Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Ask Linda #1466-Trouble hitting tee shot over desert scrub

Dear Linda:
Our golfing group visiting Arizona faces a dilemma on desert courses, some of which require on several holes a carry of 175 yards or more from the tee over desert scrub to reach the fairway.

Although we are eight golfers with swings of unpredictable consistency and control, we insist on playing from tees that challenge us. The result is that some of us on occasion fail to carry the desert scrub more than once and sometimes twice or thrice on a given hole, requiring re-teeing and delay of play.

Assuming that we cannot declare such a ball unplayable (which would enable the player to re-hit in line with the pin from a forward and therefore easier tee) without actually locating the ball, we assume our only option is to re-tee from the original location. Our dilemma is that players who have difficulty carrying the scrub may be obliged to re-tee in perpetuity, or in any case several times, until the obstacle is finally surpassed.

Our question is: Is any option other than continually re-teeing (or withdrawal from play) available to the golfer facing that predicament? The obvious solution is for all of us to play from a forward tee to begin with, but this wouldn’t seem fair to those of us who have no trouble reaching the fairway.

Yours in desperation,
Lou and Lou and Lou and Lou (and four more Lous besides)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Dear Lous,

The option you are looking for is better course management. If a player is unable to carry the desert scrub, and there is no option to play the ball as it lies in the scrub, he might want to consider a lay-up to a spot from which he could conceivably reach the fairway on his next shot.

Alternately, the short hitters could play from the set of tees most suitable to their skill level. The handicap system provides a way for players playing from different tees to compete fairly. First, you  calculate each player's handicap based on the Slope Ratings® of the respective tees. Then calculate the difference in Course Rating®, and either add those strokes to the players competing from the more difficult set of tees, or subtract them from the players on the shorter set of tees. 

Another option would be to play a Stableford competition, where players could pick up as soon as their score for the hole would be 0. This would improve the pace of play and likely increase everyone's enjoyment of the round. 

If play is not prohibited from the scrub area, I’m not sure why the player would rather hit balls in “perpetuity” from the tee than attempt to play the ball as it lies.

Your understanding of the unplayable ball rule is correct. The ball must be located if the player wishes to drop within two club-lengths or drop on the line of sight to the hole [Decision 28/1].

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