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Rules of Golf - Rule 34: Disputes and Decisions

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The Official Rules of Golf appear on the About.com Golf site courtesy of the USGA, are used with permission, and may not be reprinted without the permission of the USGA.

34-1. Claims and Penalties
• a. Match Play
If a claim is lodged with the Committee under Rule 2-5, a decision should be given as soon as possible so that the state of the match may, if necessary, be adjusted. If a claim is not made in accordance with Rule 2-5, it must not be considered by the Committee.

There is no time limit on applying the disqualification penalty for a breach of Rule 1-3.

• b. Stroke Play
In stroke play, a penalty must not be rescinded, modified or imposed after the competition has closed. A competition is closed when the result has been officially announced or, in stroke play qualifying followed by match play, when the player has teed off in his first match.

Exceptions: A penalty of disqualification must be imposed after the competition has closed if a competitor:

(i) was in breach of Rule 1-3 (Agreement to Waive Rules); or
(ii) returned a score card on which he had recorded a handicap that, before the competition closed, he knew was higher than that to which he was entitled, and this affected the number of strokes received (Rule 6-2b); or
(iii) returned a score for any hole lower than actually taken (Rule 6-6d) for any reason other than failure to include a penalty that, before the competition closed, he did not know he had incurred; or
(iv) knew, before the competition closed, that he had been in breach of any other Rule for which the penalty is disqualification.

34-2. Referee's Decision
If a referee has been appointed by the Committee, his decision is final.

34-3. Committee's Decision
In the absence of a referee, any dispute or doubtful point on the Rules must be referred to the Committee, whose decision is final.

If the Committee cannot come to a decision, it may refer the dispute or doubtful point to the Rules of Golf Committee of the USGA, whose decision is final.

If the dispute or doubtful point has not been referred to the Rules of Golf Committee, the player or players may request that an agreed statement be referred through a duly authorized representative of the Committee to the Rules of Golf Committee for an opinion as to the correctness of the decision given. The reply will be sent to this authorized representative.

If play is conducted other than in accordance with the Rules of Golf, the Rules of Golf Committee will not give a decision on any question.

©USGA, used with permission

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