and concise terms for each competition.
Make these terms available to players in advance of the competition.
Interpret the terms should any questions arise.
Other than in exceptional circumstances, the Committee should avoid altering the Terms of the Competition once the competition has started .It is the responsibility of each player to know and follow the Terms of the Competition.Sample wording of Terms of the Competition can be found at RandA.org.
When preparing for a competition, the Committee should make sure that the course is properly marked and refresh any markings that might be used for general play, or change them if necessary. While there typically is no one "right" way to mark a course, failing to mark it properly or at all can lead to situations where a player is unable to proceed under the Rules or the Committee will be forced to make decisions while play is ongoing that might result in players being treated differently.Section 2 provides detailed guidance and recommendations on how to mark the course for general play, but it also applies equally to competitions and should be referenced by the Committee when preparing for competitions.Where changes are made to the course's marking for a competition, the Committee should ensure these are clearly communicated to any players who regularly play the course so that they are not confused and inadvertently proceed incorrectly.In addition to the information in Section 2, the Committee may wish to consider the following items:
The Committee is responsible for deciding whether to adopt any Local Rules and for making sure they are consistent with the principles found in Section 8. A Local Rule is a modification of a Rule or an additional Rule that the Committee adopts for general play or a particular competition. The Committee needs to make sure that any Local Rules are available for players to see, whether on the scorecard, a separate handout, a notice board or the course's website.When considering adopting a Local Rule, the Committee should keep in mind the following:
Local Rules have the same status as a Rule of Golf for that competition or course, and
The use of Local Rules should be limited as much as possible and be used only to deal with the types of situations and policies covered in Section 8.
A full list of authorized of Model Local Rules can be found at the start of Section 8.Local Rules that may be adopted for competitions fall into the following general categories:
Defining Course Boundaries and other Areas of the Course (Sections 8A-8D),
The Committee should also take note of Section 8L - Unauthorized Local Rules.Modified Rules of Golf for Players with DisabilitiesA set of Modified Rules is available for players with disabilities. The Modified Rules only apply if adopted by the Committee and they do not automatically apply to every competition involving players with disabilities.It is up to each Committee to decide whether to adopt any of the Modified Rules for players with disabilities who are taking part in a competition.The goal of the Modified Rules is to allow a player with a disability to play fairly with players who have no disabilities, the same disability or different types of disabilities.See the Modified Rules for Players with Disabilities for further information and guidance.
Many courses have specific practice areas, such as a practice range and practice greens for putting, bunker play and chipping. Players are permitted to practise in these areas, whether they are inside or outside the boundaries of the course. It is recommended that practice areas that are located on the course be specified in the Local Rules to clarify whether players may practise on those areas before and after their rounds. The Committee may need to define the edges of these areas to limit where players may practise.The Committee may also change the permissions in relation to when and where practice is allowed as follows:
A Local Rule may allow practice on limited and defined parts of the course, for example where there is no permanent practice ground. But, where this applies, it is recommended that players not be allowed to practise on any putting greens or from any bunkers on the course.
A Local Rule may allow practice on the course in general, for example:
If the competition starts late in the day and the Committee does not want to restrict players from playing the course earlier in the day, or
If there has been a suspension of play and it would be more efficient to allow players to hit a few shots from somewhere on the course as opposed to bringing them back to the practice range.
Rule 5.2 covers when practice is allowed or prohibited before or between rounds in a competition, but the Committee may adopt a Local Rule to modify those provisions (see Model Local Rule I-1).
Rule 5.5 gives the Committee the option to adopt a Local Rule to prohibit practice on or around the putting green of the hole just completed (see Model Local Rule I-2).
The Committee can set its own Pace of Play Policy adopted as a Local Rule (see Rule 5.6b). In practice the nature of such a Policy will be dependent on the number of Committee members available to implement it (see Section 8K).Pace of Play Policies may contain:
A maximum time to complete a round, a hole or series of holes or a stroke.
A definition of when the first group is out of position and when each other group is out of position in relation to the group playing ahead of it.
When and how a group or individual players may be monitored or timed.
If and when players may be warned that they are being timed or have had a bad time.
The penalty structure for breaches of the Policy.
The Committee is responsible for making sure that a competition is played at a prompt pace of play. What is considered a prompt pace can be different based on the course, size of the entry and number of players in each group. To do this:
The Committee should adopt a Local Rule setting a Pace of Play Policy (see Rule 5.6b).
Such a Policy should at least set a maximum time for completing the round or parts of the round.
The Policy should stipulate any penalties for a player’s failure to comply with the Policy.
The Committee should also be aware of other actions that they can take to have a positive impact on pace of play. These include:
Management practices such as reducing group sizes, increasing starting intervals and introducing starter’s gaps.
Considering fundamental changes to course set up such as widening fairways, reducing the thickness or length of rough, or reducing the speed of greens. When changes such as these are made to the course, the Committee should consult the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction to assess the impact on the issued Course Rating and follow the procedures to make any necessary adjustments.
