Ask the Rules Guy: Spider webs and double-greens

Ask the Rules Guy: Spider webs and double-greens


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DEAR RULES GUY: In preparing for a shot, I brushed away a spider web suspended between two low-hanging branches. My pal said I should be penalized because the web was 'fixed' to the tree. Was he right?
Paul Fellows, Kirksville, Mo.

Oh, what a tangled web your friend did weave, though I’m not sure he was trying to deceive. In fact, his instincts were right, if a tad misguided. A spider and its web are loose impediments (just like other natural objects such as leaves or worms). And while it is illegal to remove impediments that are fixed or growing, Decision 23/5.5 makes an exception for spider webs, stating they are akin to 'a cast made by an insect … even if attached to another object,' and are therefore moveable. And you thought Rules Guy wasn’t web savvy.

During a recent round I managed to hole out my approach shot to a double-green shared by the ninth and 18th holes. Problem was, I was playing the ninth hole at the time and my ball dropped into the hole designated for No. 18. What’s the ruling?

Mark Lynch, Loretto, Pa.

U.S. Open buffs might recall that Tom Byrum faced a similar scenario last June at Oakmont, where the ninth green shares real estate with the practice green. In the first round, Byrum’s approach ran through the green at No. 9 and into a hole on the practice green. Under Decision 16/7, the practice-green hole was by definition Ground Under Repair, so Byrum placed his ball on the closest point of relief no nearer the hole and two-putted for a career par. You should have done the same, and if you three-putted, don’t sweat it: career bogeys make for good stories, too. Career double-bogeys? Keep those to yourself.