Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Rules Are Rules in Golf, or Are They?

In my blog last week, which related to Rory McIlroy turning down an autograph request from a young fan while making his way to the scoring area, I said that in my opinion Ian Poulter was wrong to use the misleading hashtag, #RulesAreRules, in his tweet in defense of Rory. My point was that this implied that a Rule of Golf was involved. This reminded me that I have received several queries over the years indicating confusion over the various roles of Rules, Decisions, Conditions of Competition, Byelaws and Handicapping Systems in arriving at rulings for various circumstances. In this blog I will try and clarify the differences

First, the term ‘Rules’ includes;

a) The Rules of Golf and their interpretations as contained in ‘Decisions on the Rules of Golf’.
b) Any Condition of Competition established by the Committee under Rule 33-1 and Appendix I.
c) Any Local Rules established by the Committee under Rule 33-8a and Appendix I. d) The specifications on;
(i) clubs and the ball in Appendices II and III and their interpretations as contained in ‘A Guide to the Rules on Clubs and Balls’; and
(ii) devices and other equipment in Appendix lV.
Rules of Golf: There are 34 Rules of Golf, jointly written and administered by R&A Rules (spun off from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews) and USGA.

Decisions on the Rules of Golf: This book contains over 1,200 Decisions clarifying matters that may not be entirely clear from the Rules of Golf, in a well-indexed format that is easy to read and understand. (I strongly recommend that all golfers with an interest in the Rules should have access to the R&A’s 'Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015'. If you do not want it for yourself you should consider purchasing it for your Club or Society. If you are going to purchase this book, or anything else from Amazon, please use this link, as I will then make a few cents affiliate commission, which will help me to meet my costs. Note that I think that I am right in saying that the USGA publication is only available from USGA Publications, but the content of both publications are the same, only some spellings are different.)

This reminds me to stress that there is only one ‘Rules of Golf’. Do not believe those that tell you that there are differences between R&A and USGA Rules, amateur and professional Rules, or Club and Society Rules, because there are not. Anyone playing the game of golf must abide by the same 34 Rules; conversely, anyone that chooses to ignore any of these Rules is playing a different game to golf.

Local Rules:
The Committee may make and publish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions, providing they are consistent with the policy set forth in Appendix I to the Rules. Some Local Rules operate on a permanent basis, e.g. allowing the removal of stones from bunkers by declaring them to be movable obstructions. Other Local Rules are temporary, e.g. those introduced to deal with adverse conditions in winter for the protection of the course, or to promote fair and pleasant play.

Rhodes Rules Tip: No golfer should commence a round of golf without knowing what the Local Rules are for the course, both permanent and temporary.

Conditions of Competition:
Rule 33-1 provides that the Committee must establish the conditions under which a competition is to be played. The conditions should include matters such as method of entry, eligibility, number of rounds to be played, etc. Tour events often have conditions of competition that do not usually apply to amateur competitions, such as the ‘one ball’ Rule and line of play relief from temporary immovable obstructions. I wrote a blog on this subject at this link. http://www.barryrhodes.com/2011/07/conditions-of-competition.html


Appendices:
There are four Appendices at the back of the Rules book covering these subjects;

Appendix I - Local Rules; Conditions of the Competition (see above)
Appendix II = Design of Clubs
Appendix III - The Ball
Appendix IV - Devices and Other Equipment, Rules of Amateur Status, Policy on Gambling
Byelaws:
Some Clubs have byelaws and/or sanctions that can affect the play. For example there may be areas of the course where players are not permitted to enter, e.g. environmentally protected areas, neighbouring gardens, water courses that have steeply sloping banks.

Sanctions:
Whilst Committees have no power to waive or modify a Rule of Golf without permission from the R&A or USGA, they may introduce ‘club regulations’ that require competitors to follow certain procedures in order to assist in the administration of the competition. Failure to follow these procedures may result in the application disciplinary sanctions, e.g., ineligibility to play in the next club competition(s). An example of this is a requirement for players to enter their score in a computer after their round. Committees may not penalise a player under the Rules of Golf if they fail to do so (Decision 6-6b/8), but they may impose a disciplinary sanction to take effect in the future, e.g. not being permitted to enter any competition for the next four weeks.

