Inside Golf : Inside Golf June 2017
your voice www.insidegolf.com.au | June 2017 65 This month’s winner! A slow read If the golf authorities are serious about reducing the time to play a round of golf, I feel that they should concentrate on what is happening on the greens. The time taken on each green, as each player marks his ball, prowls the line, makes the putt, misses, marks again and goes through the ritual for a second time (and possibly third), is excessive. It’s terrible at professional level, and has percolated down to club golf as we all copy what our heroes do. The exaggerated procedure to avoid stepping on another player’s line is getting worse, and I question how necessary it is - given that at the end of the field there will have been about 60 other golfers and their caddies walking all over the greens. So what’s the problem with one more footprint? My suggestion is to limit the marking of a ball on the green to once only for each player. Additionally, once a player has started putting he should be compelled to putt out. I’m sure that these changes would save at least 1 minute per green, and take about 20 minutes off a round - and lessen the frustration on a Saturday morning as you watch from down the fairway as the group in front acts out the traditional pantomime. I’d be interested in yours and your readers’ views. As an aside, if these changes had been in place a month earlier, Lexi Thompson would have avoided a four-stroke penalty for totally unnecessarily marking a tap-in putt, and have another major on her CV. Doug Callow www.facebook.com/insidegolf This month’s Prize: 1 dozen Volvik Vibe balls I see that Muirfield (Scotland, not Sydney) are now going to allow female membership and will once again go on The Open rotation. There have been several comments about ‘male only’ clubs and having to change their status. However, I have never seen any mention of the Ladies only golf clubs of which there are several, being forced to admit men to their inner circle. Ron Field Ladies first With the growth in popularity of golf cart usage, many, if not most, golf courses have installed hard surface pathways for the carts to travel along, obviously to protect the grassed surfaces. As with many things in life, good intentioned change can often result in unforeseen consequences. My club has proliferated concrete cart paths, and I would doubt any member has not experienced their golf ball hitting and ricocheting off a golf path at some time during normal play. As these paths could be defined as artificial surfaces (i.e. are not natural or normal golf course surfaces) interference by contact with the paths can often result in unfair consequences that are outside the normal skill and integrity of the game. It is not uncommon for a full golf shot to hit a path and cause the ball to end up in a clearly far worse position than if the ball had not been deflected by the path. In addition, I have witnessed many instances where a recovery option from a moderately off line golf shot, has hit the concrete edge of a path and often resulted in an unfair result whereby the ball has been deflected into a further position of disadvantage. Having highlighted the problem, my suggestion is that the Committee of a golf course with golf cart paths which can come into play under normal playing conditions should give consideration to these distortions to our golf game, by introducing appropriate local rules. The local rule should offer relief from concrete path interference by permitting replay of a shot from the original lie, or playing a replacement or provisional ball as appropriate, and at the discretion of the player. It could be argued that the mown fairways are large enough to accommodate normal shot making, but in reality, any golfer is likely to hit a ball into areas outside the mown fairway boundary, and often into treed areas. More importantly, where golf paths have been constructed. Ray Morrison The paths of least resistance In your recent item in starter’s box you call into question some rules of golf that are fundamental. The fundamentals include playing the course as you find it, and playing the ball as it lies. There are some variations to this to allow for local rules applying to animal or bird damage, GUR, staked trees and immovable obstructions where a player can seek relief with the approval of his marker. This means, of course, that if your ball lands in a depression, an old divot, a sandy spot between tuffs of grass or behind a tree through the green, then you must play it as it lies. And every golfer knows that. And through the green means on the green. On the green there are many little depressions and a ball often settles in them. To move a ball 1/2 of one inch can improve your prospects of hitting a good putt. That is real easy to do and I think is done often without the thought that it was a rules violation when a ball has been lifted and replaced anywhere through the green. You have said that we have become the laughing stock of sport. It was sad the way it unfolded but it should have been handled in a way that said that this sport has integrity and that the infringement was an indication that rules are rules and without rules the sport will collapse. There are few, if any, rules of golf that are not there for a good reason. It is what makes it a sport above all others. Because your publication is well read and your comments in starter’s box are the first off the mark, you could have done golf a service by explaining the ramifications of not replacing you ball where it was marked. There are many rules that can have some change but the fundamental “play the ball as it lies” is not in that category. Colin Hough More on Lexi... I am writing about the Lexi Thompson ruling. I hope those who made the ruling are aware of the consequence. Thompson marked her ball half an inch, or 1 cm from where she should have. This means 