A Rules Change From The USGA

A couple of weeks ago, Stuart Cink was disqualified from the Zurich Classic for one of the most bizarre rules violations ever. During the third round, he hit a ball out of a fairway bunker into a greenside bunker some yards away. Cink left the original bunker, and his caddy raked it before he hit his next shot.

Not good. Cink didn’t think about it at the time, but later—after he had signed his scorecard—he realized the error. He should have taken a two shot penalty, and so was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Even The GolfBlogger—a certifiable rules junkie—had not thought about that one. You see, he’d never actually gotten out of a hazard, so he still couldn’t test the conditions. And having a caddy rake is testing teh conditions.

Fortunately, the USGA has acted on the incident—and this no longer is considered an offense. It’s now not considered testing if you are in a similar, but different hazard.

Good. Now if they will just reverse the stroke-and-distance rule for lost balls and go back to the old rule of stroke only.


It seems that from 1961 to 1968, you could drop a ball within two club lengths of where a ball went out of bounds, or where it seemed lost, and take a stroke penalty.

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2 thoughts on “A Rules Change From The USGA”

  1. So that last paragraph—being new to the game, the old rule was stroke only for a lost ball?  And you think it should go back to that?  Would you include stroke only for O.B. then? 

    Most guys I play with play stroke only for O.B. or lost, simply for times sake.  But at the same time, if people are unsure about either when they make the shot, they usually hit a provisional, and then count the penalty the right way.

    As far as O.B. goes, I find it very frustrating when I have a fade which is exaggerated because of wind, and I end 5 feet out of bounds, and cannot just move the ball inbounds and take a penalty for it.

  2. I put a clarification above. The rule has not been in effect since 1968, when, given reasonable evidence, you could drop within two club lengths and take a penalty stroke.

    That’s the way most people today play anyway. I have seen VERY few in nontournament play use the distance part. I think the USGA should return to this stroke only as a local rule. That is, it coul dbe in effect on every golf couse in America, but not be used in tournaments, when the local rules can be changed.


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