It’s that time of year again when the wind and the rain take over life as we know it and harsh weather conditions impact the golf course. Many will notice the sign ‘Winter Rules in effect’ displayed in the Pro Store, for those of you who are not quite sure what the Winter Rules are, or mean, I will briefly explain.
‘Winter Rules’ also called ‘Preferred lies’, are not codified under any of the regular thirty-four Rules of Golf, instead they fall under the category of local rules. They cannot be declared in effect by an individual player, only a course, club or committee has the authority to announce ‘Winter Rules’. So unless ‘Winter Rules’ have been confirmed by one of these parties, you may not use ‘Winter Rules’ no matter how bad weather conditions are.
Placing on the fairway and dropping on the rough are the main winter rules which are currently in effect at Fota Island Golf Club Cork. This entitles a player to mark, clean and place the ball as close to the original spot as possible. Players may take relief by placing the ball, without penalty, at the nearest point of relief. “If the player fails to mark the position of the ball before lifting it or moves the ball in any other manner, such as rolling it with a club, he incurs a penalty of one stroke’. The condition of marking the ball reduces and eliminates many problems such as ‘bumping the ball around’ and ensures fair play on the course. To avoid penalties you should always mark your ball with either a tee peg, a pitchmark repairer or a ball-marker. When playing under winter rules you are required to post your handicap score although it will not affect it. On a final note ,no golfer is obliged to play under winter rules when the local rule is in effect. You are of course entitled to play the ball as it lies if you so wish.
Please check with the Pro Shop daily to confirm if ‘ Winter Rules’ are in effect.