Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ask Linda #177-Who gets the honors?


This question is more etiquette than rules. When our group plays we always give full handicap. The question is: Does the stroke count for honors? We give the group or person that is getting the stroke honors. Some guys say that they should not get honors with the stroke. Is there any definitive answer?


Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

Surprisingly enough, Lou, the rule book does address this issue. Since you did not specify whether your group is involved in match play or stroke play, I will address who gets the honor in both types of play.

In match play, the side that wins a hole has the honor at the next hole. In a handicap match, the lower net score wins the hole. Therefore, in a match play competition where players receive strokes according to their handicap, a player uses his handicap stroke to determine the honor at the next hole. For example, if you and your opponent both score 5 on the first hole, but your opponent receives a stroke on that hole, then his net 4 gives him the honor at the second hole [Rule 2-1; Rule 10-1a; Decision 10-1a/1].

Stroke play is a different story. Unlike match play, where the handicap is deducted at each hole, stroke play deducts the handicap at the end of the round. Therefore, the honor in stroke play is determined by the lowest gross score [Decision 10-2a/1]. Assuming your group is involved in stroke play, the guys that claim that you do not use the handicap stroke to award honors are correct.


Copyright © 2010 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ask Linda #176-Relief from danger

Dear Linda,

Our league has adopted a local rule that allows for free relief from pampas grass, which can be found running along our fairways, as well as in the rough, and in our waste bunkers. We adopted this rule because of the danger of snakes, who make their home in these grasses. As rules chairperson, I would like to know how to direct our members to take relief from the grass. Because of the size of the grasses, the ball will often be "lost" in the grass. If the foursome agrees that the ball entered and stayed in the grass, then the golfer is granted free relief. If the ball is lost in the grass, where would the point of free relief be granted? Thanks for your insight. Any suggestions would be welcomed!


Dear Lulu,

It is not permissible to establish a Local Rule providing free relief from a potentially dangerous situation. Otherwise, you might be tempted to declare danger anywhere. Even though there might be bears in those woods, alligators in the swamp, or snakes in the grass, players are not entitled to a “Get out of jail free” card for potential problems.

Decision 1-4/10, which provides for free relief from a dangerous situation, presumes that you have both found your ball and actually observed the danger (e.g., live rattlesnake, bees’ nest).

Here are possible situations and the options available for a ball that lodges in the snake-infested pampas grass:

1. A player who does not find her ball, or chooses not to enter the area to search for it, must declare the ball “lost” and proceed under Rule 27 (Lost Ball).

2. A player who finds her ball and chooses not to play it may declare it “unplayable” and proceed under one of the options in Rule 28 (Unplayable Ball).

3. A player who finds her ball lying near a dangerous snake is entitled to drop a ball without penalty on the nearest spot no closer to the hole that is safely away from the snake [Decision 1-4/10].

Golf committees should take note that any Local Rule they wish to impose must be consistent with the Local Rules that appear in Appendix I of the rule book [Rule 33-8]. If they wish to enact a Local Rule that does not conform to the rules in the appendix or that modifies a golf rule, then they must contact the USGA for official authorization.


Copyright © 2010 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.