Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Brain Teasers

For this New Year’s brain teasers I have a few questions and answers that are a little ‘outside of the box’. So, don’t worry too much if you do not get the answers right, as they are not the sort of scenarios that you are ever likely to experience on the course. The answers are below.
  1. What is the highest number of penalty strokes accumulated in a single round by a professional golfer in a tour event? Have a guess!
  2. Explain how in a stroke play competition you can have 3 balls in play at the same time. 
  3. Explain the circumstances in which a player who has been disqualified for using a non-conforming club (or some other similar breach) wins first prize for the competition that he was earlier disqualified from. 
  4. Two fellow competitors hit their ball into the same area of a bunker where they come to rest side by side. With a Rules Official on the scene both players are then required to lift their ball under the Rules but only one of the two players is permitted to clean his ball. Neither of the balls was in an abnormal ground condition nor interfered with by an immovable obstruction. What is the likely scenario?
  5. A is scheduled to play B in match play to start at 11:00 and a referee is assigned to the match.  A arrives at the first tee ready to play at 11:02 and B arrives at 11:04. The referee informs the players the first hole has been decided and directs them to proceed to the second tee. After A tees off on the second hole, a par 3, B asks him what club he used and A answers that he used a six iron. A takes 4 strokes to hole out on the second and B takes 3. What is the state of the match?
  6. Explain the circumstances in which a player can win a competition when they returned their signed score card to the Committee without any handicap recorded on it.
  7. How can a player score a hole in one with a different ball from the one they teed off with?
  1. 26 penalty strokes were assessed on Japanese, PGA Tour player Ryuji Imada, during the Mission Hills Star Trophy in China in 2010. Imada assumed he could place the ball within a club length of its original position, as is standard on the PGA Tour, but the local rules stated that placement had to occur within the length of one scorecard, as is standard on the Asian and European tours. This was pointed out to Imada on his 12th hole and at the end of the round, Imada but guessed that he had placed outside the permitted area 13 times. So, he was assessed 13 penalties of two strokes for a total of 26 penalty strokes and a first-round score of 24-over-par 97.
  2. You are unsure of a ruling and play a second ball under Rule 3-3. You then encounter another situation where you have to invoke Rule 3-3 again for one of your two balls already in play. 
  3. The disqualification penalty was cancelled when the Committee considered that the course had become unplayable and declared play null and void with all scores cancelled for the round in question. When a round is cancelled, all penalties incurred in that round are cancelled. Rule 33-2d. The player then went on to win the re-scheduled competition.
  4. Player A hit his ball into the bunker, followed by Player B. Player B’s ball hit player A’s ball and moved it. Player A is required to lift and replace his ball and may clean it during the process. Player B is then asked to lift his ball because it interferes with the play of A (whose turn it is to play once he had replaced his ball), but B is not permitted to clean his ball in these circumstances.
  5. The state of the match on the third tee is that B is one up. As A and B both arrived at the first tee within five minutes after their starting time they each incurred the penalty of loss of hole, so the referee correctly ruled that the hole was halved. Although player B then asked player A what club he had used for his tee shot from the 2nd teeing ground, which would incur a loss of hole penalty if he had done it during his round, Decision 2/2 clarifies that in singles match play a player only begins their stipulated round when they make their first stroke in that round. Therefore, no penalty was incurred (edited 18th January) by B and A incurred the loss of hole penalty as soon as he gave B information on what club he had used.
  6. There is no requirement for a player’s handicap to be recorded on their score card when it is a scratch competition, in which all competitors play without any handicap strokes. A player may also win a best gross score prize, as handicaps are not taken into account in determining the winner.
  7. Perhaps the most likely scenario for this to happen is in match play. For example, player plays his tee shot out of turn, his opponent, B, sees that A’s ball has come to rest close to the flagstick and requires him to cancel his stroke and play again, in turn, under Rule 10-1c. A scores a hole-in-one with his next stroke from the teeing ground. However, I have listed six other possible answers to this question in an earlier blog at this link.
Wishing a spectacular New Year to all my readers,

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The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2014 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Ultimate Golf Fail Compilation

There are times when I feel that I must be one of the worst golfers in the world (though I am delighted to have won two turkey prizes in the past few weeks!), but this compilation video shows me that I do not come anywhere close. I’m a more responsible cart driver too!

Click here for the Ultimate Golf Fail Compilation on YouTube.

