Tuesday, 19 September 2017

When a Rule is Breached in Stroke Play

There are four main situations that apply when a Rule of Golf is breached in a stroke play competition;

1. A player breaches a Rule and includes the appropriate penalty on the score card that they sign and return.
2. A player unknowingly breaches a Rule and signs and returns their score card. The breach is brought to the Committee’s attention before the competition has closed.
3. As in 2, but the breach is brought to the Committee’s attention after the competition has closed.
4. A player knowingly breaches a Rule, but does not include the penalty incurred on their score card

So what are the considerations in each of these four scenarios?
1. This does not require any further explanation. It is what should happen every time a Rule is breached.
2. If the breach is brought to the attention of the Committee before the competition has closed, the player incurs the penalty prescribed by the applicable Rule and an additional penalty of two strokes, Exception to Rule 6-6d. 
3. If the breach is brought to the attention of the Committee after the competition has closed, a penalty must not be imposed by them unless the breach warranted disqualification under one of these four exceptions that are outlined in Rule 34-1b;
Exceptions: A penalty of disqualification must be imposed after the competition has closed if a competitor:
(i) was in breach of Rule 1-3 (Agreement to Waive Rules); or
(ii) returned a score card on which he had recorded a handicap that, before the competition closed, he knew was higher than that to which he was entitled, and this affected the number of strokes received (Rule 6-2b); or
(iii) returned a score for any hole lower than actually taken (Rule 6-6d) for any reason other than failure to include one or more penalty strokes that, before the competition closed, he did not know he had incurred; or
(iv) knew, before the competition closed, that he had been in breach of any other Rule for which the penalty is disqualification.
4. Call it what you like, but this is cheating. The player must be disqualified and the Committee should consider sanctioning them, e.g. by suspending them from all competitions for a period of time.

Of course, there are sometimes on-course situations where a player may be unsure as to how to proceed without breaching a Rule unnecessarily, e.g. whether they may take relief from equipment damage to the course, or when a fellow competitor tells them that they should be taking relief from a different place from where they think they are permitted to drop a ball. When a competitor is doubtful of their rights or the correct procedure during the play of a hole, they may, without penalty, complete the hole with two balls. If the player chooses to do so they must strictly follow the procedure set out in Rule 3-3;

The competitor should announce to his marker or a fellow-competitor:
• that he intends to play two balls; and
• which ball he wishes to count if the Rules permit the procedure used for that ball.
Before returning his score card, the competitor must report the facts of the situation to the Committee. If he fails to do so, he is disqualified.

If the competitor has taken further action before deciding to play two balls, he has not proceeded under Rule 3-3 and the score with the original ball counts. The competitor incurs no penalty for playing the second ball.

There is a more detailed explanation of Rule 3-3 in this blog of mine. 

Two Rules Situations from this week’s tournaments
For Rules enthusiasts, there were two fairly complicated Pro tournament rulings in the past week. I am providing two links to these incidents, rather than giving you my own detailed explanation;

Sergia Garcia getting relief from a really bad lie in a water hazard.

Ben Crane receiving two four-stroke penalties and then disqualification, because of the clubs he was carrying.

Good golfing,




The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2017 and may not be copied without permission.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Taking Relief from a Path - Jordan Spieth

I am currently on vacation in the USA, where in the past 10 days I have been lucky enough to enjoy personal, guided tours of both Congressional CC and TPC Scottsdale. Long-term readers may remember that, with his permission, I have occasionally copied content from the newsletters of Paul Kruger, PGA Professional at The Canyon Club, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, and am doing so again in this blog. Here is his overview of a recent interesting Rules incident involving Jordan Spieth that includes some useful reminders on taking relief from an artificial path.

“During the second round of the 99th PGA Championship held at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jordan Spieth hit a wayward drive on the par-5 10th hole, and his ball ended up on an artificially-surfaced cart path.  Even though Jordan has probably taken relief from cart paths thousands of times, he still sought the assistance of a Rules Official to ensure that he was proceeding correctly.  Here are the Rules that applied to his situation.

When taking relief from an artificially-surfaced cart path, Rule 24-2 [Immovable Obstruction] instructs the player to determine the nearest point of relief, and then drop the ball within one club-length of, and no nearer the hole than, the nearest point of relief.  By Definition, the nearest point of relief is the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies on the cart path (i) that is not nearer the hole and (ii) where, if the ball were so positioned, no interference by the cart path would exist for the stroke the player would have made from the original position if the cart path were not there.  In other words, at the nearest point of relief there will be no interference from the cart path to the lie of the ball, the player’s stance, or the area of the player’s intended swing.

After Jordan correctly determined that the nearest point of relief from the cart path was just left of the cart path, he immediately took note of the fact that the area in the vicinity of the nearest point of relief, i.e., where he would be dropping his ball, was covered with pine straw.  At that point, he called over the Rules Official to find out how he might be able to avoid having to play from the pine straw.

The Rules Official advised Jordan that he could remove the pine straw which are loose impediments.  According to Rule 23-1 [Loose Impediments: Relief], “Except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard, any loose impediment may be removed without penalty.” 

However, the Rules Official cautioned Jordan to be careful not to remove any of the soil underlying the pine straw when removing the pine straw.  That is because Rule 13-2 [Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play] states, in part, “A player must not improve or allow to be improved … the area of his intended stance or swing [or] the area in which he is to drop or place a ball … by any of the following actions … • creating or eliminating irregularities of surface [or] • removing or pressing down sand, loose soil ….”

Jordan cleared the area in which he intended to drop his ball by carefully picking up clumps of pine straw with his hand, and tossing the pine straw onto the cart path.  When he dropped his ball in the required area, the ball rolled down the slope and ended up back on the cart path.  Per Rule 20-2c [Dropping and Re-Dropping: When to Re-Drop], he was required to re-drop the ball because the ball rolled and came to rest “in a position where there is interference by the condition from which relief was taken under Rule 24-2b ….”  As you might expect, when Jordan re-dropped his ball, it once again ended up on the cart path.  In accordance with Rule 20-2c, Jordan was then permitted to place his ball “as near as possible to the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped.” 

In the third photograph, you will see that, after placing his ball, Jordan ended up with a near-perfect lie on the bare dirt.  However, the resulting shot was not to his liking.  Perhaps this was due to the fact that Jordan neglected to remove the pine straw in the area of his intended stance?”


My thanks again to Paul Kruger for his permission to occasionally reproduce content of his newsletters in my blogs.

