Stumped by something you’ve seen out on the course? Our Rules of Golf expert is here to help

Despite the simplification of the rules at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as our club man Steve Carroll has passed his R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, he is more than happy to help. And so Rules of Golf explained was born.

How to submit a question

If you would like to get in touch with Steve regarding the Rules of Golf or submit a question to feature in this series, the best way to do so is to email him or send him a tweet.

Rules of Golf explained archive

Do I have to mark my ball when taking preferred lies relief?

What happens if my fourball partner plays the wrong ball?

What if my putt hits the nearest the pin marker?

Can I move internal out of bounds posts?

The leaves are piling up! Can I get relief?

Does my entire ball have to be in the teeing area?

My ball moved before I hit it – is it a penalty?

Can I get relief from cracks in the ground?

My ball is in overflowing water from a penalty area – what now?

Can I take a practice swing and hit sand in a bunker?

My ball is resting against a frog and won’t budge!

The other hole on a double green is in my way!

Can I mark my ball on the fringe of the green?

A player hit my ball but returned it too late!

Can I get relief from tree roots?

Where should we put hole locations?

Do I have to use the longest club in my back to measure my relief area?

Can I use the green to clean my ball?

A mower chewed up my ball!

Do I get relief from animal scrapings?

Are tractor ruts considered ground under repair?

Can I change my ball when taking relief?

My ball was found but I couldn’t get to it in time – what do I do?

Can I wear something to protect an injury – even if it helps my swing?

I’m sure I’m in a penalty area but it’s not marked – can I get free relief?

My ball has landed on the tee for a different hole – what do I do?

I hit my ball and two came out!

What do I need to put on my scorecard?

Help! I’ve run out of balls

Can I abandon my round if there is lightning?

Can I change my ball when taking relief under preferred lies?

Does the ‘honour’ still exist?

Can I check my heart rate during a round?

Do I need to initial changes on a scorecard?

My ball is in a crack in a washed out bunker – do I have to play it as it lies?

What if two club lengths isn’t enough from an unplayable lie?

What am I allowed to use to measure the wind?

My playing partner left with my scorecard – will I be disqualified?

How much time can I spend clearing leaves off the green?

Can I move sand from the line of my putt?

I played my ball from a penalty area but it didn’t come out – help!

I’ve fluffed a bunker shot and hit the sand in anger – am I in trouble?

Does an air shot count as a stroke?

I’ve hit my ball OB from a bunker – can I rake the sand?

Can I move a penalty area stake if it’s interfering with my shot?

I’ve got too many clubs in the bag – how many shots will it cost?

My putt has hit another ball on the green – is there a penalty?

I found my ball but lost it again – what happens now?

My ball hit another person – what happens now?

Is my ball out of bounds?

Can I practise putting or chipping during a round?

My ball is lost in GUR – what do I do?

Can I hold an umbrella while putting?

Do I need to mark my ball when taking relief?

My ball has hit another player’s ball – what do we do?

My ball hit a marker on the green and went in – does it count?

Can I line up my ball without marking it?

I picked up my ball on the green without marking it – is there a penalty?

I ‘lost’ my ball then found it in the hole – does it count?

This bunker is full of water – can I have a free drop?

Someone has picked up my ball – what happens now?

Can I measure the relief area for a drop with a headcover on?

Can I play my ball from Ground Under Repair?

The Rule nearly every one of us has broken

I’ve whiffed – can I put the ball back on a tee?

My ball is hanging over the hole – what do I do?

Can you listen to music on the golf course?

My ball is under a pile of grass and leaves – do I get a free drop?

What are your options in a bunker where there are no rakes?

Do I need to tell my partners I’m lifting my ball?

Can I clean my ball?

Can I putt with my ball-marker still in place?

I accidentally kicked my ball on the green – is it a penalty?

Help! I thought my opponent conceded my putt

An animal has moved my ball – what happens now?

My ball landed in someone’s lunch – what do I do?

Does my hole-in-one count?

Our balls have landed side by side – what do we do?

I’ve lost my phone – am I allowed to search for it?

My ball’s embedded in the face of a bunker – can I get free relief?

A bird hit my club while I was taking a shot – does it count?

Can I switch hands to get free relief?

How should I announce playing a provisional ball?

Can I get relief from a sprinkler head on the line of my putt?

Can my caddie place and line up my ball on the green?

Can I play a provisional after I’ve started searching?

Can I stop my opponent looking for my ball?

I’ve hit the ball with a practice swing – does it count?

The tee markers are missing – what do I do?

My ball struck a buggy and landed in a bunker – can I play it again?

What do I do if my ball moves at address?

The foam insert is floating and the ball won’t hole – what do I do?

If I play out of turn, should I play another shot?

Can you stand behind an opponent to watch their putt?

Where do I drop if a bunker is GUR?

Is there a penalty if I hit another player with my ball?

I’m looking for two balls – do I have three minutes for each?

My golf ball hit the foam insert and bounced out – does it count?

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. Steve is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 3-Wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Hybrids: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Irons: TaylorMade Stealth 5-A Wedge Wedges: TaylorMade Hi-Toe 54 and 58 Putter: Sik Sho Ball: TaylorMade TP5

Handicap: 11.3

Over £35,000 worth of TaylorMade vouchers to be won with the NCG Top 100s Tour


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