Rules Column: Russ Wing

If you play in tournaments, pay attention to the local rules

Last month’s article was about the new optional Local Rule that the USGA and R&A have published about accidentally moving a ball on the putting green. This month’s article is about how to put that optional Local Rule into effect.

If you play in a tournament sponsored by a national, regional, state or local golf organization (USGA, NCAA, PNGA, PNW Section PGA, WSGA, WJGA, WIAA, etc), the Rules for that tournament will be contained in three documents – the Rules of Golf, the organization’s Hard Card, and the Notice to Competitors for that event. As a player, you should read all three of these documents in order to know the Rules for the event and thus avoid needless penalty strokes.

Rules of Golf – This is the Rules book published by the USGA.

Hard Card – This is a collection of optional Local Rules and Conditions of the Competition selected by the sponsoring organization to be in effect for all of their tournaments. Generally, they are selected from Appendix I of the Rules of Golf book, which contains a number of USGA-approved Local Rules and Conditions. As an example, the Local Rules section of the current WSGA Hard Card is shown in an exhibit accompanying this article. It is called the “Hard Card” because it is generally printed on a heavy paper stock.

Notice to Competitors – This is the “Local Rules” sheet typically given to each player participating in a tournament. It contains additional Local Rules, Conditions and information related to that particular event.

In the exhibit, notice that the WSGA has listed the new optional Local Rule in the Local Rules section of their Hard Card (the last item). This is their way of putting it into effect for their events. I expect all major golf organizations to use this method of putting this new optional Local Rule into effect.

For tournaments sponsored by organizations that don’t have a Hard Card, they will need to include this new optional Local Rule in their Notice to Competitors. Otherwise, it won’t be in effect.

Why is all this necessary? Because so far the USGA and the R&A have decided to stay with their four-year revision cycle for the Rules, with the next change not due until 2020. So in the meantime, they decided to implement this change in the form of an optional Local Rule.