Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Take Care in Those Water Hazards!

Aaron Baddeley

An unfortunate incident concerning Australian, Aaron Baddeley, highlights that there is more to playing golf than shot making and course management. Aaron disqualified himself from the CA Championship at Doral Golf Resort last week, when he realised that he had signed an incorrect card for his second round. The circumstances were that having hit his tee shot into a water hazard on the 3rd hole, during his 3rd round, he called for a Rules Official to see whether he was permitted to move a stone that was lying under his foot after taking his stance. He was correctly advised that he could not intentionally move the stone, a loose impediment. So far, so good, but Baddeley then realised that he had been in the same water hazard the previous day and on that occasion he had moved a stone lying underneath his foot. He therefore belatedly called a penalty on himself and, because that meant that he had signed for an incorrect score the day before, he was automatically disqualified.

The Rule that Aaron Baddely breached during his 2nd round was Rule 13-4c, Ball in Hazard, Prohibited Actions;

Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not: ……c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.

When we are taking our stance through the green it is only natural to kick away anything that makes our stance uncomfortable, such as a pebble, a pine cone, or a twig. However, as soon as you see your ball lying in a hazard you should focus your attention on what is, and what is not permitted by the Rules. When your ball lies in a water hazard, moving a stone in that hazard before making a stroke, incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play. The reason is that loose impediments may be moved anywhere on the course except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in, or touch, the same hazard. Note however, that there is often a Local Rule permitting stones to be removed from bunkers, for player safety reasons.

So, if the penalty for intentionally moving a stone in a water hazard with his foot was two strokes, why did Aaron disqualify himself during his play of the 3rd round? Because, the penalty was incurred on the 2nd day and he had returned a score card, signed by him and his marker, without including that penalty. The applicable Rule is 6-6b, 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. Penalty for Breach of Rule 6-6b: Disqualification.

When asked whether he was disappointed, Aaron replied,
“Yeah, just disappointed. You always want to play four rounds and just play as much as you can. And especially in a World Golf Championships like this. Disappointing, but I had to do the right thing. …...You have to be honest with yourself. I've got to be able to go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror. That's the great thing about this game. You know you can trust all the guys out there because you know they're going to do the same.”

Well done, Aaron Baddeley. You have done yourself, and the game of golf, a service. It is unlikely that you will make the same mistake again in a water hazard and, as a result of the exposure surrounding this incident, many others will have learned something new about the Rules of Golf and the desirability for total integrity in applying them.

Barry Rhodes

Assisting golfers of all capabilities to improve their understanding of the Rules of Golf

No comments: