Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ask Linda #1016a-Follow-up to #1016

Linda, a similar incident occurred in our junior inter-club pennant recently. Individual match play, A v. B and C v. D.  There were the two matches going on, in one group of 4 players.

On the green, A sank a long putt to win the hole, so B then picked up what he thought was his marker, about a metre from the hole. But in fact he picked up C's marker, which was quite close to his.  Not realising what had happened, C then placed his ball (at B's marker) and sank the putt to win the hole. His opponent D was closer to the hole but had already had one more shot.

I'm not quite sure exactly what happened next. When it was realised [while the players were still on the green] that a mistake had been made, a degree of confusion reigned. In the end nothing was done. The consensus was that no-one had benefited from the situation. B who had made the initial error had lost the hole anyway. While it would have been possible to penalise C for playing from a wrong place, it seemed unfair and disproportionate, and they were only kids anyway. I don't think they knew about Note 1 in Rule 2-5 that allows a player to disregard a breach of rules by his opponent in match play, but it seems to me that this would be a suitable time to do so.

Do you agree? If D had decided to make a claim against C would such a claim be likely to succeed? The decision to do nothing was made by the experienced golfers acting as caddies for the juniors, and it caused some discussion afterwards. The discussion was about what advice about the Rules the adults who were there should have given to the juniors. Should they have suggested that C be penalised for playing from a wrong place? Or pointed out that a breach could be disregarded if D wished? I don't think the juniors "gave a toss" to use an Australian colloquialism that I hope you know.

Regards and thanks for your very interesting articles.
Lulu from Victoria, Australia

Dear Lulu,
I will give you the answer under the Rules.

First off, I would like to reiterate that playing two matches in the same group is always a bad idea. I understand that it is often unavoidable, but if matches can be sent out individually, pace of play improves dramatically and many Rules issues can be avoided.

As I understand the situation, these are two individual matches: A vs. B, and C vs. D. There is no penalty to anyone for B picking up C's marker, as B is an outside agency. The marker should be replaced, after which C may putt. C is responsible for recognizing his own marker. If he places his ball behind the wrong marker, and then putts, he cannot avoid penalty if someone notices the error in time. If no claim is made before C or D tee off on the next hole, the putt stands with no penalty. 

If there was some discussion on the green about the error, it seems to me that everyone was aware of what happened, including C and D. A player may choose to ignore a breach of the Rules in match play, but there cannot be any agreement between players to ignore a breach. If there is agreement, both players are disqualified under Rule 1-3.

I don't agree with "unfair and disproportionate" and that "they were only kids." This was a good opportunity to teach the proper Rules to young golfers. If they are correctly penalized, they will remember a very important Rule; if they are not, what they have learned is you can get away with breaking the Rules when you don't think they're fair. Which lesson do you want them to learn?

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