Q. If a player’s ball is half on the fringe and the fringe is cut high so that the other half of the ball is overhanging the green but not actually touching the green, is the ball considered on the green? — Moondog
A. No, it is not considered to be on the green. However, if a ball lies on the green but does not actually touch the green because it is perched on mud, that ball is considered to be on the green.
Q. I witnessed a situation during a championship tournament that I would like your opinion on. A player’s ball was in a bunker and she raked the bunker before making a stroke. Out of nowhere a rules official appeared, zooming in like a motorcycle cop pulling over a speeder, and informed her she had just incurred a 2-stroke penalty. Was this proper rules etiquette on the part of the official or should he have waited until the player completed the hole or round before breaking the bad news? I’m sure his actions definitely had an effect on the way the player finished the hole, if not the rest of the round. — Tom Incorvaia
A. It would be proper procedure for a rules official to inform a player as soon as possible that he had acquired a penalty. If the official waited until the hole or the round was over that player might again break the same rule and acquire another penalty. I usually calmly approach the player and say, "I’m sorry to inform you that you have acquired a penalty under the Rules of Golf." I explain what rule the player broke and ask if there are any questions. If the player has a question, I volunteer to meet him at scoring before he signs his scorecard and have my rule book out and ready.
Q. In your November rules column you made a statement that a player usually gets relief from an obstruction (cart path). I thought you always could have free relief from an obstruction if you wanted it? — Becky Mosley
A. There is an exception under Rule 24 Obstructions that states a player may not take relief under this rule if (a) it is clearly unreasonable for him to make a stroke because of interference by anything other than an immovable obstruction or (b) interference by an immovable obstruction would occur only through use of an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play. You also do not get free relief from an immovable obstruction if your ball is in a water hazard or lateral water hazard.