TPWGC Mary's Rules Corner

During the last few months, I’ve received a lot of really good rules questions. So, this edition of Mary’s Rules Corner is a Q&A list of some of those questions. I LOVE receiving your rules questions, so feel free to contact me any time a rules question comes up during your round. 


If a ball goes a little bit past the hole, is it okay to reach across the hole and tap it in (backwards)?


Yes, there is no prohibition against making a stroke that way. However, you must not “scrape” the ball into the hole. You must make momentary contact by tapping it with your putter. Rule 10.1

Unfortunately, yes. Rule 5.3a says the player must start at the time set by the Committee (that’s the time on our tee sheet), unless there’s a reason, such as players in the group ahead in the fairway, or other exceptional circumstances as decided by the Rules Committee.

If a player starts within 5 minutes of her starting time, she receives a 2-stroke penalty on the first hole. Any later than that, then she is disqualified. The player may still play the round, as long as she can join her group without delaying play, but cannot participate in Sweeps or the Competition that day.

While the rules state that the player receives the same penalties for starting early, we do not apply any penalties because our Special Use Permit with the City requires that our groups start as soon as the fairway is clear of the group ahead, even if that is ahead of the posted tee sheet. In this case, the tee time has been adjusted to an earlier time, so there is no penalty for a player starting early.

A: Playing again from the teeing area is probably your best relief option under Rule 17. And yes, you would be hitting your 3rd shot. Here’s a link to one of my prior Rules Corners where I addressed relief option for Red Penalty Areas. Our Web Director, Laura Borja did some great illustrations to help you understand your relief options:

A: This pond is the only Yellow Penalty Area on either of Torrey’s golf courses. I have drawn a blue line to show the correct place (Back-on-the-Line per Rule 17) for taking a drop.

Rules Questions Taking a drop on Torrey Pines south #18

You can’t really tell from this photo if the Red X is within one club-length of the blue line I have drawn. If the Red X was within one club-length, then you dropped correctly. If it was not, you dropped in a Wrong Place and receive a 2 stroke penalty under Rule 14.

Your only other relief option was Stroke and Distance, returning to the spot of your prior stroke. See Rule 17.1. I also did a previous Rules Corner on Yellow Penalty Areas, here’s the link:

A: Yes, the in 2019 rules were changed to allow repair of any damage to the putting green, including repair of the hole itself, as long as the damage is not just natural wear. See Interpretation 13.1c(2)/2.


I made stoke at my ball and it hit and moved another player’s ball that was at rest. Is there a penalty, and what should we do?


A:  As long as your ball was not played from the putting green, there is no penalty. You play your ball as it lies. The player’s ball that was at rest must be replaced to its original position. If not known exactly where that it, it should be estimated. Rule 11.1.

And now, here’s a few rules hints to help you with your game!

Did you know.....

  • Rule 15.3 says that in Stroke Play, any time a player is required to mark and lift her ball, she may play first instead. That means you do not need to ask permission to continue putting once you have started putting, you can simply continue to putt until you’ve holed out. Of course, you should observe good golf etiquette and avoid stepping on another player’s line. If you have to step on another player’s line, you should mark your ball and wait until it’s your turn.
  • Rule 11.3 Exception says that you may mark and lift a ball on the putting green, even if another player’s ball is in motion. Since a player receives a penalty if her ball in motion after a stroke from the putting green hits another ball at rest on the green, you may, as a courtesy, quickly mark and lift your ball if you think another player’s ball might hit it, even if that ball is already in motion. This was one of the 2019 rules changes that made the Rules of Golf much friendlier!
  • Rule 8.1d(1) states that if a player’s conditions affecting the stroke are worsened by any person other than the player, she may restore the original conditions as nearly as possible. The most common example of this is when two balls are close together in a bunker. If the first player to play worsens the conditions of the second player (including her Line of Play), either player may restore the conditions (including raking the bunker to do so).
  • Any time you are playing a ball from the Teeing Area, you may tee up your ball without penalty. This includes if you are playing under stroke and distance, or even if you “whiffed” your first shot and your ball fell off the tee. Rule 6.2b

Again, please feel free to contact me with your rules questions!