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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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

More on Rules Modernis(z)ation

At this time, less than a week after the R&A and USGA unveiled their preview of the proposed new Rules of Golf, I have decided not to comment in any detail about my opinions on any of the changes. A lesson that I have learned during the 10 plus years that I have been studying and blogging on the Rules of Golf, is that there is little to be gained by making instant judgements based on personal, limited experiences and preferences, without carefully considering the potential consequences for others, as there are often several implications, which may not be immediately apparent, to absorb and think through. Overall, I welcome the proposals, particularly those that relate to improving the pace of play, which to my mind is one of the biggest issues facing the future of recreational golf.

For those of you that have not seen, or have not been interested in studying the detail of the Ruling Bodies’ proposals at this very early stage, here is my brief outline of 10 of the most significant changes affecting amateur golfers;

1.    There is no penalty when a player’s ball in motion accidentally hits them, or their equipment (e.g. it rebounds off the lip of a bunker).

2.    A ball may be dropped from any height (yes, even one inch!)

3.    Defined relief areas (e.g. for dropping) to be either 20" or 80" (not club-lengths). This translates to 50.8 cm and 203.2 cm!

4.    A ball is lost after 3 minutes search.

5.    There is to be relief for a ball that is embedded anywhere, except in sand.

6.    The flagstick may be left in the hole while putting.

7.    Spike marks and other damage to the putting green may be repaired before making a stroke.

8.    Increased use of red penalty areas (previously known as lateral water hazards), so that lateral relief is always allowed from them, even if they are not areas of water (e.g. deserts, jungles, or lava rock fields).

9.    There is no penalty for removing loose impediments in either penalty areas or bunkers.

10.    A caddie is not permitted to line up their player before they make a putt, or any other stroke.

Please remember that the above outlines just 10 of the proposals, which are not yet in operation and even if they are agreed are unlikely to replace the existing Rules until January 2019. This is the published, estimated timeline from the Ruling Bodies;

  • To March 2017: Gathering feedback on the drafts of the proposals.
  • March 1st 2017: Announcement of the proposed new Rules of Golf.
  • March 2017 to August 2017: Seeking public feedback for further evaluation.
  • August 2017 to spring 2018: Reviewing and approving the new Rules
  • Spring 2018: Announcement of the new Rules
  • January 1st 2019: The new Rules take effect
Apparently, the R&A and USGA have been working on these proposed changes for over 5 years and have gone through 7 iterative drafts. I am aware that many golfers criticise those that are closely involved with the Ruling Bodies as being geriatric, blue blazers’ ensconced in their ‘ivory tower’ and totally out of touch with the playing of the game of golf. My experience is that this is very far from the truth. I can categorically say that all those that I have met and have had dealings with are dedicated professionals of all ages and backgrounds, striving to protect and improve the game of golf for the benefit of all 60 million golfers around the world. They are to be congratulated for this attempt to make the Rules significantly easier to understand and apply, whilst preserving the character of the game and the essential principles that have served players well for more than 270 years.

A good example of this is the outstanding work that has gone into preparing a comprehensive library of resources for easy access to everything surrounding the proposed new Rules. This includes explanatory narratives, diagrams, infographics, videos, Q&As, and the proposed new Rules book. They have even provided a recommended ‘Test Rules’ for use in an unofficial (i.e. non handicap counting) event. You can explore for yourself at these links;

R&A - http://www.randa.org/RulesModernisation

USGA - http://www.usga.org/rules-hub/rules-modernization.html

I strongly recommend that everyone with an interest in the future of golf delves into these comprehensive resources. Not only do they provide the precise, but much improved wording of the proposed changes, but also the reasoning behind them. Having done so, you are encouraged to take the 10 minutes survey, to ensure that your opinions are included in the feedback before the final changes are agreed and announced.

Good golfing,


 


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

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Modernisation of the Rules

I guess that a majority of those that play competitive golf are expectantly awaiting news of the proposed ‘modernisation’ of the Rules of Golf that has been signalled by the Ruling Bodies. It seems that we should have a good idea of what is being proposed when the first draft of what is expected to be a broad and significant change to the Rules is released next month (March 2017). I want to emphasise that there will not be any change to any Rule of Golf this year and almost certainly not next year. January 1st 2019 seems to be the earliest that any changes will become effective in competitive play. The period in between includes approximately six months for public comment, after which the R&A and USGA will take time to review the feedback and then draw up their revisions, to be revealed in late 2017, or early 2018. Remembering the lengthy discussion, early opposition and eventual acceptance prior to the comparatively simple amendments relating to anchoring a club, I anticipate that this will be a very busy time for everyone involved with the Rules in competitive golf, whether as a Committee member, Rules official or media reporter.

