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NCGA Golf Rules Quiz 2016


Rules Quiz

Continuing a tradition began in 2015, we present our second annual Rules Quiz. The questions are complex requiring a nuanced command of the Rules of Golf. The quiz also requires a Decisions on the Rules of Golf book (available on Some of the questions pertain to new rules and decisions implemented for 2016. 

1.  In singles match play, in a competition where distance-measuring devices are not permitted, a player  holes his second stroke from the fairway. In his excitement, he pulls out a distance-measuring device and measures the distance for his opponent’s second stroke from the fairway. Without being asked, he tells his opponent the yardage.  His opponent plays the stroke and fails to hole out. When they reach the putting green, the opponent makes a claim.  What is the ruling?

  • (a) The player wins the hole.
  • (b) The opponent wins the hole.
  • (c) The hole is halved.
  • (d) The player is disqualified for a breach of Rule 14-3.
Answer: C. In 2016 the penalty for a breach of Rule 14 -3 has been modified to a loss of hole in match play for the first breach, however, Rule 2-2 states that when the opponent is left with a stroke for the half and the player subsequently incurs a penalty, the hole is halved.

2. A player is sharing his fellow-competitor’s towel and places it on the fringe near the putting green.  He then hits his putt which rolls past the hole and onto the towel. Not knowing what to do, he plays the ball from off of the towel and into the hole.  How many penalty strokes does the player incur?

  • (a) 0.
  • (b) 1.
  • (c) 2.
  • (d) 3.
Answer: D. The Definition of equipment states that any shared equipment is deemed to be the equipment of the player who last used, wore, held or carried it.  Since the player was the last person to use the towel, it was his equipment and he incurred a penalty stroke under Rule 19-2.  However, Rule 19-2 does not permit the player to play from off of the equipment if it comes to rest in or on it, so when the player played from off the towel he incurred the additional general penalty of two strokes for a breach of Rule 19.

3. In a 36-hole four-ball stroke-play competition, A and B are partners. On the 5th hole of the first round, A scores a 5 and B scores a 6, however, player A grounded her club in a bunker and did not include the penalty in her score because she did not know it was a penalty.  A and B sign and return their score card with a 5 for A and a 6 for B. That evening, A learns that she should have incurred a penalty for grounding her club in the bunker and informs the Committee.  What is the ruling?

  • (a) The side scores a 6 for the hole.
  • (b) The side scores a 7 for the hole.
  • (c) The side scores a 9 for the hole.
  • (d) The side is disqualified.
Answer: C. See Decision 31-6/1.  Because A’s score was to count for the hole, the Committee must include the penalty for the breach of Rule 13-4 and an additional two-stroke penalty as provided in the Exception to Rule 6-6d.  The Rules do not allow the side to revert to B’s score after the score card has been returned.

4. In individual stroke play, a player hits his tee shot toward a lateral water hazard.  Solely in belief that the ball might be in the water hazard, he announces a provisional ball and plays it to the fairway.  When he arrives at the hazard, he finds and picks up his ball in the water hazard and drops it in accordance with Rule 26-1b and plays it on to the putting green.  He then picks up the second ball in the fairway, which was lying about 10 yards directly left of where he dropped, and completes the hole with two putts.  What is his score for the hole?

  • (a) 7.
  • (b) 8.
  • (c) 9.
  • (d) If the player fails to correct his mistake prior to playing from the next teeing ground, he is disqualified.
ContentAnswer: B. A ball played from the tee solely in belief the original might be lost in a water hazard is not a provisional ball and becomes the ball in play under penalty of stroke and distance (Decision 27-2a/2). Therefore, when he found the original he was supposed to proceed with the second ball played from the tee.  When he played the original ball he found in the water hazard, he incorrectly substituted a ball (because he lifted and dropped it) and played from a wrong place, with a total penalty of two strokes for the breach of Rule 13-1. As the breach was not a serious one, he was required to complete the hole with the substituted ball and did not need to correct the mistake. He does not incur a penalty stroke under Rule 26 for relief from the water hazard, because that Rule does not apply to the situation. There were three penalty strokes with five actual strokes for a total of eight. goes here

5. A player hits her tee shot into a lateral water hazard directly adjacent to a bunker.  Prior to dropping in the bunker within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard, the player removes twigs and leaves from the area in the bunker where she intends to drop the ball.  She drops the ball and plays to the green. She then completes the hole with two putts. What is her score for the hole?

  • (a) 5.
  • (b) 6.
  • (c) 7.
  • (d) 8.
Answer: A. There is no penalty for removing loose impediments in the area where she is to drop the ball, even though the area is in a bunker because the ball did not originally lie in and was not lifted from the bunker

6. A player plays from the teeing ground into a water hazard.  He decides to proceed under Rule 26-1b and drops a ball on a line keeping the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard between the flagstick and where the ball is dropped.  The spot happens to be on the teeing ground.  Without realizing this, he moves the ball out of a small depression and plays the ball from a new spot that is within the teeing ground.  How many penalty strokes does the player incur?

  • (a) 1.
  • (b) 2.
  • (c) 3.
  • (d) The player is disqualified if he does not correct the mistake prior to playing from the next teeing ground.
Answer: A. Stroke and distance penalty only. Rule 20-5 permits the player to play the ball from anywhere within the teeing ground.  Even though the player intended to proceed under a Rule which did not permit him to move the ball once it was dropped, Rule 20-5 and 27-1 override in this case.

7. A player’s tee shot comes to rest in a lateral water hazard in a playable position.  The player plays the ball from in the hazard over the putting green and out of bounds. The player drops a new ball at the spot of his previous stroke.  The dropped ball embeds so that it is nearly unplayable.  How may the player proceed?

