In Memoriam: John T. Stuart III (1936-2022)

STUART III, John Thomas died peacefully at home on May 27, 2022.  A lifelong resident of Dallas, he was born August 12, 1936 to Dorothy Guthrie Stuart and John Thomas Stuart, Jr.  He attended Highland Park High School and the University of Texas, graduating in 1958.  Subsequently, he graduated from SMU’s Southwestern Graduate School of Banking and the Harvard Advanced Management Program.

At Highland Park, John was a cheerleader and Blanket Award recipient.  At the University of Texas, John was a member of Delta Tau Delta, The Texas Cowboys, Editor of The Cactus and a Distinguished Military Student.  He was a member of Phi Eta Sigma and Beta Gama Sigma.  Following graduation, he was in the US Army stationed at Ft Hood Texas. He then joined Republic Bank in Dallas, rising to be President and holding the same title in the successor First Republic Bank of Dallas.  He moved on to be President and CEO of Alpert Investment Company.  He then joined Guaranty Bank, the Temple Inland subsidiary, retiring as Vice Chairman.  He served on the Board and returned as Chairman and CEO for a brief time.   He became Vice Chairman of Belmont Interests, a private wealth management company until he retired.

As an alumnus of the University of Texas, he served as President of the Dallas Chapter of the Texas Exes, President of the Texas Exes at Austin, Chairman of the Texas Red McCombs School of Business Advisory Council, the Longhorn Foundation and the UT System Chancellor’s Council.  He was also President of the University of Texas Foundation.  He served on the Centennial Commission of 100 and the Commission of 125.  The University honored him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Business School Distinguished Alumnus Award and Hall of Fame Award.  Friends established the John T. Stuart III Centennial Chair in Business Administration. He along with his wife Barbara was named ”Top Hands” by the Texas Exes as well as the Dallas Distinguished Alumni. He was a Life Member of the Development Board at the University of Texas, Austin and Dallas.  He was a member of the Littlefield Society.

He served for six years as a member of the University of Texas Athletic Council and was named an honorary letterman.  He was appointed by the UT Athletic director to the Board of the Cotton Bowl Athletics Association.  He served as President and Chairman in 1992, serving two years and was a Life Director.  As a long-time member of the Team Selection Committee, John traveled to a number of colleges developing lifelong friendships around the country.  He and Barbara enjoyed their travels to UT football games both in Austin and away from coast to coast including three trips to the Rose Bowl, two of which were National Championship games.

He served on a number of civic boards in Dallas but in most recent years he gave his time to Callier Center of Dallas becoming President of the Board.  He also found great enjoyment from his volunteering time with the Boys Scouts of America.  He was President of the Circle 10 Council, President of the Circle 10 Foundation, an area and regional Vice President.  He served as Jamboree Sub Camp 16 Chief in 2010. He received the Distinguished Eagle Award, The Silver Beaver Award, the Silver Antelope Award as well as the Whitney Young Service Award.  He was a Vigil Honor and Order of the Arrow. He enjoyed his trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for training programs on behalf of Scouting including Wood Badge.

Having lived most of his life in University Park, he felt it a privilege to have served as President of the University Library and a number of years on the University Park Finance Advisory Committee which he was Chairman until his recent resignation.

John enjoyed his service to amateur golf in Texas serving on the Texas Golf Association Foundation and a volunteer at area tournaments for the Association.

He served on a number of other boards including The Executive Board of North Texas Public Broadcasting, Chairman of the YWCA, Board of the Florence Foundation, Board of the Summer Musicals and the African-American Museum Board of Trustees.  He was a lifetime member of the Salesmanship Club.

John really enjoyed trout fishing in both the lower 48 and Alaska.  He was fond of his greenhouse and enjoyed discovering new plants for landscaping in Texas.  Both areas he could immerse himself and find pleasure and beauty.

He was a past President of Royal Oaks Country Club, member of Dallas Country Club and Highland Park Presbyterian Church.

He is survived by his wonderful and loving wife of almost 66 years, Barbara Kay White Stuart, his son John Michael Stuart, his daughter and son in law, Melissa and George Pettit Macatee IV, grandchildren, George Pettit Macatee, V, wife Kailee, McBride Macatee Oden, husband Madison and John Stuart Macatee and John Michael Stuart II.  John has two Great grandsons; Madison Lee Oden III “Tres” and George Pettit Macatee, VI.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7, at Highland Park Presbyterian Church.


