Monday, January 12, 2015

Ask Linda #978-Order of play in foursomes

Hi Linda,

I have two questions:
1.  In foursomes match play (alternate shots), if Player A tees off and her ball goes into a hazard, does Player B take the next stroke with the team getting a one-stroke penalty even though Player B wouldn’t be taking the third shot?
2.  In foursomes match play, if Player A takes a fresh air shot [whiffs], does she play the next shot or does Player B take the next shot? If Player B takes the next shot couldn’t this tactic be used to the team’s advantage where Player A might be the weaker player and have to play over water (for example) and Player B could then hit the shot and land on the green?

Many thanks
Lulu from Dublin, Ireland 

Dear Lulu,

The answers are the same for both match play and stroke play.

1. Penalty strokes do not affect the order of play in foursomes [Rule 29-1]. If Player A hits her ball into a water hazard, Player B will drop a ball and play the next shot.

2. If Player A takes a legitimate swing at the ball and misses, she has played a stroke. Player B will take the next shot. However, if Player A deliberately misses the ball, she has not made a stroke (the Definition of “Stroke” requires an intention to hit the ball). It is still A’s turn to play. In this situation, if Player B hits the ball, B has played out of turn. The penalty to Team A-B is loss of hole in match play. In stroke play, the penalty is two strokes, and Player A must play a ball from the spot where Player B played. If she does not do so before Team A-B tees off on the next hole, the team is disqualified [Decision 29-1/7].
There is nothing stopping Player A from hitting a short chip, or even using a putter to advance the ball a few feet. This would be a perfectly acceptable strategy to allow the better player to attempt the shot over the water.

For those of you who think that the term “foursome” refers to a group of four golfers playing in the same group, allow me to disavow you of that notion. “Foursome” refers to a golf game in which partners alternate tee shots and alternate shots during play of each hole. The format is sometimes referred to as “alternate shot.”

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