Handicapping Systems:
Unlike the Rules of Golf, which are unified across the world, handicapping systems vary greatly. When playing competitive golf outside their own country golfers should ensure that their handicap is recognised for the purpose of the competition.

Good golfing,




The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2014 and may not be copied without permission.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Glory Rory! The Open Champion 2014

From the photo above, it seems that I am not the only one that was delighted that Rory McIlroy banished his (imaginary!) Friday demons and went on to win The 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Please don’t join those who make the mistake of miscalling The Open, ‘The British Open’! He is obviously a popular winner all over the world and is now a very positive icon for the future of golf, because as well as being an exciting golfer, he is young, photogenic, articulate, plays pretty quickly and is knowledgeable about golf.

My understanding is that there were very few Rules issues of any note over the four days play, although the R&A’s unprecedented decision on Friday evening, to send players out at 9.00 am in three-balls, from both the 1st and 10th teeing grounds, caused apoplexy amongst some traditionalists. However, even they had to admit that it was an inspired decision, when unusually heavy rains quickly flooded the putting greens immediately after play had finished for the day, around mid-afternoon.

There has been a lot of misinformation about a minor incident that occurred as Rory walked from the 18th putting green to the scoring hut, having just secured his two strokes win. An enthusiastic young fan pushed his way past the officials walking with Rory and asked him to sign an autograph. Rory shrugged and the youngster was quickly guided away by a tour official and two suited security personnel. Apparently, Twittersphere went crazy, with some saying that Rory was wrong to blank the young fan and others saying that the entourage should have protected him better from an over-enthusiastic public. Some even claimed that Rory could have incurred a penalty if he had stopped to sign an autograph, which they presumably think would have led to a play-off. Ian Poulter probably fuelled the speculation about whether this would have been a breach of Rules when he tweeted;









In my opinion Poulter was wrong to use the misleading hashtag, #RulesAreRules, as this implies that a Rule of Golf was involved. There is nothing in the Rules that penalises a player from signing an autograph after their round has finished. Rule 6-6b is the only relevant one;
Signing and Returning Score Card
After completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee. He must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the score card, sign the score card himself and return it to the Committee as soon as possible.
Now, I am not doubting that tournament players are asked not to sign autographs until their score cards have been returned, but I suspect that this is advice from the authorities to assist players and is not a Condition of Competition that could result in a penalty. It is certainly not a Rule of Golf. I would be interested to hear if any subscriber to this blog knows of any competition hard card that contains anything relevant to the signing of autographs, either during or immediately after a round.

Good golfing,



The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2014 and may not be copied without permission.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Most Interesting Man in Golf and the Rat

Photo: Getty Images – Jiminez examining the rodent
Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is increasingly known as ‘The Most Interesting Man in Golf’, was photographed closely examining a ‘lifeless’ rodent in a bunker at the Scottish Open in Royal Aberdeen last Thursday. Having scoured the available reports and photos, I still have not been able to confirm whether, a) Jiminez’s ball was in the same bunker as the rodent, and b) if the rodent was alive or dead. What I have determined, is that most of the reports of the incident are confused about any ruling that may or may not have applied. For example, two of them quoted the fact that Rule 23-6 applied; not only has there never been a Rule 23-6; but Decision 23/6, which dealt with the subject of a dead land crab in a bunker, was withdrawn from the Decisions book In January 2012.