In Memory of John Semander

It is with deep sadness that the TGA announces the passing of John Semander. Semander gave selflessly of his time, energy and resources to promote golf in Texas for many years. His contributions to the game of golf are immeasurable and have impacted the state’s entire golfing community. The longtime TGA volunteer and Past Director passed away on July 27. He was 89 years old.

Semander was a gentle spirit who didn’t know a stranger. He seemed to be friends with everyone and had a warm-hearted story to share about each one to back it up. The Houston native was recognized numerous times for his steadfast dedication and efforts in helping the TGA.

He was the recipient of the 2005 South Texas Volunteer of the Year Award and the 2009 Bob Wells Distinguished Service Award, the TGA’s highest honor for individuals who’ve contributed to the growth of the game through their volunteerism and meritorious service.

In addition to duties as a TGA Director, Semander also served as a member of the TGA Rules Committee, as well as the USGA Junior Amateur Committee.

In 2010, Semander captained the South Texas team to victory in the Texas Shootout held at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands.

The longtime Shell employee was also very active with the Houston Golf Association among other pursuits.

In 2017, the TGA established the John Semander Family Scholarship to financially assist golfers who are seeking higher education. Semander’s dedication, character and lifelong connection to golf were attributes that the scholarship program endeavored to honor and encourage in the next generation of golfers.

The TGA mourns the loss of John Semander and sends its condolences to his family and friends.



Remembering Nick Bramlett

“Generous.” This word, more than any other, was used by the people closest to Nick Bramlett when they described him. The longtime TGA Volunteer and Rules of Golf expert passed away on April 27. He was 81 years old.

Known as “PoPo” to his family and closest friends, Bramlett loved being outdoors. He was an avid bird hunter, but especially enjoyed hunting white-tailed deer on his West Texas deer lease near Sonora.

Another of Bramlett’s loves was the game of golf. Volunteering and mentoring were in his blood. He was named the Legends Junior Tour’s Volunteer of the Year in 2013 and was also the recipient of the TGA’s South Texas Volunteer of the Year award in 2016.

“He was very generous with his time, particularly in the support of amateur golf,” said A.J. Cortez, a TGA Volunteer and close friend of Bramlett. “In the last 10 years, I don’t know of anyone who volunteered more for the TGA, USGA, LJT and the Houston Golf Association. Additionally, he was extremely generous with his skills and knowledge and served as an important mentor to many of the new volunteers starting their path to becoming a certified Rules Official.”

Bramlett was passionate about all things golf – it was what originally led him to becoming a Rules Official. He loved spending time on the course playing golf, but he was equally passionate about giving back to the game that meant so much to him. Bramlett was a dedicated servant of the game and from 2010-19 he spent nearly 250 days volunteering at TGA events. And that’s not counting the days he spent helping other associations during that time.

“He loved the sport. He loved being a Rules Official no matter what event he was working, whether it was for the STPGA, NCAA or lending a hand at a local qualifier,” said TGA Volunteer Bobby Grabstaldt. “He just loved being a team player. There was no one in the TGA that was more generous with their time and willing to help and be a part of a team than Nick was.”

Bramlett’s peers spoke just as highly about who he was outside of golf.

“He was just a really kind, thoughtful person,” Grabstaldt said. “He was always there for everybody and was a true friend to all.”

“Nick was one of those lucky people who never met a stranger,” Cortez said. “Nick was well known to all the people we dealt with from the players and parents to the caddies and volunteers. Nick was never without a story and he relished telling them to anyone and everyone who would listen.”

Bramlett also had a deep impact on the TGA staff.

“I worked a number of events with Nick over the years, and I always looked forward to seeing him,” said Mark Button, the TGA’s Senior Director of Communications. “He was always so welcoming, nice and genuinely interested in helping people. I was really sad to hear of his passing.”

The TGA sends its deepest condolences to Nick Bramlett’s family and friends. Instead of sending flowers, his family asked that you might consider making a donation to the TGA on Nick’s behalf. He would’ve liked that very much.


Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Suhey

Steve Suhey’s father introduced him to the game of golf when he was 6 years old in 1956. They spent Sunday evenings looping the nearby course in central Pennsylvania. Today, Suhey continues to create lasting memories on golf courses more than 1,500 miles away from where he grew up and learned to play.

“I love the challenge of golf throughout your lifetime,” Suhey said. “It’s a game you can play your whole life, and as you grow older you face new challenges. I’ve really enjoyed that.”

In 1982, Suhey and his wife, Louise, moved to Texas. The avid amateur golfer played in competitive events across the state, including championships conducted by the Texas Golf Association. He’d always loved and appreciated the Rules of Golf, but it wasn’t until met Marty Javors that he began to get involved as a Rules official.

“In the late 1980s, I met Marty, who had been a TGA and USGA Rules official for many years,” Suhey said. “He encouraged me to get involved with the Rules, but because of my businesses and travel schedule, I could never do it. I promised Marty that when I retired I would turn my attention to the Rules and get involved as a Rules official.”

In 2016, Suhey delivered on his promise. Following his retirement as an insurance broker, he attended his first USGA/PGA Rules of Golf Workshop, took his first Rules of Golf exam and volunteered with the TGA.

“When he finally pulled the trigger he didn’t hold back at all,” Javors said. “He’s a very smart guy and learned the Rules very quickly. He loves the game and he’s been a huge help to the golf community in Texas.”

Over the years, Suhey has become one of the most dedicated TGA volunteers. In 2020, he officiated over 40 days at local and statewide men’s, women’s and junior championships.

“As a volunteer, my goal is to help the competitors play by the Rules,” Suhey said. “In order to do that, you have to ask a lot of questions to find out the exact situation and make sure the player knows what his options are.”

Suhey values the interactions he has with players, working with TGA staff and building relationships with other volunteers. His “team-first” mentality has not gone unrecognized by the TGA.

“Steve’s presence makes our championships better and our job as a staff easier,” TGA Tournament Director Ian Davis said. “It doesn’t matter what his assignment is for the day, he is the first one on site and he is the last to leave. Steve is a staunch individual and you can always count on him. He’s always available to stick around for a playoff or help with packing up the equipment when we finish.”

Golf is an ever-evolving game. It teaches lessons on and off the golf course, and Suhey has been a part of unique lessons for so many amateur golfers across the state. Sixty-four years since he touched his first club, Suhey continues to grow from the lessons of golf.

“Because of what golf has given me over the years, this is my way of giving back,” Suhey said. “I learn something at every tournament I officiate and every meeting I attend. And like the game of golf itself, you keep learning and learning and learning and it never stops throughout your life.”

The TGA extends its sincere appreciation to Steve for his efforts in making our championships a success. The work and dedication from all our volunteers allows the TGA to grow and continue to support the game we all love.

To learn more about the TGA Volunteer Program, click here.


Jim Brown Honored with Bob Wells Volunteerism Award

Jim Brown Bob Wells Award

The Texas Golf Association is pleased to announce longtime director and past president Jim Brown has received the Bob Wells Distinguished Service Award, the TGA’s highest honor for individuals who’ve contributed to the growth of the game through their volunteerism and meritorious service.

The words volunteerism and service define Brown, a retired personal injury attorney who joined the TGA Board of Directors in 2010 and in less than a year promptly received the North Texas Volunteer of the Year Award. From the outset, Brown annually has averaged more than 50 days a year working both on the course as a TGA Rules Official at multiple men’s, women’s and junior championships and off the course attending to association-related business matters at board meetings. That’s in addition to the time he’s given volunteering as a Rules Official for the United States Golf Association, Southern Golf Association and Trans-Mississippi Golf Association.

Brown was surprised when he received the news – “aghast” is the word he used – but there’s been no one in recent TGA history who is more deserving.

“I have admired the people who previously have received this award ever since I’ve been involved with the TGA,” Brown said. “Those people have mentored me, with or without their knowledge, with all the dedication they’ve shown. That’s what makes me so gratified to just be considered among those people. I’m so grateful I found the Texas Golf Association. The people and the association add immense value to my life.”

