TPWGC Mary's Rules Corner

Hello TPWGC! We’ve covered a variety of rules topics in the last 6 months or so. This month we are doing a Q&A. I’m going to provide answers to rules questions I’ve received on the fly recently. All different topics, so hold onto your hats, and away we go…..

Relief from immovable obstructions in line of play around the green

Taking Relief from a Sprinkler Head

Q: If you’re taking a drop using the local rule for sprinkler heads around the green (see Feb Rules Corner) are you required to use a putter once you have taken relief? Or can you chip with a wedge?

A: There is no requirement to use a certain club, such as a putter from the fringe after you’ve taken relief from a sprinkler head. If at that point you would prefer to chip, go ahead and use a wedge or any other club in your bag. (MLR F-5)

Ball Marker on the Green Q&A

Replacing a ball marker

Q: If someone asks me to replace my ball-marker with a flat marker, can I just pick up the marker and replace it with the flat one?

A: No, you have to replace your ball then switch ball-markers. The rules require that the location of the ball always have a physical mark. (Rule 9.7b) Oh and by the don’t have to honor a request to use a flat marker. You can always move your ball to the side rather than replace the ball marker. You may need to move multiple clubheads to the side to get to a place where the other player is no longer distracted by your marker.

Using a laser rangefinder

Q: My laser rangefinder adjusts for slope when calculating the distance. Can I use it?

A: No. Under USGA rule 4.3a(1) the use of devices that measure elevation changes is prohibited. You may only use a laser range finder if the device does NOT have a slope adjustment feature or if that feature can be disabled.
Using any distance measuring device that measures elevation changes will result in a General Penalty (2 strokes in stroke play) for the first offence and disqualification if you use it more than once.

This rules applies to ALL TPWGC rounds, including non-tournament rounds.

Practising a putt

Q: Can I practise a putt I just missed after completing a hole?

A: Yes. Rule 5.5b allows practice putts after completing a hole. However, but you must not delay play for either the group behind, or your group who is continuing to the next tee.

If your practice putts create a delay, you would be subject to a penalty under Rule 5.6a

(Fun fact: I didn’t misspell “practice”. Starting in 2019, the Rules of Golf are written in “International English”, which utilizes practise with an s when it is a verb, and practice with a c when it is a noun or adjective)

Rules Question about hitting another player's ball

Ball hits another ball on the green.

Q: If I chip a ball from off the putting green and hit another ball at rest on the putting green, is there a penalty? .

A: No. The only time you get a penalty hitting another ball at rest is if both balls were on the putting green when you made the stroke. (Rule 9.6 and Rule 11.1 Exception) .

Q: So then, what do we do if I hit another ball that was at rest (on the putting green or anywhere else)?

A: The ball that was previously at rest gets replaced. If the exact spot is not known, the player makes their best estimate and places (not drops) the ball there. (Rule 9.6) The player who made the stroke plays her ball as it lies, where-ever it ended up. (Rule 11.1b)

This is the question I hear most often:

Q: Is the USGA ever going to change the rules and allow relief from a ball in a divot hole in the fairway?

A: Very unlikely (I can never say never). The USGA considers divot holes on a golf course a normal part of playing the course. The rules do not guarantee you a good lie in a fairway. On the other hand, they don’t guarantee you a bad lie in the rough, either, so when your ball is sitting up nicely in thick rough, that’s your compensation for the last shot when you landed in a divot hole in the fairway. Sorry, but true!


Finally, this is a Handicap Question, but it came up in our Partner Best Ball event, so I’m answering it here:

Q: If I pick up in a partner event on multiple holes, isn’t it true I can’t post my score? I thought you had to hole out on 14 holes to post an 18 hole round.

A: No. There is no limit to the number of times you pick up and still post your score. You have to PLAY 14 holes to post an 18 hole score, but you don’t have to hole out on any of them as long as you record your actual or “Most Likely Score”  if you picked up.

As a reminder, the “Most Likely Score” is:

Most likely scores should be determined on any hole in accordance with the following guidelines:

You can also take a look at Diagram 3.3 for an illustration of these guidelines.


That’s it for this month’s Rules Corner. I would LOVE to receive more Rules Questions and ideas for topics you would like covered in the future. Please contact me at

Share the knowledge

You may share this article as a link to our page or as a printed document as long as it is clear that it is from TPWGC.  You may NOT publish or distribute the article as your own.

All custom graphics and illustrations are created by and property of Lulu Bee Marketing and Design. You may not use any of the graphics or illustrations in any form without prior permission.

Content of this article is based on information contained in the USGA Rules Website.