So, what would the ruling have been if Miguel’s ball had been lying against a dead rodent in the bunker? He would have had four options; play the ball as it lay, deem the ball unplayable and drop a ball in the bunker within two club-lengths, not nearer the hole, drop a ball in the bunker behind the point where the ball lay keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, or return to where he played his last stroke from under penalty of stroke and distance. If the rodent was alive it would have been an outside agency. The player may not remove an outside agency, as it is not an obstruction, which by definition is an artificial object, but they may ‘encourage’ it to move, e.g. by waving a club over it or by gentle prodding. If it will not move, either play the ball as it lies or take one of the penalty options already described. (Edit 17th July: Following interesting correspondence with a small number of subscribers, I now believe that there is nothing in the Rules that prevents a player from removing an outside agent from a hazard. However, note that this does not apply to an insect, which is a loose impediment, as well as an outside agent, and may not be touched or physically removed from a bunker when the player's ball lies in the same bunker, Decision 23-1/5.5)

Building a Stance in a Bunker
South Korean Ahn Sun-ju finished equal 9th at the Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale, Southport, last week. She may have finished higher had she not incurred a penalty of two strokes on her 18th hole on Saturday, for the unusual breach of building a stance. Her ball lay in a greenside bunker and she dug her left foot into the soft sand while taking her stance. Rule 13-3 states;
A player is entitled to place his feet firmly in taking his stance, but he must not build a stance.
There does not seem to be any video evidence of Ahn’s breach but Decision 13-3/3 may be relevant;

Q.A player knocks down the side of a bunker with his foot in an effort to get his feet on the same level. Is this permissible?

A.No. Such action constitutes building a stance in breach of Rule 13-3.
A player can also incur a penalty for a breach of Rule 13-4a if they dig in with their feet in excess of what would be normally be done for making a stance for a stroke or a practice swing, as this would constitute testing the condition of the hazard.

After she was advised of the penalty that she had incurred Ahn said that she was unaware of the rule.

"I didn't know about the rule. All I was trying to do was make a stance," she told ESPN, speaking through an interpreter.

"It's my mistake. If that's the rule, I have to abide by it."
Good golfing,



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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Ball Falling off Tee: Rule 11-3

Rule 11-3, Ball Falling off Tee, is short and seems simple enough, but I guess that some readers may find it useful for me to compare the rulings of various similar scenarios that can occur on the teeing ground. First, the wording of Rule 11-3;
If a ball, when not in play, falls off a tee or is knocked off a tee by the player in addressing it, it may be re-teed, without penalty. However, if a stroke is made at the ball in these circumstances, whether the ball is moving or not, the stroke counts, but there is no penalty.
Here are six teeing ground scenarios with differing rulings;
  • A player makes a practice swing close to his teed ball and accidentally hits it, moving it 100 yards down the fairway.
Ruling: The ball was not in play and there was no stroke made at it. No penalty has been incurred and the player must re-tee a ball anywhere within the teeing ground. Decision 18-2a/19.
  • A player makes a stroke at his teed ball and completely misses it (a ‘whiff’, or ‘fresh air’) but the ball topples off the tee.
Ruling: The stroke counts and the ball is in play. The player must play the ball as it lies. Definition of Stroke.
  • A player makes a stroke at his teed ball and his clubhead just touches it knocking it off the tee. The player picks-up the ball and re-tees it.
Ruling: The stroke counted and the ball was in play when it was picked-up, so the player should have played the ball where it lay. When he lifted the ball, he incurred a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a and was required to replace it. However, when the player made a stroke at the re-teed ball, he effectively played a ball under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1a) overriding the penalty under Rule 18-2a.
  • A player addresses his teed ball and accidentally knocks it off the tee as he grounds his club behind it.
Ruling: The ball was not in play, so there was no penalty. The player must re-tee a ball anywhere within the teeing ground to make their first stroke on that hole. Rule 11-3.
  • A player addresses his teed ball and completes his backswing for a stroke, but as he begins the forward movement the ball falls off the tee; he is able to abort his stroke, swinging over the ball without touching it.
Ruling: No stroke has been made and no penalty incurred. The ball has not been put in play, so the player must put a ball in play from anywhere on the teeing ground. Definition of Stroke.
Note: See this earlier blog of mine for more on this scenario.
  • A player addresses his teed ball, completes his backswing and as he begins the forward movement of his swing the ball falls off the tee; he tries to abort his stroke, but tops it forward a few yards.
Ruling: The stroke counts, because the player started his stroke with the forward movement and was not then able to check his downswing before his clubhead reached the ball. The player must play his second stroke from where the ball comes to rest. Definition of Stroke.
Good golfing,