Good golfing,



'999 More Questions on the Rules' - an interesting way to obtain a better understanding of the myriad of Rules incidents that golfers regularly encounter. Click here. Every purchaser will also receive a bonus of a free copy of my eDocument, '99 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage'. Total price; $10.99, or £7.99, or €9.99.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Obstruction in a Water Hazard

This question, with its accompanying photo, is typical of several that I receive on the subject of course signage and the Rules. In this circumstance, there is an additional dimension in that the sign is located within the margin of a hazard.

Question: A ball came to rest inside a lateral water hazard close to a warning sign located inside the hazard. So, for a right hander player the ball is playable, but …
a)    May they take relief from the sign, without penalty?
b)    May they rotate the sign to face in a different direction?
c)    May the sign be completely removed before the stroke is made, as it mentally interferes with the player’s swing?

Answer:
a)    No. There is no line of play or mental relief from an obstruction.
b)    Yes, But it is not necessary, because …..
c)    Yes. … Movable obstructions may be removed anywhere on the course.


The sign is an obstruction, because it is an artificial object, Definition of Obstruction. It is obvious that the sign is intended to be easily movable and is therefore a movable obstruction, unless a Local Rule states otherwise. If the sign can be easily moved (and subsequently replaced!) the player may move it, as movable obstructions can be moved from anywhere on the course at any time (Rule 24-1). If it is not easily movable, it is an immovable obstruction, from which there is never relief if both the player's ball and the immovable obstruction lie inside the margin of the water hazard, Rule 24-2.

How to Love the Rules of Golf

Who can fail to take notice of a book titled, ‘How to Love the Rules of Golf?’ Long time US Rules official, Howard J. Meditz, has incorporated his many year of expertise into a book that he thinks will help golfers get more satisfaction from every round, score better under pressure and limit their frustration on the course. An interesting aspect of his book is that not only does it reflect the latest 2016 Rules and the 2017 updates, it also covers the 2019 modernisation proposals. The six chapter titles give a good indication of what you can expect from this publication;

1.    How to Embrace the Rules of Golf
2.    How to Get to Know the Rules
3.    How to Resolve Your Differences
4.    A Significant Rules Proposal for 2019
5.    How to Use the Rules for Your Own Selfish Purposes
6.    How to Get More Involved with the Rules
For more details on this book click on this link to my Recommended Golf Rules books page and then click again on the cover image for ‘How to Love the Rules of Golf’. This links to the Amazon page for the book and provides an opportunity to check out the opening content and read reviews of Howard's book.

Good golfing,


 


Special Offer! Purchase either of my ‘999 Questions’ eBooks (delivered in both .pdf and Kindle formats) and receive a bonus copy of my ‘999 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’. Click here for information on the eBooks and prices in $, £ and €.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2017 and may not be copied without permission.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

August Miscellany

Afterthoughts on Spieth’s penalty drop at The Open
Most readers will already have polarised opinions on how Jordan Spieth handled his unplayable lie on the 13th hole of his final round of The Open, at Royal Birkdale. I have received several emails asking me for my opinion, so here are some miscellaneous afterthoughts;
•    The time taken to obtain an official ruling does not count towards any possible undue delay, unless of course the circumstance is frivolous.
•    If Spieth and Kuchar had not been the final pair out on the course I am sure that they would have asked the following group through.
•    The point where Jordan elected to take a penalty drop under Rule 28b was on the flagline, which is an imaginary line drawn from the hole past where his ball deemed unplayable was at rest. Jordan, his caddie and the match official all spent time on top of the dune ensuring that this was so, which was the cause of much of the delay.
•    Jordan purposely went back sufficiently far along this flagline to ensure that the nearest point of relief from the TIOs (trucks) was on the short cut practice ground to the right and not in the rough to the left.
•    Having determined this relief point, which was on wooden flooring between two trucks, the referee correctly told him that there was no need to drop the ball there. The reason for this was that anywhere that was within two club-lengths of this point would have given the same nearest point of relief on the practice area (a ball has to be re-dropped if it rolls further than two club-lengths from the point where it was dropped).
•    Having determined the point of relief under penalty of one stroke, Jordan was then entitled to free relief from the temporary immovable obstructions (the trucks) under a Local Rule that is used at most tournaments, but is not relevant for most amateur competitions.
•    Matt Kuchar had no reason to complain about the delay, as seeking rulings from officials is common in the professional game. He was entitled to be frustrated, but his patient demeanour throughout the whole incident, and indeed subsequently, was impeccable.
•    Jordan Spieth demonstrated a complete understanding of Rule 28 relating to an unplayable ball and acted throughout the incident calmly, rationally and professionally; an example to us all.
•    A positive outcome to this well-publicised Rules incident is that thousands of golfers now have a better understanding of the Rule 28b option, which is often not considered by amateur golfers when they deem a ball unplayable.

If you still are unsure about any part of this ruling I recommend that you view the detailed explanation at this link, by David Rickman, Chief of Rules at R&A. 

What Constitutes a Concession? – Elizabeth Moon
Elizabeth Moon lost her semi-final match of the US Girls’ Junior title at Boone Valley GC, Missouri, in the cruelest of fashions. She missed a 6-foot putt to win the match on the first hole of sudden death and then without looking up, hooked her ball back from the lip to practice the stroke that she should have made. As she had not given Shepherd any opportunity to concede the putt before touching her ball in play, her action incurred a penalty of one stroke, meaning that she could not then halve the hole and so her opponent Erica Shepherd had won the match. It is almost certain that the putt would have been conceded had Shepherd been given the opportunity to do so, but she had not. The match referee quickly walked onto the putting green to explain to Moon that the penalty under Rule 18-2 had been incurred, because a valid concession cannot be given after the fact.

The important lesson here for all golfers is that you may not assume that your opponent will concede your next stroke, you must receive a positive indication that this is the case, from them and from no-one else (e.g. their caddie). Other points to remember about concessions are contained in Rule 2-4;

A player may concede a match at any time prior to the start or conclusion of that match.

A player may concede a hole at any time prior to the start or conclusion of that hole.

A player may concede his opponent's next stroke at any time, provided the opponent's ball is at rest. The opponent is considered to have holed out with his next stroke, and the ball may be removed by either side.

A concession may not be declined or withdrawn.

 

There is a video of this incident at this link (starting around at 4 mins 20 seconds). Erica Shepherd went on to win the final and the US Junior Girls’ title.