TGA Executive Director Stacy Dennis said there is no better representative for the game of golf and the association than Jim Brown.

“He is the kind of person I imagine this award was created to honor,” Dennis said. “He has meant more to the TGA than the deep Rules knowledge and countless days he’s contributed as a volunteer. He is a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He sincerely loves the game and, most importantly, he loves our players.”

One of the foremost experts on the Rules of Golf in Texas, if not the entire country, Brown served as TGA President from 2016-18.

“His heart and soul are in the TGA,” said his friend, neighbor and colleague Carey Schulten, an esteemed Rules Official in his own right who succeeded Brown as TGA president from 2018-20. “Jim has done everything. The number of days he does Rules work is virtually every tournament that is within his reach.”

Schulten, who lives two streets away from Brown in central Dallas, met his friend back in 2010 when they found themselves working TGA championships together. Schulten, a former U.S. Air Force and Delta Air Lines pilot who won the Legends Junior Tour’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2015, said it’s the lawyer in Brown that makes him such a trusted expert on the Rules.

“I think he sleeps with a Rules book,” Schulten joked. “He drinks and sleeps the Rules book. He’s on it all the time, and it reflects his background. He’s down to the fine print on that Rules book.”

First presented in 2005, the Bob Wells Distinguished Service Award is named after the late Bob Wells, who served as TGA president from 1980-87.

Current president Leslie Henry met Brown in 2012 when she began serving on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Texas Golf Association, which eventually merged with the TGA in 2014. Henry said Brown joined her in championing the idea of the men and women golfers in Texas coming together as an inclusive statewide association.

“I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Jim,” Henry said. “He is one of the most caring, compassionate human beings I have met in my lifetime. He’s the true example of treating everyone with respect and fairness. The award is so deserving, and we are all proud to call Jim Brown our friend and a force for the TGA.”

Brown, 75, is in his 12th year as a director of the TGA. Prior to his tenure as president in 2016-18, Brown served two-year terms as 1st Vice President and 2nd Vice President. He’s also put in countless hours as a member of several sub-committees, including Nominating, Finance, Compensation and Rules & Competitions.

A longtime advocate for amateur golf, Brown has also been a member the Southern Golf Association’s Board of Directors since 2001 and a member of the Executive Committee since 2011. He’s a former SGA president, too, and previously served as the SGA’s 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President and Treasurer.

Brown received his BBA and JD from SMU in Dallas. He was a letterman on the Men’s Golf Team from 1963-1965 and has continued to support his alma mater by taking an active role on the Payne Stewart Cup Committee, the SMU Golf fundraiser, since 2003, serving as Chairman in 2009 and 2011. He’s also just about the biggest SMU fan anyone will ever meet.

Brown and his wife Camille have two adult children and four grandchildren.


Volunteer Spotlight: Tom and Alice Wohlgemuth

Tom and Alice Wohlgemuth committed to a life together on June 19, 1971. Since their wedding day, the Wohlgemuths have been inseparable. They do everything together.

In 1975, the couple lived just outside of St. Louis. Tom was in the restaurant business and worked many nights. He consistently had a local band called “The Par 3” come and play at his restaurant. All three members loved golf.

“We became very good friends with the drummer and his wife, and they invited us to go on a vacation with them to Florida,” Alice said. “So, he taught Tom how to play golf so they could play on our trip.”

Tom quickly fell in love with the game. He soon was spending all his off-hours playing golf, and Alice was not going to be left out of the fun.

“I told him, I am already a restaurant widow, and I will not become a golf widow,” Alice said. “So I found an instructor and took lessons. Thus, our golfing career started.”

Since then, Tom and Alice have played countless rounds together. They have traveled throughout the country on golf vacations and raised their two kids to love the game, as well. In the mid-1990s, both underwent joint replacement surgeries. Despite slowing down as players, the Wohlgemuths found a new way to stay involved.

“With my hip issue, I started to think about the time that I wouldn’t be able to play,” Tom said. “So I thought doing Rules would be the best way to stay in the game and be associated with it. I went to Rules school in Nashville and started getting involved with the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association of St. Louis. Alice and I do everything together, so the following year she came to Rules school and got started in it also.”

