Thursday, 28 October 2010

Club-lengths Don't Have to be Measured


Here is a question that raises some interesting issues relating to club-lengths.
“Please resolve a dispute amongst our group of members at the Golf Club. When measuring club-lengths using a driver, does the head-cover have to be removed?”
Some readers may be surprised to hear that there is nothing in the Rules that says that a club must be used in measuring club-lengths. A drop is valid providing the ball first touches the course within the distance required by the Rule and does not come to rest in a place that requires it to be re-dropped (e.g. nearer the hole or out of bounds). Thus, one or two club-length distances may be estimated and don’t have to be accurately marked, although it is obviously wise to do so if you want to use the full extent of the relief that is available. If a club is used to define the extent of the area in which the ball is to be dropped there is no requirement for the head-cover to be removed. However, the measurement obviously does not include the extra length provided by the head-cover, as this is not part of the club.

There are a couple of other interesting points regarding measuring club-lengths. First, a player may use another competitor’s club to measure distances, but only if they carry a club in their bag that is as long, or longer, as the one that they have borrowed. If the player could not have achieved the same outcome by measuring with one of their own clubs they incur the penalty for playing from a wrong place (Decision 20/2).

The second situation is when a player taking relief under a Rule, uses their driver to measure two club-lengths prescribed in the relevant Rule. They drop their ball correctly and the ball rolls less than two driver-lengths, but more than two putter-lengths, from where the ball first struck a part of the course when dropped. If their ball comes to rest in a poor lie, may they then opt to use their putter to measure the distance their ball has rolled, in which case they could re-drop under Rule 20-2c and escape the poor lie? As you would expect, the answer is that they must continue to use the club originally used for measuring for all measuring in a given situation (Decision 20/1).

Before anyone reading this blog item writes to me asking if a player is permitted to use their long-handled for measuring club-lengths, let me state that there is nothing in the Rules that prohibits this practice, but don’t do it! It would be considered to be very poor etiquette, as it obviously offers an advantage not intended by the Ruling Bodies to anyone using this type of club for putting. In my opinion, use of a long-handled putter should be prohibited anyway!

In February of this year I wrote about how to correctly measure club-lengths in various different circumstances, illustrated with a series of graphics. Click here to see this blog entry.

Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

Barry Rhodes is;

• Author of the book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’ http://www2.barryrhodes.com/recommends
• Author and narrator of the CD, ’99 Golden Nuggets to Demystifying the Rules of Golf’
http://tinyurl.com/yb3ch7m
• Content provider for the iPhone application, ‘Golf Rules Quiz’
http://tinyurl.com/yzsgpx2

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

John Paramor on the 2010 Ryder Cup


I am taking a break t
his week and pointing you towards an excellent blog from John Paramor, Chief Referee for the 38th Ryder Cup. He writes very interestingly about his duties over the course of eight days in Celtic Manor before and during the Ryder Cup matches. Well worth the read.
Click here for John Paramor’s Ryder Cup Blog
Good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

Barry Rhodes is;
• Author of the book, ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’
• Author and narrator of the CD, ’99 Golden Nuggets to Demystifying the Rules of Golf’
• Content provider for the iPhone application, ‘Golf Rules Quiz’

Click on the above products for more information

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Searching for a Golf Ball


I was recently asked whether you have to search for your ball before putting another ball in play or continuing play with a provisional ball. The simple answer is, “No, you do not”. If a player thinks that their ball may have come to rest in a position where they would be unable to play it, or if they could it might take them several strokes to get back onto the fairway, then they can play another ball (without calling it a provisional ball) from where they last played, under penalty of stroke and distance, Rule 27-1. However, if anyone finds the player’s ball in bounds before they have put another ball in play then the player has to proceed with that original ball.

Decision 27-2b/1 describes an unusual situation, but one which I think will help you understand and remember the paragraph above;
At a par-3 hole, a player hits his tee shot into dense woods. He then hits a provisional ball which comes to rest near the hole. In view of the position of the provisional ball, the player does not wish to find his original ball. He does not search for it and walks directly towards his provisional ball to continue play with it. His opponent (or fellow-competitor) believes it would be beneficial to him if the original ball were found. May the opponent (or fellow-competitor) search for the player's ball?