The first recorded Rules of Golf, drawn up in 1744, amounted to just 13 Rules in 13 sentences, hand-written on two sheets of paper (see the extract in the photo above and view the wording at this link). By the time the R&A published the first 'national' (UK) set of rules, in 1899, which were adopted by the USGA the following year, there were 35 Rules, including 17 Definitions. Today there are 34 Rules, subdivided into 126 sections, 61 Definitions, and over 1,380 Decisions on the Rules. I liken the Decisions to the ‘case law’ of the Rules of Golf; they are required to elaborate and clarify the wording of the Rules in every possible circumstance that might occur in the myriad of topographic, climatic and variable course conditions, anywhere in the world. It has taken over 270 years for the Rules to evolve to where they are today, every change and amendment resulting from actual situations that have occurred during competition. And yet, the Ruling Bodies still receive thousands of new enquiries every year from Committees who are looking for an authoritative answer to situations that they cannot resolve themselves.

The primary objectives of the modernisation of the Rules, as stated by both the Ruling Bodies, are to make them easier to read, understand and apply by golfers at all levels, whether the play is competitive or social and wherever their game is played. There has been a leaking of some of the changes that are likely to feature, though these are expected to be the tip of the iceberg.

Reduce lost ball search: 5 to 3 minutes:
This seems to be more a speed of play issue, on which any positive improvement is to be welcomed.

Greens: Allow spike mark repairs.
Great! But will other damage to the putting green also be included, e.g. heel indentations, flagstick scores, etc. If so, will this not adversely contribute to slow play?

Water Hazards: emphasis on red lines and/or stakes.
Designating water hazards as lateral water hazards provides the additional option of dropping within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin, or an equidistant point on the other side. This should eliminate some of the confusion that many golfers have over where they are permitted to drop in taking relief, under penalty, from a water hazard.

Taking relief: Allow drop from any height.
Hmmmm! Say 2 inches from the ground? If the height is not going to be specified, perhaps all references to dropping should be changed to placing.

Taking relief: Eliminate use of club-lengths.
There is not enough detail here to make a judgement. Presumably one change may be to replace club-length(s) relief with some other fixed measurement, otherwise the player would be permitted to drop a ball almost anywhere that is farther away from the hole. Club-lengths don’t have to be measured anyway, providing the player intends to drop well within the permitted area. See my blog on this subject.

Unfortunately, such a major revision of the Rules, though undertaken with the admirable intention of making learning them and complying with them much easier, is bound to create a period of confusion in the short (and probably medium) term. The multiple changes will almost certainly be challenging for Golf Committees, even if they and their members, do take the time to study and understand them. There are many golfers that never reference the existing Rules book and this is unlikely to change, which is bound to result in differences of opinion, increasing the number of issues that Committees will have to give rulings on. These issues do not arise when all competitors are playing together, as in match play, or a casual ‘skins’ game between friends, as they can resolve the situation amongst themselves, but it is obviously a different matter when the rights of the whole field have to be taken into account. It would obviously be inequitable to have one competitor proceeding with a different interpretation of a Rule to another who is faced with the same situation, but playing in a different group. I have said before that I have never got close to winning the annual Captain’s prize at my Club, but if by some miracle I was to come second and subsequently find out that the winner had breached a Rule without including the penalty on their score card, I know that I would be apoplectic!

So, although most golfers obviously wish for a dramatic reduction in the size of the Rules book, this is probably not going to happen. As previously stated, the reason for the existing number of Rules, sections, definitions and decisions is that over the years it has been necessary to update them as a result of what is regularly happening on golf courses all over the world. The welcome modernisation should certainly lead to a reduction in verbiage, but in my opinion, not nearly enough to satisfy most players, who often do not take the time to logically think through the potential unintended consequences that may occur following any change, however minor. From the comments that I receive it is clear that the Rule that most amateur golfers would like to see changed, is for them to obtain relief from divot holes on closely mown areas. I am not privy to any inside information on this, but I would be extremely surprised if this was included in the modernisation for the reasons that I explain in this blog.

Another welcome objective of the ‘Rules Modernisation’, which is expected to be far less controversial, is to identify and put into practice ways that will improve how the Rules are distributed and consumed, including increased and better use of technology. This should involve easier and more user friendly ways of accessing Rules information, for example through the use of audio, images and videos. We can all look forward to that.

Good golfing,



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Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Making a Stroke

I received a question this week asking whether the shaft or grip of a club can be used to make a stroke. I cannot imagine the circumstance that led to this question being asked, but it has prompted me to list a few points relating to making a stroke at a ball.