  • (a) The player is entitled to relief for the embedded ball and he may proceed under Rule 25-2 without penalty by dropping the ball as nearly as possible to the spot where the ball embedded, no nearer the hole.
  • (b) The player may put a ball into play from the teeing ground, incurring only one penalty stroke.
  • (c) The player may declare the ball unplayable and proceed under any option under Rule 28 incurring a total of two penalty strokes.
  • (d) The player may drop a ball from within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard on the tee shot, no nearer the hole, incurring a total of two penalty strokes.
Answer: D. See Rule 26-2.

8. A player’s tee shot on a long par-three comes to rest overhanging the lip of the hole. He marks, lifts and replaces the ball. Before he can remove the ball-marker but after the ball was at rest, a gust of wind blows the ball into the hole. He replaces the ball on the lip and taps it into the hole.  What is his score for the hole?

  • (a) 1.
  • (b) 2.
  • (c) 3.
  • (d) 4.
Answer: B. See the Definition of Ball in Play, Rule 20-4, Decision 20-3d/1 and Decision 16-2/0.5.  The player is deemed to have holed out with his previous stroke and must add one penalty stroke to his score under Rule 16-2.

9. In stroke play, a player uses a long putter and intentionally grabs his loose sweater in his gripping hand during multiple strokes, but does not press the hand or clothing directly against his body.  What is the ruling?

(a) There is no penalty.

(b) The player incurs a single two-stroke penalty for the breach of Rule 14-1b.

(c) The player incurs a two-stroke penalty for each stroke made in breach of Rule 14-1b.

(d) The player is disqualified for a breach of Rule 14-3.

Answer: D. Intentionally using a gripping hand to hold an article of clothing while making a stroke is a breach of Rule 14-3, see Decision 14-1b/7.  Although the penalty for a breach of Rule 14-3 was modified in 2016, since the Rule was breached on multiple occasions for multiple strokes, the player is disqualified under Rule 14-3, see Decision 14-3/20.


Author: Scott Seward

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  • Paul vieth

    On question 7, how do we know that rule Rule 20-5 and 27-1 override in this case vs once dropped ball is in play ? 20-5 says it must be played from within the teeing ground, and he can play from anywhere in the teeing ground, but there is nothing that says once he drops and therefore is in play, he can move it to anywhere in the teeing ground ? I dont see a decision that clarifies this either ?

    • Ryan Farb

      You need a series of things to get there. 1)Definition of Ball in Play states a ball is in play when a player has made a stroke on the teeing ground. 2)Rule 20-5, the ball to be played must be played from within the teeing ground and 3)27-1 if a player makes a stroke at a ball from the spot at which the original was last played, he is deemed to have proceeded under stroke and distance.

      In essence, the player gets lucky that he did these actions on the teeing ground. Since he made the stroke from the previous spot in accordance with the Rules, Rule 27-1 deems that he has proceeded under stroke and distance. If this sequence of events occurred anywhere other than the teeing ground, there would be additional penalty strokes involved.

  • Amos Germain

    Valuable comments , I learned a lot from the insight ! Does anyone know where I might be able to get ahold of a sample a form example to complete ?

  • Stewart Jones

    Excellent quiz, some very nice sleight of hand. I have a couple of points/questions.
    Q1. In my view, if the player had merely used the DMD after he had holed out with his approach shot and kept his mouth shut, the opponent would have had no basis to claim – the player would have won the hole. Similarly, if he had only blurted out the yardage after the opponent’s shot. The reasoning is there would have been no assistance or impact on play. This would be similar to asking an opponent what club he hit after player and opponent had played their approach shots.
    Q4. I agree with the penalties, but suggest the reason for the 2 shot penalty is better identified as a breach of R15-2 and R20-7, rather than R13-1. This would be more consistent with the explanation (which I support) “he incorrectly substituted a ball…and played from a wrong place”.
    I’d welcome any NCGA comment on these observations.

    • Ryan Farb

      Q1: You have a valid point about whether the action might actually assist the player in his play. Where the line is drawn is debatable and does not have a final answer.
      Q4: Both Rules 15-2 and 20-7 refer you to the “applicable Rule” for the penalty. The applicable Rule in this case is Rule 13-1 which requires the player to play the ball as it lies and does not permit the player to substitute or play from a different spot. For both 15-2 and 20-7 you never incur the general penalty under those Rules, you incur them under the Rule that either did not permit the substitution or required you to play from somewhere different than where you played from.

  • Stewart Jones

    For Q6, I’d like to propose a more general principle to extract further education from this interesting question: if a ball is being put into play on the teeing ground, it is not in play until a stroke has been made at the ball, and this applies even if the player had previously put a ball into play from that tee but that previous ball is no longer in play. Consequently, as per Q6, the ball dropped on the teeing ground is not yet in play (even though the player’s intent had been to operate under a different rule) and he is free to move the ball or even tee the ball up (D20-5/1 covering the tee up option) within the teeing ground.
    This contrasts with the situation where the ball on the teeing ground is already in play and moving the ball would incur a breach, for example see D11-3/1 where a player initially has an air swing, so the ball is in play, and then accidentally nudges the ball off the tee, incurring a penalty under R18-2. As another example, if a player’s tee shot hits a tree and rebounds back onto the teeing ground, the ball must be played as it lies (R13).
    Do I have all this correct?

  • Stewart Jones

    I’ve found the 2015 version of this quiz on the website (ncga winter 2015 publication), which also contains the answers but not the explanations (as per the webpage above). Can a link be provided to the explanations of the 2015 solutions please.

    • Ryan Farb

      I do not have that link available anymore. If you have any specific questions please email me. One reason is that some of the explanations may not match with the current Rules of Golf any more, so to avoid confusion only the 2016 Quiz has the explanations left. The 2015 Quiz is only available as an archive of previous Rules Articles.