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.