Friday, 22 June 2012

Lara’s Caddie Gets Him Disqualified

Jose Manuel Lara - Photo AP

Here are the details of the strangest Pro Tour disqualification so far this year. Double European Tour winner, Jose Manuel Lara, was disqualified from the BMW International Open after his caddie tried to hide one of his clubs in a bush on the second hole. The Argentinian caddie had been delayed in in a traffic jam on his way to the course in West Germany and had to jog the final three kilometers to get to the first teeing ground on time. In his haste, he failed to notice that there were 15 clubs in his Lara’s bag until the players had teed off at the second hole. Rule 4-4 limits players to a maximum of fourteen clubs at the start of their stipulated round. The penalty for a breach of this Rule regardless of the number of excess clubs carried is two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred with a maximum penalty per round of four strokes.

It is generally recognised that it is the caddie’s responsibility to ensure that the bag that he is carrying only contains 14 clubs by the time the player arrives at the first tee for the start of their round. This is a routine task for them as players will often practice on the range with a variety of extra clubs, although in Lara’s case he too had only arrived at the course an hour or so before his start time.

It is presumed that when the caddie realised that he was carrying more than the permitted maximum number of clubs he was too embarrassed to tell Lara. Instead, he stupidly disappeared into the bushes on the second hole to dispose of it. Lara’s fellow competitors, Ireland’s Damien McGrane and Swede, Peter Hedblom, thought that something was wrong and enquired as to what he was doing. Apparently, he immediately admitted his indiscretion (they could see the club lying in the bushes) and regretted what he had done. A ruling was sought on the penalty for carrying an extra club and he was penalised two strokes for the first hole and two for the second.

However, on hearing about the incident and discussing it with colleagues on the referees Rules panel, European Tour chief referee, John Paramor, ruled that it was a serious incident that warranted disqualification under Rule 33-7. When interviewed Lara said that he thought that his caddie had gone into the bushes to answer a ‘call of nature’ and this was accepted. Although he was unaware of his caddie’s actions the Rules make it clear that he is responsible for them. Rule 6-1 states;

The player and his caddie are responsible for knowing the Rules. During a stipulated round, for any breach of a Rule by his caddie, the player incurs the applicable penalty.
In an interview with Sky Sports, John Paramor commented on the disqualification;
"Hopefully we won't have too many more of those. We interviewed the player and are perfectly satisfied that he had no knowledge of what was going on. It was clearly the caddie doing what he felt at the time was the right thing, but was clearly the wrong thing. He's kind of been asked not to come back and that's how the matter has been resolved."
Good golfing,

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