To enhance the enjoyment of players during general play there are many actions that a Committee can take to improve pace of play and to encourage a good standard of player conduct, such as:
Reducing group sizes, increasing starting intervals and introducing starter's gaps.
Considering fundamental changes to course set up such as widening fairways, reducing the thickness or length of rough and reducing the speed of greens.
Encouraging players to play from tees that suit their ability.
Adopting a pace of play policy and a code of conduct.
The following sections give some of the considerations a Committee should take into account when adopting a pace of play policy or a code of conduct.
Overcrowding the course is a common cause of rounds taking longer than necessary. The bigger the gap in tee times, the better play will flow. But the Committee will often need to balance this with the desire to allow as many players as possible to have the opportunity to play the course or competition.When play is in two-balls an interval of at least 8 minutes is recommended. When play is in three-balls, the interval should be increased to at least 10 minutes. For four-balls, 11 or 12 minute intervals should be considered.Even with appropriate starting intervals, delays can arise on the course due to a number of factors, such as ball searches or a hole that is playing particularly hard or easy. The impact of such delays can be minimized by having empty starting intervals, sometimes referred to as “starter’s gaps”.If, for example, the starting intervals are 10 minutes and the Committee has an empty starting time after every 10th group, there will be a 10 minute break in play from the 1st tee every 90 minutes. If a delay has built up on a particular tee early on in the round, the starter’s gap should help to minimize the impact of the delay. Without the empty starting interval, the likelihood is that waiting on that hole will increase as the day goes on.
Pace of Play Policy
The nature of such a policy will often depend on the available resources of that course.
For example, a course with limited staff might simply state that each group is expected to keep up with the group in front or that each group is expected to play within a certain amount of time, while another course may be able to have one or more people on the course to monitor the pace of play and, when necessary, speak to groups that are falling behind.
The enforcement of such a policy is usually best handled through disciplinary measures. Such sanctions are separate from the Rules of Golf and it is a matter for the Committee to write and interpret any such sanctions.
Code of Conduct Policy
For general play, a Committee might post a notice in the clubhouse or on the course website stating what types of behaviour or clothing are not acceptable at that course, including in certain areas.
Enforcement of this policy is usually best handled through disciplinary measures. Such sanctions are separate from the Rules of Golf and it is a matter for the Committee to write and interpret any such sanctions.
Each Committee should consider how it will suspend play if it is determined that weather conditions warrant. A suspension of play can be handled through a variety of methods, depending on the resources available to the course, such as signalling to players through an air horn or by personal notification of the players.
Providing Rules Support
Players may have questions on how to resolve Rules issues that have arisen during general play. Each course should identify a person or persons to handle such Rules questions. In many cases that person may be the professional or manager. If that person is unsure of the correct ruling, they may refer the question to the appropriate Rules organization for an answer.
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.
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.