Through the years, Tom and Alice have volunteered as Rules officials for three different amateur golf associations (Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association, Arizona Golf Association and the Texas Golf Association). They have worked with different tournament officials, players and golf courses. They have seen the game they love grow and develop together.

“It’s been a very rewarding experience for both of us,” Alice said. “We get to go together and we have a great time doing it. I find being a Rules official is a very honorable job and that you are responsible to help the players.”

Tom and Alice share the same mindset when it comes to the role of a Rules official. They want to protect the integrity of the game while making sure the players are the top priority. They don’t hesitate to seek help over the radio on a Ruling and they cherish the fellowship and camaraderie.

“The majority of people in golf are very friendly,” Tom said. “They’re so accepting of other people and we have built many friendships along the way.”

Today, Tom and Alice continue to volunteer with various golf associations across the country. They still play golf together, travel together and even ride a tandem bicycle together. Their dedication to each other and the game of golf has not gone unrecognized.

“I was lucky enough to learn from them during my internship with the Metropolitan Amateur Golf Association of St. Louis,” TGA Tournament Director Ian Davis said. “Tom and Alice showed me what it means to be passionate about the Rules of Golf and the game as a whole.”

The TGA extends its sincere appreciation to Tom and Alice for their efforts in making our championships a success. The work and dedication from all our volunteers allows the TGA to grow and continue to support the game we all love.

To learn more and volunteer in 2020, click here.


A Note from our ED on Current Events

When golfers are asked about why they love the game, some common themes always rise to the top.  Golf is a game of honor and integrity.  Golf is a healthy outdoor activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Golf brings people together around a common passion. Golf reveals character. Golfers are required to take responsibility and be accountable, much like we are being asked to do today.

As we have heard the phrase “unprecedented times” so frequently over the last several months, the game we love has provided us with reminders about fundamental principles we can all embrace.  As we wrestle with how we can deliver true equality in our society and provide safety in the face of a pandemic, I am inspired by the values of our game.  The Core Values of The First Tee set a high standard for the way we behave and interact with each other.  These are not just lessons for junior golfers, but standards for us all to live up to.

Honesty.  Integrity.  Sportsmanship.  Respect. Confidence. Responsibility. Perseverance. Courtesy. Judgment.

As the worldwide community of golfers works to fully embody these values, our game and our culture will be better for it. Respect does not allow for prejudice and discrimination. Courtesy requires valuing the safety of others at least as much as we value our personal routines.

The TGA staff and leadership will be working diligently to ensure that our policies and programs meet these standards and make a difference.

Stacy Dennis

Executive Director


Men’s Championship Updates (COVID-19)

TGA COVID 19 Update

For the first time in just under three months, the TGA returned to conducting first-class competitions for the benefit of its membership. With new health and safety protocols in place, the 21st Veritex Bank Byron Nelson Junior Championship, held June 2-4 at Lakewood Country Club in Dallas, went off without a hitch.

The gradual easing of state and local lockdown restrictions, coupled with the successful implementation of new tournament safety guidelines for players, staff, volunteers, spectators and host club staff, has allowed the TGA to revisit and make adjustments for the upcoming Men’s Championships listed below.


Texas Father-Son (July 10-12, Omni Barton Creek, Austin)

With the state moving into Phase 3 of reopening, the Texas Father-Son starting field size will be expanded to the original 80 teams (160 players). The championship will also be played under the original format. There will also be shared carts and the utilization of double-tee, double-wave starting times.

For more information about the Texas Father-Son, click HERE.


West Texas Amateur (July 17-19, Bentwood CC, San Angelo)

The West Texas Amateur will be played under the original format and will return to the original field size of 144 participants in three divisions (Championship, Senior and Super Senior).

Entries will now be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. Those that have earned an exemption will have a reserved spot in the field provided they register by the Exempt Entry Deadline. With the expanded field size there will be a cut following 36 holes of play. There will also be shared carts and the utilization of double-tee, double-wave starting times.

For more information about the West Texas Amateur, click HERE.


Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play (July 23-26, Willow Brook CC, Tyler)

The Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play will be played under the original format and original field size (84 players).  Shared carts ridership will be allowed throughout the championship, including the Stroke Play Qualifying Round.

