Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ask Linda #1039a-Readers comment on “Disputed double hit”

Linda, as you know, those fellow competitors are "protectors of the field"...a nice concept which too many golfers are either blissfully unaware of or unwilling to accept that responsibility.
Lou from St. Augustine, Florida

Excellent point, Lou. And in a similar vein…

Very well answered, Linda. Too few players are prepared to report infractions of the rules because of possible repercussions from "stronger" personalities.
Lou from Bodicote, England

An attorney raises a “lawyerly” point:


I am an attorney and this is an interesting situation. Just because two players say "A" and only one says "B" does not mean that "A" has been established by a preponderance of the evidence. Credibility is a huge factor in all he said/she said disputes.  A judge must assess the demeanor of the witnesses, their ability to observe, potential bias, and other factors which may tend to make the testimony of the one more likely than the testimony of the two. 

Lou from Chicago

Dear Lou,

Sometimes it does seem that one needs a law degree in order to interpret the Rules of Golf correctly. This is one situation where it is not necessary.

There are certain situations in golf where players are unaware they have breached a Rule. Sometimes ignorance is the culprit, occasionally the player is unaware of what occurred, and rarely (I hope) the player is cheating.

Golfers are responsible for observing the play of their fellow competitors. They are obligated to apprise them of any penalties they have incurred, and to report such incidents to the Committee for resolution when there is disagreement. This is what the reader above meant by “protecting the field.”

A double hit is an action of which the player is sometimes unaware, but is easy for others to observe. In the reader’s narrative, two different players observed the infraction. Assuming the motives of two distinct individuals playing a game dependent on honesty were pure, the Committee would penalize the player for the double hit. I cannot imagine a scenario in which two players with nefarious intentions invented the same observation. Did they conspire before the round to accuse the player of a double hit on the 15th green? That, to me, would be unthinkable.

Consider a different scenario in which a player disturbs a few grains of sand during his backswing in a bunker. Did he feel it? Probably not. Did he see it? Not likely. Would the Committee take his word that the shot was clean over two players who saw the sand fly up on his backswing? I doubt it.

These are not cases of he said/she said. They are situations where players have properly assumed their responsibility to observe play and report infractions. The presumption on the double hit would be that the player was honestly unaware that it happened, and the other players honestly and properly (some might say “courageously”) reported their observation to the player and subsequently to the Committee.

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