Rule 3-3


Doubt as to procedure




In stroke play, if a competitor is doubtful of his right or the correct procedure during the play of a hole, he may, without penalty, complete the hole with two balls.


  After the doubtful situation has arisen and before taking further action, the competitor must announce to his marker or fellow-competitor that he intends to play two balls and which ball he wishes to count if the Rules permit.


  The competitor must report the facts of the situation to the committee before returning his score card. If he fails to do so, he is disqualified.


Note: If the competitor takes further action before dealing with the doubtful situation, Rule 3-3 is not applicable. The score with the original ball counts or, if the original ball is not the one of the being played, the score with the first ball put into play counts, even if the Rules do not allow the procedure adopted for that ball. However, the competitor incurs no penalty for having played a second ball, and any penalty strokes incurred solely by playing that ball do not count in his score.

Setting the scene:-

A player’s ball comes to rest in the bark chips in the bowl of a tree. The player thinks she may be entitled to FREE relief from the bark chips in the bowl of the tree but is not sure. She informs her marker that she would like to invoke Rule 3-3 ie play two balls. She says she would like the score with the second ball to count if she is entitled to FREE relief.

She must then play her original ball as it lies, then drop a second ball in accordance with the GUR rule, free relief, one club length from nearest point of relief. She then plays out the hole with both balls. She scores a 4 with the original ball and a 3 with the second ball. When she comes in, before signing her card, she consults a rules official and finds out that there is NO FREE relief from the bark chips in the bowls of the trees as they are an integral part of the course and the ball must be played as it lies, her score of 4 attained with the original ball therefore counts.

The general rule of thumb in this situation is that you would  nominate the second ball to count as you are hoping for FREE relief.