GolfDigest.com has compiled a list of the game’s most commonly misunderstood rules. We had to share with fellow Cape May County golfers whose understanding of this rule-laden sport might at times be a bit hazy…
MYTH: A golfer who is off the green must play a shot before a golfer who is on the green.
FACT: The player farthest from the hole, regardless of position, is always entitled to play first. So if a golfer has 50-foot putt while another golfer is facing a 5-yard chip, the golfer on the green is entitled to play first. Note, there is no penalty for playing out of order. However, in match play, you can be made to replay your shot by your opponent if you don’t wait your turn.
MYTH: A ball that is touched and falls off the tee after it has been addressed counts as a stroke.
FACT: In most cases, it doesn’t count as a stroke and the ball should be re-teed without penalty. It counts as a stroke if the ball already was in play (if you whiffed on your first attempt, for example), or if you were making a stroke at the time the ball fell off the tee.
MYTH: In a scramble or other team format, you can stand on or close to an extension of your partner’s line of putt while he makes a stroke.
FACT: No one on your side, including caddies, can intentionally stand on or close to an extension of the line of putt during a stroke. Intentionally is the key word. If someone on your side was standing there inadvertently, there would be no penalty.
MYTH: If your ball is unplayable, you’re entitled to a drop in a spot that gives you a “playable” lie.
FACT: You have three options (under penalty of one stroke) if you declare a ball unplayable:
1. Replay the previous shot;
2. Drop a ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit how far behind that point the ball may be dropped;
3. Drop within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, no closer to the hole. Keep in mind that none of these options guarantee that you’ll be able to play from an unfettered position.
MYTH: When your ball, stance or swing is interfered with by a cart path (immovable obstruction), you always take relief on the side farthest away from the hole.
FACT: You have to locate the nearest spot off the cart path that allows you to stand and swing without interference and is not nearer the hole than the ball’s location. That spot could be on either side of the cart path depending on your ball’s position and the stroke you intend to make for your next shot. Once you determine where that spot is, you’re allowed to drop within one club-length of that spot, no closer to the hole.
By Ron Kaspriske for GolfDigest.com