Monday, November 29, 2010

Ask Linda #259-Conceding a putt

Hi. Please be so kind as to give an opinion on the following situation.

On the 17th hole, scores were level, when one of our opponents had clearly "given" an 8-10 inch putt in full hearing of the 5 people present (including the match referee). The opponent in question was standing at the flag, together with the match referee, when the ball came to a stop. Before any of our players had time to reach the hole to pick up the ball, our other opponent negated the "gimme" and said he would like the putt played. The match referee remained silent. Our player walked up to the ball, and subsequently missed the putt, which would have halved the hole.

We then halved the 18th, and lost the match by one hole.

My questions are twofold:

1. Was opponent #2 entitled to override opponent #1’s clear "gimme"?

Concession of next stroke, hole or match (Rule 2-4): "When the opponent's ball is at rest or is deemed to be at rest under Rule 16-2, the player may concede the opponent to have holed out with his next stroke and the ball may be removed by either side with a club or otherwise. A player may concede a hole or a match at any time prior to the conclusion of the hole or the match. Concession of a stroke, hole or match may not be declined or withdrawn."

2. What role does a match referee play when a putt is clearly given? Does the match referee have the right/duty to inform the players that the putt has been given?

Referee: The referee is one who is appointed by the Committee to accompany players to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules. He shall act on any breach of a Rule that he observes or is reported to him. A referee's decision is final.

Thank you for your comments.
Lou Lou

Dear Lou Lou,

I fail to understand why players in matches have trouble with the basic and clearly stated rule that “a concession may not be declined or withdrawn” [Rule 2-4]. If the player’s putt is conceded, then the hole is over for him. He cannot refuse the concession, and neither his opponent nor his opponent’s partner may withdraw the concession. If he attempts the putt after the concession and misses, the putt was still “good.”

The only problem that may be created by putting a ball after the putt was conceded is the possibility that the putt may assist the player’s partner. Should that happen, then the partner loses the hole [Decision 2-4/6]. I always advise players who wish to try an already-conceded putt to lift their ball when it is conceded, wait until play on the hole has finished, and then replace the ball and try the putt.

The referee’s primary responsibility is to answer questions about the rules when asked. When he heard the concession, and then the illegal withdrawal of the concession, he was probably waiting for the team that lost the hole to file a claim. Had they done so, he would have been able to rule on the spot that the putt was indeed conceded, and the concession could not be withdrawn. Since no question was asked, and no objection to the result of the hole was raised, the referee was under no obligation to correct the players’ error. He does not want to be seen as favoring one player or team over another.

If you are playing a match without a referee, and you believe a rule has been breached, you have the option to file a claim. You must do so before any player in the match tees off on the next hole. You will bring this claim to the Committee at the end of the round for a ruling.

If you are lucky enough to have a referee accompanying your match, don’t ever hesitate to ask for an immediate ruling on a disputed procedure. It is his job to assist you with the rules. He will give you a ruling if asked, and his decision will be final.

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