Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ask Linda #1670-Spectator reports violation

Dear Linda,
This occurred to me today and I'm not sure what is the best procedure and I'm sure you might have experienced it. A player during stoke play in a high school match clearly hit his tee ball into a lateral water hazard. Choosing the option of dropping within 2 club lengths of the hazard line no closer to the hole, he would have been dropping into high rough on a slanted hill. He realized this would not be a smart choice and asked the rules official what to do and was told "oh just throw it out here in the fairway" (about 50 feet closer and on a level clean lie).

I was following the match and well I just couldn't keep my mouth closed even though my wife told me to. I told the official he was clearly wrong and to ask another official or I would clearly show him the rule. The player actually seemed to agree with me that what he was told was wrong, but he hit it from the fairway anyway. The official just blew me off and said, "I'll handle it."

Of course when they got in and all was straightened out the official did apologize. My question is…would the player now be disqualified (I think not but maybe a 2-stroke penalty)? And this is the big one… should I have just kept my mouth shut and reported it later? This just didn't seem right. Any ideas you can share on this would be helpful. Please feel free to use this in your column if you wish. I hope I did not take too much of your time. I just can’t stand to see kids not playing by the rules…
Lou from North Carolina

Dear Lou,

When a referee authorizes a player to infringe a Rule, the player is absolved from penalty [Decision 34-2/2]. A referee’s decision is final [Rule 34-2]. The young man who was incorrectly told by the referee to toss his ball out onto the fairway did not incur a penalty since he followed the referee’s instruction.

I am pleased to hear that you spoke up, although I hope you were more tactful than your question would indicate. It is everyone’s obligation to see that the Rules are followed, and it is especially important for the young player to learn the proper procedure. It is also unfair to the other player if his opponent receives an advantage due to an incorrect ruling. You were interceding to try to keep the match fair – such an action should never be considered improper.

I’m concerned that the referee was either ignorant of this basic Rule or casual about its enforcement. In the first case he should be encouraged to attend a rules class; in the second he should not be asked to serve as a referee.

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