Always check local rules

When playing a new golf course or in a tournament away from your own course, it’s always a wise idea to check the scorecard or the rules sheet to check if there are special local rules that may modify the Rules of Golf.

I bet Dustin Johnson wishes he had read the local rules closer when he was penalized two strokes for grounding his club in a bunker on the last hole of the 2012 PGA Championship.

Watching the back-to-back U.S. Opens at Pinehurst No. 2 last summer, you saw golf professionals getting relief from sprinkler heads if their approach shots were within two-club lengths of the green. For major events, relief also is given for interference by temporary obstructions such as grandstands.

In muddy conditions after a rain, you may be allowed to lift, clean and place your ball—usually within a club length, but no closer to the hole. Sometimes your ball must be in a closely mown area, not the rough.

On courses where there may be stones in the bunkers that may represent a danger to players, you may be allowed to remove them by declaring they are movable obstructions, not loose impediments.

On courses where power lines come into play, you may be required to cancel that shot and replay the stroke if your ball hits one of them.

When environmentally sensitive areas are defined as ground under repair, you may take relief without penalty. However, there may be cases where these areas are declared out of bounds or a lateral hazard and applicable penalties would apply. In some cases, you are not even allowed to enter these environmentally sensitive areas.
Here are some other local rules that can be used:

*Designated drop areas may be used along with other options after hitting into a water hazard.

*Relief can be taken if your ball ends up in an aeration hole or from seams of cut turf.

*Relief can be taken from newly planted or staked trees.

*Relief can be taken from an immovable obstruction like a fan used on some courses to circulate air to a green.

*Play of a provisional ball may be permitted if there is a water hazard of such character that, if the original ball is not found, it is known or virtually certain that it is in the hazard.

*Relief may be granted from roads and paths not having artificial surfaces, but like on the 17th hole at the St. Andrews Old Course, a road may also be declared an integral part of the course.

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