•    The ball must be fairly struck with the head of the club. Rule 14-1a.
•    The head of the club includes the face, back and sides of the club (so, obviously not any part of the shaft or the grip). Note that the clubhead must have only one striking face, except that a putter may have two faces if their characteristics are the same and they are opposite each other. Appendix ll, 1 / 4 / d.
•    The ball must not be pushed, scraped or spooned. See this blog for an example of what is not permitted in this respect. Rule 14-1a.
•    In making a stroke, the player must not anchor the club, either "directly" or by use of an "anchor point." See this blog for more information on this subject. Rule 14-1b.
•    A stroke is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball. So if a player checks their downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball, they have not made a stroke. Definition of Stroke.
•    A player must not make a stroke while accepting physical assistance (e.g. having an umbrella held over them), or protection from the elements (e.g. aligning their bag to shelter their ball from the wind. Rule 14-2a.
•    A player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an unusual manner that might assist them in making a stroke. Rule 14-3. Note that this includes listening to music or a broadcast, Decision 14-3/17.
•    A player must not make a stroke at his ball while it is moving. Rule 14-5. There are 3 exceptions; a) Ball falling off tee, Rule 11-3; b) Striking the ball more than once, Rule 14-4; c) Ball moving in water, Rule 14-6. A player may make a stroke at a ball that oscillates providing it does not move off its spot.
•    A player may make a stroke one-handed, e.g. holding the flagstick in the other hand when making a short putt, Decision 17-1/5. (See photo above).
•    A player is not necessarily entitled to see their ball when making a stroke. Rule 12-1.
•    A player is not penalised for improving their lie or line of play if it occurs while making a stroke, or the backward movement of their club for a stroke, e.g. breaking or moving grasses growing behind their ball when making a stroke from a hazard. Rules 13-2 and 13-4. (Edit 10th February 2017: However, they may not touch the ground in the hazard, water in the water hazard, or move a loose impediment in the hazard with their backswing, Rule 13-4.)

Good golfing,


 


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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Advantageously Dropping a Ball

Congratulations to 26-year-old Tommy Fleetwood, from Southport, England, who came from behind to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last weekend, beating Dustin Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal by one stroke. His play of the final hole provides a useful illustration of how golfers can benefit from using the Rules of Golf to their advantage. Knowing that he probably required a birdie on his 72nd par-5 hole, to either win the title or be involved in a playoff, Fleetwood did not get the start he wanted, as he hooked his drive towards the desert. Fortunately for him, but not the person who was hit, his ball bounced back off a spectator close to a path where it came to rest. Taking a natural stance for the intended stroke meant that his feet would have been on the path, so he was able to take releif under Rule 24-2. He knew that he had to determine the nearest point of relief to where his ball lay where there was no interference from the cart path and then drop a ball so that it hit the course within one club-length of that point. Most of us would imagine this dropping area and drop a ball well within the permitted limit, but Fleetwood was thinking well ahead. He knew that he had to go for the putting green, still about 270 yards away, with his second shot and the lie of his ball was crucial. So he chose to try and drop the ball in a position where it was likely to roll to a position where the path still interfered, or where it would roll nearer to the hole. In either case this would mean re-dropping the ball to comply with the requirements of Rule 20-2c. His reason for dropping the ball at an extreme permitted limit in this way was to take advantage of this part of Rule 20-2c;

If the ball when re-dropped rolls into any position listed above, it must be placed as near as possible to the spot where it first struck a part of the course when re-dropped. 

It was reported that after his win Fleetwood explained;

“There were two bits of grass, a nice bit and a bad bit, and I didn’t really want to go to the bad bit. There’s a line that I had to drop it over to make it a legal drop, basically. I can’t drop it when I’m still stood on the path. It just took me a few goes because I was trying to get it right on the edge of it. But yeah, I did actually get a really good drop in the end. It settled nicely and I was never going to not take the shot on.”

My understanding is that the reason that he “took a few goes” is that more than one drop landed outside the tiny patch that he was aiming for within the permitted area, which meant that it did not count towards the drop. There were two valid drops that were within the permitted area, but the ball rolled to a position where there was either interference from the path, or was nearer to the hole, the second of which then became the reference point where he was permitted to place the ball. Because of the accuracy of this valid re-drop he was able to place his ball sitting up on a nice little tuft of grass, almost like a tee, because this is where the ball first hit the course before rolling away. He then used his now defunct Nike 3-wood to hit a beautiful shot to the front of the green and two-putted to make the birdie, which subsequently resulted in him winning the title outright, without need for a playoff.

