Originally there were only 13 rules of golf drawn up in 1744 by the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers in Scotland, the first organized golf society.
Despite claiming to be a "fun" league, we are also a competitive league in the sense that money prizes and bragging rights are awarded to "placing" teams, and individuals, at our annual banquet. This can only be fairly achieved if there are rules and regulations. It doesn't actually matter what the rules are, just so long as we are ALL playing by the same set.
Our, very condensed, rules are:
THE STROKE A stroke is the forward movement of the club, intending to hit the ball. If you stop the club halfway down your forward motion, it is not considered a stroke because you no longer intended to hit the ball (just like a checked swing in baseball). However, if you swing through, it is a stroke even if you miss the ball. There is no penalty if the ball is nudged off or falls off a tee before the stroke begins.
HAZARDS Any body or ditch, even if there is no water in it, marked by YELLOW or RED stakes or lines is considered a hazard. Examples include the pond on 4, the swamps on 1, 7 and 8, the area on 5, and the stream on 9.
There are three kinds of hazards and they are now referred to as "penalty areas" in the official rules:
Water hazard: A lake, pond, or stream, lying between you and your path to the green. You have to hit your ball over it. If your ball goes into the hazard, you can pull it out and drop it as far back as you want, but you must keep the hazard between you and the hole, taking one penalty stroke (Example: RED stakes on holes 5 and 9). NOTE ON HOLE 4: (League Rule) – If your ball lands in the water, we have defined a DROP ZONE area at the bottom of the hill, measuring two-club lengths beyond the unplayable edge of the water hazard AND in an approximate line between the tee box and the green. You will not be required to hit over the water twice unless you choose to hit a provisional ball (see notes below). One drop stroke or provisional penalties apply. Lateral water hazard: One that generally runs parallel to the hole (Holes 1, 7 and 8). Since you can't drop behind it, you must drop within two club lengths outside the point where your ball last crossed the hazard, or you can drop in the same way on the opposite side of the hazard, as long as it is no closer to the hole. Either way, you tack on an extra stroke. Again, this hazard is marked with RED stakes. If your ball is within the confines of a hazard and you can play it, you may choose to do so without penalty. The rules changed of a couple of years ago now say that you may ground your club, that is, let it rest on the ground. And you may even remove loose stuff like branches and stuff that might impede your swing, as long as the ball is not moved.
Sand Trap (or bunker): You can't drop out of it. You are required to play out of it. However, unlike penalty areas - you may NOT touch the sand with your club before hitting the ball.
OUT OF BOUNDS White stakes indicate the areas that are out of bounds (Holes 6 & 7). The entire ball must lie out of bounds to be considered as such. If part of it is in bounds, you can play it if possible, but you must not move stakes, walls or fences to hit the ball, even if they interfere with your swing. If your ball is in bounds, you may stand out of bounds to hit the ball. If your ball goes out of bounds, YOU MUST COUNT THE STROKE AND REPLAY THE SHOT FROM THE ORIGINAL LOCATION, adding a penalty stroke. This is called the stroke and distance penalty. You count the stroke, lose the distance, and add another stroke. In other words, you go back to where you originally hit the ball and do it all over again. In the case of a drive, you go back to the tee and hit it again, but you now have just hit your third shot.
Provisional Ball: If you even remotely think your ball is out of bounds (Holes 6 & 7) you should hit a provisional ball (IMPORTANT IN 2023 - FOR PACE OF PLAY). This will save you the trouble of going back to where you just hit it from and doing it again. You must announce that you are going to hit a provisional ball. Technically, if you don't announce it, then the provisional ball is supposed to become the ball in play, even if the first ball is found and playable, with the same penalty of stroke and distance. When you hit a provisional ball and the first ball is out of bounds or can't be found, you play the provisional with the stroke and distance penalty. If you find that the first ball is actually in play, then pick up the provisional and play the first ball with no penalty.
LOST BALL There will be times when you simply cannot locate your ball. You must limit your search to no more than three minutes to keep a reasonable pace of play (USGA rule).
It is important, and courteous, to spot the other player's ball and watch it until it stops rolling. You will appreciate this when someone else does it for you.
If you absolutely can't find your ball, please choose one of the following options (League/Local Rules applied):
Replay the shot again, from the original location, stroke and distance penalties apply
Drop in the nearest vicinity in the ROUGH and take one penalty stroke
Drop in the nearest vicinity in the FAIRWAY with a two-stroke penalty
NOTE #1: The lost ball rule does not apply to areas designated as OUT OF BOUNDS. The OUT OF BOUNDS rule applies in that situation. NOTE #2: The lost ball rule does not apply to areas designated as HAZARDS. See the HAZARDS section for more information. NOTE #3: When in doubt, play a provisional ball to ensure an adequate pace of play. (See notes on provisional balls above)
UNPLAYABLE LIE If you hit the ball into an inaccessible place NOT considered a hazard, like thorny bushes, it's considered an “unplayable lie”. The player is the sole judge of whether or not it's unplayable and has three choices:
Drop the ball within two club lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but no closer to the hole.
Try again from the original location.
Drop the ball as far back as you want from the point where the ball lay, keeping that point between you and the hole, if possible.
PENALTY: In each case, you have to count the original stroke and add a penalty stroke.
THE PUTTING GREEN
Please be aware of the other player's balls on the green and conscious of the "lines" as it is inconsiderate to step on another player's line.
You have the option of leaving the pin in the hole, or removing it, when you are putting. It is your choice.
Please NOTE that, in “Match Play”, there are no penalties for hitting another person’s ball on the putting green. The player whose ball was hit simply places the ball back in the original location. This differs from traditional “Stroke Play” rules.
GROUND UNDER REPAIR (G.U.R) Areas that are under repair are usually roped off or have some sign indicating that it is such. Club management tends to make areas that are "off-limits" very obvious so that players do not cause further damage by playing out of them. If you hit into an area considered "ground under repair", it is a free lift to the NEAREST point of relief outside of the G.U.R area, but no closer to the hole, without penalty.
CART PATHS, FENCES, AND OTHER IMMOVABLE, MAN-MADE OBSTRUCTIONS: If your ball lands on a cart path OR if the obstruction interferes with your stance and/or ability to take a full swing, you may move it to the NEAREST point of FULL relief, but no closer to the hole, without penalty. For the purposes of our league, stone walls from colonial days are not considered man-made obstructions, please choose another appropriate rule for that situation.
PREFERRED LIES: We do allow for "preferred lies" in the FAIRWAY ONLY. This means that if you are in the fairway and don't like how your ball is lying (for example, you are in someone else's divot) you can move your ball up to one club length to achieve a better lie without advancing your position (Groton CC rule). NOTE: This does not apply to the rough or sand traps.
STANDING/CASUAL WATER: Very wet (and mushy) areas, usually in the spring or after heavy rain, that are in the fairway or otherwise playable areas, are referred to as "casual" water. This occurs often on holes 7 and 8. This situation allows for a free lift, dropping within a club length of the NEAREST point of relief, but no closer to the hole.
Please recognize that there are USGA Rules, Local (Groton CC) Club Rules, AND our Ladies League Rules and this may result in slight differences from professional golf rules. If a situation arises, not covered by our league rules, then USGA or Groton CC rules apply. Please feel free to bring any questions, or match disagreements, you may have to Nancy or Shawn. Shawn ultimately gets the final say.