Friday, February 22

The Rules Geek: Snow and Ice on the Golf Course

Editor’s note: The Rules Geek is an occasional feature at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

(Courtesy of The Massie Boy)
AS MANY OF YOU KNOW, THE OPENING round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship was suspended on Wednesday due to the unusual occurrence of snow in the Tuscon area. If you have ever encountered (or wondered about) snow or ice in the course of play, today the USGA published an explanation of options, according to the Rules of Golf.

"The Rules of Golf define snow and natural ice, other than frost, as either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player," wrote Mike Charrie, USGA Rules of Golf Associate.

The player needs to determine his or her best option: moving the snow or ice, or taking relief at the nearest point of relief.

Option 1, Rule 23-1:
USGA's Charrie: If a player wishes to remove the snow and natural ice, he would simply deem it as a loose impediment, and proceed under Rule 23-1 (Loose Impediments). Under this Rule, he is entitled to lift, move or remove the loose impediment(s) as he sees fit, as long as his ball does not move. This option would be beneficial to the player if he likes the lie of his ball, his line of play and distance to the hole (particularly on the putting green). However, if the ball and the snow or natural ice lie in the same bunker or water hazard, the player cannot move or remove the snow and ice without penalty.
Option 2, Rule 25-1:
USGA's Charrie: If a player has interference as defined by Rule 25-1 (Abnormal Ground Conditions), and he wishes to take relief from the snow and natural ice, he could simply deem it as casual water and proceed under this Rule. The player would determine his nearest point of relief, lift his ball and drop it within one club-length of his nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole, as described in Rule 25-1b. This option could be beneficial to the player if he does not like the position of his ball for the next stroke. Taking relief may give the player a better angle to the hole or a better line of play.
The Rules Geek realizes that most people don't play golf in snow or ice, or get caught in a freak winter storm while knocking it about. But if it happens to you, now you know the rules.

The Rules Geek sez rules were made to be followed. Got a rules-related tip or story? Send it to The Rules Geek at

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1 comment:

Brian Kuehn said...

When you walk on snow in golf spikes the snow builds up on your soles until you are almost walking on platform shoes. And a ball putted on a green covered in a light coating of snow rolls into a tire-like snow ball until it falls over on its side. Of course I never actually experienced these situations. A friend told me about this. Yeah, that's right, a friend told me.