I have two tips for players that have the option of taking relief under the Rules; first, is not to lift your ball until you have determined exactly where the nearest point of relief is, as the permitted dropping area may be disadvantageous to where the ball is lying; and second, to try and drop your ball in such a way that it will require a re-drop and perhaps subsequent placeing of the ball after a similar re-drop, as this will obviously give you a better lie from which to make your next stroke.

Amateur Golfer Wins Car
Playing in the amateur competition of the CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California, last week, Dave Colby had a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th hole, which won him a brand new Genesis G90 luxury sedan.

For several years the USGA has allowed an amateur to win a valuable prize, such as a car, for making a hole-in-one in a round of golf, without forfeiting their amateur status, but those of us that play golf outside of USA and Mexico only received this exception when the Rules of Amateur Status were changed in this respect from 1st January 2012. Apart from this hole-in-one exception, the most valuable prize that any amateur golfer can win without losing their amateur status is US$750 / St£500, or the local currency equivalent.

Modernisation of the Rules of Golf
You will probably be aware that the Ruling Bodies are considering a major modernisation (simplification?) of the Rules of Golf. I will not be speculating on the unsubstantiated rumours that are arising, as I think that it can only cause confusion; I prefer to spend my time interpreting the Rules as they are, for the benefit of others. However, if you do want an idea of what is being leaked following a presentation made to some European Tour players last week then you can check out this link. I will not be engaging in any communication regarding this subject.

Good golfing,



 

It is time for Committees in the northern hemisphere to start planning for the upcoming season. Why not run a Rules night for your Club or Society? I have done all the work in my 'ready to run' quizzes (General, Juniors and Match Play). More information at this link.

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

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Immovable Obstruction on Putting Green

When putting greens are damaged, greenkeepers often have to protect the repaired area until growth returns and the surface is suitable for putting again. Of course, the protective netting is an immovable obstruction on the putting green, as it is not intended that players should move it to give themselves a clear path to the hole.

In the photo above, I have positioned five balls (A to E) at different positions on and around the putting green. These are the various rulings. under Rule 24-2b(iii) unless otherwise stated:

•    Ball A lies off the putting green and the netting is on the player’s intended line of play to the hole. There is no relief available, as the netting does not interfere with the player’s stance or area of intended swing and intervention on the line of play is not interference under Rule 24-2a. The player must pitch over, or play around the netting.

•    Ball B lies on the netting on the putting green. If the player chooses to take relief, they must lift the ball and place it, without penalty, at the nearest point of relief that is not in a hazard for their intended stroke to the hole. In some circumstances the nearest point of relief may be off the putting green.

•    Ball C lies on the putting green and the netting does not intervene for a left-handed player, so they must play their next stroke from where the ball is at rest. There is no relief for mental interference from the netting. Because the netting does interfere with the stance of a right handed player, they may take relief by lifting the ball and placing it, without penalty, at the nearest point of relief for their intended stroke to the hole that is not in a hazard. Sometimes the nearest point of relief may be off the putting green.

•    Ball D lies on the putting green and the netting does not intervene for a right-handed player. This time a right handed player is not entitled to relief, but a left-handed player may take relief; it is the converse of the situation with ball C.

•    Ball E lies on the putting green and the netting intervenes on the intended line of putt, so the player make take relief, without penalty, by lifting the ball and placing it at the nearest point of relief for their intended stroke to the hole that is not in a hazard. Sometimes the nearest point of relief may be off the putting green.

The above Rules are also relevant to other immovable obstructions on the putting green, such as artificial hole plugs, which I covered in this blog last year.

Top 10 Ridiculous Moments on the PGA Tour in 2016
Still in the festive mood, I found some of these amusing. (Click on this link.)


It was the first item (#10) that interested me most. I am confused by the commentary on the Rules (nothing new there!) It seems to me that the timber wall does not interfere with Phil Mickelson’s area of intended swing, in which case there was no relief from it available to him, despite what the commentator said after the ball came to rest. Not that Phil needed it; was that exquisite skill or good luck? I am also confused about the timber wall, which seems a rather bizarre, man-made obstruction. I have checked out an overhead view of the 6th hole at Sedgefield Country Club, venue of the 2016 Wyndham Championship, and it does not seem to match that shown in the video clip in that there is no wall at the side of the green and the bunkers seem to be differently located. (Edit 12th January 2017: Thanks to MD of www.progolfrefs.com for informing me that this incident occurred during the 2016 BMW Championship on 6th hole at Crooked Stick GC and not as referenced in the video clip.)

Good golfing,


 



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