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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Pressing Down on a Line of Putt

Sometimes we think that we know a Rule of Golf and then find that there are exceptions, which we also have to take into account. An example of this is touching the line of putt. The beginning of Rule 16-1a states;
The line of putt must not be touched
And then we see the important word, “except”, followed by these seven situations where a player is permitted to touch their intended line of putt;
(i) the player may remove loose impediments, provided he does not press anything down;
(ii) the player may place the club in front of the ball when addressing it, provided he does not press anything down;
(iii) in measuring – Rule 18-6;
(iv) in lifting or replacing the ball – Rule 16-1b;
(v) in pressing down a ball-marker;
(vi) in repairing old hole plugs or ball marks on the putting green – Rule 16-1c; and
(vii) in removing movable obstructions – Rule 24-1.
Note that in two of these situations, removing loose impediments and addressing the ball, the player will still incur a penalty if they press down on their line of putt while doing so. Does it follow that when a player is repairing ball mark damage on their line of putt they must not finish the repair by tapping it down with their putter head, or their foot? The answer is no. There is no restriction in Rule 16-1c as to how a player repairs damage that has definitely been made by a ball. For many of us that may include pressing down the area, to ensure that the surface is flat following the repair and so will not subsequently divert the roll of our ball.

Rule 8-2b is also relevant to this subject;

When the player’s ball is on the putting green, the player, his partner or either of their caddies may, before but not during the stroke, point out a line for putting, but in so doing the putting green must not be touched. A mark must not be placed anywhere to indicate a line for putting.
So, the player, their partner, or either of their caddies must be careful that they do not touch anywhere on the intended line of putt, whether it is with a hand, a foot, a club, or a flagstick. But once again there is an exception; Decision 16-1a/12 clarifies that if a player walks on their line of putt, there is no penalty if they did so accidentally and their line was not improved.

I covered the definition of Line of Putt in this earlier blog; it is not always a straight line between the ball and the hole.

Concession in Stroke Play Play-off
The commentators at the fifth play-off hole of the BMW International Open in Cologne, Germany, between Henrik Stenson and Fabrizio Zanotti, last Sunday, were confused when Stenson conceded the tournament win to Zanotti. Concessions usually only apply in match play, but the relevant part of Decision 33-6/3 states;

If there is a stroke-play play-off between two competitors and one of them is disqualified or concedes defeat, it is not necessary for the other to complete the play-off hole or holes to be declared the winner.
Good golfing.


  

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

When a Ball Is Lost in an Abnormal Ground Condition

Casual water on the 4th hole at Roundel Glen Golf Course
First, the Definition of an Abnormal Ground Condition;
An “abnormal ground condition” is any casual water, ground under repair or hole, cast or runway on the course made by a burrowing animal, a reptile or a bird.
Note that there is no relief from the footprints of animals or birds, which is a common misunderstanding. Also, remember that there is no relief from interference by an abnormal ground condition when the ball lies in a water hazard or a lateral water hazard, Rule 25-1b.

It is the same Rule 25-1b that covers how players may take relief from abnormal ground conditions, but in this blog I want to highlight the fact that if you cannot find your ball that is lost in an abnormal ground condition, it is Rule 25-1c that sets out the procedure that the player must follow, without penalty. For a player to avail of this relief there must be no doubt that their ball did come to rest in the condition. This is the relevant paragraph;

If it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found is in an abnormal ground condition, the player may take relief under this Rule. If he elects to do so, the spot where the ball last crossed the outermost limits of the abnormal ground condition must be determined and, for the purpose of applying this Rule, the ball is deemed to lie at this spot  ...
I previously blogged on the important subject of ‘Known or Virtually Certain’ at this link. To summarise, the possibility that the ball may be in an abnormal ground condition is not sufficient; there must be preponderance of evidence to that effect. Even when the weight of evidence suggests that a ball is lost in the condition, but there remains a possibility that it could have come to rest outside the defined area, the player should strengthen the evidence by searching for their ball for the permitted five minutes. In the absence of strong evidence that the ball is in the condition it must be treated as lost, and the player has to return to where they last played from under penalty of stroke and distance (Rule 27-1). There is no alternative if the player wishes to play out the hole, which is a mandatory requirement in a strokes competition, but not in a Stableford, Par or Bogey competition.