Drops from Bunker Linings – Charley Hoffman
On 29th May this year I blogged about Branden Grace using the Rules to his advantage by claiming (unfair?) relief from a rubber lining in the bunker in which his ball was plugged on an upslope lie (see this link). Well, here we go again! Charley Hoffman was faced with a plugged bunker lie at the RBC Canadian Open, shuffled his feet in the sand to take a stance and called over a Rules official, claiming that his feet were touching the ‘concrete’ lining of the bunker. You can make up your own mind as to whether Hoffman should have been given relief from this immovable obstruction, or if he should have been made to play from the bunker by viewing this video link (scroll down to the video).

Remember the days when bunkers were hazards in the non-golfing sense of the word? As a member of a Club that has new, concrete lined bunkers, I recommend that other Committees that have them should at least consider introducing a Local Rule along the following lines;

“The concrete bunker linings are integral parts of the course. The ball must be played as it lies or deemed unplayable (Rule 28)."

 
Good golfing,


 


The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2017 and may not be copied without permission.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Internal Out of Bounds at the 2017 Open Championship

An interesting Local Rule was introduced for the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale. During early practice rounds last week, officials realised that some players may be considering an alternative route on the 9th hole, aiming their tee shots towards the 10th fairway. This route (the dotted line in the photo) gave them a straight shot to a generous fairway with the potential of a shorter second shot to the putting green, avoiding having to take on the 9th's dog-leg fairway (the solid line in the photo). The R&A reacted quickly and on Tuesday their chief referee, David Rickman, notified players that the following Local Rule would apply for the duration of The Open;

Out of Bounds – 9th Hole
Please be advised that the following Local Rule is being introduced on safety grounds:

“When playing the 9th hole only, a ball on or beyond the 10th fairway (defined by the edge of the closely-mown area) is out of bounds.”

There will be no white stakes or lines used to define or indicate this boundary


Although this Local Rule states that there will be no stakes or lines to define or indicate the boundary, it is this Decision 33-2a/12 that provides permission for Committees to introduce an internal out of bounds;

Q. It is proposed to install boundary stakes between two holes as a safety measure. It would prevent players playing a dog-leg hole from driving onto the fairway of another hole in order to cut the "dog-leg." Is it permissible to establish such a boundary?

A. Yes. For the recommended status of such boundary stakes, see Decision 24/5.


The reference to Decision 24/5 is to recommend that in a situation where there are stakes defining an internal out of bounds, the Local Rule should deem them as immovable obstructions during play of the relevant hole. Note that for the 2017 Open Championship a ball played from anywhere on the 9th hole is only out of bounds if it comes to rest on the closely mown area of the 10th hole, or beyond, and not if it is in any rough, bunker, or putting green between the 10th fairway and anywhere on the 9th hole. (edited 21st July)
   
Not receiving ‘Rhodes Rules School’ emails?
Recently I have received more queries than usual from subscribers to my ‘Rhodes Rules School’ wondering whether I have stopped sending these free, weekly emails on the Rules of Golf. I should explain that over the past 8 years there have been over 10,000 subscribers to this service, some who are receiving their first issue and others that have received 375 issues and counting.

When I check into these queries I find that the emails are still being sent weekly by the service company, but from time to time email client providers (@gmail, @yahoo!, @hotmail, etc.) change their filtering policies on newsletter type emails, filtering them into the users’ spam or junk folders. So, if you realise that you are not now receiving these emails, please check into your filtered folders before contacting me.

If you would like to subscribe / re-subscribe to this free service, from which you can unsubscribe at any time, please use this link.

‘Tommy’s Honour’
I am not a regular filmgoer, but I recently made an exception. ‘Tommy's Honour’ is a historical drama film, depicting the lives and careers of, and the complex relationship between, the pioneering Scottish golfing champions, Old Tom Morris and his son Young Tom Morris, both of St. Andrews, the Home of Golf. As a film it is unremarkable and will probably not win any awards, though the scenic photography is stunning. But for anyone who has even a casual interest in the history of golf and two of golf’s founding fathers, it is time well spent. Perhaps surprisingly, my wife also greatly enjoyed the film, which aside from the golfing backdrop, thoughtfully handles class warfare, romance, and the sometimes hostile father and son relationship. I recommend it to all golf enthusiasts.

Good golfing,


 


The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2017 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Marking Position of Ball during Play of a Hole

A question that some amateur golfers seem to have a problem with is which Rules situations require the position of a ball to be marked and which do not? An easy rule of thumb to assist you with this question is that when the ball is to be replaced at the same spot it was lifted from, it must be marked before it is touched.  

The ball has to be marked before being touched:
  • On the putting green, Rule 16-1b. 
  • For identification, Rule 12-2. Note that this is one of the most frequently breached Rules; you are not permitted to touch your ball in play to positively identify it without marking it first, even if you merely rotate the ball on its spot and do not lift it. 
  • Ball assisting play, Rule 22-1. Note that the ball-marker does not have to remain immediately behind where the ball was at rest. In order to avoid mental interference to the other player while the stroke is being made, once the ball-marker has been placed where the ball was at rest the player might measure one or two club-heads to the side, or even a club-length to the side, providing the routine is accurately reversed when it is being replaced. 
  • Ball interfering with play, Rule 22-2. (Note same as above). 
  • To determine whether relief under a Rule is available (e.g. whether a ball is embedded, or unfit for play), Rule 5-3 and Decision 20-1/0. (This bullet point was edited 13th July 2017.)
If a ball is not marked when the Rules require that it must be, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced. If it is not accurately replaced before the next stroke is made at it, the penalty increases to two strokes in stroke play or loss of hole in match play, for playing from the wrong place, but there is no additional penalty under Rule 20-1. So, for example, there is no additional penalty if the ball was lifted because it was interfering with play of another ball, and then placed (or dropped) and played from a wrong place.

A ball does not have to be marked:

  • When it has been deemed unplayable, Rule 28. 
  • When relief is being taken from an immovable obstruction, Rule 24-2. 
  • When relief is being taken from a (lateral) water hazard, Rule 26-1. 
  • When relief is being taken from an abnormal ground condition, which includes ground under repair, casual water and hole, cast or runway made by a burrowing animal, Rule 25-1. 
  • When relief is being taken from a wrong putting green, Rule 25-2. 
  • Under some Local Rules, e.g. relief from a staked tree.
There are occasions when the Rules do not require that the position of a ball is marked, but when it might be advisable to do so:
  • Moving a movable obstruction, Rule 24-1. Note that if a ball moves while a movable obstruction is being moved it must be replaced, so it may be advisable, though not required by the Rules, to mark its position before removing the obstruction.
A ball to be lifted under the Rules may be lifted by the player, his partner or another person authorised by the player. In all these cases the player is responsible for any breach of the Rules, including not marking its position when the Rules require that it must be marked.