For more information about the Texas Mid-Amateur Match Play can be found HERE.


111th Texas Amateur (Aug. 6-9, Boot Ranch GC, Fredricksburg)

When the decision was made in April to reschedule the 111th Texas Amateur to August 6-9, 2020, the starting field size was reduced from 144 to 120 participants. At the time, this change was seen as necessary because of the expected lower qualifying numbers as a whole, given the reduced number of sites and new dates for the qualifying rounds.

However, due to higher than anticipated qualifying numbers, the TGA will be increasing the field size to 132 players. The field size cannot increase to 144 players due to roughly 45 minutes less daylight in August as opposed to June.

For more information about the 111th Texas Amateur, click HERE.


March Volunteer Spotlight: Scott Beaty

Volunteer Scott Beaty

On Dec. 2, 1972, JFK Memorial Stadium in Philadelphia held 97,000 strong. It was the annual Army-Navy game, and the Army Black Knights and Navy Midshipmen were competing for the first Commanders-in-Chief’s Trophy.

Scott Beaty, a senior at the United States Military Academy West Point, was playing outside linebacker. The score was 12-7 Navy, and the Midshipmen were lining up for a field goal. Navy snapped the ball, and Beaty’s teammate Tim Pfister blocked the kick. The ball took a couple short hops before landing in Beaty’s hands.

“Every player has a responsibility on each play,” Beaty said. “For field goals and extra points, mine was to tackle the quarterback if it was a fake or pick up a blocked kick. So, when the ball came to me, there was no hesitation at all on what to do. I wasn’t the fastest guy on the team, but it happened so fast I was quite a way down the field before anyone knew I had the ball.”

Beaty’s 84-yard scoop and score was the turning point. The Black Knights outscored Navy 10-3 during the remainder of the game to win, 23-15. It was the last football game Beaty would ever play; but it was just the beginning of a successful military and civilian career.

WATCH: Beaty’s 84-yard touchdown (3:37-5:11)

Following his graduation from West Point in 1973, Beaty began his mandatory military service. He was initially assigned to the Third Infantry Division in Germany for his first three years in the Army. After making the decision to make the Army a career, Beaty spent the next 21 years serving in Washington D.C., the Gulf War, Hawaii and Korea.

“I had a great Army career,” Beaty said. “However, for some career officers, the transition to the private sector can very difficult. I was lucky to cross paths with an executive from the Bank of Montreal and he was interested in some work I had been doing in the Army.”

Beaty spent his first year out of the Army with the Bank of Montreal’s Institute for Learning in Toronto. He traveled Monday-Thursday from his home in Dallas and was eventually contacted by a recruiter on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell.

“They were also looking to become more of a ‘learning organization’ which was a trendy management initiative at the time,” Beaty said. “I spent the next 14 years with Shell.”

During that time, Beaty served in the Learning and Organizational Effectiveness group, as the head of a global practice and ultimately as Vice President of Human Resources for the Americas which included Canada and South America in addition to the United States. Beaty retired in 2011.

Following retirement, Beaty would travel to Brandon Dunes with a couple of Army officers who were golf Rules officials. They encouraged Beaty to get involved, and even though he was hesitant at first, he has volunteered with the TGA at amateur and junior championships across the state since 2014.

“I’ve enjoyed the challenge of mastering the Rules,” Beaty said. “I also enjoy the camaraderie with the other Rules officials and the team aspect of officiating. When you’re on a course and you encounter a situation you’re not sure about, there’s a trusted colleague to call on the radio.”

Jim Brown of Dallas, a past TGA President, has volunteered alongside Beaty for years. He’s recognized the leadership Beaty demonstrates on and off the golf course.

“Scott is a leader by example,” Brown said. “He has become an incredible TGA Volunteer by giving his time to the game we love and sharing himself with his fellow volunteers as well as the players. He has a genuine, quiet, confident manner that has come from his continuous study of the rules. He is truly a hero to me and many others, and we are all proud to call him a friend.”

Beaty’s experiences have shaped a leader, teammate and dedicated individual to the job at hand. Through his hard work, he’s always looking for a chance to help, guide and teach.

