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Rules of Golf

Rules of golf explained: The foam insert is floating and the ball won’t hole – what do I do?

Stumped by something you've seen out on the course? Our Rules of Golf expert delves into the book to find you the answers
 

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

You’ve been coming forward in your droves with this one. As clubs have got back to competitions in this coronavirus-altered world, many are using a foam insert to ensure players don’t have to reach all the way into the hole to pick the ball out.

We’ve already covered what happens if the ball hits the insert and bounces out. But while these noodles have worked pretty well in the last couple of months, there’s been a problem.

When the heavens have really opened – as they have in depressingly familiar fashion over the last couple of weeks – the downpours have forced the insert up and, in some cases, out of the hole.

Golfers have noted it has been virtually impossible to hole out. So what do they do?

Rules of golf explained: Our expert says…

This one was beyond my knowledge and so I asked the Rules team at the R&A for help.

The governing body say there are no further temporary measures they would make to the Rules to accommodate the issue created by the rising foam insert.

They say it would really be for clubs to find an alternative method of raising the base of the hole without using the noodle. The foam insert will float due to its design and its use can lead to many situations where the ball will bounce off the noodle and make holing a ball a complete lottery.

An example they give is of inserting the hole upside down. That upturned hole would allow for part of the ball to be beneath the surface of the putting green – meeting the temporary Definition of Holed – and for the ball to be easily retrieved from the hole.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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