Of course you do not have to bother remembering any of the above regarding marking a ball before lifting it. If you take the precaution of always marking the ball before touching it you will avoid any penalty for getting it wrong.

Jon Rahm Marking Incident
At the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Portstewart last Sunday there was another marking and replacing Rules incident. It involved the latest Spanish golfing sensation and runaway winner, Jon Rahm. For a detailed explanation of the ruling by European Tour chief referee, Andy McPhee, click on this Sky Sports video link. I am not going to comment any further, other than to say that I supported the Lexi Thompson ruling last April and now support this Jon Rahm ruling.

Good golfing,


 


Please remember that if you have any questions on the Rules of Golf you can easily search the content of more than 400 blogs of mine, by entering a few relevant words in the ‘Search This Blog’ box on the right side of each of my blog pages.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2017 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Thorbjørn Olesen Disagrees with Ruling

During the second round of the BMW International Open, the Danish Pro, Thorbjørn Olesen, asked for a ruling when his ball placed at rest rolled back into the water whilst he was walking up to the putting green to assess his chip. Subsequently, he criticised; the official that gave him the ruling that he didn’t like, previous officials who he said had given him wrong rulings “so many times this year”, and the Rule itself.

The details were that following his second stroke on the 4th hole Olesen’s ball had landed unplayable in water. On taking relief from the hazard he dropped and re-dropped his ball, which on both occasions rolled back inside the hazard. He then tried to place his ball where it had first touched the ground on the second drop, but had trouble trying to place it at rest on the sloping ground. Eventually, after several tries, he did get it to stay at rest and so he removed his hand and walked up to the putting green. The ball then slowly rolled back down the slope, across the hazard margin and into the water. Apparently, a Rules official who had witnessed the placing wrongly thought that the ball could be replaced where it was without penalty, but this was subsequently corrected by European Tour Senior Referee, Andy McFee. The ball should obviously have been dropped again under Rule 26, for a second penalty stroke, but the fact that the official had advised Olesen that he could place the ball meant that he avoided the penalty of two strokes for placing a ball instead of dropping it.

At the time of writing there are three separate videos on this incident on the same web page at this Golf Channel link; 1. Olesen explaining the incident to Andy McFee, with a replay of the incident with commentary, which for a change was spot on, 2. Olesen describing the incident and his problem with it, and 3. Andy McFee explaining the ruling.


Local Rule re Accidentally Moving Ball on Putting Green
Has your Club/Society introduced the Local Rule relating to accidentally moving a ball or ball marker on the putting green? If not, why not? Both the R&A and USGA have recommended that all competitions should now be played with this recommended Local Rule operating. See this blog of mine for more detail. Remarkably, it seems that despite the extensive media coverage on this issue, at least one professional golfer who earns their living from the sport, did not take it in and presumably did not bother to read the Local Rules pertaining to the WGC Match Play tournament last April at Austin, Texas.

The circumstance of the incident was that following the first round group matches, Englishman, Tyrrell Hatton, was in a play-off against Spaniard, Rafa Cabrera Bello, and American, Charles Howell III, to see which of them was going through to the next round. As Hatton was lining up his short par putt on the first hole of the playoff he accidentally moved his ball. Wrongly assuming that he had incurred a penalty, he tapped his ball into the hole and walked off the putting green leaving the others to complete the hole and the playoff. Had he known, or remembered, the new Local Rule, or consulted with a Rules official, he would have realised that he should have replaced his ball where it was before he accidentally caused it to move, without incurring any penalty.


History of Rules Changes
If you ever have a reason to research when a particular Rule of Golf was introduced, amended, or developed, I recommend the ‘Historical Rules of Golf’ web site at this link.  Kudos to John Hutchinson and all those that assisted him with their contributions to this excellent resource.


Club/Society Quiz Night

Why not run a quiz night for your members? I have done all the work for you by;
  • Eliminating the chore of composing suitable questions. 
  • Ensuring all answers are correct and not open to dispute. 
  • Providing the appropriate Rules references. 
  • Supplying helpful explanations, where necessary. 
  • Including a handy check sheet for fast and accurate marking of answer sheets.
Click here for details.

Good golfing,



The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2017 and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Tips on Match Play Rules

I regularly receive requests for rulings relating to match play situations after a player has lost a hole, or the match, due to a Rules incident that they were not sure about. Most golfers play far more rounds of stroke play golf than match play golf and do not realise that there are several important differences in the Rules of these formats. Below are my 12 tips that every player should understand and remember before commencing a match.

1. You may practice on the course on the day of a match (Rule 7-1).

2. You must not touch your opponent’s ball in play, unless you are helping to search for it (Rule 18-3).
Do not mark an opponent’s ball on the putting green, unless they ask you to.

3. A concession of a hole may be given at any time and cannot be declined or withdrawn (Rule 2-4).
You may putt out after receiving the concession, providing the action is not of assistance to your partner in in a four-ball or best-ball match.

4. Incorrect information (Rule 9-2).
If you give your opponent wrong information about your score you must correct it before they make their next stroke, or you lose the hole. Similarly, if they give you wrong information.


5. Order of Play (Rule 10-1).
If your opponent plays out of turn you may let their stroke stand, or require that they cancel the stroke and play again in the correct order. In four-ball match play, balls belonging to the same side may be played in the order that the side considers best.


6. After a stroke your ball hits your opponent, or their equipment (Rule 19-3).
You may choose to replay the stroke, or accept it and play your next shot from where the ball had come to rest.

7. Putt from the putting green hits a ball at rest on the putting green (Rule 19-5).
There is no penalty in match play, the other ball must be replaced and your ball played from where it comes to rest.

8. Four-ball match play – representation of side (Rule 30-3a).
One partner may play for any part, or all of a match, but if and when their partner arrives they must wait until the start of the next hole to join the match.

9. Four-ball match play – wrong ball (Rule 30-3c).
If a player makes a stroke at a wrong ball their partner may continue play of the hole without penalty. If it was the partner's ball that was played they must place a ball where it was wrongly played from.

10. Asking for and giving advice (Rule 8-1).
If a third party gives unsolicited advice no penalty is incurred, but you must request that they do not do so again. You may not give advice to any team member other than your partner.

11. Ignoring an opponent’s breach of Rule (Rule 1-3). In match play, you do not have to call a penalty on your opponent if you witness a breach of Rule by them.
But don’t discuss the breach with the opponent before teeing off at the next hole, or you could both be disqualified for agreeing to waive a Rule.

