Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ian Poulter Breaches Rule 20-3

Photo by Kamran Jebreili

In what could be the last interesting ruling in this season’s tournament golf, in a year that has seen many of them, Ian Poulter called a penalty on himself on the second playoff hole of the European Tour’s final tournament in Dubai. The circumstances were that as he went to replace his golf ball he accidentally dropped it onto his marker, flipping it over. Ironically, Poulter’s marker is a ‘lucky’ coin featuring his children's names. His one stroke penalty for this breach meant that Robert Karlsson had two putts to win the $1.25 million first prize. Fortunately, he sunk his first putt of around 4-feet for a birdie, which means that Poulter can probably sleep a little sounder over his winter break.

Now some may claim that there was no penalty as part of Rule 20-3a states;
If a ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved in the process of placing or replacing the ball, the ball or ball-marker must be replaced. There is no penalty, provided the movement of the ball or ball-marker is directly attributable to the specific act of placing or replacing the ball or removing the ball-marker. Otherwise, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a or 20-1.
However, Decision 20-1/15 clearly states;
Q. What is meant by the phrase "directly attributable to the specific act" in Rules 20-1 and 20-3a?

A. In Rule 20-1 the phrase means the specific act of placing a ball-marker behind the ball, placing a club to the side of the ball, or lifting the ball such that the player's hand, the placement of the ball-marker or the club, or the lifting of the ball causes the ball or the ball-marker to move.
In Rule 20-3a the phrase means the specific act of placing or replacing a ball in front of a ball-marker, placing a club to the side of the ball-marker, or lifting the ball-marker such that the player's hand, the placement of the ball or the club, or the lifting of the ball-marker causes the ball or the ball-marker to move.

Under either Rule, any accidental movement of the ball or the ball-marker which occurs before or after this specific act, such as dropping the ball or ball-marker, regardless of the height from which it was dropped, is not considered to be "directly attributable" and would result in the player incurring a penalty stroke.
So, there is no doubt that Ian Poulter was correct in penalising himself one stroke. This leads to the question of whether it is a fair ruling? Well, there has to be some point at which the movement of a ball or ball-marker incurs a penalty. The Rules have to be very precise, or there would be arguments in almost every competition or match ever played. The Rules cannot be expected to protect us from clumsiness, forgetfulness or bad luck.

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

If you enjoy reading my blog items and are not receiving them by email you can subscribe at the top right hand corner of this blog page. If you are already a subscriber I would ask you to recommend the site to someone else that you know that you think might benefit from the content. Thank you.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Marking a Ball to the Side

Here is a situation that happens to most golfers sooner or later. You are requested to mark your ball to the side of where it came to rest on a putting green, because otherwise your ball marker may interfere with a fellow competitor’s line of putt. You carefully mark the ball one or two putter-lengths to the side and then get absorbed in watching the line of other players’ putts and conversing with them about their good (or poor) attempts. When it is your turn to play, you replace your ball at your marker, forgetting to reverse the steps that were used to mark it to the side. This results in you playing from the wrong place. So what is the ruling? The player incurs a penalty of two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play under Rule 20-7, Playing from Wrong Place, and must carry on playing their ball from where it came to rest or, if the ball was putted into the hole, they had holed out.

This is important. Once a player has played from the wrong place in stroke play they must continue play of the hole. Part of Rule 20-7c states;
If a competitor makes a stroke from a wrong place, he incurs a penalty of two strokes under the applicable Rule. He must play out the hole with the ball played from the wrong place, without correcting his error, provided he has not committed a serious breach (see Note 1).
The Note 1 referred to above explains that a competitor is deemed to have committed a serious breach of the applicable Rule if the Committee considers he has gained a significant advantage as a result of playing from a wrong place. Obviously putting from a putter-length or two from where you should have is not a serious breach. In match play the player loses the hole as soon as they play from a wrong place.

If a player plays from a wrong place in the circumstances described above and then realises what they have done, they should not try and rectify the situation or they will incur an additional penalty of two strokes. Decision 20-7c/2 confirms;
Q. In stroke play, A mistakenly replaced his ball in front of B's ball-marker (which was near A's ball-marker) and putted. The ball came to rest about one foot from the hole. The error was then discovered and A lifted his ball without marking its position, placed it in front of his own ball-marker and finished the hole. What is the ruling?

A. When A replaced his ball in front of B's ball-marker and putted, he played from a wrong place and incurred a penalty of two strokes; the ball was in play — Rule 20-7c.
When A then lifted his ball from where it lay about one foot from the hole without marking its position and did not replace it, he incurred the general penalty (two strokes) for a breach of Rule 20-1 — see second paragraph of Rule 20-1.

