Often times the rules can be tedious or irrelevant for most players just enjoying a casual round of golf. Most of the time it is often recommended that if you are not keeping your handicap to discard some of the rules to keep up with the pace of play. An example of this would be losing your ball off the tee. The way the USGA rules are written, you would need to head back to the teeing area and hit again from that spot. Since 99% of golfers do not have “Spotters” or Spectators watching for these incoming shots, it is oftentimes considered okay to drop a ball in an area near where you think you lost it, take a 1-shot penalty, and move on. It will save a tremendous amount of headaches each and every round and keep your round moving along.
However, there are times when the rules are a must. What if you don’t know them? What if you are playing in your club championship or member/guest and encounter a situation that you are not sure how to handle? What if there is not a rules official nearby?
Enter Rule 3-3: Doubt as to Procedure. At the end of the article is the full definition. Thanks to the USGA for providing this information. (To see the full rule book please visit their website at http://www.usga.org)
The simple definition of this rule is that, in Stroke Play, you are allowed to play a second ball if you are not sure of how to proceed in a particular situation. Take the necessary steps for full relief (i.e. A Drop or Placement of the Ball) and play the ball until it is holed. Also, you must play the original ball until that is holed. If you score the same then it won’t matter but if the scores are different make sure you get the correct ruling BEFORE you sign your scorecard.
Knowing some rules can be vital to playing successful golf, especially tournament golf, on the local and state levels where there will most likely not be rules officials in close proximity. When in doubt, Rule 3-3 can be an extremely helpful rule to make sure you and your fellow competitors are keeping in line with the USGA Rules of Golf.
3-3. Doubt As To Procedure
In stroke play, if a competitor is doubtful of his rights or the correct procedure during the play of a hole, he may, without penalty, complete the hole with two balls.
After the doubtful situation has arisen and before taking further action, the competitor must announce to his marker or fellow-competitor that he intends to play two balls and which ball he wishes to count if the Rules permit.
The competitor must report the facts of the situation to the Committee before returning his scorecard. If he fails to do so, he is disqualified.
Note: If the competitor takes further action before dealing with the doubtful situation, Rule 3-3 is not applicable. The score with the original ball counts or, if the original ball is not one of the balls being played, the score with the first ball put into play counts, even if the Rules do not allow the procedure adopted for that ball. However, the competitor incurs no penalty for having played a second ball, and any penalty strokes incurred solely by playing that ball do not count in his score.
b. Determination of Score for Hole
(i) If the ball that the competitor selected in advance to count has been played in accordance with the Rules, the score with that ball is the competitor’s score for the hole. Otherwise, the score with the other ball counts if the Rules allow the procedure adopted for that ball.
(ii) If the competitor fails to announce in advance his decision to complete the hole with two balls, or which ball he wishes to count, the score with the original ball counts, provided it has been played in accordance with the Rules. If the original ball is not one of the balls being played, the first ball put into play counts, provided it has been played in accordance with the Rules. Otherwise, the score with the other ball counts if the Rules allow the procedure adopted for that ball.
Note 1: If a competitor plays a second ball under Rule 3-3, the strokes made after this Rule has been invoked with the ball ruled not to count and penalty strokes incurred solely by playing that ball are disregarded.
Note 2: A second ball played under Rule 3-3 is not a provisional ball under Rule 27-2.