12. If you are unsure of a Rule or procedure try and resolve it with your opponent immediately (Rule 2-5).
But if you cannot agree, a claim has to be made before teeing-off at the next hole. You must notify your opponent that you are making a claim, agree the facts and ask the Committee for a ruling.

This last point is important. I receive several communications where a player was ‘bullied’ into accepting a ruling by their opponent, which was subsequently found to be incorrect - too late to affect the result. Opponents should not to get into an argument on the course, but should agree on the facts of the situation and seek an authoritative ruling from a Committee member, or someone else whose knowledge of the Rules can be trusted. If a timely official ruling is not received, the match should be continued and played to a conclusion whereby there is a definitive result, depending on whether the eventual ruling for the disputed hole was won by either side, or was halved.

Good golfing,



 

Special Offer! Purchase either of my 999 Questions eBooks (receiving both .pdf and Kindle formats) and receive a free copy of ‘999 Tips on Using the Rules of Golf to Your Advantage’. Click here for information on the eBooks and prices in $, £ and €.

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2017 and may not be copied without permission.

 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Two Rules Incidents at BMW PGA Championship

There were at least two interesting Rules incident at last week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey, both of which involved South African competitors.

Branden Grace Taking (Unfair?) Relief
After eagling his 12th hole, Branden Grace, was tied for the lead at 6 under when he found his ball plugged in the sand on the upslope of a greenside bunker, giving him a very difficult lie to make any reasonable stroke from. He took a stance, as though preparing for his stroke, shuffling and twisting his feet into the sand. But then he stepped away and called for a Rules official. He told him that when he took his stance his feet were touching the rubber lining to the bunker and that he was claiming free relief from this immovable obstruction, which is permitted by Rule 24-2b(ii). There is no doubt that a player may take relief from an immovable obstruction interfering with their stance, but would the lining have been exposed if Grace had taken his stance with less vigour? In the circumstance, the USGA rules official, Mark Hill, had little option but to permit Grace the free relief by dropping his ball in a more favorable area of the bunker, within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole, but there was much criticism from commentators and players, including Paul McGinley, who as he watched the incident unfold said;

“It was ridiculous. If you twist your feet enough you’re bound to eventually reach the bunker lining. That means anytime a player wants relief from a poor lie he can simply twist his feet until he reaches the bunker lining. That can’t be right.”


Quite! I wonder if the official knew that Branden Grace had used the same Rule to obtain a similarly favourable relief 18 months ago. See this blog of mine for details. 


Incidentally, if an official had observed Grace digging into the sand with his feet and judged that he had done so in excess of what was necessary to obtain a firm stance for the intended stroke, he could have penalised him two strokes for a breach of Rule 13-4, as per Decision 13-4/0.5.

(Edit 30th May 2017: There is a video of this incident at this link. I note from this video that the official permitted Grace to smooth the footsteps in the sand that he had previously made in digging-in for his stroke. In my opinion, this should not have been permitted. In any case, having received relief without penalty, the permitted area of drop was within one club-length of the nearest point of relief from the uncovered lining, which was outside of the disturbed area of sand. My opinion is based on part of Decision 13-4/11, though this refers to footsteps made in searching for a ball).

Ernie Els Penalising Himself for Taking (Unfair?) Relief
Another interesting Rules incident happened at Wentworth on the same day, but this time no official was involved. Having reached the rough beside the green with his second stroke on the par-5 12th hole, Ernie Els was unsure as to whether his ball had plugged. Rule 25-2 only provides relief for an embedded ball in a ‘closely mown area’, but as is now the norm in most Pro competitions, the European Tour extends this relief by a Local Rule to ‘through the green’. Els was aware that he was entitled to lift his ball to determine whether it was embedded, which would entitle him to a relief drop, so he correctly announced his intention to his fellow competitors that he was going to mark and lift his ball to examine the lie. He quickly determined that the ball had not been embedded, so relief was not available. The Rules require that the ball must then be replaced with a fellow-competitor being given the opportunity to observe the replacement.

Despite having to chip from the rough, Els made an excellent contact with his ball and watched incredulously as the ball rolled across the green and into the hole for an eagle 3. The interview that he gave after the round explains what happened next;

"I just felt uncomfortable by the way the ball came out. The ball came out way too good, so I felt I didn't quite probably put it (back) exactly where I should have. Under the Rules you try and put it back the way you think it should be, but I still felt uncomfortable with it, so we took a two-shot penalty. I know deep down the ball wasn't quite where it should be and I wouldn't be able to live with myself."

So, it was the fact he made perfect contact with his ball, resulting in his chip shot being holed, that led him to believe that he could not possibly have replaced the ball in exactly the same lie as to where it had been embedded and although no-one else was doubting the replacement, including a European Tour Official, who he consulted after the round, he ultimately felt that the best resolution was for him to self-impose a penalty of two strokes, under Rule 20-7, for playing from a wrong place. Kudos to a great golfer who is also a great example to those of us that love the game.

Coincidentally, at the same time that many were complimenting Ernie Els for his absolute integrity in strictly following the Rules at Wentworth, others were raising questions as to whether Branden Grace had taken an unfair action to take advantage of them.

Good golfing,


 


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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Armchair Officials in Golf

One of the most controversial subjects relating to the Rules of Golf is how some penalties are imposed retrospectively on tournament professional golfers, following a communication from someone who has spotted a breach of a Rule while watching television. I have expressed my opinions on this subject in previous blogs and in responding to the related comments underneath them, but I am now pleased to reproduce here, with kind permission from the subscriber, a considered opinion, which makes a lot of sense to me.

The Case for Armchair Officials in Golf
Monopoly is different than chess. They have different rules. No one complains. Golf is different than other sports. It calls for different rules. People complain. Let’s start with a principle on which all sportsmen can agree. Referees are charged with GETTING IT RIGHT. We will accept a close call that goes against our guy, but rail over a bad call every time. “Come on Ref, get it right.” Early on golf’s Rules makers realized our sport was significantly different than all the rest. First, all those other sports have the same field. Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, bowling, soccer, volley ball – all of their fields are the same and are right there in plain view for everyone to see. Also, they all have one ball. Our fields are all different and we have 150 balls flying around over 170 acres of topography which include hills, valleys, trees, ponds, all sorts of crooks and crannies. How is it possible for referees to “get it right?”

To assist them the Rules makers early on came up with the concept of “ALL AVAILABLE DATA.” Before adjudicating an issue officials are instructed to talk to anyone that can add creditable data, other players, caddies, spectators, anyone, and anything to get it right. They often use TV footage when it’s available. “Hey Johnny, can you see from the video where that ball crossed the hazard line? Yes Rodger, looks like it crossed near that little tree about 200 yards from the tee.” No one complains. I ask, “What’s the difference between the monitor in the 18th tower and the monitor in Cleveland?” Of course logic dictates the answer – there is no difference.

