Saturday, 29 December 2012

Rules Riddle and Ireland’s Gathering

I have another Rules riddle for you for this New Year’s holiday.
Brian arrives early at his Club for the monthly medal strokes competition. He has heard that the Course Committee has directed the greenkeeper to replace the sand in the bunkers and wondered how they were playing. He takes a sand wedge into a bunker on the 18th green and without putting down a ball makes several swings in the bunker, moving an inch or so of sand on each occasion. He then takes a rake and carefully smoothes the area of sand that he has just disturbed.

On returning to the first teeing ground Brian greets Arthur and Colin, his two fellow competitors, and tells them that the new bunker sand is much finer than they have been used to and is completely dry, making sand shots much easier than in previous weeks. There are still a few minutes to wait until their start time so Brian asks Arthur if he may try out his new long-handled putter. He then realises that he does not have any decent balls with him and asks Colin if he can borrow a sleeve of three balls, which he will replace after their round is over. He drops the three borrowed balls on the teeing area and putts each of them from within the blue teeing ground aiming for the left hand yellow tee marker. At this point, the marshall asks them to start and Colin, who has the lowest handicap of the group of three players, tees up and makes his drive even though Brian’s name was the first one on the time sheet.
Before making his first stroke, has Brian breached, a) no Rule, b) one Rule, c) two Rules, d) three Rules, e) more than three Rules? Answer below.

The Gathering Ireland 2013

I have had the pleasure of living in Dublin for the past 36 years. I am not Irish by birth, but my grandparents on my mother’s side were Traynors from County Monaghan, who together with their brothers and sisters had to emigrate from Ireland to the United States early in the 20th century. I married an Irish girl 26 years ago and have no intention of ever leaving this wonderful country.

Throughout 2013, Ireland will open its arms to friends and family from all over the world, inviting them home to locally organised gatherings in villages, towns and cities. A variety of  clan gatherings, festivals, special sporting events, music and concerts will be taking place all across the country, throughout the year. Most golfers recognise Ireland as being a very special place to play golf, due to the tradition, the quality of the courses, the greenness of the countryside, the warm and friendly reception that they receive and, thanks to our recent recession, great value for sleeping, eating, drinking and playing. As my small  contribution to making ‘the gathering Ireland 2013’ a success I am offering my services to any overseas golfing group that will be in the Greater Dublin area at any time during the year. I would be pleased to meet you, either in the Clubhouse after your golf, or back in your hotel or restaurant over dinner. I would be at your service, without charge, in whichever way you choose to use my expertise on the Rules of Golf. This might include running a quiz, giving a talk, recounting a few stories or answering any questions that you may have. If you have any interest in discussing this offer with me just address an email to barry at barryrhodes dot com with any information about your planned visit and we can take it from there. Unfortunately, I have to restrict this offer to groups that will be staying for part of their trip in the Greater Dublin area (say within 50 miles of the City Centre).

Answer to Rules Riddle
It may surprise you that Brian did not breach any Rule of Golf for his actions prior to starting his round.

Did he not breach Rule 7-1b by practicing before his round on the day of the competition?
No, Brian did not make any practice stroke as he was not using a ball when swinging his club in the bunker on the 18th green. Note 1 to Rule 7-2 confirms that a practice swing is not a practice stroke.

Did he not breach Rule 7-1b by testing the surface of the bunker?
No, Rule 7-2b only prohibits testing the surface of a putting green on the course.

Did he not breach Rule 8-1a by giving advice on the state of the bunkers to his fellow competitors?
No, Rule 8-1a only prohibits a player giving advice to another competitor during a stipulated round. There is no restriction on giving advice before starting a round.

Did he not breach Rule 4-4 by borrowing Arthur’s long-handled putter?
No, there is no restriction in using another player’s club before the stipulated round has commenced.

Did he not breach Rule 5-1 by borrowing a sleeve of balls from Colin, intending to use them during his round?
No, there is no restriction on borrowing items of equipment (balls, towels, gloves, tees, etc.) from another player.

