To enhance your experience at Erin Hills, it is helpful to understand specific rules of the game of golf and how they apply during your round here. Reading the discussion that follows provides preparation should you encounter similar situations during your round. There will be four new questions posted each month. Many address specific situations that could occur at Erin Hills, and some address more general situations covered by the Rules of Golf. By learning the appropriate actions to take, you will appreciate this great game even more.
The answers are provided by John Morrissett, the Competitions Director at Erin Hills. John is the former Director, Rules of Golf for the United States Golf Association. The answers reflect his opinion and are not necessarily official rulings by the R&A or USGA.
Question: In a stroke play competition at Erin Hills, Mickey loses track of time while warming up and as a result shows up at the 1st tee at 9:02, missing his 9:00 starting time. What is the ruling?
Answer: Mickey incurs two penalty strokes, which will be added to his score for the 1st hole. If he did not arrive at the 1st tee until after 9:05 (i.e., more than five minutes late), he would have been disqualified. (Rule 6-3a)
Question: With her second shot on the par-3 9th at Erin Hills, Kelly fails to extricate her ball from the greenside bunker, and the ball rolls against her foot. What is the ruling?
Answer: Kelly incurs one penalty stroke for her ball’s accidentally being deflected by her. She must play the ball as it lies. If, when Kelly removes her foot, the ball moves, there is no additional penalty, and she would replace the ball.
Question: Mickey missed the 18th green at Erin Hills long and left, leaving him a challenging recovery shot. His pitch shot fails to reach the green, and the ball rolls back towards him. Frustrated, he places his foot in front of the ball and stops it. If he had not stopped the ball, the ball would have rolled a few more feet. What is the ruling?
Answer: Mickey loses the hole in match play or incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play for intentionally influencing the movement of his ball. In stroke play he must play the ball from where he stopped it. If, when Mickey removes his foot, the ball moves, there is no additional penalty, and he would replace the ball. This situation is different from the previous one with Kelly where she accidentally stopped her ball in motion as there are different rulings for accidental and intentional stopping of a ball in motion. (Rule 1-2)
Question: Kelly is placing red lateral water hazard stakes around the pond between the 8th and 9th holes at Erin Hills. What is the ruling if a water hazard is not marked (i.e., there are no stakes or lines)?
Answer: The Rules require the Committee to define the margins of water hazards and do not provide a clear ruling when the Committee fails in this responsibility. Without hazard stakes or a hazard line, a player does not know (1) what type of water hazard (water hazard or lateral water hazard) is involved and (2) where the hazard margin is. The latter point is important so the player can know his reference point for taking relief as well as whether his ball actually lies in the water hazard (e.g., if he has interference from a culvert, he is entitled to relief without penalty if his ball lies outside the hazard but not if his ball lies in the hazard). (Rule 33-2a)