Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ask Linda #1125-Referee gives wrong ruling

Dear Linda,

Please could you tell me the correct ruling in this situation?

My 16-year-old daughter was playing in an under 18 tournament  -- match play. On the 12th hole she was on the green near the hole in 5 strokes and her opponent asked my daughter her score. “I will be in for 5,” my daughter said. The opponent gave her the stroke and lifted her own ball marker. The opponent had played 6 and would have been in for 7 shots.

After the girls teed off on the next hole -- 13th --the opponent said to my daughter: “Had you not already had 5 strokes? You would have been in for a 6 not a 5.” My daughter admitted that she genuinely made a mistake and had given her opponent the wrong score. The opponent had already played more shots than my daughter. I don't know if that is relevant, but it seems mean to bring up the score from the previous hole. They called a rules official over and he said that my daughter had not knowingly given wrong information and that as they had teed off on the next hole the hole would stand as it was, which meant my daughter remained 2 up. There was a lot of chat amongst the parents with a father saying wrong information means loss of hole --- no matter when it occurs. 

The referee looked disturbed and he reappeared on the 15th hole to say that he had had to change his decision and it was loss of hole due to giving wrong information and that the Decision in the book stated that the match must be adjusted accordingly. My daughter had been 2-up and was now only 1-up.

My daughter was understandably upset and subsequently lost the match.

The referee apologised for getting the ruling wrong in the first place but said that it had to be corrected.

Do you agree?

Thanks for your help.
Lulu from the UK

Dear Lulu,

Yes. The referee must correct his error if he allows an appeal and discovers that his ruling was wrong [Decision 34-2/6].

Your daughter lost the hole when she gave wrong information regarding how many strokes she had taken, which led to her opponent conceding the hole [Rule 9-2]. It makes no difference that the error was discovered after teeing off on the next hole, as there is no time limit on losing a hole for giving wrong information [Decision 9-2/9].

The referee’s original decision was incorrect on two counts:
(1) Giving wrong information unknowingly does not absolve the player from losing a hole for giving wrong information. Wrong is wrong, whether the information given was intentional or mistaken.
(2) Teeing off on the next hole does not mean the incorrect result of the hole will stand. There is no time limit on this penalty.

Ordinarily, a referee’s decision is final. However, if he allows an appeal, and he discovers that his original ruling was incorrect, he must reverse his decision.

I don’t think you would have considered it “mean” to bring up the score on the next hole if it had been your daughter who had been given the wrong information. The bottom line is that your daughter lost the hole. The referee’s final decision was the right decision – it was correct according to the Rules of Golf and fair to both girls.


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