A. Yes. In equity (Rule 1-4), he may search for five minutes provided that in the meantime the player does not play a stroke with the provisional ball, it being nearer the hole than the place where the original ball is likely to be. The player is entitled to play such a stroke. If he does, the original ball is then lost under Rule 27-2b and further search for it would serve no purpose. In match play, if the player so proceeds and his provisional ball is closer to the hole than his opponent's ball, his opponent may recall the stroke (Rule 10-1c). However, recalling the stroke would not change the status of the original ball, which was lost when the provisional ball was played out of turn.
Here are some other points relating to searching for a ball;
  • If a player wants to play a provisional ball they must do so before they or their partner go forward to search for their original ball (Rule 27-2).
  • The five minutes that is permitted to search for a ball commences as soon as the player, their partner, or either of their caddies have begun to search for it (Definition of Lost Ball).
  • Time spent in playing a wrong ball is not counted in the five-minute period allowed for search (Definition of Lost Ball).
  • A player is allowed five minutes to search for their original ball and another five minutes to search for their provisional ball, providing both balls are not believed to be so close together that, in effect, both balls would be searched for simultaneously (Decision 27-4).
  • If a player finds their ball after two minutes leaves the area to get a club and is then unable to find the ball again, they are allowed three minutes (being the balance of five minutes) for further search (Decision 27/2).
  • If a ball that is believed to be a player’s original ball is found in bounds the player must inspect it and, if it is their original ball, they must continue play with it (or proceed under the unplayable ball Rule), abandoning any provisional ball (Decision 27-2c/2).
As always, good golfing,

Barry Rhodes

If any reader who has not yet subscribed to my weekly ‘Rhodes Rules School’ series would like to see an example before subscribing please email me at rules at barryrhodes dot com. However, I would remind you that this weekly series, 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. I promise that I will not pass on your email address to anyone else. Click on this link now to subscribe.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Ricky Fowler Incorrectly Substitutes a Ball During Ryder Cup Match


The most interesting Rules situation at the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales so far (I’m writing this on Sunday evening and the 12 singles matches will now be played tomorrow), concerned Corey Pavin’s pick, the 21-year old Rickie Fowler. He and his Thursday foursomes partner, Jim Furyk, suffered a loss of hole penalty on the 4th hole to go 2-down when Fowler incorrectly substituted a ball. To their credit they fought back to salvage a half against their formidable opponents, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, with Fowler sinking a tricky 5 foot putt for birdie on the 18th green.

The circumstances of the penalty were that Furyk's drive from the 4th teeing ground flew into a very muddy area that was ruled to be an abnormal ground condition from which relief was available. Instead of picking the ball out of the mud and cleaning it, Fowler, whose turn it was to play the next stroke, pulled a ball out of his pocket and dropped it within one club-length of the nearest point of relief. The relevant Rule is 25-1b, Abnormal Ground Conditions Relief;
"(i)Through the Green: If the ball lies through the green, the player must lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest point of relief. The nearest point of relief must not be in a hazard or on a putting green. When the ball is dropped within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, the ball must first strike a part of the course at a spot that avoids interference by the condition and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green."
Note that the player “must lift the ball and drop it”. Therefore, by dropping another ball Fowler had incorrectly substituted a ball. In stroke play this breach incurs a penalty of two strokes, but in match play it is loss of hole.

Fowler has probably not played the foursomes format very often but the mistake was still inexcusable at this level. At the very least, Jim Furyk or either of their caddies should have spotted the error before Fowler actually played his stroke. Had any of them done so, he could have re-dropped the correct ball without penalty. Rule 20-6;
“A ball incorrectly substituted, dropped or placed in a wrong place or otherwise not in accordance with the Rules but not played may be lifted, without penalty, and the player must then proceed correctly.”
Immediately following this ruling there was a follow-up incident, illustrating another interesting Rules question. When Lee Westwood learned that he and Martin Kaymer had won the hole he returned to his ball and played a stroke to the green, which was over 150 yards away. Since the hole was over, was Westwood permitted to play his shot or does it amount to a practice stroke? Decision 7-2/1.5 confirms;
"Q. In a match between A and B, A holes out for a 4. B has played four strokes and his ball lies in a bunker. Thus, the hole has been decided. If B plays from the bunker, would the stroke be considered a practice stroke?
A. No. Strokes played in continuing play of a hole, the result of which has been decided, are not practice strokes — see Rule 7-2."
I don’t know about you, but for me the Ryder Cup is the ultimate event of all the sports that I follow. It seems that most of the players feel this way too; their enthusiasm for this team competition, for which they do not get paid, is patently obvious. Long may it continue!

Barry Rhodes


If any reader who has not yet subscribed to my weekly ‘Rhodes Rules School’ series would like to see an example before subscribing please email me at rules at barryrhodes dot com. However, I would remind you that this weekly series, 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. I promise that I will not pass on your email address to anyone else. Click on this link to subscribe.