Saturday, April 4, 2015

Ask Linda – Wind, revisited

Dear readers,
My column about the wind [Ask Linda #1028-Advice about the wind] attracted an unusual number of responses. Here are three:

“If you can tell someone there is a bunker in front of the green, I don't see why you can't tell them which way the wind is blowing.  Seems like the same thing. It's not actually advice, it's fact.”
Lou from Massachusetts

“I have two remarks/questions.
1. If giving information about wind direction is ‘advice,’ than I believe it’s the most violated rule in golf. It happens all the time that, players standing on the tee box, are debating where the wind is coming from. If a player for example makes the statement out loud as a general remark (without anybody asking anything) like: ‘the wind is coming over my right shoulder’ and a fellow competitor says ‘no, it’s more across from the right,’ is any of the two or both in breach of the rule? Or is anyone who holds a handkerchief to see the wind direction or points to the windsock on the golf cart in breach?
As far as I know, both the handkerchief and the windsocks are allowed.
2. In the definitions it says: ‘Information on the Rules, distance or matters of public information, such as the position of hazards or the flagstick on the putting green, is not advice.’
I ask myself why wind is not a matter of public information (everybody can see where the wind is coming from).
Thanks for looking into this.
Best Regards,
Lou from New Jersey

In my opinion information about the direction of the wind or even the speed is public information. Barry Rhodes gives in his blog several examples (copied without permission, but it is on the Internet)
“A asks B, "Is the wind behind us, or from left to right?" Not asking for advice
A asks B, "Do you think that the wind is stronger now than when we played this hole on the front 9?" Not asking for advice
A asks B, "Is one extra club enough in this wind?" Asking for advice – A incurs penalty
B says to A, "There's no wind here because we're in a shaded hollow but it's pretty strong out there." Not giving advice
B says to A, "There's a two-club wind blowing right against us." Giving advice – B incurs penalty
B says to A, "Don't forget to take the wind into account." Giving advice – B incurs penalty”
I agree it's better to talk about other subjects. Sometimes there is a fine line between advice and casual remarks and advice and public information.
Kind regards,
Lou from The Netherlands

So…I would suggest that whether a conversation about the wind constitutes “advice” is a bit of a gray area. Clearly it is not against the Rules to say that it is a windy day, or that the wind is coming from the East today. Those are matters of public information. Things get a little murky when a player has selected a club, asks a fellow competitor if he thinks the wind is stronger than it was on the last hole, the response is “yes,” and the player returns to his bag to select a different club. Has he asked for advice? Has he received advice?

The problem is that discussion of the wind is open to interpretation. One Committee might rule that your question constitutes asking for advice, while another would rule otherwise. I think it's best to take the matter into your own hands and not discuss the wind beyond some relatively simple observations. Why risk a two-stroke penalty based on the whim of a Committee member? You should not need anyone's help in figuring out the wind; if you do, you are more than likely asking for advice.

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