Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ask Linda #1236-Rule breach observed by fellow competitor

Hi Linda,

My question relates to a player’s responsibilities and obligations.

Situation is Player A is marking player B's card and vice versa.

Competition is a stroke play event. Player A has a very short putt for par and player B says "that's a gimme." A picks up his ball and does not putt out.

Players C and I both object and point out the rule breach. Player B states he is A's marker and that it has nothing to do with us.

What are C and my obligations?

If we ignore the rule breach are we also subject to disqualification?

You are an inspiration for your clear and concise answers. Thank you so much.
Lou from Australia

Dear Lou,

This is a stroke play event. Your obligation is to protect the field and save the player from disqualification. If the player does not hole out, he will be disqualified from the tournament.

In stroke play, everyone is responsible for making sure everyone else follows the Rules. You have a moral obligation to save a player from disqualification whenever it is in your power. Clearly, neither Player A nor Player B was aware that putts may not be conceded in stroke play. Just as clearly, Player B did not understand that his concession and Player A’s subsequent failure to hole out would lead to Player A’s disqualification. When players are ignorant of the Rules, and stubborn to boot, you have to try a little tact. I would suggest you tell Player A that you are “pretty sure” (even though you are “absolutely certain”) that all putts must be holed in a stroke play event, and that the Committee “might” disqualify him if he doesn’t hole out. Tell him that, just to be safe, he should replace the ball, putt out, and let the Committee advise him regarding his score before he signs his card.

Who gets disqualified is a matter for the Committee to decide. If Player A does not complete the hole, he should be disqualified. Since Player B has agreed to waive a Rule of Golf (both A and B became aware of a possible rules breach as soon as you pointed it out), the Committee should decide to disqualify B for a breach of Rule 1-3 (Agreement to Waive Rules). If you and Player C ignore the breach, you are not fulfilling your obligation to protect the field. You are also not protecting the player from disqualification. You are subject to penalty if you witness a breach, know it’s a violation, and ignore it. The Committee might very well decide to disqualify both of you along with A and B.

Every player –not just a marker– has the obligation to report a breach of the Rules to a player, his marker, or the Committee. Failure to do so could result in dire consequences for the player and possibly others. Could you sleep at night knowing your failure to speak up lead to a player’s disqualification? I couldn’t.

Copyright © 2016 Linda Miller. All rights reserved.