A cousin to the ALL AVAILABLE DATA principle is the theory of lines. When it’s too difficult to make distinctions, too difficult to draw lines, the Rules makers don’t even try. Take the case of Brian Davis tied after regulation with Jim Furyk at the 2010 Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head. During play of the first playoff hole Brian’s club during his backswing from a green side hazard hit a reed (a loose impediment) and he incurred a penalty resulting in his losing the tournament. The grill room crowd went wild. “That’s a dumb Rule. It was only a small reed.” I asked what if instead of a reed there was a log 6 inches in diameter right behind his ball and Brian could fit his wedge in there and on his back swing push that log out of the way clearing the area for a clean chip onto the green? The grill crowd responded with “that would be a penalty.” Logical folks now see the issue. Where is the cut off between a reed and a log? Clearly there isn’t one. Or, if there is, it’s not obvious to the majority of golfers. So, we have the theory of lines. When it’s impossible or impractical to draw lines, Rules makers don’t even try. Don’t hit a loose impediment in a hazard – period! If you cause your ball to move through the green, you incur a penalty. Move is move. One inch, one foot or one yard. You can’t play from a wrong place, no lines. One yard, one foot, one inch. When Officials are directed to obtain ALL AVAILABLE DATA, all means all. No commas, no dashes, no semi-colons. If the arm chair guy in Cleveland has data that can help GET IT RIGHT – then bring it on. Remember, he is not making any ruling, he is just providing data. It’s reported that while the arm chair call-ins are reviewed, most are discarded. Also, over the years call-ins have helped players as well as hurt them. Our game is better served by the ALL AVAILABLE DATA principle.
 

Jerry Duffy, Maryland, USA
 

In my opinion, viewers who think that they may have seen a breach of a Rule on a televised broadcast should restrain themselves from getting involved, leaving it to the Rules officials charged with the responsibility. However, once any breach of Rule has come to the attention of those officials in charge, notwithstanding its source, they do then have a duty to impose the appropriate penalty prescribed by the Rules of Golf. Officials have a responsibility to protect the rights of every other player in the competition and on a wider scale to the integrity of the game; they do not have the right to chooses whether to impose a penalty, or not, for a known breach.

Good golfing,


 



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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Stroke and Distance Penalty for Ball Out of Bounds

There has been a lot of discussion in golfing circles about which Rule of Golf players would most like to see changed, in addition to the proposed changes announced by the Ruling Bodies on 1st March. At the top of nearly every informal poll I have seen is a wish to change the stroke and distance penalty for a ball played out of bounds. Players hate to have to return to where they last played from when they unexpectedly find that their ball is the wrong side of an out of bounds boundary line. When this happens there is an inevitable delay in play while the player goes back. Of course, they should have played a provisional ball, but there are occasions when the out of bounds line is not obvious from where the ball was played from and other times when players find that their ball has taken an unusual deflection in the wrong direction. There is only one way to proceed when a ball is out of bounds and a provisional ball has not been played, as in Rule 27-1b;

b. Ball Out of Bounds
If a ball is out of bounds, the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played (see Rule 20-5).


The appropriate penalty for a ball that has been played out of bounds has exercised the Ruling Bodies for well over a century; it seems that there is general support for a change to be made, but it is far from obvious what that change should be. This is a summary of the various efforts made by the R&A and USGA to address the issue over the past 130 years;

1886: The term out of bounds was first defined by Royal Isle of Wight, with a penalty of stroke and distance.
1899: Defined as being outside the recognised boundaries of the course; penalty distance only.
1908: Redefined as all ground on which play is prohibited. Penalty distance only still, but may be changed to stroke and distance by Local Rule for both forms of play.
1920: Stroke and distance, but now the penalty stroke may be remitted by Local Rule.
1947: USGA (1950: R&A): Distance only, and no provision for change by a Local Rule.
1952: Stroke and distance.
1960: USGA experimentally changed to distance only.
1961: USGA back to stroke and distance. In addition, the USGA allowed an alternative procedure of stroke only, dropping a ball within two club lengths of where the ball went out of bounds, on courses where the penalty of stroke and distance would be "unduly severe".
1964: USGA allowed a Local Rule to be adopted which allowed a stroke-only option if it was felt that stroke and distance would be “unduly severe”. The player could drop a ball within two club-lengths of where the original ball crossed the out of bounds line. Reasonable evidence was required both that the ball had gone out of bounds and as to the point of crossing. In the absence of either, stroke and distance was the only option.
1968: Rescinded.
The main difficulty relating to a ball that has come to rest out of bounds is estimating where it last crossed the boundary of the course. Sometimes this may be easy to determine, as in the photo above, but more often it may lead to robust debate between players, officials and spectators. Also, there is little doubt that keeping the ball within the boundaries of the course can be a strategic part of the challenge of playing some holes. This is particularly true on courses that have tight boundaries where some holes have specifically been designed to encourage players to weigh the risk-reward of a shot and play the higher percentage route for safety. In this context, safety may include both avoiding out of bounds penalties and avoiding public liability issues from balls landing outside the course. Adjusting the penalty for balls played out of bounds could lead to players choosing to take high-risk shots towards, or over those areas, with little concern for what is on the other side.

Presently, there is no change in the ‘Draft New Rules of Golf for 2019’ with respect to what to do when a ball is lost or out of bounds; “18-2b: If a ball is lost or out of bounds, the player must take stroke-and-distance relief by adding one penalty stroke and playing the original ball or a substituted ball from where the previous stroke was made.“ However, I would not be surprised if serious representations are made from some quarters to treat out of bounds area the same as ‘red penalty areas’, for which there will be similar relief options to that for lateral water hazards in the current Rules.

Perhaps, the quandary on a suitable penalty for a ball played out of bounds is best summed up by these two statements on the subject by Thomas Pagel, Senior Director, Rules of Golf and Amateur Status for the USGA;

“We’ve looked at every angle, but of all the alternatives we’ve considered, we haven’t found one that is workable for all levels.”

“We are committed to identifying a solution. When we hit 2019, there will be solution, even if it’s by a Local Rule, because we recognize the importance going forward.”


Good golfing,



 

If your golf club is anywhere in Ireland, Berkshire & neighbouring counties in England, or Aberdeenshire in Scotland, why not suggest a Rules of Golf social evening to your Committee. I am widening the areas where I give presentations and would be pleased to quote them for an evening’s ‘entertainment’!

