BGC Rules FAQ

SubjectBGC Rule

NEW – BGC local rule for Out of Bounds or Lost Ball
If you hit a ball out of bounds or lose a ball the general rules still apply, i.e. you can take a one shot penalty and play again from the tee (or from where you played your previous stroke) – however this year BGC have taken the option (offered by the USGA) of adding an additional local rule to save time in such a scenario: –

If your ball is Lost or OB then for a TWO shot penalty you can choose to take a drop on the fairway at the nearest spot to where the ball was lost or entered the OB area (within two club-lengths of the edge of the fairway), no nearer the hole (see graphic below). This means if you lose your ball off the tee then you can play your 4th shot from the fairway.

This new option is designed to help pace-of-play, increase your enjoyment of the game and remove the need to take the long walk back to the tee when your caddie has told you “no problem!” but then your ball mysteriously disappears – however please note this option is not available if you choose to hit a provisional.

BGC local rule for Out of Bounds
Many of the courses in Beijing include out-of-bounds markers between adjoining holes. However BGC rules state that these are ignored and only out-of-bounds markers that define the boudary of the course are in play. In other words, if there is another hole between your ball and the OB markers that define the boundary wall/marker/road of the course then your ball remains in play.

Par 3 drop zones – BGC local rule
To encourage a better pace-of-play BGC has a “local rule” for Par 3 holes. If your tee shot ends up in a defined penalty area (i.e. water hazard) then at BGC you have three options: – 1) play your third shot from the tee; or 2) play your third shot from the drop area defined by the yellow/red stakes rule; OR 3) play your third shot from the drop zone near the green. This drop zone should be clearly marked on the course, however if there is no obvious area to drop your ball then the caddie can advise where the drop zone should be. If there is no drop zone defined (or known) on the hole then you must play your next shot as per options 1 or 2.

BGC local rule – Preferred lies
Beijing golf course conditions can vary significantly throughout the season, therefore to keep things fair and simple BGC allows “Preferred Lies” on the FAIRWAY at all events. This means if your ball is on the fairway you can move it by up to a scorecard length in any direction, no nearer the hole.

Please note that this rule ONLY applies to balls on the fairway or first-cut/fringes around the green – if your ball is in the rough, semi-rough, bunkers, penalty areas (or anything that isn’t fairway) then you cannot move it in any way and must play it as it lies.

Please also note that the new rules allow you to mark, lift and replace your ball without needing to first announce this intention to another person or to give that person a chance to observe the process – however you would still get a one-stroke penalty if you lift your ball without good reason to do so.

Playing “out of turn”
To encourage a better pace of play from 2019 Rule 6.4 expressly allows playing “out of turn”, i.e. “Ready Golf” – this means playing your shot when you’re not the furthest from the hole, but your shot can be played in a safe and responsbile way. This also applies on the tee regardless of who has “the honour”. This is strongly encouraged in strokeplay events and can also be done in matchplay if agreed between the players at the start of the round.

BGC local rule – Lost Ball, two options
From the time you reach the area where you believe your ball came to rest you have 3 minutes to find the ball, otherwise you must declare it lost. At this point hopefully you have already played a provisional ball and can continue from there, otherwise at BGC you have two options (as permitted by the USGA’s “Local Rules” amendment) – take a ONE shot penalty, return to where you last hit from and play another ball from the same area, or take a TWO shot penalty and move back to the fairway and play your next shot from the fairway, approximately on the same line where you believe your ball came to rest before it was lost.

BGC local rule – Max Score on a hole
At BGC you have a maximum score that you can make on a hole, which is shown on the event scorecard
Your max score in Stableford events is a set number of strokes over par (i.e. the minimum number of strokes where you would score zero on the hole) or four over par in strokeplay events. To help improve the pace of play once you have reached this score you must pick up your ball, mark an “X” on the scorecard and move on to the next hole.

Teaching & Learning the Rules of Golf at BGC
BGC welcomes golfers of any range of age, experience and golfing abilities. This means that on any given round you could be partnered with someone who is much less familiar with the Rules of Golf than you are.

Unfortunately from time-to-time this will result in some golfers accidentally breaking one of the rules – at BGC “presumed innocent” is important here! If you see this happening then please just treat this as a teaching & learning opprtunity – inform your partner of what the correct rule should be and then give them the opportunity to replace their ball, re-create the lie or replay their shot and continue without penalty. Of course if the same thing happens a second time then the normal golf penalties will apply. 

Please don’t be embarassed or afraid to say something if you see someone breaking the rules – it’s likely that they’re completely unaware of the problem, therefore you’re actually helping them to improve their golfing knowledge!

In the unlikely event that you believe your partner is deliberately gaining an advantage by breaking the rules then please inform a member of the BGC committee about the incident(s) and the committee will take the appropriate action.

Penalty Areas
Goodbye “water hazards”, hello “Penalty Areas”. Penalty area is defined as “bodies of water or other areas defined by the committee where a ball is often lost or unable to be played. For ONE penalty stroke, you may use specific relief options to play a ball from outside the penalty area.”

There are two ways to mark a penalty area: yellow lines and stakes, or red lines and stakes. Both incur a one stroke penalty but there are differences in the two methods as far as taking relief.

