Monday, May 1, 2017

Ask Linda #1520-Player withholds information about breach of rule

Dear Linda,
We have a situation at our club where a player (Player A) is known to count other players’ clubs in their bag surreptitiously on the first tee before driving off. 

Player A is very competitive and has noticed Player B has 15 clubs in his bag on the first tee.

Player A waits until the end of the round to inform Player B and a lot of unpleasantness has ensued – refusal to sign each other’s scorecard, etc.

I have been checking Decision 33-7/9. Putting aside the spirit of the game, which is very important to myself and a lot of fellow members, I would be interested in your view in a timely manner.

A large group of us feels that you are obliged to inform a fellow competitor if he is about to infringe a rule. If you let him infringe a rule knowingly, just so that they get a penalty, THEN there is a penalty for Player B also. Is this correct?

Yours in anticipation,
Lou Manchester UK

Dear Lou,

This behavior is despicable. Golfers are expected to be courteous and sportsmanlike at all times. Observing a breach of the Rules (e.g., too many clubs) and deliberately withholding that information to cause a player to incur an avoidable four-stroke penalty is just about as unsportsmanlike and unacceptable a behavior as I can imagine. This player should be pelted with rotten tomatoes and run out of town!

The Committee has the option, under the Rules, to disqualify a player for a serious breach of etiquette [Rule 33-7]. This might be a good time to exercise that option. I would also suggest that the Committee conduct a serious heart-to-heart with this fellow, explaining to him that golf is not a game of “gotcha.” Players who notice other players about to break a Rule should hasten to warn them, not lay back and hit them with a penalty after the deed is done.

I have no problem with players being competitive; I would place myself in that category. But I would never condone the behavior described in your narrative, and neither should your Committee.

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