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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

April Miscellaneous

Unusual TIO:
There is no reference to Temporary Immovable Obstructions (TIOs) in the 34 Rules of Golf, but this Definition appears in Appendix L, Part A;

A temporary immovable obstruction (TIO) is a non-permanent artificial object that is often erected in conjunction with a competition and is fixed or not readily movable. Examples of TIOs include, but are not limited to, tents, scoreboards, grandstands, television towers and lavatories.

Supporting guy wires are part of the TIO, unless the Committee declares that they are to be treated as elevated power lines or cables.


So, it was unusual to see a natural obstruction being defined as a TIO during the LPGA’s first major at Mission Hills Country Club, California at the end of March. A large tree on the 9th hole had been uprooted during a vicious wind storm on the first day. It was too large to be quickly removed, but was lying in a position where it was likely to interfere with play. I am sure that the Committee considered declaring the area around the tree as ground under repair, but judged that this would provide insufficient relief from this large obstruction that is obviously not meant to be a feature of the course. By declaring the fallen tree to be a TIO players could take line of play relief from it, which seems equitable in the circumstances, where some players had played this hole before the storm started. On refection, the fallen tree was temporary (it was going to be removed after the round), it was immovable (it would have required several persons to move it out of the way) and it was an obstruction (in the strict, ‘non-Rules' meaning of the word), so in the circumstances I think that the Committee made the right decision.

Moving the Location of a Hole during Masters 2017:
There was an interesting and pretty rare occurrence during the final day of the Masters last week. On the 5th hole Russell Henley hit a stunning second shot that slam-dunked into the hole for eagle, causing material damage to the lip. The damage was so severe that Augusta National’s grounds crew were unable to fix it satisfactorily for the players who were following.

It is this Exception to Rule 33-2b that permits a Committee to cut a new hole for one that has been severely damaged during play of a round;

When it is impossible for a damaged hole to be repaired so that it conforms with the Definition, the Committee may make a new hole in a nearby similar position.


So, the efficient Augusta National greenkeepers re-cut a new hole and filled in the old one in less than 5 minutes after arriving on the putting green, allowing play to continue.

Obviously there are no greenkeepers on hand to repair, or re-locate holes during the large majority of competitive stroke play rounds. In this case Decision 16-1a/6 is relevant;


Q. Prior to putting, a player discovers that the hole has been damaged. What is the proper procedure?
A. If the damage is not clearly identifiable as a ball mark, then:
(a) If the damage is such that the proper dimensions of the hole have not been changed materially, the player should continue play without repairing the hole. If he touches the hole in such circumstances, a breach of Rule 16-1a occurs.
(b) If the proper dimensions of the hole have been changed materially, the player should request the Committee to have the hole repaired. If a member of the Committee is not readily available, the player may repair the damage, without penalty.
If a player repairs a materially damaged hole when a member of the Committee is readily available, he incurs a penalty for a breach of Rule 16-1a.


Name and Date on a Score Card:
Most golfers that have served on a Golf Committee will know that part of Rule 33-5 states that in stroke play competitions, the Committee must provide each competitor with a score card containing the date and the competitor's name(s). However, this does not always happen in smaller Clubs and Societies, where players are expected to complete these details on their score card before commencing their round, and perhaps also record their entry on a competitions book, or computer, designated for that purpose. The question then arises as to whether a player should be disqualified for returning a score card that does not contain their legible name, and/or the date of the competition.

Of course, the players score card must be signed before it is returned. Decision 6-6b/2 clarifies that it may be signed, or initialled, in a place other than the signature box, provided it is clear from all the evidence that the competitor (and the marker) is doing so for the purpose of verifying their scores for all of the holes.

Note that a Committee may not, as a condition of competition, require that competitors enter their scores into a computer and so players cannot be penalised for failing to do so (Decision 6-6b/8). However, a Committee may introduce a ‘club regulation’ to this effect and provide disciplinary sanctions, such as ruling that a player is ineligible to play in the next club competition for failure to enter their scores in a computer provided for this purpose.

Unusual Tee Shot:
Question: Does a ball played from within the teeing ground have to pass between the tee markers.
Answer: No, provided the ball is teed within rectangular area two club-lengths in depth, the front and the sides of which are defined by the outside limits of two tee-markers, it may be played in any direction and does not have to pass between the tee-markers.

Good golfing,


 


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Monday, 3 April 2017

Lexi Thompson Penalised Four Strokes

Another déjà vu Rules experience. Following a communication from a TV viewer, the Rules officials at the LPGA ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills, had little option other than to apply penalties under Rule 20-7c and Rule 6-6d to the clear breach by the tournament leader, Lexi Thompson. I appreciate that many of my readers will not agree with this opening statement, so I am going to expand on it. If you are not already familiar with the detail of this latest Rules incident to blight a major golf tournament, I recommend that you click on this link to view what happened and then read the official statement from the LPGA.

LPGA Statement Regarding Lexi Thompson Penalty
On Sunday afternoon, the LPGA received an email from a television viewer, saying that Lexi Thompson did not properly replace her ball prior to putting out on the 17th hole during Saturday’s third round of the ANA Inspiration. The claim was quickly investigated by LPGA Rules officials.

After a full review, it was determined that Thompson breached Rule 20-7c (Playing From Wrong Place), and received a two-stroke penalty under Rule 16-1b. She incurred an additional two-stroke penalty under Rule 6-6d for returning an incorrect scorecard in round three. She was immediately notified of the breach by LPGA Rules Committee in between holes 12 and 13 of the final round.


This addresses the confusion that some golfers have, as to why Lexi’s penalty was four strokes and not two. Here is the wording of the Exception to Rule 6-6d;

Exception: If a competitor returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken due to failure to include one or more penalty strokes that, before returning his score card, he did not know he had incurred, he is not disqualified. In such circumstances, the competitor incurs the penalty prescribed by the applicable Rule and an additional penalty of two strokes for each hole at which the competitor has committed a breach of Rule 6-6d. This Exception does not apply when the applicable penalty is disqualification from the competition.


Note that if the same Rules infraction had occurred prior to 1st January 2016, when this exception was introduced, Lexi would have been disqualified and would not have collected her second place prize money of $250,591.00.

I have a number of points to make regarding this incident and for ease I am going to do so in a bullet point format.


