Rules News and Articles

Below is a collection of Rules of Golf related articles written by MGA Managing Director of Rules & Competitions, Brian R. Mahoney, and former MGA Tournament Director, Gene Westmoreland.

Provisionally Speaking (Feb/Mar '16) by Gene Westmoreland
We don't see Provisionals played often enough during recreational play, which is too bad because the Rule is designed to save time...
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New Year, New Rules (Dec '15) by Brian R. Mahoney
The off-season is uaually a good time to brush up on the Rules of Golf, and it's especially important this year as recent changes will go into effect on January 1, 2016...
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The New Rules (Nov/Dec '15) by Gene Westmoreland
The 2016 Revisions to the Rules of Golf eliminate anchoring but make room for mercy...
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Gravitational Situation (Sep '15) by Brian R. Mahoney
Have you ever been playing in a match play event or a stroke play tournament and right before you're about to address your ball, the ball moves...
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Salute the Flagstick! (Aug/Sep '15) by Gene Westmoreland
The ins and outs of golf's most visible symbol...
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Know Your Bounds (Aug '15) by Brian R. Mahoney
A Rules of Golf preview detailing some of the Rules situations that may take place at Winged Foot Golf Club's East Course during the 100th Met Open...
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As it Lies (Jul '15) by Brian R. Mahoney
This edition of Rules of Golf comes to you from Paramount Country Club, where the area's best juniors competed in the 98th Met Junior Championship...
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What Do you Know, and When Do You Know It? (Jun/Jul '15) by Gene Westmoreland
The Rules sometimes go where philosophers fear to tread...
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X Marks the Spot (Jun '15) by Brian R. Mahoney
When your aim gets away from you... Brian R. Mahoney, is here to explain the proper procedure when looking to identify your ball, especially when it seems that you can't spare any more strokes...
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Two Games, Two Sets of Rules (Apr/May '15) by Gene Westmoreland
The differences between Match Play and Stroke Play go deeper than scoring...
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In the Right Place at the Wrong Time (Feb/Mar '15) by Gene Westmoreland
I'll be the first to admit, it has happened to me, but it might be a first on the PGA tour: a player's ball ending up on the putting green - of another hole!...
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Golf is Not a Game of Gotcha (Nov/Dec '14 & Jan '15) by Gene Westmoreland
The Rules may seem to be written without much sensitivity - especially when, during your best round of the year, an unlucky bounce results in an "underserved" penalty. Nonetheless, the Rules are often very understanding, even downright empathetic...
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Make Your Mark (Aug/Sep/Oct '14) by Gene Westmoreland
One of the last reminders MGA committeemen give competitors before they tee off is to "put an identifying mark on your ball." The Rule of Golf say that a ball is considered lost if it is not found and identified within five minutes after you have begun the search - and if you happen to play a wrong ball because you didn't correctly identify the ball you played, the results can be disastrous!...
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Taking Relief from a Lateral Water Hazard (Jul '14) by Brian R. Mahoney
With such parity on the PGA Tour, a single stroke can be the difference between a player sitting up on the awards dais or in the clubhouse bar during the trophy ceremony...
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Two If By Penalty, One If For Free (Jun/Jul '14) by Gene Westmoreland
Is it one or is it two? No, I'm not talking about picking Door #1 or Door #2 on "Let's Make a Deal," I'm talking about club-lengths as a measuring device when taking relief...
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McIlroy's Grade: Incomplete (Apr/May '14) by Gene Westmoreland
How do you spell relief? Or in the recent case involving Rory McIlroy, when is some relief not enough? If you tuned in for the end of the third-round coverage of the early-season HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi, you saw Rory McIlroy club the leaderboard, finishing the day one shot out of the lead at 11 under...
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Saved By The Rules (Feb/Mar '14) by Gene Westmoreland
Play the ball as it lies and play the course as you find it? Fine, until you can't. There are those who say the Rules are too complicated and that the game would be better if we went back to those two basic principles. Before agreeing, I suggest they consider the blessings of Rule No.28:"Ball Unplayable"...
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Turtle Facts (Nov/Dec '13 & Jan '14) by Gene Westmoreland
The 2013 major championships will be remembered in part for two penalties assessed for "slow play." Most controversial: The one-stroke penalty given in The Masters' second round to Tianlang Guan, 14, the youngest competitor in tournament history...