The Committee may set its own standards of player conduct in a Code of Conduct adopted as a Local Rule (see Rule 1.2b). If the Committee does not set a Code of Conduct, it is restricted in penalizing players for inappropriate conduct to using Rule 1.2a. The only penalty available for an act that is contrary to the spirit of the game under that Rule is disqualification (see Section 5H(4) for more information).
Before starting the round, players should be provided with all the information they need to be able to play the course under the Rules.In stroke play, each player should be given a scorecard and, in net competitions such as Stableford, Maximum Score or Four-Ball, this should include the handicap stroke index allocation as set by the Committee.When the Committee has prepared additional documents, it should make them available to players before the round, and if possible before players arrive at the first tee so that they have a reasonable amount of time to read them. These could include:
Pace of Play Policy.
Code of Conduct.
Depending on the resources available to them, the Committee may choose to make the documents available in a single location for players to read, for example on a notice board or website. Otherwise they may be provided as hand-outs to players before they start their round.When resources allow, the Committee should have a starter at the starting tee to ensure the players have all the information they require and that they start on time.When the time comes for starting the group, the starter should start the first player at the time assigned. If this is not possible due to the location of the group in front (such as when they are delayed by a ball search), the actual time of starting should be noted so that the Committee can use that information when applying a pace of play policy.The Committee should adopt a consistent method for handling situations when players may be late in arriving at their first tee. This may include having Committee members or others attempt to locate the missing players or having a countdown in front of other players who are present so that it is clear to all when the player is late. It is good practice to have a clock set to the official time close to the tee and for all officials to set their watches to the same time.
Where a Pace of Play policy is in place for a competition, it is important the Committee understands and actively enforces the policy to ensure that players adhere to the policy and play proceeds in an orderly manner.For more information and example polices, see Model Local Rule Section 8K.
This section lists authorized Model Local Rules that may be used by a Committee:
These can either be adopted in their entirety or can serve as an example of how to write a particular type of Local Rule.
Local Rules are authorized only if they are consistent with the policies established in this section.
A Committee is encouraged to use the recommended text if it fits the local situation to minimize the number of times a player will find different versions of the same Local Rule at different courses or in different competitions.
The Committee should ensure that the Local Rules are made available to the players whether on the scorecard, through a Notice to Players or in some other way.
Where a shorthand version of the full text of the Model Local Rule is provided, for example on the back of the scorecard, the Committee should ensure that the full text is available, for example on a noticeboard or on a website.
Unless otherwise stated the penalty for a breach of a Local Rule should be the general penalty.
Principles for establishing Local Rules:
Local Rules have the same status as a Rule of Golf for that competition or course.
Committees are encouraged to use Local Rules only to deal with the types of situations and policies covered in this section and in Section 5.
If a Local Rule is introduced because of a temporary situation, it should be removed as soon as the situation no longer requires the use of the Local Rule.
If a Committee changes the wording of a Model Local Rule to fit the particular needs of the course or competition, it needs to ensure that the changes are within the parameters allowed by the Model Local Rule and consistent with the stated purpose.
In order to ensure that play is conducted in accordance with the Rules of Golf, a Committee must not use a Local Rule to waive or modify the Rules of Golf simply because it might prefer a Rule to be different.
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 it under the Rules of Golf. If the Committee authorizes players to play in ways that differ significantly from the Rules of Golf, the player may not be permitted to post the score for handicap 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 these principles may be needed because of local abnormal conditions that interfere with fair play, it should:
Consult RandA.org to check if any additional Model Local Rule is available to cover such a condition, or
Consult The R&A directly.
The Model Local Rules in each category are numbered in order – for example, A-1, A-2, etc.A statement of purpose is given with each Model Local Rule. If a Committee changes the wording of a Model Local Rule to fit the particular needs of the course or competition, it should make sure that such changes are consistent with the stated purpose.These Model Local Rules are organized in the following categories:A. Out of Bounds and Course BoundariesB. Penalty AreasC. BunkersD. Putting GreensE. Special or Required Relief ProceduresF. Abnormal Course Conditions and Integral ObjectsG. Restrictions on Use of Specific EquipmentH. Defining Who May Help or Give Advice to PlayersI. Defining When and Where Players May PractiseJ. Procedures for Bad Weather and Suspensions of PlayK. Pace of Play PoliciesThese Model Local Rules cover those situations or issues that arise often enough to justify having a model form. For all other situations where a Local Rule is allowed but model language is not provided, the Committee should write the Local Rule in clear and simple terms. But the Committee is not authorized to write Local Rules which go against the principles in the Rules of Golf. Section 8L gives more information regarding the use of unauthorized Local Rules.Where a Local Rule is written using the language of the Model Local Rules in this section, the Committee may seek assistance in interpreting the Local Rule from The R&A.
The following Model Local Rules give some examples of how the Committee can choose to address the issue of Pace of Play. The Committee can adopt other Local Rules to suit the resources available to them and so these are not an exhaustive list.Other sample policies are available at RandA.org.
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 RandA.org to check if any additional Model Local Rule is available to cover such a condition or situation, or
The most established forms of match play, stroke play and partner and team play are detailed in Rules 1–24. This section outlines various alternative forms of play. Detailed modifications to Rules 1–24 that are required for these formats are detailed at RandA.org.