|Carin Koch coaxes her putt towards the hole|
I know from the correspondence that I receive that readers like me to report on unusual breaches and/or rulings that have occurred on tour events. There were three interesting incidents during last week’s very windy, Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
On the first day, a young amateur hit her second shot past the green into thick rough. There was a heavy cable reel lying between her and the flagstick. As is normal on tour events there was a temporary Local Rule in operation permitting relief to be taken from temporary immovable obstructions (TIOs). Unfortunately, before the referee had a chance to talk her through the options, the player picked up her ball and dropped it clear of the cable reel next to some staked trees in anticipation that she would then be entitled to further relief in a more favourable lie and position. What she had not realised was that her nearest point of relief from the staked trees was in an unplayable lie in a bush, from which she then had to a drop under penalty of one stroke (Rule 28c). This reinforces a point that I often make. You should always think through the options available to you before you pick up your ball. Once you have picked up your ball, it is too late to then change your mind and play your ball from where it was, without incurring a stroke for moving your ball in play. Work out the most attractive option before lifting your ball. The nearest point of relief may necessitate a drop in a less favourable position.
On Saturday, I happened to be watching the Women’s Open on TV when the second incident occurred on camera. Carin Koch was approaching her ball in a bunker when she saw a ‘daddy long-legs’ (spider) in the sand near her ball. She realised that it was struggling to extricate one of its legs that was buried in the sand and obviously would have liked to ‘set it free’. Happily, she was astute enough to summon the referee before doing so, because a live spider is a loose impediment (confirmed by Decision 23/5.5) and may not be removed from a hazard when the player’s ball lies in the same hazard. Had the spider been running around in the bunker she would have been permitted to take an action to encourage it to move away from her ball, such as waving her hand, club or towel near it (Decision 23-1/5.5), but this was not the case and the referee correctly ruled that she could not move it. Had the spider been stuck in the sand immediately behind the ball, in equity Carin could have dropped her ball, without penalty, within one club-length of the nearest spot not nearer the hole that would allow her to make her stroke without annihilating the spider (Decision 1-4/9). However, this was not necessary and Carin managed to play her stroke from the bunker without disturbing the spider, other than giving it a sand shower! It was good to see that immediately she had made her stroke her first concern was for the welfare of the spider, which she released from the sand and watched it scurry away.
There was another Rules incident, during the final round that confused the television commentators. Play was suspended as a result of a sudden squall that caused more than one ball to move on the more exposed putting greens. The horns had been sounded and most of the players, who had been instructed to stay on the course, immediately sheltered behind their umbrellas. However, one group was seen to be continuing play and questions were asked as to whether they had not heard the horns, or whether they could be penalised. However, the players were correct in knowing that they had the option of finishing the hole they were on before suspending their play, as the reason for the suspension was not due to a potentially dangerous situation, which is usually when there is an electric storm in the area, Rule 6-8b.
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