|James Lepp's saucer pass|
It is not often that someone comes along with a revolutionary way to strike a golf ball; let’s not get into anchoring the putter or the Happy Gilmore stroke! But Canadian, James Lepp, did just that back in 2010. As a big ice hockey fan, he converted a commonly used hockey shot to chip balls from a tight fairway lie to the putting green. This was successfully demonstrated to the large and knowledgeable US TV golfing audience that followed last season’s ‘Big Break - Greenbrier’ on Golf Channel, during which Lepp used the his invented short game stroke, which he named the ‘saucer pass’, to reach the final.
Here is a short video tutorial by James Lepp on the ‘saucer pass’ stroke;
If you are receiving this blog by email click here for the video.
Amongst the comments under this YouTube video is one from a poster named as, ‘USGARulesCommittee’ dated December 2012;
"In response to several inquiries, we have decided to comment on this video: The golf shot shown in the above video is -- in fact -- a 'push' and thus an illegal golf shot under the Rules of Golf. The USGA is also investigating the use of this shot, without penalty, in the television program The Big Break. Such inconsistent and erroneous application of the Rules of Golf in a public television forum poses significant threat to the integrity of Game."Whilst there is still nothing relating to this stroke on the R&A or USGA web sites, it seems that following a meeting of a Joint Rules Committee last week, with representatives from the R&A, USGA and Golf Canada, the ‘saucer pass’ shot has now been ruled non-conforming. Dale Jackson, Chairman of Golf Canada’s Rules Committee confirmed;
"The rule that would be breached is Rule 14-1 that says in part the club can't be pushed, spooned or scraped, Scraped here basically means you are intentionally dragging or pulling the club along the ground before it hits the ball, which is what he (James Lepp) does."According to Jackson, Golf Canada originally deemed the stroke legal, as Lepp has previously used it in competition, but his success on the reality TV show caused the issue to be revisited.
"We had dealt with the issue in Canada when James did his demonstration videos on his Web site and we felt it was a conforming stroke at that time," he added. "But when he did it on the Big Break, the USGA got a bunch of calls and they came to a different conclusion and as a result of that, the powers that be, the R&A, the USGA and Golf Canada, who all sit on the Joint Rules Committee, considered it and viewed it as non-conforming."Lepp has declined to comment until he receives official word and an explanation of the ruling, but on 4th May he twittered;
“It's true. Saucer pass deemed illegal by governing bodies. Thankfully, fun, birdies, and cart girls still allowed...for now.”Two days later he followed-up with;
"I should have called the Saucer Pass the 'Extended Chunk'. Then it would still be legal."I cannot help feeling sorry for James Lepp, who came up with a stroke that could possibly have helped many high handicappers around the putting green. Personally, I am not convinced that the stroke does breach Rule 14-1, which states;
The ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club and must not be pushed, scraped or spooned.In my opinion, this clearly suggests that it is the ball that must not be scraped, whereas in the ‘saucer pass’ it is the club that is scraped along the ground until it strikes the ball. Presumably, one would need to use high-speed camera technology to see whether the ball leaves the clubface as soon as it is struck, or whether the scraping of the club means that the ball is also scraped along the ground for a short time after the initial point of impact. We may not have heard the end of this!
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