Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Information on Rules is not Advice

There was an excellent interaction relating to the Rules of Golf between the Indian, ‘new kid on the block’, Shubhankar Sharma and the ‘veteran’, Phil Mickelson, last Sunday at the 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship. Together with Tyrrell Hatton, as the three third round leaders, they were in the final group to tee off. Sharma’s ball flew the green at the 5th hole and he found it surrounded by television wires. It seems that Sharma, who currently leads the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, may not have been sure whether his relief was from a movable obstruction or an immovable obstruction. Phil Mickelson had no such doubt and helpfully guided him through the process of taking relief from a movable obstruction. You can view the incident at this Golf Channel link

Phil correctly recognised that the wires were easily movable and told Sharma to mark his ball, in case it moved while he was removing the wires, even directing him to move his marker closer, so that the position would be more accurately marked. In fact, it is not necessary to mark a ball whilst removing an obstruction, as Rule 24-2 only requires that if the ball moves while doing so it must be replaced. But marking the ball’s position in this situation is a good practice that all golfers should follow. 

An important point here is that providing information on the Rules does not incur the penalty for giving advice, Definition of Advice. But Decision 8-1/16 provides a caveat;
Q. B's ball was lying badly. B was deliberating what action to take when A, his fellow-competitor, said: "You have no shot at all. If I were you, I would deem the ball unplayable." Was A giving advice, contrary to Rule 8-1?
A. Yes. A's suggestion could have influenced B "in determining his play." Thus, it constituted advice - see Definition of "Advice." It did not constitute "information on the Rules," which is not advice.
I have no doubt that Phil was correct in identifying the interfering cable as a movable obstruction. The Definition states that an obstruction is a movable obstruction if it may be moved without unreasonable effort, without unduly delaying play and without causing damage, which obviously applied to the cables in this incident, even if they had been trodden down and were partially embedded in the soft earth. Another example of a movable obstruction that is embedded is a water hazard stake, which may be inserted several inches into the ground, but is still easily removable and is therefore a movable obstruction, unless a Local Rule states otherwise.

This is not the first time that Phil Mickelson has shown that he has a good knowledge of the Rules of Golf; if only this applied to all the Pro golfers on Tour.

Good golfing,



If you found this Rules incident and the accompanying video interesting, then I believe that you will enjoy my latest eBook, ‘Pros Getting it Wrong!’, which comprises 99 separate articles on memorable Rules of Golf incidents, most of them relating to golfers competing in Professional Tour events. Each of the wide-ranging articles highlights a breach of a Rule of Golf, with associated nuggets of interesting information, including explanations of the rulings, comments from the players and officials concerned, links to videos showing the circumstance of the breach and the consequences of the penalties imposed. Click here for more information and to order. 

The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2018 and may not be copied without permission.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Phil's advice to Sharma to mark his ball does not constitute "information on the Rules" and certainly influenced Sharma's actions. Can you please comment on this aspect of the exchange ?
Russell

Barry Rhodes said...

Russell,

My comment is that I do not agree with you. Phil confirmed the information that the cable was movable and explained how to proceed in dealing with a movable obstruction. I am surprised that you take issue with this; I am not aware of any Rules expert that has raised a similar doubt.

Barry

Anonymous said...

What if a pro gets 10 people from the gallery to help move a wooden/concrete bench blocking their line of sight. Is that considered "easily move-able"?

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

I would have thought that it is obvious that this bench does not meet the requirement of 'easily movable' and therefore is not permitted.

Barry

Anonymous said...

I agree. But check this.

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/throwback-thursday-that-time-tiger-woods-had-his-gallery-per

It is a bad ruling in my view because it makes things assymetrical. Someone who can enlist helpers gets advantage. It should be that only the golfer can move a loose impediment in my view.

Barry Rhodes said...

Anonymous,

No, no, no, no, no!!!!
You are confusing a loose impediment (natural object) with a movable obstruction (artificial object). Tiger used his good knowledge of the Rules to his advantage in requesting help to move the boulder, which was a loose impediment that was not embedded in the ground. My blog of March 15th 2009 goes into detail.

Barry

Old Grump said...

Oh! Thanks I didn't understand distinction. I still don't like the ruling which favours someone who is able to enlist assistance from others over those unable to.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
I guess I'm nitpicking about where the term "advice" is relevant. My question has more general context than the this particular instance.

If I was to suggest to my fellow competitor that they mark their ball (as Phil did), is that "advice" ?

Russell

Barry Rhodes said...

Russell,

No that is not advice. Nor is advising your fellow competitor that they have teed their ball in front of the markers, or that they forgot to replace their ball where it was before they moved their ball-marker to the side at the request of another player, or not to clean their ball which they had picked up because it was interfering with play of another player's ball. Players should be encouraged to step in to prevent a fellow competitor from breaching a Rule. What they cannot do is say something like, "if I were you I would play that ball off the path, because dropping at the nearest point of relief will probably give you a more difficult stroke."

Barry