Friday, 27 April 2012

Committees May Not Change the Rules


















The Definition of Committee in the Rules of Golf book is as follows;
The “Committee’’ is the committee in charge of the competition or, if the matter does not arise in a competition, the committee in charge of the course.
Rule 33 describes the various responsibilities of the Committee under eight headings;
  • Conditions; Waiving Rule
  • The Course
  • Times of Starting and Groups
  • Handicap Stroke Table
  • Score Card
  • Decision of Ties
  • Disqualification Penalty; Committee Discretion
  • Local Rules
These responsibilities are onerous and in many member-owned Golf Clubs and Societies the Committee (or Committees if there is a separate course Committee) is/are comprised of volunteers who do not receive any compensation for their hard work. However, their responsibilities are limited, in that they have no power to waive or modify a Rule of Golf without permission from the R&A or USGA.

From time to time I hear about over-enthusiastic Committees that disqualify players for not conforming to conditions that they have imposed, often with the good intention of making life easier for the scorer(s) responsible for checking the accuracy of returned score cards. Here are four examples of what I am referring to;

  1. The Committee required partners in a four-ball Stableford competition to enter their initials at the top of the A and B columns of the score card, where the gross scores are entered, and disqualified a pair for not doing so.
  2. The Committee required that alterations made on score cards be initialled or the card would not be accepted?
  3. The Committee introduced a condition of competition that competitors must enter their scores into a computer or be disqualified?
  4. The Committee disqualified a player for returning a different score card from the one that was given to them before they commenced their round.
There are various Decisions on Rule 6-6a and 6-6b that show that Committees cannot penalise players for any of the above situations, because they have not breached any Rule of Golf. But that is not necessarily the end of it. The answer in Decision 6-6b/8, relating to the Committee’s requirement for competitors to enter their scores into a computer states;
However, while it is not permissible to penalise a player under the Rules of Golf for failing to enter his score into a computer, a Committee may, in order to assist in the administration of the competition, introduce a "club regulation" to this effect and provide disciplinary sanctions (e.g., ineligibility to play in the next club competition(s)) for failure to act in accordance with the regulation.
So, whilst players who do not conform to ‘club regulations’ that have been introduced by a Committee to assist in administration of competitions, may not be penalised strokes, or be disqualified, they may be subjected to other disciplinary sanctions that could effectively be more punitive. My recommendation is to accede to such conditions, as they are designed to make life easier for those who have to administer the competitions.

Good golfing,




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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Player A is a new lady member of a golf club. Player A prefers to play early. The ladies committee are insisting to enter medals player A must find someone playing In the same competition or play later with the majority of the ladies section in order to play in the competition.
A new rule has been introduced after much deliberation in accordance with R&A rule 6-6a. Stating lone players should contact the committee for them to appoint a marker.
The committee are stating lone player means the only player in the competition throughout the day. (making it a one player tournament)
Our argument for player A is lone player being no other players being available to play at the time Player A has to or prefers to play.
Any ideas if the committee are within their rights to "demand" when someone plays a medal.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

This is not really a Rules of Golf question. Committees may put whatever restrictions they like on who qualifies to enter a competition and they may also impose the time that a competition starts and finishes.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Thankyou - Sorry if not a golf rule. Thanks for answer however can I go further as I cannot find the definition for the rule 6 - 6a /1 as it can be read two ways. Player A does qualify to enter a medal competition and there are no time restrictions. The committee are insisting Player A plays when they say as she will be a lone player playing at a time she is able to play. Just wondering if the rule meant lone player (only player playing in medal) does this actually happen or lone player (player without any other competitor in same medal available at a time to suit)
My personal view is its amateur golf and players should be allowed to play monthly medals at a time they prefer. Providing there are no time restrictions.
Thanks for any help.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

If the Committee agrees that player A does "qualify to enter a medal competition and there are no time restrictions" as to when she plays, which would be unusual, there is no problem with anyone else marking her score card (but usually this would be limited to someone that has an official handicap), as per Decision 6-6a/1. However, the Committee may impose any restrictions they see fit and if they say that the player must play at a specified time with a marker that they specifically authorise, that is their right. Rule 33-1;

The Committee must establish the conditions under which a competition is to be played.


Barry

Anonymous said...

Thankyou

Anonymous said...

I was recently disqualified from a club competion because I overlooked one of the Club's Conditions of Entry in that, having recieved my card, I overl;ooked the requirement to sign in the Competition Book prior to commecing my round.

I have a letter from the Club stating that I have not broken any rule of golf but have been disqualified under the Club's Conditions of Entry.

I have submitted a letter stating that I did not beleiev the Committee had the authority to disqualify me for such an omission, but so far I am not having any success. As an aside I would have won the competion! Do you have any advice?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

The Committee ruled correctly. As you did not comply with their Conditions of Entry you were not officially a player in the competition, therefore your score did not count. It was not a disqualification under the Rules of Golf.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Thank you Barry. I omitted to say that my name was entered on the start sheet, I had paid my entry fee, signed in on the computer system and received my card from the Committee's representative. I was disqualified because "did not sign register". Does this further information change your view?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

Personally, I think that the ruling was harsh in the circumstances that you describe, but repeat that as you did not comply with the Committee's Conditions of Entry you were not a competitor in the competition and they were entitled to ignore your score card.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Thanks Barry. It has been indicated to me that, on reflection, at least some of the Committee also think it harsh. It is likely that the Conditions of Entry will be revisited before next season.

Anonymous said...

Barry Rhodes said...

Apologies,

I deleted this comment by mistake;

"Barry
A dispute arose at my club when the Ladies commmittee changed the conditions of entry for a competition.
Are they allowed to do that or should it have been approved by the club Committee first
Could you please define "Committee"
Is it the Club Committee or the Ladies Competition Committee
Thanks"
____

The answer to your question is not found within the Rules of Golf, where the definition of Committee is;

The “Committee’’ is the committee in charge of the competition or, if the matter does not arise in a competition, the committee in charge of the course.

Yours is a Club matter, which is more likely to be resolved by reference to the Club's by-laws, articles, or constitution. For this reason, I cannot offer any kind of informed answer.

Barry

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
This is a delicate issue. Over the past few years our Club has encountered written and verbal complaints about a junior who plays with a family member who has submitted an incorrect card on what we believe to be numerous occasions. Written complaints have been made and passed on to the Club's Board. No solution has been reached and this problem continues even after numerous disqualifications by the Match Committee. This junior has changed his card after it was checked & signed by the marker. The Club Board has been made aware of this major incident but still no penalties have been incurred. The family member is largely at fault and has not rejoined the club but continues to play with his son and mark down incorrect scores. Club members are very disgruntled and keep watch when possible but the Committee feel the Board is not exercising their responsibility by upholding the Rules of Golf and suspending this junior for a period of time to make him and his family member aware that cheating is a serious offence. Your comments and suggestions would be appreciated

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

This is really an issue that is outside my area of expertise, which is the Rules of Golf. However, in the golfing environment that I play, anyone that has been caught cheating on even a single occasion would almost certainly be suspended, not only from playing at the Club, but also from any competition at any other Club affiliated to the same national organisation. The period would depend on the nature of the offence, but would typically be for one year.

Barry