•    As Lee Westwood tweeted, “You know all this rules confusion could have been averted if Lexi just mastered the art of marking and replacing the ball in the same spot.”
•    There is no question that the ball was not replaced at the spot from which it was lifted, as required by Rule 20-3a. Lexi was given the opportunity to view the incident on video after her round and admitted that she had unintentionally breached this Rule.
•    All professional golfers know that the ball has to be replaced accurately, or a penalty is incurred. For example, they know that if they lift their ball that has come to rest in a dent in the putting surface, such as an aeration hole, they must replace the ball in that dent (unless there is a Local Rule that offers relief). If some latitude was introduced to this Rule, e.g. replace within 1cm (4/10ths inch), it would unnecessarily complicate the Rule and would not stop witnesses from claiming that a player had placed just outside this prescribed limit. For this reason there is no latitude built into the Rule.
•    Lexi says that she was not aware that she had replaced her ball at a different spot and no-one seems to be disputing this. But from a Rules perspective the video evidence is uncertain. She appears to be about to make the short, two-foot putt when she sees something; unusually she then marks the ball to the side; lifts the ball and does not clean it; then twists it, without apparently lining up any of the markings to the hole, as she places it in front of her ball-marker. How is an official meant to accurately determine whether this was an unconscious mistake not deserving of a penalty, or a deliberate act of cheating that certainly does?
•    If the officials notify a player of a penalty incurred as soon as they have made their ruling and it occurs during a round they are criticised, but if they wait until the end of the round before passing on the bad news they are also criticised! There is no easy answer as to when the player and the other competitors should be notified.
•    Rules officials do not solicit calls or emails from third-parties, but once they are aware of a suspected breach, they have a duty to the other competitors to follow-up and enforce the Rules. This equally applies to Club and Society competitions. If a Committee turns a blind eye to any reported breach, even if it has no apparent effect on the player’s score, they will find that the next time any Rules incident occurs the player involved will demand the same preferential treatment, because a precedent has been set.
•    Most of the criticism surrounding this incident has been directed towards the person who emailed the LPGA to make them aware of the breach. However, there is another side to this. If the email had not been received during the competition it is probable that Lexi would have won the tournament. Supposing that subsequently someone put the video on-line, highlighting her incorrect replacement and speculating that it had been done purposely. At best this would have put an asterisk (*) against her name as winner and it is very possible that the ‘evidence’ could then have gone viral, bringing it to the attention of a much wider and less forgiving audience. If you don’t believe that this can happen try Googling, “Montgomerie replaced ball in wrong spot” (2005), or “Mark O’Meara admits to misplacing” (1997). These incidents are still being remembered in a negative manner against the players involved, over a decade later.
•    Golf’s reputation is admirably different from almost every other sport, largely due to the integrity of players at all levels, who almost universally abide by a unified set of evolving Rules that are strictly applied, without favour.
•    Finally, the proposed Rules changes for 2019 have this ‘reasonable judgment’ clause that might have absolved Lexi had it been in place today; “So long as you do all that can be reasonably expected of you under the circumstances to make an accurate estimation or measurement, your reasonable judgment will be accepted even if later shown to be wrong by other information (such as video technology).”

There is no doubt in my mind that Lexi Thompson has come out of this situation as a stronger athlete with a larger fan base. She handled an extraordinarily emotional situation with amazing dignity and class, even staying on after she knew that the incident had lost her the tournament win, to sign autographs and have pictures taken with her fans. I am pleased to leave the last word to her, copied from her official Instagram account;

“Well it was an emotional day here for me, first off I do want to say what I had done was 100% not intentional at all I didn't realize I had done that. I want to say thank you to all the sponsors, volunteers and Mission Hills for making this week possible at the @anainspiration! Also to the fans out there, words can't describe what you being there for me, meant to me. You helped me push thru those last holes so thank you for always believing in me. A big thanks to my caddy as well for always staying positive and being there for me when it got tough. I played some great golf so definitely a lot of positives to take from the week. Time for a very needed 3 weeks off now. Thank you everybody ❤”


Good golfing,



 

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

David Horsey’s Ball Deflected by Official

For obvious reasons Tournament Officials don’t like to be the subject of rulings! So it will probably take a long time for the unfortunate Wanchai Meechai, who was hit by a ball played by English Pro, David Horsey, during the final round of the 2017 Hero Indian Open in New Delhi last week, to overcome his embarrassment. The circumstance was that he was driving nonchalantly down the 9th fairway (!) in a golf cart marked, “Rules 2”, when Horsey’s well-struck ball bounced to the side of him, hit him on the shoulder, rolled across the floor of his cart and dropped back onto the fairway. So what was the ruling? As both the official and the moving golf cart are outside agents and the incident was a true ‘rub of the green’, the ball had to be played from where it came to rest. This part of Rule 19-1 applies;

If a player's ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies.


The surprised TV commentator jokingly remarked;

“… Could have taken it to the green; that would have done him a favour!”

Well no! Note (a) to Rule 19 deals with that circumstance. If the official had deliberately deflected or stopped the ball in the cart and then deposited it somewhere, whether closer to the hole or further away from it, the spot where the ball would most likely have come to rest without the deflection must be estimated and the ball dropped there, without penalty.

To be fair to Wanchai Meechai, the official, he immediately recognised his mistake, turned to the teeing ground and raised his arms in a gesture of apology. No harm done, as the accidental deflection of Horsey’s ball only resulted in it coming to rest just a few yards nearer to the hole than it otherwise would have.

To view this incident click on this video link.

Errors on Score Cards
If you have ever worked on a Golf Competitions Committee you are almost certain to have had a situation where a returned score card included either a wrong hole score, wrong handicap, or has not been signed.

There have been two recent instances where competitors in Tour events have had to be disqualified for returning score cards with such errors. At the Qatar Masters, German Pro, Marcel Siem, had transposed the scores from his 5th and 6th holes, so although the total strokes for the round was correctly recorded, two of the individual hole scores were not. Presumably Siem’s marker had entered the wrong scores for the two holes, perhaps a few holes after they were played, and he had not checked his individual scores before signing and returning his score card.


At last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, the reigning U.S. Amateur Champion, Curtis Luck, returned an incorrect scorecard on day two. He finished his round with a bogey, meaning that he failed to make the cut by a few strokes. However, he entered and signed for a par on his 18th hole, leading to his subsequent disqualification when the error was discovered.

I am sure that most of us can sympathise with players, especially amateurs, who make simple mistakes on their score cards. However, there can be no exceptions in applying the penalty of disqualification under Rule 6-6b, whatever rationalisation, justification or excuse is offered. A Committee that makes an exception to applying the Rules of Golf for one player will almost certainly regret its decision when it is continually raised by others seeking to receive the same preferential treatment.

Good golfing,


 


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