Ask The Rules Guy: Casual Water, Too Many Clubs and Loose Impediments

TIP FROM THE RULES GUY: If your club is attached to your bag, it's considered in your bag.
Jason Riash


Dear Rules Guy: I always arrive at the course with two putters. After practicing, I select the one I want to use that day, strapping the second one behind my bag on the cart. During a recent match, my opponent tried to penalize me for having 15 clubs; I protested that I was only using the 14 clubs in the bag. Who's right?
–Peter, via e-mail

Pretty sneaky, Pete. Better hope you're never paired with TSA agents. Since the second putter is essentially attached to your bag, you're in possession of it, which means that you are carrying 15 clubs. The penalty? Loss of two holes, per Decision 4-4a/9. So if you'd been, say, all-square through six, you're now 2-down.


Rules Guru: My shot rolled to the edge of a water hazard but was playable. Unfortunately, it had come to rest next to a huge bullfrog! When I got closer, the frog jumped back into the pond, and my ball went with him. What's the ruling?
–David Nelson, Canton, N.Y.

I'm really not surprised the frog freaked—"bullies" are often afraid of confrontation. According to Rule 18-1, the frog is considered an "outside agency," so you get away with this one. You may replace your ball on the edge of the water without a penalty.


Rules Man: One windy day, a large leaf settled over the hole as my putt was headed right for the cup. My ball landed on the leaf and stopped on it, suspended directly over the hole! I couldn't remove the leaf without disturbing the ball, but if the leaf hadn't been there, the ball would have dropped. Is this a two-putt?
–Mark C. Nahmias, Tulsa, Okla.

If the leaf was in motion when your ball came to rest on it, Rule 19-1b requires the putt to be replayed. If the leaf was still, it's considered a loose impediment, and you can lift the ball, remove the leaf and replace the ball on the closest spot to where it would have come to rest (i.e., the lip). So at least you have a tap-in.


Hey, Rules Dude: My partner's ball landed between the cart path and a tree. She took relief to avoid the path, but this gave her relief from the tree, too. I called foul. Was I right?
–Becky Allan, via e-mail

My, you're quite the stickler, aren't you, Becky? (Are you wearing the other half of my amulet?) But you need to brush up on rules concerning free drops. Decision 24-2b/7 allows a penalty-free drop from the cart path. If she then no longer has interference from the tree, that's just a bonus.

Got a Rules question?

Of course you do! Whatever it may be, send yours to [email protected] and the question may be answered in an upcoming issue of Golf Magazine. Until then, play by the Rules!