Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ask Linda #1718-Gentlemen’s agreement to break rules

Hi Linda,
Thanks for all of the great information you provide every day. I have learned so much from your answers.

My friends and I have a gentlemen's agreement that if you hit a ball out of bounds on your tee shot, you have a choice of hitting another ball from the tee or going to the point where the ball went out, dropping another ball at that spot and taking a 2-stroke penalty. We of course do this to speed up play and we justify it by using the penalty for violating Rule 27-1, which is two strokes in stroke play. Two questions: are we violating any rules by doing this, and if you do violate Rule 27-1, where do you drop your ball to continue play?

Lou from Chicago, Illinois

Dear Lou,

Are you seriously asking me to condone breaking a Rule of Golf to speed up play? There are many ways to improve pace of play (check out this column I wrote back in 2008: http://lindamillergolf.blogspot.com/2008/04/rules-5-pace-of-play-suggestions.html), but a “gentlemen’s agreement” to breach Rule 27-1 is not one of them. Be aware that the Rules consider agreement to waive a Rule of Golf a serious offense punishable by disqualification [Rule 1-3].

When the player is certain he has hit his ball out of bounds, he must put another ball in play from the spot where he hit his previous shot and add one penalty stroke to his score. There is no other option. Flagrantly disregarding the Rules by dropping a ball where the original went out of bounds is a serious breach; if not corrected, it will lead to disqualification.

If the player is not certain his ball went out of bounds, there is a ready-made Rule that was written specifically to improve pace of play. It’s called Provisional Ball [Rule 27-2]. Get in the habit of playing a provisional whenever you are concerned that your ball may be lost or out of bounds.

I fail to see how dropping a ball where your original went out of bounds (which, I repeat, is not permissible) improves pace of play. How does walking over to where your ball went out of bounds, establishing where to drop it, and dropping the ball take less time than simply (and correctly) hitting a second ball? I hope you will give this some thought and arrive at a new “gentlemen’s agreement” to follow the Rules.

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