Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ask Linda #104A-response to #104

Dear Linda,

I agree with the poor etiquette displayed by the player [Ask Linda #104]. However, I thought that unless it was appealed prior to the start of the next hole (or is it even the next shot) it falls into the unfortunate case of “too bad”.

Unfortunately, the only time to resolve this was immediately after the comment was made and, if need be, calling for the rules official to officiate on the spot. I would agree that in this circumstance the person withholding the information should be disqualified from the hole (although her partner could still win the hole for the team).

Lou Lou

Dear Lou,

I consulted the USGA and the penalty for knowingly giving incorrect information on the rules is disqualification. In the situation described in Ask Linda #104, the player in question was clearly knowledgeable about the correct procedure and consciously withheld information from her opponent that caused her to hit the ball from a wrong place. This is unsportsmanlike and would be a justifiable reason for disqualifying a player from the match.

For comparison, let’s take a look at some examples of behavior that would result in a player losing a hole:

1. A player fails to inform his opponent that he incurred a penalty because he is unaware of the penalty, he forgot about the penalty, or he thought his opponent had observed the penalty.

2. A player asks his opponent how many strokes he has made thus far, his opponent mistakenly informs him that he has played three strokes when he has actually played four, and he fails to correct the information before the player hits his next shot.

3. A player wins a hole with a wrong ball, and the error is not discovered until after both players tee off on the next hole.

4. A player inadvertently reports a wrong score, and both players think that A won the hole. Player A realizes his mistake several holes later.

In each of the above scenarios, the player will lose the hole. There is no malice aforethought, no clear intention to cheat. It is the underlying absence of integrity of the player in #104 that leads to her disqualification from the entire match, rather than from just a single hole. Most of golf is played without the supervision of officials, and it relies on the honesty of players to police themselves. Without that willingness to abide by the rules and confess your transgressions there can be no fair competition.

As a tournament director, I once had a player call me after a tournament to disqualify himself from the competition, since he had misunderstood a water hazard rule and inadvertently dropped and played closer to the hole. When I commended him for his honesty, he reminded me of Bobby Jones’ famous reply after he was praised for calling a penalty on himself: "You might as well praise me for not breaking into banks. There is only one way to play this game."


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ask Linda #104-Withholding information

Dear Linda,
Last week in a better ball of two match play competition, my friend thought she hit a perfect straight shot in the middle of the fairway. When she went forward to find her ball, it was not in the fairway. After looking around she found her ball in the rough and expressed her surprise about it being there.

She hit her second shot from the rough and then her opponent said: “Did you not see that my ball hit your ball and that is why it ended up in the rough?”

Please tell me what is the ruling in this case.
Did she hit the ball from the wrong place?
Was her opponent wrong not telling her what happened?

Dear Lulu,
Ordinarily, when a player’s ball at rest is moved by another player’s ball in motion, the moved ball must be replaced. If the ball is not replaced, the penalty in match play is loss of hole [Rule 18-5, Penalty].

However, in the situation you describe, your friend’s opponent withheld information, thereby committing what is inherently an unforgivable golf “crime.” She knew that her ball had moved her opponent’s ball, and she also apparently was aware of the rule requiring a player to replace a moved ball before hitting it (judging from her question). She allowed her opponent to hit from a wrong place by withholding the information that her ball had moved her opponent’s.

If a player intentionally or knowingly gives wrong information, the Committee is justified in disqualifying the player for a serious breach of etiquette (Rule 33-7). Withholding information is no different from giving wrong information.

In the situation you describe, Lulu, I can see no reason not to impose a penalty of disqualification. A basic tenet of golf is that all players will demonstrate integrity and sportsmanship. This was an unsportsmanlike act, and the maximum penalty is well-deserved [Decision 9/1].


Copyright © 2009 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.