Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ask Linda #1370-Agreement to waive rules

Due to a recent drought the greens at our course were covered in bare patches. There was not a local rule in place giving relief from bare patches on the greens, just bare patches on closely mown areas. Our club championship was stroke play played over 72 holes followed by match play. Two weeks later, during the first round of match play, it was discovered that for the 72-hole stroke event the winner and his markers had been taking relief from the bare patches on the greens. By taking relief they had gained an unfair advantage over the rest of the players, probably at least four to five shots per round. Because the stroke event had been decided and the match play started, does the result stand or should the players be disqualified and under what rules? Should Rule 1-3 apply? The committee decided to let the result stand. To me it does not seem right that the player can be the winner even if the match play had started.
Kind regards,
Lou from Brisbane, Australia

Dear Lou,

For purposes of this answer, I am going to assume that the Local Rule permitted relief from bare patches through the green only, which would mean there was no relief from bare patches on the putting green.

If both players were aware that they were not entitled to relief from bare patches on the putting green, and agreed to take relief anyway, they were in violation of Rule 1-3 [Agreement to Waive Rules] and should have been disqualified from the competition, even though match play had already begun [Rule 34-1, Exception (i)].

If the players were not aware that relief from bare patches on the putting green was not available, there could not have been agreement to waive a Rule of Golf [Decision 1-3/5]. In this case, there would be no penalty. A penalty may not be imposed after a competition has closed. When match play follows stroke play, the stroke play competition is closed as soon as players tee off in their first match [Rule 34-1b].

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