Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Thorbjorn Olesen - Another TV Rules Blunder

I have had previous cause to be critical of some TV commentators’ understanding and interpretation of the Rules of Golf, but the reporting of a simple Rule 18-2a breach by Dane, Thorbjørn Olesen, at the Turkish Airlines Open last Friday, takes some beating.

Unfortunately, the video of the incident with the TV commentary is only available by following these rather complicated instructions; (Edit: 13th November, try this link first).

  • Click on this link
  • In the search box towards the top of the screen, to the left of the language flags type in; “Thorbjorn Olesen
  • Scroll down beneath the ‘News’ search results to the ‘Video’ search results and double click on the image similar to the one below.
Note: It is possible that this video may not be available after the date of this blog item.

If you did not get to see the video of this Rules incident here is an exact transcription of what the (unidentified) commentator confusingly said;
“Now, Strangely enough in golf you have to be positive you are making a stroke at the ball. You can replace it, I think, if he, if it er….. You know in the course of your stroke, if you are not actually playing a stroke at the ball then you’ve not deemed to have actually hit it. I mean it’s a really weird Rule though. Because norm… at any other time if you are deemed to have moved the ball you have deemed to have moved it.”  I know that this reads rather strangely, even for those of us who have English as our first language, but I can assure you that I have copied the commentary word for word.
It certainly would be a “weird Rule” if there was no penalty for causing your ball to move with your club when you did not mean to. Of course, this action does incur a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a, which I understand the commentator acknowledged later in the commentary.  Here is what Olesen had to say about the incident after he had completed his round;
“I was just about to tap in my putt, but when I put my foot down I hit the front of my shoe with the putter and hit the ball. I’ve never, ever done that before and I don’t want to do it ever again. My intentions were not to hit the ball or not to even make a stroke but then I wasn’t sure what to do, so that’s why I called over the referee.”
Note that Olesen had to replace his ball where it was before he moved it, even though it came to rest closer to the hole. This is because he did not make a stroke, as he did not intend to strike his ball and move it. The Definition of Stroke states;
A “stroke’’ is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if a player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball he has not made a stroke.
If Olesen had not replaced his ball where it was at the time that he accidentally moved it, the penalty would have been increased to two strokes for playing from the wrong place, as per the penalty statement under Rule 18;
*If a player who is required to replace a ball fails to do so, or if he makes a stroke at a ball substituted under Rule 18 when such substitution is not permitted, he incurs the general penalty for breach of Rule 18, but there is no additional penalty under this Rule.
It follows that even if the ball had finished up in the hole after Olesen had accidentally hit it, he would still have incurred the penalty and would have had to replace the ball where it was, before finishing the hole by putting out.

I am by no means an expert on anything to do with golf other than the Rules, but even I know that players should concentrate as much for even the shortest of putts, as for any other stroke. Unfortunately, like many of you I am sure, I have learned that lesson the hard way!

Good golfing,

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