The following conversations were reputedly recorded at a public golf course in the USA:

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: What are your green fees?
Staff:  38 dollars.
Caller:  Does that include golf?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, I need to get some information from you. First, is this your correct phone number?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, we have a tee time for two weeks from Friday. What's the weather going to be like that day?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, I had a tee time for this afternoon but I'm running late. Can you still get me out early?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, do you have one of those areas where you can buy a bucket of golf balls and hit them for practice?
Staff: You mean a driving range?
Caller: No, that's not it.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, I'd like to get a tee time tomorrow between 12 o'clock and noon.
Staff: Between 12 o'clock and noon?
Caller: Yes.
Staff: We'll try to squeeze you in.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Do you have any open tee times around 10 o'clock?
Staff: Yes, we have one at 10:15.
Caller: What's the next time after that?
Staff: We have one at 10:22.
Caller: We'll take that one. It will be a bit warmer.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: How much to play golf today?
Staff: 25 to walk, 38 with a cart.
Caller: 38 dollars?
Staff: No, 38 yen.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: What do you have for tee times tomorrow?
Staff: What time would you like?
Caller: What times do you have?
Staff: What time of the day?
Caller: Any time.
Staff:  Morning or afternoon?
Caller:  Whenever.
Staff: We have 16 times open in the morning and 20 open in the afternoon. Would you like me to read the whole list?
Caller: No, I don't think any of those times will work for me.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Do you have a dress code?
Staff: Yes, we do. We require soft spikes.
Caller: How about clothes?
Staff: Yes, you have to wear clothes.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, do you have a driving range there?
Staff: Yes.
Caller: How much for a bucket of large balls?
Staff: Sorry, we're all out of large balls. But we can give you  twice as many small balls for the same price.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Can I get a tee time for tomorrow?
Staff: Sure, what time would you like?
Caller: Something between 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock. In the morning, if possible.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Do you rent golf clubs there?
Staff: Yes, they're 25 dollars.
Caller: How much to rent a bag?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, my husband just called me on his cell phone and told me he's on the 15th hole. How many more holes does he have to play before he gets to the 18th?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, do you have a driving range there?
Staff: Yes.
Caller: How much for a large bucket?
Staff: Four dollars.
Caller: Does that include the balls?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Do you have a twilight rate?
Staff: Yes, it's 15 dollars after 2 o'clock.
Caller: And what time does that start?

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: Yes, I'd like some info about your golf course.
Staff: OK, what would you like to know?
Caller: I don't know, that's why I called.

Staff:  Golf course, may I help you?
Caller: My kids just came home with pockets full of range balls and said they stole them from your  driving range. Would you like to buy them back?
Wishing all of my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, wherever in the world you play your golf.


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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Unusual Golf Penalties that Hurt

Craig Stadler was famously penalised here for building a stance (Rule 13-3).
At this time of year, when many of us are looking forward to a Christmas holiday, I thought that I would lighten-up my blog by pointing out some unusual ways that players may incur penalties.
  • In a four-ball better ball, if your partner picks-up your ball, because they mistakenly think that you are out of the hole, it is you that is penalised one stroke (Rule 18-2a(i)).
  • A fellow competitor, who has volunteered to attend the flagstick while you attempt a long putt, gets distracted and does not remove the flagstick before your ball hits it. You are penalised two strokes (Rule 17-3).
  • A fellow competitor plays your ball from the rough thinking that it was their ball. You obviously cannot find your ball in the area where you thought that it had come to rest, so after 5 minutes search you must consider the ball lost, incurring the stroke and distance penalty (Rule 27-1). The penalty applies even if an apologetic golfer brings your ball back to you after the 5 minutes has expired.
  • If you start your stroke play round before the time established by the Committee, without their authority, you incur a penalty of 2 strokes if it is within 5 minutes of the start time, or disqualification if it is more than five minutes (Decision 6-3a/5).
  • As you approach your ball on the fairway a crow picks up your ball, dropping it a few inches away as it tries to fly off with it. You drop your ball at the spot where it was at rest when the bird moved it and the ball settles in a deep divot hole. You shrug your shoulders and try to make the most of the difficult shot. Unfortunately, you incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for playing from the wrong place, as you should have replaced the ball (Rule 20-7), but there is no additional penalty in stroke play for dropping the ball when the Rules required it to be placed (Rule 18-1).
  • If you helpfully stop a fellow competitor from teeing up a second ball when they have hit their first ball into the middle of a water hazard by saying, “You will be much better off walking down to the hazard and playing from there”, you incur a penalty of two strokes for giving advice (Rule 8-1a). You are permitted to give information on the Rules, but not to make a suggestion that could influence a player in determining their play.
  • You decide to take relief from an area marked as ground under repair (GUR), though there is no Local Rule making it mandatory, and you correctly drop your ball within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole. Your ball rolls back a few inches so that your heels are just touching the white line defining GUR when you take your stance. If you continue with your stroke with this stance you incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for not taking complete relief from the GUR, even though the Rules did not require you to take relief in the first place (Rule 20-2c(v)).
  • A 9-handicapper enters a 12-hole winter competition and thinks that they will assist the Committee by working out that 12/18ths of their handicap is 6 and entering this in the handicap section of their score card. This is a breach of Rule 6-2b There is no penalty, but the Committee must calculate the player’s score as though they had a full 18 holes handicap of 6, i.e. a handicap of 4 for the 12 holes (Decision 6-2b/0.5).
Good golfing,

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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Which Club, How and When Can it Be Used?