When it is known or virtually certain that a ball is lost in an abnormal ground condition, the reference point for taking relief is the spot where the ball last crossed the outermost limits of the abnormal ground condition. Having determined this point the player must then drop a ball in accordance with Rule 25-1c, which will depend on whether the reference point is through the green, in a bunker or on the putting green.

Obviously, the reason why free relief is available for balls that cannot be found in ground under repair, is that they are areas of temporary adverse course conditions defined by Committees (Rule 33-2a(iii)) and it would be unfair if a player had to take a penalty of stroke and distance because their ball was known to have come to rest in one. However, remember that the same relief applies to balls that are known or virtually certain to be in other abnormal ground conditions, including casual water, holes made by a burrowing animal and, where defined by a Local Rule, environmentally sensitive areas.

One last point, when a ball is found within an abnormal ground condition it is not mandatory to take relief, unless a Local Rule requires it. You will note in the excerpt from Rule 25-1c above that I have highlighted the words, “may take relief”; it does not say “must take relief”.

Good Golfing,




Why not test and improve your Rules of Golf knowledge by working out players’ scores in completing 99 holes of golf, during which multiple Rules situations occur, some of them incurring penalties and some of them permitted by the Rules? My ‘How Many Strokes’ eDocument is fun and educational. Click here



The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2014 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Hunter Mahan and Jamie Donaldson Play Wrong Balls

Photo ©USGA/Fred Vuich
I am sure that most readers will have been as surprised as I was to hear that two well-known Tour Players had played each other’s ball at the US Open at Pinehurst 2 last week. Apparently, both players were playing a Titleist golf ball with a similar slash through the number, which partly explains the circumstances behind their costly mistake. John Wood, Hunter Mahan’s caddie (in the red bib in the photo), gives a further explanation;
“Hunter’s ball had kicked right so I assumed it was the one in the middle of the fairway. Jamie’s ball, to me, looked definitely left. I got up to the ball, I was the first one there. Completely my fault. I went to the ball first, got the yardage, gave the yardage to Hunter, Jamie and Mic went over to their ball and played their ball after Hunter hit his. It was 100% my fault.”

“Not until we got to the green, did we realize what had happened. It was 100% on me. I was the first one to the ball.”

“I still can’t grasp what happened. It doesn’t make any sense to me…You are out here every day for 17 years, you know where the ball goes in the fairway. I can’t grasp where the ball ended up…but that is no excuse, it was my fault. I went to the ball first.”
So, what are the Rules issues in this situation? Well, both players incurred a penalty of two strokes for playing a wrong ball, Rule 15-3. They had to correct their error by playing their own ball from where it lay before it was moved by the other player. If the exact spot and lie was known they could have placed their ball there, but in most cases this is not the case and the ball has to be dropped, as near as possible to where it was at rest, Rule 20-3c. In the Mahan/Donaldson incident the players realised that they had switched balls before making their next stroke, but it would not have mattered if they had played more than one stroke with a wrong ball, or if they had incurred a penalty with that ball; the maximum penalty for playing a wrong ball in stroke play is two strokes. However, the competitor must correct their mistake by playing the correct ball or by proceeding under the Rules, e.g. if their original ball is lost or unplayable. If they fail to correct their mistake before making a stroke on the next teeing ground or, in the case of the last hole of the round, fail to declare their intention to correct their mistake before leaving the putting green, they are disqualified.

