Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #49

So far I’ve given you tips on playing in every possible weather condition… Heat, cold, wind, and rain. Today I wanted to talk about something you really can’t control… Fall, more specifically falling leaves.

There is nothing more frustrating than hitting a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway only to lose your ball in nature’s foliage. Some of the nicer country clubs will do their best to vacuum the leaves off the greens, but it’s a losing cause because the next big wind will just re-populate the loose impediments. That’s what leaves are by the way, which means you can remove them as long as your ball does not move in the process. Now that is the official rule of golf but I suggest bending the rules just a bit.

I remember playing several rounds of golf in high school where what has been called the Roger Williams rule will be in effect. Roger Williams the late great piano player made his version of the song, “Autumn Leaves” popular. So here’s the rule: as long as everyone in your foursome agrees your ball was lost in the leaves in the fairway, there is no penalty. Drop a new ball where you believe the ball was lost and play on. In the case where the fairway cannot be defined, the same rule applies as long as there isn’t a chance the ball went into a penalty area or grove of trees, then a one-stroke penalty would apply to speed up play. Also this is the time of year to consider playing winter rules. The pros would do it. Lift, clean and place your ball within six inches of the original lie, no closer to the hole with no penalty. Remember casual water is a free drop too.

Casual water is defined as excessive moisture that is normally not found in the area. Press down with your foot. If water seeps up around your golf shoes, you are in casual or temporary water.

I hope these simple rules will allow you to enjoy your game in the off-season. Also, do not play with new golf balls. It could get expensive this time of year. Play with a gently used ball but make sure you wash it so it is easier to spot amidst the leaves.

Hit ’em straight, and I hope your ball comes to rest where the leaves aren’t!

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