"Play Suspended; Now What?"

At the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, severe weather caused the Committee to suspend play. Would you have known what to do if you were a player?

Very often in Florida, the threat of inclement weather causes the Committee to suspend play signaled by a horn or siren until it is safe to resume. Here’s what you need to know about what to do under the Rules of Golf.

The Florida State Golf Association, the USGA and most of the professional tours have in effect the Note to Rule 6-8b that says “in potentially dangerous situations play must be discontinued immediately following suspension of play by the Committee.” In other words, stop immediately! Do not play another single stroke.

As a player, you have the option of marking the position of your ball and lifting it or leaving it there. Either way, you should mark its position by placing a tee or tees (or anything else you have handy that you may not get back) in or on the ground to identify its position. Also, make a note of where your ball is; for example, 143 yards to the center of the green and six paces in from the edge of the rough or 12 paces from the hole on the left side of the green and five paces from the edge.

Then head for shelter! The Committee may direct you to a shelter on the course or may have players and spectators head for the clubhouse or some other sturdy structure nearby.

After that, all you can do is wait until the Committee says it’s safe to resume. It may be 30 minutes, an hour or the next day; whatever the Committee may decide. And while you’re waiting, don’t think about going out and practicing on the putting green. All practice areas are closed until the Committee says they are open.

Once you do get the go ahead to resume, head back out to where your ball was and see if you can find the spot where it originally lay. Hopefully, whatever you used to mark the ball’s location is still there. If you are resuming the next day, your tees or marker may have been moved by mowers or the maintenance staff or even by Mother Nature herself.

1. If you chose not to lift your ball when play was suspended and you do find your ball upon resumption, you may:

·         play it as it lies, or

·         lift it, clean it, and replace it on the spot, or

·         you may go ahead and substitute a new ball by placing it on the spot

2. If you chose not to lift your ball when play was suspended and you do not find your ball, you may substitute a ball by estimating its original position and placing a ball on that spot.

3. If you chose to lift your ball, you may replace the original ball or you may substitute a ball by placing it on the spot where the original ball lay. If the tees or marker marking the position of your ball are no longer there, you may estimate its original location and either replace the original ball or substitute a ball by placing it on that estimated position.

In any case, when resuming play, you will always place your ball and not drop it.

After that, you’re back playing golf!

Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.

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