Avoid Those Penalties
Have you ever stepped up to the first tee at your club championship, a SCGA qualifier or some other golf competition and had butterflies in your stomach? Your hands are shaking, your insides are like jelly and your head is spinning because you just had a bad warm-up session and now you have to battle these inner demons and the rest of the field for 18 holes. The last thing on your mind is the Rules of Golf and the responsibility you have to them when out on the golf course in a competitive setting. Have no fear, the Rules Crew is here to give you a few tips.
Read any information sent to you before the event
Rule 6 is one of the most important rules of golf. Perfectly titled “The Player,” it is the rule in which you are responsible for knowing the rules during a stipulated round. Ignorance of the rules is not necessarily going to absolve you from penalty on the course. The Conditions of Competition establish the guidelines under which the tournament or qualifier is being played. This document will tell you things such as if carts or caddies are allowed. It is vital to know these things so you can prevent yourself from earning a penalty for violation of a condition. Also, make sure you pick up the local rules document. It is usually on the back on the hole location sheet and these are course specific situations that the committee wants you to know about.
Count your clubs and be to your starting tee on time
Rule 4-4a only allows you a maximum of 14 clubs during a stipulated round. Many players from a beginner to advanced level do not always count their clubs before a round and end up being penalized after their round has started for not removing excess clubs. The ten seconds it takes you to count your clubs can prevent you from earning two or even four bonus strokes (penalty strokes, but bonus doesn’t sound as bad).
The most frequently violated rule in any event is a player being late to the tee. Rule 6-3a states that a player must start at the time established by the Committee or a penalty of two strokes (if he/she arrives within 5 minutes) or disqualification will be imposed. It is the player’s – and only the player’s – responsibility to be on the tee ready to play at the assigned starting time. A good rule of thumb is to be at your assigned tee when the group in front of you is teeing off. You can never be penalized for being to your assigned tee early, but you sure will for being late!
Check and sign your score card
Another place where penalties frequently occur is in the scoring area. The player is responsible for 20 things on their own score card. A player must have 18 hole-by-hole scores in the appropriate boxes along with two signatures – their own and that of the person who kept score for them. Most players just want to dump their score card and leave the scoring area without checking it. It is vital to take a few minutes and double check your score card to make sure everything is right. Any changes can be made when you are still in the scoring area, but once you leave that area, no alterations can be made to the score card and usually the players who do not check their cards are the ones who end up having issues.
Tournament golf is a great way for players of all levels to compete in an environment that tests their skills, both physically and mentally. If you follow these three basic tips in a competition, your day will more than likely be rather smooth and uneventful. Your performance…well, that’s up to you.