25-2. Embedded Ball
A ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the
ground in any closely mown area through the green may be lifted, cleaned
and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but
not nearer the hole. The ball when dropped must first
strike a part of the course through the green. “Closely mown area”
means any area of the course, including paths through the
rough, cut to fairway height or green.
free relief through the green. Clean and dropped
no nearer the hole.
A player may not take relief under this local
rule if interference by anything other than the condition covered by this local
rule makes stroke clearly impracicable.
QUESTION 60: After a player makes a stroke at his ball in a bunker, the ball advances, but it doesn't make it out of the bunker. The player then uses a rake to repair the sand around his original stance and stroke.
Has he committed a rules infraction?
ANSWER 60: Although Rule 13-4 prohibits touching of the ground inside a hazard, Exception #2 to the Rule allows for smoothing of the sand by a player or caddie provided that nothing is done that improves the lie of the ball or the play of the hole.
However, note that if the player failed to extricate his ball from the first bunker with his first stroke and had smoothed his footprints while his ball still lay in that bunker, he would have incurred a penalty if his smoothing had improved his lie with respect to his next stroke.
20 Things You Can Do on a Golf Course without Penalty
1. Have a flagstick attended even when your ball is in a bunker, or on
the apron of the green - Rule 17-1.
2. Look into someone's golf bag to identify which club they are using
for their stroke - Decision 8-1/10.
3. Use the back, or the toe, of the clubhead to strike the ball
4. Ask anyone the distance from any point A to any point B
5. Ground your club on a bridge situated in a water hazard
6. Lay a club, or clubs, in a bunker before you make a stroke at
your ball lying in that bunker - Exception 1(b) to Rule 13-4.
7. Wrap a towel or handkerchief around the grip to assist in gripping
your club on a wet day - Rule 14-3c.
8. Replace your ball where it was, under penalty of one stroke, when
you have just putted past the hole and into a bunker - Rule 27-1a.
9. Use the toe of your putter to mark your ball - Decision 20-1/16
10. Take free relief from material piled for removal and holes made by a
greenkeeper, even if not so marked - Definition of GUR.
11. Make a putt with one hand while holding the flagstick with the
12. Put another ball in play without attempting to search for the original
13. Deem your ball unplayable in any circumstance, anywhere on the
course other than in a water hazard - Rule 28.
14. Play a ball out of ground under repair (unless there is a Local Rule
that says that you must take relief) - Rule 25-1b.
15. Explain a Rule to a fellow competitor to stop him incurring a penalty
16. Move anything artificial if it can be moved without unreasonable effort,
without unduly delaying play and without causing damage - Definition of Obstruction.
17. Clean a ball by rubbing it on the putting green - Decision 16-1d/5.
18. Hold an umbrella over your head as you make a stroke - Decision 14-2/2.
19. Draw a ring around the circumference of your golf ball and then use it
to line up your tee shot or putts. Rule 12-2.
20. Make Love with your significant other.... :-) Rule #1
Here's one of the subsets of Rule 18... Take note that water and wind are not Outside Agencies.
18-1. By Outside Agency
If a ball at rest is moved by an outside agency, there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced.
Move or Moved
A ball is deemed to have "moved" if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place.
In match play, an "outside agency" is any agency other than either the player's or opponent's side, any caddie of either side, any ball played by either side at the hole being played or any equipment of either side.
In stroke play, an outside agency is any agency other than the competitor's side, any caddie of the side, any ball played by the side at the hole being played or any equipment of the side.
An outside agency includes a referee, a marker, an observer and a forecaddie. Neither wind nor water is an outside agency.
Here's some very interesting FAQ related to Rule 18.
Ball in Play Moved by Wind or Gravity
Q. A player replaces his ball on the putting green and the ball is at rest. Without addressing the ball the player steps away to read his putt.
The ball moves either due to the wind or the slope of the putting green. How should the player proceed?
A. The player must play his ball from the new position without penalty.
If the ball was moved into the hole then the player is deemed to have holed out with his previous stroke (Decision 20-3d/1).
Note: It is not relevant whether the player had removed his ball-marker before the ball was moved by the wind or gravity as the player's ball was in play when it was replaced (Rule 20-4).
Practice Swing Accidentally Moves Ball before Stroke on Teeing Ground
Q. Before making a stroke on the teeing ground, a player makes a practice swing and accidentally knocks the ball off the tee with the club. Is there a penalty?
A. There is no penalty as the ball was not in play. Additionally, the player has not made a stroke - see Definition of "Stroke." The player must put a ball into play from the teeing ground. (Decision 18-2a/19)
Practice Swing Accidentally Moves Ball in Play
Q. While making a practice swing, Brenda accidentally moved her ball in play with her club. What is the ruling?
A. Brenda incurs a one stroke penalty, and must replace the ball to its original position. If she fails to replace the ball, she will incur a total penalty of loss of hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. Please refer to the Penalty Statement under Rule 18. (Rule 18-2a and Decision 18-2a/20)
Player Addresses Ball, Backs Away; Ball Then Moves
Q. A player addresses his ball and is not comfortable over the ball. He then steps away to start over. A sudden gust of wind comes and the ball moves. What is the ruling?
A. If the ball moves after the player has addressed the ball, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke, and the ball must be replaced - Rule 18-2b. The player is not absolved from penalty as he had addressed the ball. There is no time limit when applying this Rule. (Decision 18-2b/7)
Opponent Steps on Ball During Search
Q. Jane was helping her opponent, Amy, look for Amy`s ball in long grass. Jane accidentally stepped on Amy`s ball. Does Jane incur a penalty?
A. No. As the opponent`s ball was moved during search, there is no penalty. Amy must replace her ball. If Jane had moved Amy`s ball other than during search, she would incur a penalty of one stroke.
Fellow-Competitor Moves Ball
Q. My fellow-competitor in stroke play moved my ball. Is he penalized?
A. No. There is no penalty to either of you, and the ball must be replaced.
Ball at Rest Moved by Another Ball
Q. Steve`s ball was at rest on the putting green. Cindy plays from just off the green and her ball hits Steve`s ball. What must Steve do?
A. Under Rule 18-5, Steve must replace his ball back to its original position. (See related FAQ under Rule 19) Cindy must play her ball as it lies. There is no penalty to either player in either match play or stroke play. In stroke play only, if Cindy's ball lay on the putting green prior to the stroke, she would incur a penalty of two strokes.