Lisa ‘Longdrive’ Vlooswyk driving with a putter

It was a bizarre incident at last week’s Hong Kong Open that gave rise to the heading above. Joonas Granberg, a Finnish professional golfer, was left standing on his first tee box, which unusually was on the 11th hole, ready to play. Unfortunately, his caddie had wrongly made his way to a different tee (presumably the 1st or the 10th) with his clubs, leaving Granberg holding only his putter, which he had been using for practice. When the caddie eventually made it to the correct teeing ground, it was too late and the Finn had already been disqualified under Rule 6-3, Time of Starting. I know that it is much easier to think rationally about a situation like this after the event, but nevertheless, if Grandberg had a good understanding of the Rules of Golf he should have realised that could have avoided being disqualified by using his putter from the 11th teeing ground. A player is not required to have either a caddie or their bag of clubs with them on their first teeing ground and the Rules do not place any limitation on what club may be used for making any stroke. (edit 11th December 2013: It has been suggested to me that Joonas Granberg may have been disqualified under a Condition of Competition that required a 'compulsory caddie', but I have not been able to verify this). A player may start a round with a single conforming club and may add any number, provided his total number does not exceed fourteen, Rule 4-4a. The photo above shows 7-time Canadian Long Drive Champion for women, Lisa Vlooswyk, hitting a putter from the teeing ground, apparently sending her ball over 200 yards.

Other examples of using a ‘wrong’ club for a stroke are a pitching wedge on the putting green (definitely not recommended for most players), a wood from the fringe of the putting green, or a lob wedge from hard sand in a bunker. Personally, I have never played with a right-handed person that carried a left-handed club to use when they are faced with a difficult lie, but the Rules do permit it and I suspect that for many golfers this might be a preferable option to using a right-handed stroke with the back of a club. This leads me on to what part of the club may be used to make a stroke. Rule 14-1 clarifies that the ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club. Note that the clubhead includes the face, back, heel and toe of the club, but not the shaft or the grip.

Another question that may arise is whether a player may continue to play with a club that is damaged. The answer is that if their club was damaged in the normal course of play they may continue play with it, repair it, have it repaired, or replace it with any club, Rule 4-3a. Conversely, a player may not continue to play with a club that has been damaged to an extent that it is non-conforming, if it was damaged other than in the normal course of play (e.g. in anger of frustration), Rule 4-3b.

Note: For those of you that have not read the harsh decision of the European Tour Disciplinary Panel in the matter of English golfer, Simon Dyson, I recommend that you do so at this link.

Good Golfing,

Why not treat yourself to my eBook for Christmas? I am confident that ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf 2012 – 2015’ will assist you to obtain a better understanding of the Rules of Golf, which in turn will help you to enjoy the game even more. Click here for details.

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

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

When Complete Relief Need Not Be Taken

A dropped ball that comes to rest outside hazard margin is OK to play.

I covered the subject of taking complete relief in detail in an earlier blog (see this link). Basically, when a player is taking relief, without penalty, from an immovable obstruction (Rule 24-2), abnormal ground condition (Rule 25-1), or staked tree (Local Rule) they must re-drop their ball if, when having been dropped in compliance with the Rules, it comes to rest in a position where there is still interference from the condition that they were taking relief from. I think that you will agree that this is logical. For example, if a player is permitted to take relief from casual water it does not make sense that they should then be permitted to drop a ball in a favourable place where there is still interference from the same condition.

However, following two questions that I have received on the subject, I want to clarify that taking complete relief does not apply when taking relief under penalty from a water hazard. So, a player who has dropped a ball outside a water hazard may then take a stance, or part of a stance, within that hazard to play their ball, which has come to rest outside of the hazard. There is no Rules reference for this; it is one of those situations where because there is no Rule that prohibits it, it is permitted. Therefore, you will find the references to interference in Rules 24-2a Immovable Obstructions, and 25-1a, Abnormal Ground Conditions, but not in Rule 26-1, Relief for Ball in Water Hazard.

Fellow Competitors Do Not Have to Shout “Fore”
Although not really Rules of Golf related, I am sure that many readers will be interested in following a civil lawsuit in which an Essex County, New Jersey, USA, judge ruled that whilst the person making a stroke that resulted in a serious accident may have had an obligation to yell “fore,” his golfing buddies (fellow competitors?) did not. An interesting article on the ongoing case can be viewed at this link.

We will probably never know whether the stroke that resulted in severely damaging another player’s eye was a ‘mulligan', as reported, or a provisional ball correctly played under the Rules.

Good golfing,


Decisions on the Rules of Golf 2014-2015: The latest news is that Amazon has indicated that the R&A’s revised Decisions book will be released on 13th December. There is no new information on the USGA publication. Please click here to order your copy.

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