“I like the fact that being a referee in golf tournament isn’t like being a referee in a football game where you are throwing a flag on somebody who’s incurred a penalty,” Beaty said. “You’re trying to help people play the game within the Rules.”

The TGA extends its sincere appreciation to Scott for his efforts in making our championships a success. The work and dedication from all our volunteers allow the TGA to grow and continue to support the game we all love.

For more information on the TGA Volunteer Program, click here. To view the 2020 Competitions Calendar and Volunteering Opportunities,  click here.


Winter Golf and Loose Impediments

Rules of Golf Loose Impediments

One of the many great things about Texas is our year-round golf season. It might mean an extra layer or two of clothing, but plenty of Texans already are playing golf and posting scores. And, while playing this time of year can be wonderful, it does lead to some extra challenges we don’t face in the summer. If you play this weekend, you’ll probably encounter more objects on the ground than usual, such as fallen leaves and branches. These and other natural objects are classified by the Rules as loose impediments. Luckily, you can move loose impediments out of your way without penalty.

By definition, loose impediments are unattached natural objects like stones, loose grass, leaves, branches, pine needles, clumps of compacted soil (including aeration plugs), etc. Dead animals, worms, insects and other similar life forms that can be removed easily, and the mounds or webs they build (such as worm casts and ant hills), are also loose impediments.

However, and be careful here, such natural objects are not “loose” if they are attached or growing, solidly embedded in the ground (that is, cannot be picked out easily) or sticking to the ball. Those are not loose impediments.

Neither is loose soil, sand, dew, frost and/or water. Snow and natural ice (other than frost) are either loose impediments (meaning they can be moved) or, when on the ground, temporary water (meaning free relief is available), at your option. While sand and loose soil are not loose impediments by definition, you may remove them on the putting green.

With the new Rules that were implemented in 2019, players now are able to remove loose impediments that lie anywhere on the course without penalty, see Rule 15.1a. There previously were restrictions against moving them in a penalty area, but you may now move loose impediments that lie in any area of the course, including in a bunker or a penalty area.

While you may remove loose impediments anywhere, you should take care to not move your ball in doing so. If the removal of a loose impediment causes your ball to move, you must replace the ball on its original spot and you usually get a one-stroke penalty, see Rule 15.1b. There are exceptions to the Rule though. When your ball lies on the putting green, there is no penalty if you accidentally cause it to move when removing a loose impediment. Also, you can remove loose impediments by any means! Go ahead and use your towel or hat to remove any such items that may be in your way.

Another common question related to loose impediments is what happens if your ball deflects off a loose impediment while it’s in motion? If your ball in motion hits a loose impediment, you must play it as it lies with no penalty. This applies whether the loose impediment is moving or at rest and whether your ball is on the putting green or elsewhere.

Abnormal Conditions

In addition to loose impediments being more pervasive in the winter, it’s also the time of year when many courses undergo various maintenance projects, so you may encounter some abnormal conditions on the course.

The offseason often is a time when clubs schedule regular maintenance, such as aeration or course improvement projects. Let’s take a look at how these practices might affect play on the golf course. Any hole made by the Committee or the maintenance staff in maintaining the course (such as a hole made in removing turf or a tree stump, or laying pipelines) as well as grass cuttings, leaves and any other material piled for later removal are deemed ground under repair by definition. Therefore, you are automatically entitled to free relief, see Rule 16.1.

A Committee may also wish to define certain areas as ground under repair because of course conditions. If the Committee clarifies that an area is treated as ground under repair, you may also take free relief provided your ball does not lie in a penalty area.

Aeration holes do not fall within the meaning of a hole made by the maintenance staff, and thus are not ground under repair. Therefore, you may not repair them on the putting green (or anywhere on the golf course) or automatically take free relief from them in the general area. As such, holes can interfere with the proper playing of the game, a Committee may choose to use a Local Rule to give relief from these holes (Model Local Rule E-4). If this Local Rule is in effect, you may take free relief when your ball lies in or touches an aeration hole.

When playing golf at this time of year, or really at any time of year, there is always a chance that you will encounter loose impediments or abnormal conditions on the golf course. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how to proceed in these situations under the new 2019 Rules of Golf. Continue to enjoy golf in the New Year!

For more on the Rules, click here.