Monday, October 18, 2010

Ask Linda #247a-Wrong format

Linda, my partner and I played in a mixed Ryder Cup this week. The format is six holes each of scramble, better ball, and selected drive/alternate shot. We started under the better ball format. Somehow our foursome went brain dead on the 7th hole and played it as better ball instead of switching to the selected drive/alternate shot format.

As we finished the 7th hole, my partner said we should have played alternate shot. Oops! We were pretty sure there was no remedy as we had finished the hole. We discussed it with the other two in our group, and agreed that we were disqualified. We turned ourselves in to the tournament director after the 9th hole and were disqualified. We actually feel pretty good about ourselves - in the end integrity is more important than winning.

My question is this: Was there anything we could have done to avoid disqualification?

Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

Yes, Lou. Disqualification was not inevitable; you could have replayed hole #7 before hitting your tee shots on hole #8. Let’s review what really happened under the Rules of Golf, and then I will walk you through the correct procedure.

1. The four of you completed hole #6 correctly under the better ball format.
2. Hole #7 was the start of alternate shot, but you mistakenly continued under better ball. All four of you should have hit your drives, selected which drive to play, and then alternated that ball into the hole.
3. When the first person from each team hit his own ball again on hole #7 instead of alternating shots, the team played in incorrect order. The penalty for doing that is two strokes [Rule 29-3]. As soon as the error is discovered, the team must return to the spot where it first played in incorrect order and proceed correctly.
4. Here is the catch: The error must be corrected before either member of the team tees off on the next hole. Once you hit that next tee shot, your team is disqualified.

When your partner realized as you were finishing hole #7 that everyone had forgotten to switch to alternate shot, all of you could have returned to play the correct format, starting play from the location of the drive you would have selected to alternate. Each team would be penalized two shots for the infraction. Your teams were not subject to disqualification until you teed off on hole #8.

The bottom line for your two teams is that you were disqualified, since you played the following hole without correcting your error.

I hope this is a good lesson for all my readers. There are a number of golf errors can be corrected provided you have not teed off on the following hole. Whenever you suspect (or know) that you have not proceeded properly, you have nothing to lose by returning to the scene of the crime and trying again. These “do-overs” will generally include a two-stroke penalty, but that is a much better outcome than a disqualification.

Again: you are not prohibited from correcting an error because you have finished the hole where the mistake occurred. You don’t lose that chance until you tee off on the following hole.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.