Thus, A incurred a total penalty of four strokes.
This is a good example of how not knowing a Rule of Golf can be costly in terms of penalty strokes. I have a useful tip that might help you to avoid this breach of Rule in the first place. When I mark a ball to the side as a courtesy to another player I immediately turn my putter upside-down and hold it by the putter head. I only ever do this when my ball marker has been placed to the side, so it serves as a trigger reminder for me to replace my marker when it is my turn to putt. I recommend this routine that has worked for me for several years now.

My final point concerns how the player marks their ball to the side. It does not matter what method they use, providing the steps to move the ball or ball-marker to the side are then strictly reversed when the ball is replaced. This ensures that the ball is accurately replaced on the spot from which it was lifted.

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

Christmas is approaching fast. Why not buy 3 or 5 copies of my book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’ at big discounts, keep one for yourself to help you understand the Rules better and pass on the others to golfing friends and family as a low-cost gift that they will always thank you for. Click here for details on how to purchase on-line.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Barry Rhodes 'Stars' in TV Ad

Several weeks ago I was approached by a eminent US advertising agency who asked if I would mind if they used short clips from my YouTube videos on the Rules of Golf. They explained that they were creating a TV advertisement for, the largest online tee-time retailer in the United States, owned and operated by Golf Channel of Orlando, Florida. Of course, I was intrigued as to the context in which they wanted to use my low-cost, self-produced videos, but was happy to obtain any additional exposure that may result from the TV ads (and a nominal license fee helped me make-up my mind!). I think that the resulting ad will amuse you. I understand that it is already being aired to TV audiences in both the Atlanta and San Diego areas. Be patient, it takes a couple of seconds to start.

If you haven’t seen the original videos from which these ad clips were taken, each of which runs between 3 1/2 and 5 minutes, they can be viewed by clicking on these links;
Water Hazard
Lateral Water Hazard
Nearest Point of Relief
Ball Unplayable
The Rules of Golf aren’t really hard, and I hope that by following my blog you can get a better understanding that will help you enjoy your game more.

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

Barry Rhodes is;

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Professional Golfers Ignoring Local Rules - Again!

This season has seen some spectacular Rules screw-ups from professional golfers that should really know better. But we rarely have three of them in a single tournament, which is what happened in the pro-celebrity Star Trophy at Mission Hills in Haikou, China, last weekend.

First, six-time Major winner, Sir Nick Faldo, suffered the indignity of a Round 1 disqualification. He missed a putt on the eighth hole and picked-up his ball, thinking that he could not better his playing partner’s score. Unfortunately, he had forgotten that the pro-celebrity format included a professionals only competition. His mistake was not brought to his attention until he had teed off at the next hole, by which time it was too late to rectify and he was automatically disqualified, under Rule 3-2, Failure to Hole Out.

Next, Colin Montgomerie was the weekend’s biggest loser when, during the final against retired lady golfer, Lorena Ochoa, his caddy moved an advertising sign on his line of play. This is permitted in any PGA or European Tour event. But a Local Rule at the Star Trophy, contained in a sheet handed out to the competitors before the competition started, stated that these signs could not be moved. Monty was penalised two strokes for his caddie's action; the same number of strokes that kept him from making a playoff against Lorena Ochoa, who therefore took the winner’s prize money of $1.28 million. Ouch!

Finally, the most spectacular penalty situation at this event was the 26-stroke penalty incurred by Ryuji Imada, who actually admitted that he did not bother to read the Local Rules sheet. When difficult course conditions require that ‘lift, clean and place’ operates on the PGA Tour, where Imada usually plays, players are able to place the ball within one club-length of its original position. But on the Asian and European tours, the ball must be placed within the length of a scorecard (about 6 inches). It wasn’t until the 12th hole that his fellow competitor, Danny Lee, noticed that Imada was breaking the rule and informed him accordingly. He was penalised two strokes for every ball that he had lifted, cleaned and placed on the fairway, a total of 26 strokes. When asked about his infraction, Imada succinctly replied, “I’m an idiot”.

Is it unreasonable, following Dustin Johnson’s high-profile and high-cost ‘Bunker-gate’ affair (see this link), to expect that golf Pros, and especially their caddies, should now pay more attention to the sheets that are given to all competitors prior to the start of each event detailing Local Rules and Conditions of Competitions? I don’t think so. Once again I recommend that you make this chore a regular feature of your own pre-game routine, especially when playing on a course that you are not totally familiar with. You can only gain by doing so.

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are coming to the end of another golf season. Why not use the off-season time to get a better understanding of the Rules. If you have not yet subscribed to my weekly ‘Rhodes Rules School’ series I recommend that you do so now. This weekly email, where I pose several Q&As based around photos of situations that players regularly encounter on the course, is sent without charge and you can unsubscribe at any time. Be assured that I will not pass on your email address to anyone else. Click on this link to subscribe.