Do you always mark your golf balls to minimise the possibility of playing a wrong ball? Here is a relevant tip from my eDocument, ’99 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’;
7. Ensure that you put personal identification marks on all your golf balls. Be bold with how you mark your ball so that you can immediately recognise it. In my experience, having a distinct personal identification mark on your golf balls is the easiest way to avoid playing a wrong ball and can save you many penalty strokes over the course of a year. The Rules say that players should put an identification mark on their ball, but my advice is to make this a must. Rule 12-2.
(Click here if you would like to benefit from reading my other 98 tips!)
I wonder if you noticed how many players in the US Open had marked their ball with a line around all or part of the circumference. One of the pundits on the channel that I was watching even commented on it. This way of marking a ball can be very useful in lining-up a tee shot or a putt and is completely within the Rules, which may surprise some readers, as it seems at odds with Rule 14-2b, part of which states;
A player must not make a stroke with his caddie, his partner or his partner’s caddie positioned on or close to an extension of the line of play or line of putt behind the ball.
A line drawn on the ball would seem to be a better way of lining-up a tee shot or putt than to have a caddie or partner standing immediately behind you in breach of Rule 14-2, which personally I would find distracting anyway.

Good golfing,



 

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2014 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Penalty Imposed After Competition Is Closed

Jason Millard (photo by Getty Images/Chris Condon)
Two seemingly similar Rules situations were brought to my attention this week that had completely different outcomes. One concerned an American Professional, Jason Millard, and the other an amateur with a conscience.

On Monday June 2nd, Jason Millard qualified for the US Open in a sectional qualifier in Memphis, Tennessee. However, a nagging thought kept worrying him as to whether he might have unintentionally touched the sand in a bunker on the 18th, his final hole of 27 played on the day. He recalls;

“I got in the bunker and looked up at the flag and back down, then back at the flag, I looked down the last time before I took my swing and I think I feel the club hit the sand. I may never know. I think I see a little indentation from where the club hit it, but it happened so fast. I was actually in the act of making my swing when I thought I saw it. It was like a blur. That image keeps popping in my head.”
Millard did notify his fellow competitor, Tommy Gainey, but he was on the other side of the green and didn’t see anything. He told a Rules official, who informed him that it was his call and his call alone. He finished the hole and signed his card, earning a place in the US Open field by one stroke. If he had given himself a two-stroke penalty, he would have missed a playoff by one.
"I literally thought about it for every single second of the day," Millard told Golf Channel. "I just kept asking myself what to do. I kept saying, 'I'm not 100 percent sure,' so I never did anything. But it kept on eating at me inside. It's heartbreaking but what I was feeling in my heart didn't feel right. It's the right decision and I am sticking with it."
Five days later, as he was travelling to Pinehurst, he decided that he had to call the Championship Committee, to bring the matter to their attention. Daniel Burton, USGA Vice President and Chairman of the Championship Committee, commended him for doing so and explained that they had no option but to disqualify him under exception (iii) to Rule 34-1b, which states;
Exceptions: A penalty of disqualification must be imposed after the competition has closed if a competitor: …
… (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; …
Unfortunately, this is just another bad break that Jason Millard has suffered in the past two years. I recommend you read this moving article by Jason Sobel, of Golf Channel.

At the other end of the scale, I recently received a question from an amateur golfer who had won a prize at their Captain’s prize day. During their round they had played a ball into mud on the far side of a water hazard. Not knowing whether the ball would be found or not they played another ball, from where they had last played. The original ball was found in the hazard in a playable lie and so the player continued play with it. This was the wrong thing to do, as the other ball was now in play, because you may not play a provisional ball if the original ball is known or virtually certain to be in a water hazard. However, the player was not aware that they had incurred a penalty until several days later, when they read a ‘Rhodes Rules School’ issue on playing a provisional ball. The person immediately phoned a member of the Committee, saying that under the circumstances they wished to return the prize. I explained that this was not necessary as part of Rule 34-1b (the same Rule as above) states;

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.
Unlike the Millard case above, none of the four exceptions to this Rule applied to this case, as the player was not aware of any Rules breach until well after the competition had closed and the result had been announced.

Good golfing,



 

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Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Matsuyama Wins Memorial without a Driver

There were at least three interesting Rules incidents at last week’s Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, Dublin, Ohio.

Hideki Matsuyama stepped up to the teeing ground of his final hole needing a birdie to force a playoff with Kevin Na, who had finished more than two hours earlier at 13 under. The young and rising Japanese star pushed his drive into trees, but his ball took a favourable bounce and landed back on the fairway. This was not enough to stop him venting his frustration at the bad shot by slamming his driver into the ground, splintering the shaft and rendering it unplayable. However, his next stroke was a beauty, leaving him a clutch, five foot putt to equal Na’s total, which he comfortably made. Now, this is the interesting Rules question. As Matsuyama’s driver was not damaged in the normal course of play he was not permitted to replace it during the stipulated round (see this blog of mine on damaging clubs in anger). But this does not apply to a play-off, which constitutes a new round, Decision 4-3/12, so Matsuyama was entitled to replace his broken club. Unfortunately, he did not have a spare driver in his locker (!) and had to drive again from the 18th teeing ground with his 3-wood, finding a fairway bunker. Nevertheless, he put his bunker shot to about 10 feet and then made the putt to beat Na, who bogeyed this first playoff hole.

Justin Rose found himself in the Rules news again after calling a penalty on himself at the side of the 12th green on Friday. Apparently he still called over a Rules Official as he was confusingly reported to say;

“It was pretty obvious, I wanted them to verify that it wasn’t a triple hit. After what happened at TPC (Sawgrass) I wanted to make sure.”
Surely, he should know that the penalty is still one stroke if he had hit his ball three times with a single stroke! Rule 14-4 states;
If a player’s club strikes the ball more than once in the course of a stroke, the player must count the stroke and add a penalty stroke, making two strokes in all.
Well those two were pretty straightforward, but how about this one. Was Scott Langley’s putt holed after his 10 foot putt on the par-3 16th hole on the final day? Below is the wording of the relevant Rule 16-2; read it and then take a look at the video clip and make your own decision!
When any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay and an additional ten seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest. If by then the ball has not fallen into the hole, it is deemed to be at rest. If the ball subsequently falls into the hole, the player is deemed to have holed out with his last stroke, and must add a penalty stroke to his score for the hole; otherwise, there is no penalty under this Rule.

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Good Golfing,




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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Ball Lodged Between Spectator's Legs

A month ago, in Malaysia, Pablo Larrazabal had to jump into a lake, mid-round, having been badly stung by more than 30 hornets. Which is why he tweeted the following, after another bizarre golfing incident happened to him.

This humorous Rules incident occurred during the BMW PGA Championship at the Wentworth Club last week. Larrazabal's 3rd stroke to the 18th green lodged between the legs of a spectator, who is an outside agent in the Rules of Golf. Of course, most of us would have let the ball fall to the ground, but not this stoic character, who stood there with the ball clenched between his legs until the player reached him. Ignoring all the obvious puns, how does the player proceed in this sitaution and under which Rule? Rule 19-1a states;
If a player’s ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, except:
a. If a player’s ball in motion after a stroke other than on the putting green comes to rest in or on any moving or animate outside agency, the ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest in or on the outside agency, but not nearer the hole....
So, Pablo Larrazabal had to retrieve his ball (very carefully!) from between the spectator's legs, ask him to move aside and then drop it as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where it had been retrieved from.

I cannot leave the subject of the BMW PGA Championship without adding my congratulations to Rory McIlroy, who proved that some top players can concentrate their minds on their golf game, no matter what external pressure they may be experiencing. Congratulations also to Shane Lowry, from Co. Offaly in Ireland's midlands, who was one stroke behind Rory, in second place. As someone who has lived in Ireland for the past 37 years, I completely agree with these sentiments, copied from Shane's personal web site;

“Ireland is a place that welcomes you in without even trying.  Maybe it’s our social nature or the amazing scenery or the buzz of simply going for a pint. Maybe it’s the craic, that indefinable feeling that embodies Irish fun. Whatever it is, and despite all the rain, I’m proud to be from one of the most beautiful places on earth.”
If any readers are planning a golfing trip to Ireland and will be passing through Dublin, please let me know, as it would be my pleasure to meet with you, if it can easily be arranged.

Good golfing,




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