Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ask Linda #1051-Match does not start on first hole

Hi Linda, 
Someone told me that you must start a match play game from the first tee because of the stroke indexes. He claimed that if a match started on the 10th hole someone could be put at either an advantage or a disadvantage. Does it make a difference, and must you start on the first tee only in match play?
Thank you in advance.
Lou from South Africa

Dear Lou,

Ideally, a match should begin on the first or tenth hole. However, if there are several matches scheduled, and the Committee decides to shotgun the matches (start them all at the same time), matches may begin on different holes. This is often done with team play.

There should be little or no advantage to either player in a match beginning on the first or tenth hole. The handicap holes are divided evenly, with the odds on one nine and the evens on the other. One nine may be more difficult than the other, but everything should even out over the course of the match.

Regardless of a real or perceived advantage or disadvantage, players must begin play on the hole to which they are assigned by the Committee.

Don’t forget that if you need to play extra holes to settle the match, the first extra hole will be the next consecutive hole. In other words, if you begin play on the 10th hole and the match is all square on the 9th hole (after 18 holes of play), your first extra hole will be the 10th hole.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ask Linda #1050-Relief from sprinkler head

In a recent match play tournament an opponent's ball landed near a sprinkler head two feet from the putting surface of the green.
The sprinkler head was on the fringe of the green but the grass around the sprinkler head, where the ball was sitting, had not been cut as short as the fringe grass. If the sprinkler head were a clock and 12 o'clock was toward the flagstick, the ball was sitting at the 3 o'clock position. A practice stroke on the inside of the ball would not have been possible because his club would have hit the sprinkler head; but clearly, the ball could have been chipped from the grass. The sprinkler head was not between his ball and the putting surface. Putting the ball was not practical in that there was grass behind the ball.
I was not sure, so I agreed to go along with the other three players and that he could take relief from chipping the ball and drop his ball on the fringe area and that after taking relief he could then switch to a putter.
What is the proper ruling here? Perhaps the question is who gets to determine what is free relief from an immovable object?
(In this case it did not affect the outcome of the game.)
Lou from Collierville, Tennessee

Dear Lou,

A player is only entitled to relief from an immovable obstruction (IO) if the IO interferes with his stance or swing, or the ball lies on the obstruction [Rule 24a]. Your narrative suggests that there was no interference. As such, the player should not have been granted relief.

Once it is established that there is no interference, anyone who knows the Rule may explain to the player why he is not entitled to relief. In stroke play, if the player is unsure of his rights, he may play two balls under Rule 3-3 and settle the matter with a Committee member.

In match play, if the opponents have agreed on the procedure, it will stand even if it is incorrect. If the player disagrees, and decides to take relief, his opponent can immediately file a claim [Rule 2-5].

There is a Local Rule that may be adopted for relief from immovable obstructions (such as sprinkler heads) on the fringe [Appendix I, Part B, #6]. However, had that Rule been in effect, this player would still not have been entitled to relief. Local Rule #6 requires that the obstruction intervene on the line of play to the hole, which was not the case in your narrative.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ask Linda #1049-Touch partner’s line of putt

Hello Linda,
A and B are partners in a Four-Ball Match Play Competition. A touches B’s line of putt to indicate where to putt her ball. What is the penalty and is it applied to both A and B? Thanks very much.
Lulu from British Columbia, Canada                                                                                                            

Dear Lulu,

The player’s partner is not permitted to touch the green to indicate a line for putting when the player’s ball is on the green [Rule 8-2b]. This prohibition also extends to either of their caddies. The penalty in match play is loss of hole, and the penalty is assessed to the player who was putting.

The partner (the one who touched the green) is subject to penalty only if her action assisted her own play [Rule 30-3f]. It would seem unlikely in this case that she incurred a penalty.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Ask Linda #1048-Two balls collide


This just happened the other night. Two balls in motion collided. My understanding is that this scenario is covered under USGA Rule 19-5b. However just to clarify, one ball was played from off the green (from the fringe) the other ball was played from on the green. This was stroke play and the ball putted from off the green after collision went into the hole. The other ball stopped close to the hole.

The ball played from off the green (on the fringe) was struck first. However, it was pretty close in timing. The ball off the green was definitely further away, so the ball on the green was played out of turn. This was not match play rather it was stroke play, so I do not believe playing out of turn is an issue other than maybe a breach of course etiquette. I have never seen anything like this and I truly believe both balls would have been holed out as they collided in motion over the hole.

What is the correct ruling here? My thought is that the ball in motion played from off the green is considered holed out and the ball played from on the green is played as it lies and incurs a two-stroke penalty.

I would be interested to know if the ruling differs under Match Play.

Thanks in advance for your comments.
Lou from Michigan

Dear Lou,

There is no penalty to either player.

When a player hits a ball from off the green and it strikes another ball that was also in motion, the player must play the ball as it lies [Rule 19-5b]. Thus, the player who hit his ball from the fringe has holed his ball (a lucky ricochet off the other fellow’s moving putt).

The player who putted from on the green will have his stroke canceled. He must replace and replay his putt. Do not count the original putt and do not assess a penalty [Rule 19-5b, second paragraph].

Both rulings are the same for match play, since the player who hit first was further away from the hole. If his ball had been closer to the hole, his opponent would have the option to recall the stroke (cancel and replay), since he played out of turn. Considering that the ball from the fringe was holed, recalling the stroke if it was hit out of turn would be a no-brainer.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ask Linda #1039b-One final comment on “Disputed double hit”

Hi Linda,
I wanted to expand a bit on the answers to this question. Not only is a marker and even a fellow-competitor obliged to report to a player that player's breach of the rules, but a marker or fellow-competitor who fails to do so may be subject to disqualification. See decisions 33-7/9, 6-6a/5 and 1-3/6.
Lou from Meridian, Idaho

Dear Lou,

I am certain I have addressed disqualification for a marker or fellow competitor who knowingly fails to report an observed breach of the Rules in a previous column, but it bears repetition.

You are doing no one a favor by failing to inform a fellow competitor that he has committed an infraction. If the player does not add the penalty strokes to his score and therefore signs an incorrect scorecard, he is disqualified. If it is discovered that you knew about the infraction and failed to tell the player, you will most likely also be disqualified.

Players need to understand that others who point out their infractions should be thanked, not scorned. It might make it easier for everyone concerned if the observer said something like: “I believe that what you just did is against the Rules. Let’s explain what happened to the Committee before you sign your scorecard. They will know best what to do. There’s no harm if I’m wrong, and if I am right, I will save you from disqualification.” A little tact goes a long way to keeping the competition pleasant.

In match play, of course, a player is permitted to ignore his opponent’s breach of a Rule, but only if his opponent is unaware that he did so. If both players choose to ignore an infraction, they are both disqualified [Rule 2-5, Note 1].

Those of you who would like to better understand this responsibility to report infractions should read the three Decisions cited by Lou. I will summarize them briefly.

Decision 6-6a/5 talks about the case of a player who is unaware of a penalty and a marker who is aware but fails to notify anyone. The player is disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, and the marker should also be disqualified.

In Decision 1-3/6, both players are aware that one has infringed a Rule (failure to hole out), and both fail to report it prior to the player signing his card. Again, the player is disqualified, and the marker should be disqualified along with him.

Finally, Decision 33-7/9 informs us that it is everyone’s responsibility –not just the player and his marker– to report infractions in order to protect the field. Anyone observing a breach of the Rules is obligated to inform the player, his marker, or the Committee. A player who deliberately withholds information that allows a player to return an incorrect scorecard should be disqualified.

Copyright © 2015 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.