The Rules of Golf define the Committee as the person or group in charge of a competition or the course. The Committee is essential to the proper playing of the game. Committees have the responsibility of running the course on a day-to-day basis or for a specific competition and it should always act in ways that support the Rules of Golf. This part of the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf provides guidance to Committees in fulfilling this role.While many of the duties of a Committee are specific to running organized competitions, an important part of the Committee’s duties relates to its responsibility for the course during general or every day play.
Even when a competition is not being contested, it is still important for the Committee to ensure that the Rules of Golf can be followed by golfers playing casual rounds or playing their own competitions. This type of play is referred to as general play throughout the Committee Procedures.During general play, the structure of the Committee is often more informal than in competitions, and in many cases the responsibilities of the Committee will be delegated to or undertaken by one or more course representatives, such as the golf professional, course manager or other employee of the course. The duties of this Committee include:
Ensuring the course is properly marked (Section 2),
Establishing any Local Rules for general play (Section 3),
Establishing and enforcing Pace of Play and Code of Conduct guidelines (Section 4A),
Considering when to suspend play because of weather or other conditions (Section 4B), and
Providing Rules support for players when they have a question regarding general play (Section 4C).
When in charge of a competition, the Committee has responsibilities before, during and after play to ensure the smooth running of the competition under the Rules.The resources available to a Committee will differ depending on the course or the level of competition, and so a Committee may not be able to implement every recommended practice. Where this is the case, the Committee will need to decide its priorities for each competition.The period before the competition begins is arguably the most important to ensure the smooth running of the competition. The Committee’s duties during this period may include:
Setting the Terms of the Competition (Section 5A),
Reviewing and adjusting the course marking (Section 5B),
Reviewing Local Rules and establishing any additional Local Rules (Section 5C),
Determining eligibility requirements for players with disabilities to use Rule 25 (Section 5D),
Defining if and where players may practise on the course (Section 5E),
Determining the teeing areas and hole locations to be used (Section 5F),
Establishing and publishing the draw for match play or groups for stroke play and the starting times (Section 5G),
Defining Pace of Play and Code of Conduct policies (Sections 5H and 5I), and
Preparing materials for players and referees (Section 5J).
Once the competition has started, the Committee is responsible for ensuring that players have the information needed to play under the Rules and to assist them in applying the Rules:
Providing information to players so they are aware of any applicable Local Rules, Pace of Play or Code of Conduct polices, as well as other important information such as which teeing areas to use and where holes are located (Section 6A),
Marking the course and refreshing those markings as needed is an ongoing task for which the Committee is responsible.A well-marked course allows a player to play by the Rules and helps to eliminate confusion for players. For example, a player may not know how to proceed if a pond (penalty area) is not marked.
A Local Rule is a modification of a Rule or an additional Rule that the Committee adopts for general play or a particular competition. The Committee is responsible for deciding whether to adopt any Local Rules and for making sure they are consistent with the principles found in Section 8. The Committee needs to make sure that any Local Rules are available for players to see, whether on the scorecard, a separate handout, a notice board or the course's website.Local Rules that may be adopted for general play fall into the following general categories:
Defining Course Boundaries and other Areas of the Course (Sections 8A-8D),
Defining Special Relief Procedures (Section 8E), and
Defining Abnormal Course Conditions and Integral Objects (Section 8F).
A full listing of Model Local Rules can be found at the start of Section 8.See Section 5C for other types of Local Rules that are more commonly adopted for competitions than for general play.
