With summer just around the corner, many courses are completing spring maintenance to prepare for the busy season ahead. The grounds crews at golf courses around the world work tirelessly to have their courses in prime condition for golfers and tournament play. The Etiquette section in the Rules of Golf aims to assist maintenance departments and help in caring for the course; the rules serve as guidelines for play and are not there to penalize players.
Decision 1-2/07 provides guidance on the meaning of ‘sole purpose of caring for the course’ in respect to Rule 1-2:
“The phrase “sole purpose of caring for the course” in the Exception refers to the performance of acts that are encouraged in the Etiquette Section of the Rules of Golf provided they are taken at the appropriate time and manner permitted by the Rules. The provisions of Rule 1-2 do not prevent a player from taking acts that conform with the Etiquette Section, so long as the player does so for the sole purpose of caring for the course and without intentionally influencing the movement of a ball, or the physical conditions affecting play, of a player in the player’s group or match.”
One of the more popular questions we are asked is whether a player whose ball lies in a bunker is allowed to rake footprints near the ball before playing his shot. The Rules of Golf book touches on ‘Care of the Course’ in the Etiquette Section, and simply put, it encourages all players to rake their footprints (and nearby footprints made by others) before leaving a bunker.
In this situation, the player will not be penalized if his purpose for raking footprints is for the sole purpose of caring for the course. However, doing so on the player’s line of play to affect his stance, the lie of the ball or the area of his intended swing will result in a penalty.
The game of golf relies on players conducting themselves in a respectful, disciplined manner. It is important to remember that the course must also be respected. Whether made during the normal course of play, in practice or otherwise, players should avoid causing damage to the course by replacing divots – no matter when or how they are created.
Although caring for the course is encouraged by the Rules of Golf, a player must ensure their actions do not breach the following Rules:
- Rule 1-2 Exerting Influence on Movement of Ball or Altering Physical Conditions
- Rule 13-4 Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions
Putting greens are no different. This video demonstrates the effect your shoes can have on your competitors and the course itself. Don’t forget to respect the game and the course whenever you play.