Clubs wishing to run competitions which are qualifying for handicap purposes in winter are facilitated in so doing by the availability of two Model Local Rules regarding Preferred Lies and Cleaning the Ball. Preferred lies can only be used in competitions when the Committee has introduced a local rule.
There are two local rules to guide Committees in permitting relief from winter conditions during the so-called ‘preferred lie period’ which is currently running and concludes on April 30th 2020.
During this period, these local rules ARE permitted in qualifying competitions.
- MLR E-3 Preferred Lies – this permits players to not only clean the ball, but also take a preferred lie within a specified relief area (CONGU limit max 6 inches), when a player’s ball lies in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less.
- MLR E-2 Cleaning the Ball – this is intended to permit players to clean and replace the ball throughout the general area (ie, including in the rough). This is not a preferred lie as the ball must be replaced on its original spot.
Competitions which are non-qualifying for handicap purposes
It is important to note that even when competitions are non-qualifying for handicap purposes, it is still required that these scores be recorded on the player’s handicap record.
Even for casual golf and for competitions which are not qualifying for handicapping purposes, it is still important for Committees to ensure that the rules of golf are followed. We strongly recommend Committees avoid using Local Rules that compromise the Rules of Golf for competitions that don’t qualify for handicapping purposes as this can lead to confusion for players. More importantly, a Committee may only seek assistance in interpreting the local rule from The R&A when a local rule is written using the language of the Model Local Rule section.
For guidance on Model Local Rules (MLR’s) that can be used by a Committee, refer to the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf. Below are examples of local rules that are either unnecessary or compromise the Rules of Golf.
Bunkers (“Rake and Place”): When a player’s ball lies in the bunker, permitting players to lift and clean the ball, rake the bunker and take a preferred lie is compromising the basic principles of the Rules of Golf.
Embedded ball: A local rule is not required at any time to allow relief for an embedded (ie, plugged) ball in the General Area as this is already covered by Rule 16.3b. Additionally, an embedded ball that cannot be found and is not known or virtually certain to be in an area of abnormal course conditions is a lost ball (see Rule 18.2).
Other Teeing Areas: Teeing areas other than the hole being played are deemed to be within the general area. Local rules requesting players to take relief from other teeing areas are not in compliance with the Rules of Golf.
• Committee Toolkit: https://www.randa.org/en/rog/2019/pages/resources-centre
• CONGU Unified Handicapping System: https://www.congu.co.uk/wp content/uploads/2019/06/2019-CONGU-Manual.pdf