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Always be aware of Local Rules (Oct '13) by Brian R. Mahoney
Since no two golf courses are the same, it's not uncommon for some clubs to establish site specific Rules. Establishing Local Rules is a responsibility of the committee at the club or for a tournament...
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Hands-On Advice - How not to let ball drops lead to dropped shots (Aug/Sep '13) by Gene Westmoreland
This year's Masters reminded us how important-and fraught with trouble-dropping the ball can be. Now, it's not all tough love...
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Taking Relief from an Immovable Obstruction (Jul '13) by Brian R. Mahoney
In late June, I had the privilege of serving on the USGA's Rules Committee for the U.S. Women's Open Championship at Sebonack Golf Club. Like any reliable Rules Official, I carefully reviewed the Conditions of the Competition and contemplated what potential rulings might occur. As fate would have it, it took only two holes before I was called into action...
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Caddie Flak (Jun/Jul '13) by Gene Westmoreland
It's bad enough to hit a drive OB or have to take an Unplayable Ball penalty. Worse yet is the moment you're told to "add two" to your score for a Rule you didn't know you'd broken. But maybe the biggest doozy is accepting a penalty for a Rule your caddie broke...
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Interference from Casual Water (Jun '13) by Brian R. Mahoney
One of the many perks of playing golf is that you get to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. However, it's also a sport in which you have to deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at you...
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Plain and Simple (Apr/May '13) by C.A. "Tony" Wimpfheimer
As the reader is certainly aware, golf is played under a set of Rules that at times are confusing and, at best, difficult to understand. However, the Rules are the primary reason that our game is different from all others, and the fact that unless the players abide by them... well, it's not golf...
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How to Proceed in a Dangerous Situation (May '13) by Brian R. Mahoney
As the reader is certainly aware, golf is played under a set of Rules that at times are confusing and, at best, difficult to understand. Ever come across a large Green Iguana (or Common Iguana) on a golf course? In this edition of Rules Extra, we contemplate what to do if you're ever faced with a "dangerous situation"...
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Embedded Ball Relief (Apr '13) by Brian R. Mahoney
April showers bring... soft, mushy and wet course conditions. In this edition of Rules Extra we witness MGA official, Sen. Bill Nickerson, officiating a singles match during the 2011 Carey Cup at Bethpage Black...
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Relief Options from a Water Hazard (Mar '13) by Brian R. Mahoney
Here we see two-time MGA Player of the Year Michael Miller standing barefoot in a few inches of water, as he contemplates his next move during the French-American Challenge at Sebonack Golf Club last October...
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Driver's Ed (Feb/Mar '13) by Gene Westmoreland
How carts are treated by the Rules can depend on who is behind the wheel...
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Not sure if a ball is yours? (Feb '13) by Brian R. Mahoney
Is there a more panicked feeling in golf than searching for a lost ball? Here we see a moment during the 97th Met Open at Plainfield Country Club where a competitor, Jesse Fitzgerald of Garden City Golf Club, looks for a ball as the clock ticks toward the five-minute search limit...
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Taking relief, or not, from a sandy cart path (Jan '13) by Brian R. Mahoney
The photo here shows a competitor in the MGA's 2012 Ike Championship at Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y. The Player's ball lies on a sandy cart path and he is seeking counsel from a nearby MGA rules official, to review his options under the Rules of Golf...
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What Offseason? (Nov/Dec '12) Gene Westmoreland
Those hearty players who continue to play the fairways well after autumn arrives might encounter some unusual circumstances...
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Up a Tree (Aug/Sep '12) by Gene Westmoreland
During the final round of this year's U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, Lee Westwood, who was three off the lead at the time, hit a drive a bit right of the cypress-lined fifth fairway. I was among the millions watching who heard the on-course announcer point out, "that ball may have stayed up in the tree!"...
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Make the Call (Jun/Jul '12) by Gene Westmoreland
One of the major differences between stroke play and match play is that in stroke play anyone can point out a Rules violation, and they can do it at any time until the competition has closed-and the committee in charge of the event can, and should, take action..
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Rules Reboot (Apr/May '12) by Brian R. Mahoney
The USGA and R&A meet for a quadrennial-every four years- conference in which major changes to the Rules are discussed and approved...
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