Think You’ve Seen It All? When The Rules of Golf Make You Scratch Your Head
Golf seems like a simple sport. Hit a little ball many times and at some point, get the ball in the hole. Well, there are many situations during a round that will either make a golfer laugh, cry or sometimes both. For those of us who work in the industry, it is said that we have seen it all when it comes to Rules situations; but every once in a while, even we are surprised by a Rules scenario.
The scene of this ruling was on the putting green of the third hole at The Golf Club of Rancho California in Murrieta during the 2016 SCGA Four-Ball Net Qualifier. A player was roughly 30 feet from the hole and left the putt two feet short. The player marked, lifted and cleaned his ball, and then replaced his ball properly under the Rules. Before he hit his next putt, he removed the flagstick and held onto it while he made his stroke, an act strangely permitted by the Rules. The next portion of the situation is more unfortunate. The ball missed the hole completely and somehow hit the flagstick the player was holding. Under Rule 17-3, the player was penalized 2 strokes and had to play the ball from where it came to rest after striking the flagstick.
At a collegiate event at El Caballero CC, our rules official was roving the back nine when a player on the 18th hole waved him over. She said she had hit her tee shot into the fairway bunker on the left side of the hole, then struck her second shot off the lip of the bunker. The ball flew back and hit the bill of her hat and came to rest back in the bunker. Under Rule 19-2, since the ball in motion was deflected by the player’s equipment (the hat on her head), she incurred a penalty of 1 stroke and had to play the ball from where it lay.
Smile! You’re On Camera
At the same collegiate event, a coach told our rules official that she saw another coach record a player’s swing with a smartphone, then show the recording to the player as they walked down the eighth hole. The coach did indeed tell us that she recorded her player’s swing and showed the player the video. Under Decision 14-3/16, there is no penalty to the player for the recording of her swing, however, there is a penalty for showing the player the swing in an advice capacity. Before 2016, this would have resulted in a disqualification. Now, however, under Rule 14-3 there would be a 2-stroke penalty assessed to the player.
Tees & String
At the 2012 SCGA Four-Ball Net Championship at Oak Valley GC, a player saw his fellow competitor make a stroke from the teeing ground. The tee the fellow-competitor used was tied to another tee with a string on it. When our rules official asked the competitor why he tied together two tees with string, he stated that he did not want to lose it or have it blow away. We’ll be honest, we had to call and ask the USGA for help on this one. After sending them a photo of the scenario, they confirmed what we thought. Under Rule 11-1, the player was disqualified for making a stroke at a ball on a non-conforming tee. Even though the tee by itself was conforming, when tied to another tee with string or other material, it was deemed to be non-conforming. The more unfortunate part is that given the format, Four-Ball Stroke Play, the breach of the Rule by the player dragged his partner down with him and he was also disqualified under Rule 31-7a.