Monday, March 31, 2014

Ask Linda #819-Hitting with the “wrong” side of the clubhead

Linda, Rule 4 and Appendix II state the limitation of use for the striking face. A club has only one striking face. One exception, the putter, which has two striking faces, with limitations – the second striking face is opposite the striking face and must be similar. 

I watch golfers, Pros and Amateurs, playing shots that do not comply to this Rule. A non-compliance to this rule is disqualification. In reference to Pros not complying to this rule, there is a lot of money including Fedex points being made  when this Rule is being  ignored. To mention any names is not my intention. All I want is that this Rule to come into force. It has been ignored for a long time. When mentioned at club level the replies are: "Forget it, everybody does it."

Lou from Scotland

Dear Lou,

When Appendix II, 4d states that the clubhead must have only one striking face (the putter may have two), it is referring to the design of the club, not to how you may use it.

Rule 14-1 states that the ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club. It does not limit the player to using the striking face; it only requires the player to use the clubhead.

Decision 14-1/1 clarifies that a player may play a stroke with any part of the clubhead. A right-handed player may play a left-handed stroke with the back of the clubhead of a right-handed club (the non-striking side).

Any player who turns his club around to hit a back-handed shot is in compliance with the Rules.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ask Linda #818-Hole in one?

Linda, could you please resolve the ruling for us on something that happened yesterday . . .

We were putting out on the green of a relatively short Par 4 when the group behind played their tee shots. One of their drives landed on the green and the ball ended up in the hole!
During the post-round celebrations, one of the players suggested that the hole in one should not count because the flag was not in the hole and the player had not asked for it to be removed, This (of course) was not a serious attempt to have the hole-in-one discounted but, as with all golf questions, once the question has been asked you need to come up with the correct answer. I have no idea where to look for the answer and (as usual) hoped that you could help.
Lou from England

Dear Lou,

The Definition of “Holed” is as follows: “A ball is ‘holed’ when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip of the hole.” So far so good for the player in your scenario – we know that his ball was holed.

Rule 17-1 states that the player may have the flagstick attended, removed, or held up before making a stroke from anywhere on the course. “May” is not “must.” The player did not violate any provisions in the flagstick rule. He had a hole-in-one.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ask Linda #817-Handicap cheater

Hi Linda-

In our ladies group it is the players responsibility to post their scores after each round into the GHIN, and we have no "handicap chair" to verify that scores are being posted properly.

One of our players has been playing on a handicap of 22 and has won much more than her fair share through the summer. There were a number of players grumbling about her handicap because she scores normally low eighties to mid nineties. A number of us asked the player directly if she has been posting all her scores, and she firmly stated she had been. Since I run the ringers for the club, I had most of the score cards for the past 8 weeks. I reviewed her scores and found that in this 8 week period alone, she had not posted scores of 83, 84 ,88 and 89, but she had posted all her higher scores over 90 and just one score of 87 since January eight months ago.

When I brought it to the attention of the vice president of the league, she then discussed it with other players, and of course, it became a bone of contention. Some of the player's friends said I was underhanded and I had no right to review her scores in the GHIN handicap system. I maintained that the handicap system is an open book for anyone to review player's posted scores at any time, for this exact reason. Tell me, is that correct?

What is the proper procedure to dispute a player's handicap who is not posting their low scores and only their high scores? Is there a way to resolve or to DQ past wins by a player who is playing on an invalid handicap?

This has caused quite a lot of hard feelings and I'm sure that we are not the first club to experience this same exact debacle….

I read your blog every day and I very much enjoy learning about the rules and etiquette of golf.

Lulu from Florida

Dear Lulu,

One of the basic premises that underlie the USGA handicap system is that “the player will post every acceptable round for peer review” (The USGA Handicap System, Rule 1-1). Players who do not post all of their acceptable rounds, for whatever reason, are cheaters, plain and simple. Players who discover cheaters by reviewing their scores are not “underhanded” – they are to be commended for assuming a responsibility that all players share to try to keep the game honest. Scoring records are not meant to be private. They are, as you say, an “open book,” and are meant to be available for peer review.

You had every right to compare this player’s scores to her handicap record, and the obligation to report your discovery of a blatant failure to post to a higher authority (the vice-president of the league, in your case). Players who criticize you for your actions simply do not understand the handicap system.