2/3rd of the ball was in the correct place. If 10 mm is an error, warranting a two-shot penalty, what about 5 mm, or even 1 mm? Applying the same criteria the ball is in the wrong place, regardless of how far. Perhaps it might be necessary for the caddy to take a photograph of the marked ball before it is lifted, and then a second when the ball has been replaced and compare images. It is not possible to replace a ball 100% of the time within 1 or 2 millimetres, surely 1⁄2 a ball width, or perhaps less than a ball width, should be considered as being in the correct place. John S. Green Have just read your article on Lexi and I cannot agree, have watched the incident many times and she did not replace her ball in the correct spot. I believe it was intentional. Also not one pro has talked about her actions, only that the penalty was too great. I think that once you have teed off the next day then no further penalty can be assessed. But all this hoo-ha about the four-shot penalty... just go back and look at the marking and replacing, she was going to tap it in, then decided to mark, why ? Spike mark in her way? Only she knows, but she never even stood back up, just marked then replaced in a different position. So please no more, she committed the offence intentionally, in my view. Before the recent rule changes she would have been DQ for signing an incorrect card, so she was lucky to continue. Kevin Burton Having read your editorial in the May issue it seems that you would like to dumb our sport down to the level of 20/20 cricket by eliminating Rules that are intended to stop cheating. As Phil Mickelson says, he knows plenty of guys that replace their ball 2-3 inches from the marker. Presumably you condone this action and see no problem with it continuing. Perhaps instead of decrying the Rule you could research how many other times Lexi may have replaced in a wrong place to the disadvantage of competitors who were scrupulously honest. This example may cause players who fudge to rethink their actions. Protection exists already to stop trial for acts only visible on slow motion which this clearly was not. George A Hogan It was good to see your article in the May issue on the golfing career of Ivo Whitton. He was one of Australia’s most accomplished golfers. He also did his bit for the administration of golf. Readers may have been rather puzzled by the rules incident on the short 14th hole during the final round of the 1912 Australian Open. Whitton had put his tee shot into thick ti-trees where he could not play a shot. Why did Whitton not simply declare his ball unplayable and take a drop under stroke-and-distance, or two club lengths to the side of the ball, or go back along the line to the hole? The answer lies in the 1912 Rules of Golf. The term “Ball Unplayable” was not in the 1912 Rules, and the three dropping options above did not exist. The only option for Whitton was to use Rule #11 under “Rules for Play in Stroke Competitions”. The Rule stated: “A ball may be lifted from any place on the course under penalty of two strokes. A ball so lifted shall be teed and played behind the place where it lay; if this be impossible it shall be teed as near as possible to the place where it lay, but not nearer to the hole”. Note that the 1912 Rules allowed the ball to be teed. To find out what actually happened, the best source is the contemporary newspaper reports, even though these are not completely consistent. In my search through the newspapers of the time I found a fairly detailed report, without biased opinion, in The Sun (Sydney) of Tuesday 17th September 1912, page 2. If Whitton had taken the penalty of two strokes and walked back, presumably along a line directly away from the hole, he would have had to go a long way back to be clear of the trees. He would then have reached a “belt of scrub” and been faced with a blind shot over trees. In the gallery there were Match Committee members who told Whitton he could instead move to the side to tee his ball. Whitton took the side option, played on and finished five strokes ahead of the runners up. After the event there was a great deal of fuss about whether Whitton had broken a rule for which the penalty was disqualification. To cut a long story short, the Match Committee, no doubt influenced by the fact that Whitton was advised by Match Committee members on the spot, decided not to disqualify him. The result remained: Ivo Whitton won the 1912 Australian Open. Was there really a need for all the fuss? The dispute was centred on whether or not it was “impossible” for Whitton to have taken his ball some distance behind the original lie and find a spot to play his next shot under penalty. Drawing up an effective rule is all about semantics. The rule must not involve any ambiguities. In the current Rules, where relief is taken by moving behind the original lie, the Rule makes it very clear what is meant by “behind”. For example take the current Rule #28(b) for an unplayable lie: “Drop the ball behind the point where the ball lay, keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped ...”. What is meant by “behind” in the 1912 Rule #11 is open to several interpretations. Almost anywhere that is not nearer the hole is a perfectly reasonable and valid interpretation. Taking the 1912 Rule #11 literally, it would seem that Whitton did not break that Rule. A specific Unplayable Ball rule, applicable to both match play and stroke play, was introduced into the Rules of Golf on 1st May 1921. The only relief allowed was stroke and distance. Michael Sheret Australian Golf Heritage Society Note: AGHS runs a service where they will try to give an accurate answer to any question on golf history submitted to: website@ australiangolfheritage.org.au marked for the History Sub-Committee OR through www.australiangolfheritage.org.au. The Un-Whitton rule?
Inside Golf, May 2017
Inside Golf July 2017