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Dave Formichella
Phone: 908-415-3440

2019 USGA & GCNJ "Local Rules"


     In conjunction with our Rules Committee, Rob Mieczkowski and John Tricker, we have updated the Rules and GCNJ Rules. These Rules go along with the previous "local" rules listed below.

Rob and John are the decision makers on Rulings. If you have an inquiry or question, their emails are:

Rob -,
John -,,

- We are raising the maximum score from 4-over par to 5-over par.

- If you take a max of 5-over par you are NOT ELIGIBLE to win the gross portion of the
    event. To be considered for any gross title you must hole out your ball and use that

- If you take a maximum of 5-over par, in match-play, you lose any handicap strokes for
    that hole. The strokes are lost just for the match-play portion.

- In the event as to how to proceed should a Rules question arise on the course and you
    are unsure what the Rule is, we are encouraging players to play 2 balls and the Rules
    Committee will make a determination as to which ball is in play.

- Should you see a blatant disregard for the Rules (dropping balls, fluffing lies, purposeful
    cheating) and you are unsure as to how you should approach it... REACH OUT TO ROB,
    JOHN or MYSELF and we will address it.

- In the event that a player incurs a penalty that would, under the USGA Rules of Golf,
    result in a disqualification from the event we have instituted local rules as follows:

Individual Match Player forfeits match but is still in the stroke-play format, and must apply penalties as per below.
Any Two-Player Format Match Player forfeits participation in the remainder of the match but is still in the stroke-play format, and must apply penalties as per below.   

Two-Player Best ball - Player is DQ for that hole and records a max score. 
Two-Player Aggregate - Player records a max score for that hole, PLUS a 2-stroke penalty. 
Points Format Player gets -3 points.

If the reason for a DQ is willful and proven deliberate, then a DQ and swift exit from the club will apply.

The below Local Rules were instituted previously

     GCNJ LOCAL RULE: The GCNJ has adopted a "local rule" as follows: When preparing to make a stroke, a player accidentally causes the ball to move; OR a player accidentally drops their ball, which hits or moves the ball marker; OR a player accidentally drops their ball-marker, which hits and moves the ball OR; a player accidentally kicks and moves their ball on the green... THEN, in all instances, there is no penalty but the ball or marker must be replaced.
EXCEPTIONS: If a player intentionally moves their ball on the putting green without marking it OR a player accidentally moves their ball that is lying in the fairway, rough or bunker... THEN, in all instances, there is a 1-stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced.
MORE: You MUST mark your ball and replace your ball on the exact side of the marker that you originally set it down. You CANNOT move the ball forward, left or right, and need to keep the ball as close to where it settled.
EXCEPTION: If greens have aeration marks you ARE permitted to make sure the ball is not in an aeration hole and place it as close as possible to the original spot

   GCNJ LOCAL RULE: The GCNJ has adopted a "local rule" as follows: Information may be shared amongst TEAMMATES, regardless of the format for that weeks event. TEAMMATES are interpreted as follows: A player who is listed in the team standings as a member of your team and any of their guests for the week as well as a member of another team that you are teamed up with for the day. In the last instance that would be in a two-player format so it's legal anyway. There are many events where you will have a TEAMMATE in your cart with you and now regardless of the format for the week, it is permissible to provide information/advice. If the player in your cart is NOT on your team than discussing information/advice is not allowed. This rule is now in place for various reasons - the GCNJ plays a different course each week and typically we are bound to using cart paths only. Many groups I have played with in the league I often hear players discussing how far it is to this or that or to carry something over a hazard, etc. I never hear them ask a club selection, but many of these discussions are illegal anyway. The GCNJ feels that such information is more good than bad in that it encourages players/teammates to use course management and also with new courses on the schedule all the time we feel it will help to speed up play and to help in the camaraderie and sportsmanship of the league.

