Should You Carry a 15th Club — a Battery-Operated Leaf Blower In Your Bag During The Fall and Winter?
You may have been playing golf in the fall when a fellow golfer announces, “I can’t find it, so I’m going to invoke the leaf rule.” So, what’s up with this “leaf rule” thing and is it legal?
No, there is no such thing as the “leaf rule,” according to the USGA. The “leaf rule” was simply invented by an unknown golfer to keep the pace of play moving.
The Rules of Golf consider the seasons, including the time of year when leaves are dropping faster than the Health Care Plan Coverage.
If a “course” has a local rule allowing the natural accumulation of leaves to be treated as ground under repair, and you’re sure that your ball is lost under leaves, you may find the nearest point of relief and take a drop without penalty within one club-length from the spot where the ball crossed into the leaves, but no closer to the hole, (Rule 25-1, Decision 33-8/31). However, if your shot went out-of-bounds, then you must re-tee (or drop nearest last stroke) and take one penalty stroke as stated in the USGA’s rules of golf.
Without a local rule, leaves are loose impediments. You can’t move your ball when removing leaves or it’s a one-stroke penalty, and the ball must be replaced. The same is true if you’re searching through leaves and the ball moves. But if your ball is covered by leaves in a bunker or a water hazard, there’s no penalty if the ball moves during a search. Just replace the ball and cover it with leaves, if necessary, so only part of the ball is visible (Rule 18-2, 12-1). If you find your ball in leaves piled for removal, see Rule 25-1b.
Golf purists feel the “Leaf Rule” is a cop-out to allow golfers to “cheat” with a free drop for hitting a bad shot that landed in leaves — an area that would have been a lost ball without leaves. Further stating that golfers don’t request the “leaf rule” when their ball is in the fairway or on the green.
We should always adhere to the rules of golf. However, it could be said, that fall and winter golf should be played for fun and to keep our game/swing tuned-up for the regular season, but for the sake of those golfers following you — don’t spend all day looking for a golf ball in the leaves or weeds. Buy some of those cheaper priced bright orange or yellow golf balls rather than pricey Pro V1’s. When you lose the cheaper balls, you won’t feel like it’s such a big deal.
Lastly, remember the second-most-complained-about annoyance — cart paths only. If you want to play on nice fairways next spring and summer, then stay on paths when courses request it. There is a reason courses request paths only, and it’s not to annoy you; it’s to save the turf. Fall can offer great golf weather, and rates are at their lowest now, so when the mood strikes, tee-it-up and enjoy the day.
Hope to see you on the course this fall.
Publisher, TEE TIMES GOLF GUIDE Magazine
Kansas City Golf News