I wonder how many of my readers took the same interest in the USA v GB&I Walker Cup matches as I did last week. For me, as a spectator, match play is the most absorbing format of our beloved game. As a supporter of the GB&I side I was extremely nervous right to the end, even though we had started the final singles with a lead of 5 points, requiring only 3 more points from the 10 singles matches. An illustration of how you can never be sure which way a match will go occurred in the very last match. Northern Ireland’s Paul Cutler was four up with four to play against world number one ranked amateur, Patrick Cantlay from California, who staged a stunning comeback to achieve a half.
This brings me to the first of two unusual Rules incidents that occurred this week. On the opening morning of the Walker Cup, Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan (GB&I) defeated Russell Henley and Kelly Kraft (USA), by 2 and 1. However, after the match had been decided it was realised that Senior’s older brother, who is a golf pro, had been caddying for him, which was a breach of a long-standing Walker Cup Condition of Competition prohibiting golf professionals from caddying. When the announcement was made that the result of the match would stand many reporters felt that the R&A and USGA officials were ignoring Rule 1-3, which states that players (and logically Committees) must not agree to exclude the operation of any Rule or to waive any penalty incurred.
However, it is clear that this incident was not a violation of Rule 1-3. Although Jack Senior had indisputably used a professional golfer as his caddie, none of the players involved, nor their team captains, were aware of the Condition of Competition banning professional golfers as caddies until after their match had been decided.
This part of the answer to Decision 1-3/1 clarifies the ruling;
In order to waive a Rule, players must be aware that they are doing so. …If the players were ignorant of the Rules there is no penalty.As no claim was made by the Americans during the match (because they were unaware of the breach until after it had concluded) there were no grounds on which the state of the match could be adjusted (Rule 2-5). There can be no doubting that the Walker Cup Committee ruled correctly.
Now we come to one of the oddest breaches of the Rules that I have heard of. It happened last week during the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur at the Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While watching one of the matches, a Rules official spotted that a player’s caddie had a short string of yarn attached to his divot repair tool, which he was using to judge wind direction. It was a violation of Rule 14-3b part of which states;
Except as provided in the Rules, during a stipulated round the player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an unusual manner:…The penalty for breaching Rule 14-3 is disqualification. Incredibly, the lady concerned was lying dormie 7 when she was disqualified. You could say that the other player won the match with no strings attached!
… b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play
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