YELLOW STAKES – If a penalty area is marked in yellow, you have two options: – 1) take “stroke-and-distance” relief, meaning you drop a ball from where you hit your previous shot; or 2) Take “back-on-the-line” relief, meaning you drop a ball anywhere back on the line from the hole to where your ball crossed into the penalty area, no nearer the hole – as far back as you like.

RED STAKES – If a penalty area is marked with red, you have a third option: 3) Take “lateral” relief within two clublengths of the spot where the ball entered the penalty area, no nearer the hole. Two clublengths from the hazard COULD include the fairway, however it must be outside the penalty area.

Of course for the more adventurous golfer you still have the option of playing the ball from 
within the penalty area, and the new rules allow you to ground your club – however you must play the ball as it lies, i.e. you cannot improve your lie in any way or get relief from a ball embedded in grass or mud.

World Handicap System
The World Handicap System has launched this year and will be adopted by BGC from the start of the new season. It’s designed to welcome more players, make golf easier to understand and to give all golfers a handicap which is portable all around the globe. The new system is similar to that used by us previously, however BGC will continue to cap handicaps at 36 and adjustments to Course Slope Rating may be made to account for abnormal course and weather conditions – which should make things fairer and more consistent. 
For more information about your handicap go to 
www.ehandicap.net, enter “BGC” as the Club ID and then search for your name.
If you have any questions about the new system just contact Rainbow.

Dropping the ball
When taking relief you must now drop the ball from knee height, and the ball must stop within one or two clublengths (depending on the type of relief you’re taking) from where you were allowed to drop. If your ball stops outside this area then you should drop the ball again – if the same thing happens then you simply place it on the spot where it struck the ground in the relief area on the second drop.

Flagstick & putting
The new rules allow you to leave the flag in when you putt – unlike the old rules, there is no penalty if you hit it. Please note however that when putting you MUST line up your own ball – i.e. your caddie is allowed to mark, lift, clean and replace your ball on the green, HOWEVER you must place the ball and line up your putt yourself. If an inexperienced caddie lines your ball up for you then simply mark your ball again, pick it up and replace it on the green yourself.

Bunkers
From 2019 you are now allowed to remove loose impediments in a bunker as long as it does not affect or improve the lie of your ball in any way – that means you can now remove stones near your ball that might have damaged the club when playing the shot, or remove fallen leaves that might be hiding part of the ball. Please note you still cannot touch the sand with your club before you play your shot.

HOWEVER – if there are tree branches overhanging the bunker that are getting in the way of your swing you CANNOT move these – 
sometimes an inexperienced caddie might try to help by holding the branches back, however this is definitely not allowed! 
(obviously the same applies if you’re in the trees and there are branches in the way!)

Embedded balls
If your ball is embedded anywhere other than a bunker (“embedded” means that part of your ball is below the level of the ground) then 
you can take a free drop within one clublength no nearer the hole.

Ball moved on the green
If you (or your playing partner) accidentally cause your ball (or your ball marker) to move on the green (e.g. during a practice stroke, when addressing the ball, lining up your putt or placing your marker) then there is no longer any penalty – simply return your ball to the orignal spot and make your putt.

Similarly, if your ball moves on the putting green due to wind, water or other natural forces, just return the ball to it’s original spot and make your putt. However if the ball moves BEFORE you’ve lifted and marked it then you must play it from the new spot.

Repairing damage on the green & Touching the line of your putt
You can now repair almost any damage on the green. “Damage on the putting green” is defined to include all types of damage such as ball-marks, shoe damage, indentations from a club or flagstick, animal damage, etc. – EXCEPT aeration holes, natural surface imperfections or natural wear of the hole.

There is no longer a penalty for touching the line of your putt when on the green, however you must not improve your line on the green, e.g. by deliberately making an indentation in the green or by removing grass (or weeds) that may be growing on the green.

Double hit
There is no longer a penalty for hitting a ball multiple times on the same swing. The old rules stated that if you swung and hit the ball more than once (most common on chips and pitches), you had to count the stroke and take a penalty stroke.

Under the new rules, if you hit the ball more than once (accidentally!) you just count the intended shot and play your next shot from wherever the ball now lies.

Unplayable ball in bunker
If you decide that your ball is “unplayable” in a bunker (e.g. it’s buried or stuck under the lip) then you now have an extra option to take a TWO shot penatly and drop your ball behind the bunker in line with the flagstick.

Use of damaged clubs
The new rules allow you to keep using (and/or to repair) any club damaged during the round – no matter what caused the damage and even in the unlikley event you damaged it in anger. However you cannot replace a club damaged by you or your caddies during the round.

BGC local rule – Matchplay tie-breaker
Before you begin your matchplay round you and your opponent should agree what will happen in the event of the match being tied after 18 holes. The USGA offers no guidance on this, therefore at BGC we suggest three options: – 1) Replay the match over another 18 holes at a later date; 2) Play sudden-death extra holes – NB you should agree which extra hole(s) you will play BEFORE starting the match as handicaps will still apply – i.e. if your opponent received a stroke(s) on the hole in the original 18 holes then they will again receive a stroke(s) on that hole(s) in the sudden-death playoff OR 3) if time (or cost – most courses will charge for playing extra holes) doesn’t allow the other options then you can toss a coin to determine the winner of the match.

https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/rules-hub/rules-modernization/major-changes/major-changes.html