|Karrie Webb - Photo: www.zimbio.com|
There was an unusual Rules incident last Saturday, at the ISPS Handa Women´s Australian Open at the Commonwealth Golf Club, Melbourne, which rather strangely is a Ladies European Tour event. Karrie Webb, Australia’s top-ranked player, was apparently asked by a Golf Australia Rules Official to explain why she had lined up a tee behind her ball marker on the putting greens. When she asked them what Rule they thought that she might be breaching they could not tell her, so naturally she wasn’t very happy at their handling of the situation. The obvious implication was that they thought that she was cheating in some way.
''I think it was really badly handled, actually,'' Webb said. ''They didn't check at first. They told me I'd breached a rule but they couldn't tell me which rule I'd breached. Then, after I came in and finished my playing partner's scorecard, they asked me why I do it. That's why it was handled poorly. I was trying to get what ruling I could have breached. They couldn't tell me what ruling because it wasn't in the Decisions book and it wasn't in the Rules of Golf.
'They said they called the R&A, and then I asked [playing partner] Christina Kim how many people on the LPGA put a tee behind the ball, and she said: 'About 70 per cent.' That was the end of the issue. I don't know why Christina Kim's word was taken more than mine.''
So, why does Karrie sometimes lay a tee behind her ball-marker on the greens?
''It is for pace of play. My marker is not all that shiny, and sometimes it sits quite flush to the green, so it's hard to see on the other side of the hole.”
There is nothing in the Rules that disallows this practice, providing the tee is not specifically aligned to the intended line of putt and is removed before the putt is made. Rule 8-2b states;
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.
[edited 13th February, 2011] Emily Kay of www.Examiner.com gave a good explanation of how Webb could possibly have been breaking a Rule;
"So if she points the tee in the direction of the line of the putt and uses it to help in identifying that line, then it is illegal. If she is placing it behind the marker just because she can't see her marker, then it is OK. The fact that it is pointed in the direction of the hole is only incidental."Despite her upset at the end of the third round, the popular Queenslander, a seven-time major championship winner, finished the tournament at five-under-par, tied for seventh place.
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