The resources available to a Committee will differ depending on the course or the level of competition being run and so a Committee may not be able to implement all of the suggested practices. Where this is the case, the Committee will need to decide its priorities for each competition.The period before the competition begins is arguably the most important in terms of preparation to ensure the smooth running of the competition. The Committee’s duties during this period include:
A Local Rule is a modification of a Rule or an additional Rule that the Committee adopts for general play or a particular competition. The Committee is responsible for deciding whether to adopt any Local Rules and for making sure they are consistent with the guidelines provided in Section 8(1). Local Rules that are inconsistent with these guidelines are not authorized, and a round played with such a Local Rule in place is not considered to have been played by the Rules of Golf.If a Committee adopts a Local Rule that is inconsistent with the stated purpose of the Model Local Rules, the handicapping authority should be consulted as to whether players may submit acceptable scores from that round for handicap purposes.(1) Guidelines for Establishing Local RulesBefore establishing a Local Rule, the Committee should consider the following guidelines:a. Local Rules have the same status as a Rule of Golf for that competition or course.b. While a Committee has significant authority under the Rules of Golf to adopt Local Rules to fit the particular needs of a course or competition, Committees should only use Local Rules to deal with the types of situations covered by the purpose statements in Section 8.c. A Model Local Rule can either be adopted in its entirety or can serve as an example of how to write a particular type of Local Rule. But if a Committee changes the wording of a Model Local Rule to fit the particular needs of the course or competition, it needs to ensure that the changes are consistent with the stated purpose. Examples of changes to Model Local Rules that would fit with this requirement include:
Extending the use of Model Local Rule E-4 (Relief from Aeration Holes) to be used for vertical cuts.
d. Unless otherwise stated, the penalty for a breach of a Local Rule should be the general penalty.e. A Committee must not use a Local Rule to waive or modify a Rule of Golf simply because it might prefer a Rule to be different. Examples of Local Rules that are not authorized include:
Allowing the use of non-conforming clubs.
Extending the search time from three minutes to five minutes.
Allowing a player to have more than one caddie.
f. Rule 1.3c(3) states that the Committee does not have the authority to apply penalties in a different way than stated in the Rules of Golf. Therefore a Committee must not use a Local Rule to waive, modify or apply a penalty. Examples of Local Rules that would not be authorized include:
Waiving the penalty for playing from the wrong teeing area if the player corrects the error within one minute of making the stroke.
Reducing the penalty for making a stroke with a non-conforming club from disqualification to the general penalty.
Applying a penalty of one stroke for a player failing to notify another player that they are going to lift a ball to identify it.
g. Where a Local Rule is based on the Model Local Rules, the Committee may seek assistance in interpreting the Local Rule from The R&A. But where the Committee has written its own Local Rule, it is matter for the Committee to interpret that Local Rule.h. If a Local Rule is introduced because of a temporary situation, it should be removed as soon as the situation no longer requires the use of the Local Rule.i. The Model Local Rules in Section 8 cover the situations and issues that arise often enough to justify having a model form. Occasionally, a Local Rule may be warranted where no model language has been provided. Where this is the case, the Committee should write the Local Rule in clear and simple terms. But most importantly, the Local Rule should be aligned with the purpose statements in the Rules of Golf and Model Local Rules.For example, allowing free relief from divot holes in the fairway is not aligned with the central principle of playing the course as you find it and the ball as it lies, as established in the Purpose of Rule 1.If the Committee believes that a Local Rule not covered by these guidelines may be needed because of local abnormal conditions that interfere with fair play, it should consult with The R&A .(2) Communication of Local RulesThe Committee should ensure that any Local Rules are made available to the players whether on the scorecard, through a Notice to Players or by digital methods of communication.Where a shorthand version of the full text of the Model Local Rule is provided, for example on the back of the scorecard, the Committee should ensure that the full text is available, for example on a noticeboard or on a website.
The most established forms of play (match play, stroke play and partner and team play) are detailed in Rules 1–25. This section outlines various alternative forms of play. Detailed modifications to Rules 1–25 that are required for these formats are detailed at RandA.org.Any situation that is not covered either by the Rules of Golf or by the additional modifications for the format being played, should be decided by the Committee:
Considering all the circumstances, and
Treating the situation in a way that is reasonable, fair and consistent with how similar situations are treated under the Rules and modified Rules for the format.