2020 Etiquette & Local Rules
last updated:  12/05/19  |  Total Club Page Views:478,226

The 20 Most Important 2020 GOLF RULES  

1. Play Ready Golf. 
Maximum enjoyment of golf requires play to move at a reasonable pace.
On the first tee, tee off at your assigned tee time and no earlier, unless requested to do so by the starter.
On other holes tee off as soon as the group in front of you is out of reach. Be ready to hit when it is your turn.
Mark each straying ball with a tree or bush. If you are behind, and playing stroke (not match) play, have one or two of your foursome go ahead to the next tee and hit.

2. Limit search for lost ball to three (3) minutes. USGA Rule 18.2a
Near tees and greens, electric carts shall be kept on cart paths and shall remain at least thirty (30) feet from the greens.
Pull carts shall not be left in front of the green while putting. Do not leave clubs in front of the green.

3. Repair all ball marks and divots. This is your course - help maintain it! 

Rancho and RWGC Local Rules
All decisions will be made by the rules committee and are final.
USGA rules shall govern all play except as modified by local rules. USGA rules are indicated by numbers in parenthesis, e.g. (3-2).

4. Pace of Play
A penalty of two strokes will be assessed to all members of a foursome for finishing more than 20 minutes after the previous group. These penalty strokes will affect your winning status for the game of the day or major tournament, but do not affect the score you post.

The finish time is defined as the time when everyone in your group is off the green (on the cart path) and moving off the course.

You need to pay attention to where the group in front of you is. You are behind if:
1. You reach the tee of a par-4 or par-3 hole and the putting green is clear.
2. You reach the teeing ground of a par-5 hole and the group ahead is within 100 yards of or on the putting green.       

People who are habitually slow will not be allowed to play early. 


5. No Gimmies in Stroke Play
There are no gimmies in stroke play. You must hole out or be disqualified (3-3c) from low-gross and low-net competitions. If you don’t hole out, you must take an X-score on that hole (your most prob¬able score for the hole, not to exceed the maximum allowed for your handicap). You will also be disqualified from the game of the day if that hole is counted. However, please note that picking up your ball is permitted by the USGA Handicap System. At Rancho, this applies to match play and partner’s better ball, as well as when you have no chance of winning.

6. Out of Bounds or Lost
Out of bounds is defined by inside posts at ground level of white boundary stakes, boundary fencing (including the short, parking-lot fence to the left of #1),
exterior wall of the maintenance yard left of holes #5 and #6,
the fencing around the storage areas on holes #15 and #17,
the fence around the driving range, and
the small nursery fence on the left side of #18 fairway.

If your ball is close to an out-of-bounds fence, you may play it as it lies, or declare it unplayable (take a one stroke penalty) and either:
a) drop it within 2 club lengths of its current location, no nearer the hole or
b) hit the ball from the spot where you last hit it.

7. New Local Rule for Out of Bounds or Lost
When a player’s ball cannot be found or is known or virtually certain to be out of bounds or lost, except in penalty areas such as to the right on #14, the player has two choices:

1. Proceed under stroke and distance as before, or
2. Take a two-stroke penalty and drop in an area defined in video: USGA A8E-5 

One option (see A8E-5 for others) is to drop a ball no closer to the hole than the point where the original ball is thought to be lost or to have gone out of bounds and within 2 club-lengths of the nearest edge of the fairway.

8. Immovable Obstructions (USGA Rule 16)
Includes protective screens, drainage ditches, all roads and paths, whether or not artificially surfaced, sprinkler heads, yardage markers, staked trees, flower beds/boxes, protective fences (see below) fence to right of #14 (see below), cart shed, snack shop, and wood pilings right of #16 green (see below).

If any of the above conditions interfere with your stance or swing, the ball may be lifted, cleaned and dropped without penalty within one club length from the nearest point of relief no nearer the hole. Relief may not be on green if ball is originally off green. No line of sight relief may be taken.

For the pilings right of #16 green, the nearest point of relief in some cases may be back over the cart path toward #13 fairway.

9. Protective Fences
The tall fences on the left and right of #1 fairway, #4 tee area and green are protective fences and are considered immovable obstructions (see above).

10. Rules for Fences to Left of #1
There are two fences on the left of #1 fairway: the low, parking lot fence, which defines out-of-bounds, and the tall protective fence, which is an immovable obstruction.

  If the ball lies between the out-of-bounds fence and the protective fence, relief with a one-shot penalty is taken from the designated drop area (not closer to the hole than the end of the protective fence closest to the tee, and only far enough to the right of the protective fence that your swing is not impeded). 

11. Bunkers (USGA 12)
Under the 2019 Rules of golf, players may remove all moveable obstructions from bunkers.

12. Special Drop Areas and Relief

Left of #13 Green
When the nearest point of relief from the cart path is the steep slope left of this path, relief may be taken at the drop area behind the black tee box for the 14th hole (at the top of the slope).

Right of #14 Fairway
There are three rules that apply to the area to the right of the 14th fairway:
1. The fence is an immovable obstruction. Proceed as according to USGA Rule 16.
2. For personal safety reasons, if you find your ball in the rough area between the cart path and fence, you may take a free drop within 1 club length of the cart path on the fairway side, no closer to the hole (RWGC rule).
3. Penalty Area Hole #14: The fence to the right of the cart path defines a red penalty area (the fence posts are within the penalty area). If you find your ball within the penalty area or if it is virtually certain that it is in the penalty area, there are three options:     
play the ball as it lies;     
take stroke and distance at the last place the ball was hit, or
c) with a one-stroke penalty drop your ball within one club-length to the left of the cart path, no closer to the hole than the spot where the ball crossed the boundary line of the penalty area.

Red Penalty Area Hole #17
If your ball is in the cement drainage ditch to the left near the green, marked by red stakes, you get a one-stroke penalty. Proceed under penalty area rule (17). One option for a red penalty area is to take relief within 2 club lengths no closer to the hole than the spot where the ball crossed the margin of the penalty area.

Immovable Obstructions Close to Putting Greens (A8F 5)
When the ball is in the general area or on the putting green, in addition to normal relief from immovable obstructions, the player may take relief when the obstruction (e.g. sprinkler head) is near the putting green and it is:
On the line of play, and is:
a) Within two club-lengths of the putting green, and
b) Within two club-lengths of the ball

The ball must be lifted and dropped at the nearest point to where the ball lay that (a) is not nearer the hole (b) avoids intervention (c) is not in a penalty area and (d) is not on a putting green, unless the ball was on the putting green before relief taken.

13. Preferred Lies
When adverse conditions such as prolonged rain or extreme heat make the fairways unsatisfactory, the Weekly Tournament, Major Tournament or Rules Chairs may implement a local rule for lift, clean, and place:

A ball lying in a part of the general area cut to fairway height or less may be lifted without penalty and cleaned. Before lifting the ball, the player must mark its position. The ball must be placed on a spot within one club-length of the original position of the ball or the nearest point of relief from the condition (e.g. mud) that is not nearer the hole than where it originally lay, and is in the general area (not on a putting green).

However, under no circumstances can a ball be lifted, cleaned and placed if it lands in the rough.

14. Cell Phones and Measuring Devices
Cell phones must be set to ‘silent’ or ‘vibrate’ so they do not disturb other members. Cell phones may be used for measuring distance (USGA 4-3a). During weekly tournament play, cell phones may not be used for any other reason except at the break at holes 6 and 12. During major tournaments using a cell phone for any purpose other than as a measuring device will result in disqualification (RWGC).

A player may use any USGA approved device for measuring DISTANCE ONLY.