     GCNJ LOCAL RULE: The GCNJ in conjunction with the USGA's recent rulings has adopted two local rules for all events. First, the embedded ball rule is always in effect thru the green for all of our events. This means that if your ball is EMBEDDED anywhere on the golf course except in a hazard or bunker, you are entitled to relief as follows: a drop within ONE club length of the embedded ball and no nearer the hole without penalty. The second rule we have adopted allows players to remove stones in a bunker. This rule was adopted by the USGA last year allowing clubs to adopt a local rule to do so. We have. The procedure allows players to remove stones from the bunker; however, since the stones are interpreted as loose impediments, the ball shall not be moved in any way. The GCNJ has adopted this rule as well. Lastly, there have been some isolated reports of rule breaches brought to my attention and may I remind all players that the GCNJ adheres to the USGA Rules of Golf and I ask that each member does as well. If you see a breach of the rules it does not always mean that the player is cheating, rather they may not be sure as how to proceed. Should any such incidents arise, have the player play two balls and bring the  situation inside upon completion of play so that we may make a ruling on it. Thanks. 

     MATCH PLAY PICK-UP RULE: During match-play there has been some confusion regarding "picking-up" on a hole. The league rule is as follows: we ask players to pick-up for pace purposes only if they are out of the hole. If the hole you are playing is still in question regarding with no clear winner, you must continue to play out until the hole has been decided. If a player hits 2 balls OB off the tee and says I pick up and takes a max, and than his opponent gets on the tee and does the same after the first player already conceded, player 2 wins the hole. Also, when a player picks up, his handicap strokes are forfeited so he can not pick-up and take an 8 net 7 for his/her score. Once you pick-up, the hole is automatically awarded to your opponent regardless of what happens after that. 

USGA EXPLANATION ON STATUS OF "WASTE BUNKERS":  The Rules of Golf do not define such areas. By Definition, a bunker is a prepared area of ground from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or the like. On the other hand, a natural sandy area is not a hazard, and a player whose ball lies in such an area may ground his club lightly in, or remove loose impediments from, the area as the area is through the green. The PGA Tour Rules Committee identified a number of these areas around the Harbour Town Golf Links, referred to them as "waste areas" on their Local Rules sheet and treated them as areas through the green for the competition. It is a fact that the removal of loose impediments (in accordance with Rule 23-1) may incidentally cause the removal of a small amount of sand or similar material. However, if the player removes more sand or like material than would incidentally occur in the removal of such loose impediments and this action improves the lie of the ball, then a breach of Rule 13-2 occurs.

LATERAL WATER HAZARD: (DESIGNATED BY A RED STAKE): A player hits a shot into a red staked hazard. This is known as a lateral water hazard. The player has four options that he may consider. First, the player may play his ball from the hazard, being careful not to ground his club similar to being in a sand bunker, and incurring no penalty. Second the player may take relief from the hazard, marking two club lengths, no nearer the hole, from the edge of the hazard or from the red line if there is one, from the point at which the ball crossed into the hazard, not from where it currently lies, and incurring a one-shot penalty. Third, the player, after establishing the point that the ball crossed into the hazard, may take his ball from the hazard and go back as far as he would like, keeping the spot where the ball entered the hazard (not where it currently lies, rather where it first went in) between him and the hole and incurring a one-shot penalty. Lastly, the player may re-play his ball from the previous spot he just played from again incurring a one-shot penalty. Note: You must know without a reasonable doubt that your ball entered the hazard, you can not assume that your ball went into a hazard just because there is one in the area. If you do not know for sure that your ball went into the hazard than you have a lost ball and must proceed accordingly (see below).

     OUT OF BOUNDS: A player hits his tee shot, or any shot for that matter, out of bounds. (OB is clearly marked with a white stake). The player has only ONE option and that is to replay from the previous spot he just played from incurring a penalty of one-stroke. NOTE: If the player, after hitting his original shot into an area of uncertainty, puts a "provisional" ball into play at that time and gets up to the spot of his first ball and has no success finding it, than the provisional ball is now "in-play" with a one-stroke penalty. 

     LOST BALL: Player A hits his tee shot, or any shot for that matter, into an area of uncertainty and is unsure if his ball is safe or not. After spending NO MORE THAN 5 MINUTES searching it is determined that the ball is lost. The player's ONLY option upon discovering that his ball is lost is to return to the previous spot where the original ball was played from and re-play from there incurring a one-shot penalty. In this instance, and any others like it the player also should have played a "provisional" ball off the tee at the time he played his original shot into the uncertain area. If the player determines their original ball was lost, the provisional ball now becomes "in play" with a one-stroke penalty as well. The provisional ball also saves time rather than having to drive back to the original spot.



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