Did he not breach Rule 7-1b by practicing putting on the first teeing area?
No, The Exception to Rule 7-1b permits practice putting on or near the first teeing ground.
Did he not breach Rule 10-2a by not playing first on the first tee, as per the time sheet.
No, although Rule 10-1a states that the honour on the first teeing ground is determined by the order of the draw, or in the absence of a draw by lot, there is no penalty for not doing so, unless  competitors have agreed to play out of turn to give one of them an advantage.
I wonder how many of you are surprised to find out that Brian did not breach any Rule before starting his round?

A Very Happy Golfing Year to all my readers. I have lots of plans for 2013. In the meantime, perhaps I can encourage you to join me in a resolution that can only lead to better golf, a happier life and improvements in our relations with others;

"Develop and maintain a positive attitude
for everything that is important to you."

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2013 and may not be copied without permission.

7 comments: said...

In a friendly sort of way I like to remind my fellow competitors and others that it cost no more being positive rather than negative but you get a lot more out of it.

Pocketback Bob said...

Hi Barry - Happy New Year to you.

I'm currently studying to take the England Golf Rules exam so I follow your blogs with great interest!

Great question but I'm a bit confused by a couple of points:

1 I would have thought Brian's pre round bunker swings on 18 constituted practice on the competition course in breach of Rule 7-1b (I can't find any decision or rule that specifies 'practice' must only involve making a stroke at a ball - except in Rule 7-2 which would not apply here?).

2. Surely practicing putting BEYOND the teeing area is, by definition, on the course and therefore also not permitted. I've always taken the Exception to Rule 7-1 (which you refer to as Rule 7-1c) as meaning that no player should make any stroke at a ball beyond the first teeing area for that reason. If that doesn't apply then it leaves the word 'near' open to liberal interpretation I would have thought.

I'll look forward to your thoughts on this. Keep up the good work!

Pocketback Bob

Barry Rhodes said...

Pocketback Bob,

1. I think that the point is that nowhere in the Rules does it say that a player is penalised for making a practice swing before or during a round. Players do it all the time on the teeing ground, so why not in a bunker? Many players assume that you may not test the sand in a bunker, but there is nothing in the Rules that prevents you from doing so, providing your ball does not lie in that same bunker or a similar bunker. So, a player is permitted to make a practice swing at any time, before or during their round.

Also, we know from the Definition of Stroke that a player has to have the intention of moving a ball in order to make a stroke. Decision 7-1b/1 clarifies that it is a practice stroke that is not permitted before a stroke play round;

Q.On the day of a stroke-play competition, a competitor, before starting his round, played one practice stroke from a forward tee at the first hole into an out-of-bounds area. What is the ruling?

A.The competitor infringed Rule 7-1b and was subject to disqualification....

2. Although Rule 7-1b states that a player may not practice on the competition course there is an exception to that Rule that states;

Practice putting or chipping on or near the first teeing ground or any practice area before starting a round or play-off is permitted.

So, as Brian was practicing his putting near the teeing ground he has not breached Rule 7-1b.


Pocketback Bob said...

Mmmmmm! I hear what you say and I had tried to anticipate the points you make and I don't disagree with you really except that I'm very uneasy about the second point.

A chip (or a putt for that matter) is an undefined shot so your interpretation seems to leave it clear for players to practice 250 yard 'chips' with a driver from in front of the starting tee (or, to be more realistic, say 120 yard 'chips' to a 125 yard par 3 first green from in front of the first tee).

My own humble opinion would be that, in equity, 'near' the teeing ground should be restricted to 'near but not in front of' said area.

Ain't Golf great??

Pocketback Bob

Brian H said...


A very minor point but I think you may have made a simple inadvertent typo above? Since we're told that the situation relates to a monthly medal strokes competition, surely R10-2a would be the relevant reference, not R10-1a, as stated in your 'answer' to the riddle. Or, as is possible, I may just be missing something?

Sounds like a great year for golf in Ireland in 2013, and we can't wait to get back to play at beautiful and magical 'Dooks'!


Barry Rhodes said...


Thanks, you are of course correct and I have now made the change from 10-1a to 10-2a.


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