The proper way to dispute the accuracy of a player’s handicap is to do exactly what you did, i.e., submit the evidence to the officers in your league. Since your league does not have a designated Handicap Committee, the officers should assume that responsibility. The Handicap Committee has three options when a player has not posted a round:
1. Post the actual score made by the player;
2. Post a penalty score equal to the lowest/highest Handicap Differential in the scoring record;
3. Post the actual score and a penalty score.
[The USGA Handicap System, Rule 8-4b]

The Handicap Committee also has the authority to adjust or even withdraw a player’s Handicap Index if it discovers a player is manipulating her scores.

Here is how I would recommend your officers deal with this cheater:

1. Post all the scores she omitted from her record.
2. Meet with the player, show her the evidence, and warn her that the next time she fails to post a score she will no longer be welcome in the league.

As you may have gathered, handicap cheaters are among my least favorite people. No one should tolerate cheaters.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ask Linda #816-How many minutes to search for two balls?

Linda, your blog is great.
I am writing you from Argentina.

Here is my question:

A player sliced his first stroke from the tee. He decided to play a provisional because he thought the first ball could be lost.

The same happened when he stroked the provisional ball, so he played another provisional and finally the third one reached the fairway.

Does the player have 5 minutes to find the first two balls, or does he have 5 minutes to find the first one and then 5 more to find the second one?

Best regards,
Lou from Argentina

Dear Lou,

If the balls are so close together that they could be searched for at the same time, only five minutes are allowed. If they are not in the same area, the player has five minutes to search for the original, and an additional five minutes to search for the provisional [Decision 27/4].

Since the player in your scenario sliced both balls to the same area, his search would be limited to five minutes. If the original had sliced and the provisional had hooked, he would be permitted to search for a total of ten minutes.

If it appears that the search will be a lengthy one, please don’t forget to wave the players behind you through!

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ask Linda #815-Out of bounds in the air

Dear Linda,

Great work clarifying the bizarre situations you can get into on a golf course. Here is a situation that made me chortle.

We were playing a match against another club and we were on a dogleg left par 4 with out of bounds all down the left side of hole. The dogleg was quite pronounced and I thought a good risk and reward hole – I got my driver out and hit a great drive over the dogleg onto the front of the green, at which point my opponent told me my ball was out of bounds. I looked bemusedly at him and told him my ball was on the green. He was quite unrepentant when he said that my ball was out of bounds in the air and it was a rule of the course?? It was on the back of the card?

Is this allowed by the rules of golf?

Lou from Manchester, UK

Dear Lou,

Just when I thought I had heard everything…

A golf course is not a country; it may not regulate air space. Where a ball travels through the air cannot be legislated! Where the ball lands is another story.

Sometimes a golf course will have a dogleg hole where a player attempting to cut the dogleg could try to hit onto the fairway of an adjacent hole. This can pose a danger to players on that fairway. In order to protect those players, a course may install interior out-of-bounds stakes that are in play only for golfers on the dogleg hole. A ball would be out of bounds (OB) if it were driven onto the fairway of the adjacent hole [Decision 33-2a/12]. The key word, of course, is “onto,” which implies landing on the fairway. A ball that travels through the air and lands on a green is on the green. Period.

By definition, a ball is out of bounds when all of it lies out of bounds (“lies,” not “flies”). A ball must be on the ground and beyond the OB stakes or lines to be deemed OB. A scorecard may declare that balls landing on a fairway adjacent to a dogleg are OB, but it has no jurisdiction over where balls may travel through the air.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Ask Linda #813a-Ball unplayable in bunker, but not in water hazard


With regard to your answer to the question of a ball embedded in a hazard [Ask Linda #813], I wonder if it might have been well to have clarified that the restriction on declaring a ball unplayable applies to a ball in a water hazard.

A ball in a bunker, for example, may be declared unplayable and dropped under the procedures listed in Rule 28.

This I learned the hard way, after trying to blast a ball out of the face of a bunker.

Lou from Florida

Dear Lou,

The question in #813 addressed a ball embedded in a water hazard. Rather than muddy the waters with extraneous information, I limited my answer to that particular topic.

However, since it is my goal to clarify the Rules, I will be happy to remind readers that they may declare a ball unplayable anywhere on the golf course except when the ball is in a water hazard. While there is no free relief for a ball embedded in a bunker, the player has the option to declare the ball unplayable, add a penalty stroke to his score, and choose one of the relief options in Rule 28. Please remember that if you choose to drop within two club-lengths or behind where the ball lay on the line-of-sight to the hole, you must drop in the bunker. The only chance you have to drop out of the bunker is if you choose to play under stroke and distance and your previous shot was from outside the bunker.

Copyright © 2014 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.