Pop quiz: What’s the only document more complicated than the USA’s IRS tax code? You guessed it, the Rules of Golf!
I’ve just read through, ok glossed through the new and immediate rules decisions by the USGA and R&A regarding video evidence, disputes, and decisions. Golf has had such a bad reputation because of things like the recent Lexi incident the governing bodies obviously felt it immediately necessary to do something. In regular fashion, they added more language to the rules which doesn’t address the main problem.
If the committee concludes that such facts could not reasonably have been seen with the naked eye and the player was not otherwise aware of the potential breach, the player will be deemed not to have breached the Rules.
The above line is the key to the new changes, and I completely agree with the sentiment. If it isn’t humanly possible to conclude there’s a breach in the rules, then there are no rules broken. That’s the good part, but not the elephant in the room.
What’s completely missing from the new rules is the way that rules infractions are discovered, reported, and the timing in which these notifications happen. I’m talking mainly about the viewer call-ins, emails, or social networking of rules infractions. In the case of Lexi Thompson, she was notified and penalized an entire day later, and during her final round. In my opinion, any possible infractions and related penalties should have an expiration date. Perhaps once the next day’s tournament tees off, all possible issues from the previous round become invalid. If there isn’t an upcoming round, perhaps one hour after each player finishes the tournament is the point at which any questions about rules violations become moot.
That time limit can apply to any source of the possible infraction, whether another player, a spectator, a rules official, or some fat dude sitting on his couch eating Cool Ranch Doritos who has nothing better to do than shuttle his DVR back and forth 12,000 times to see if Segio’s ball moved on the 13th at Augusta in the final round of the Masters. That has to be the worst run-on sentence I’ve ever typed, but it sure rolls off the tongue nicely.
In my opinion (yes I realize nobody is asking for it) there should be NO call-ins. No emails. No tweets of rules infractions. There’s no other sport on the planet who allows such a thing and it’s one more way the golf industry makes itself look more dumb in the eyes of the general public.
Here’s where my opening tee shot ended up in my Tuesday league one afternoon. Easy ruling right?
I’m not Tiger Woods in 2009 and don’t have 20 people to move a rock for me. So play it as it lies or take an unplayable lie penalty, right?
Wait a sec though.
This rock is also the 150 yard marker on the hole. Hmmmm. Free drop? Not because it is the 150 marker. Rocks and shrubs which are natural things cannot by definition be immovable obstructions. An obstruction is an unnatural thing, like a sprinkler head, bridge, building, yardage pole, drain, cart path.
Bushes or Boulders used as Yardage Markers
Q.Our course has installed bushes that serve as 150-yard markers. Are players entitled to relief from these bushes?
A.No. A bush is a natural object, not artificial, thus it is not an obstruction (Definition of “Obstruction”). The answer is the same regardless of whether it is used to indicate yardage.
Rory McIlory Club Throw
A couple of months ago Rory McIlory launched an iron into the lake at Trump Doral. In an awkward moment, the Donald gave Rory the club back on the range the next day. Then this past week McIlory tossed a 3-wood at the BMW after he was dissatisfied with his shot.
Last week I watched a golfer on my home course, a former basketball player who is well known in Salt Lake (no it is not John Stockton or Karl Malone), toss his driver off of the 18th tee behind him. The white-headed TaylorMade bounced across the pavement of a local road and ended up near the 4th tee. He had thrown his club out of bounds. I yelled over to him, “you threw your club out of bounds. You are going to have to throw another one off the tee.” He didn’t think that comment was very funny. I did though.
These club throwing events I’ve witnessed recently have inspired me to post the Rules of Golf Club Throwing, so those of you golfers who throw a club know exactly how to proceed after.
Rule 69.6: Throw Club In Hazard
In the case of the first McIlory toss into the lake at Doral, rule 69.6 comes into play. The rule states that if a club is thrown into a hazard the golfer has several options:
- Incur one throw penalty. Re-throw the club from the original position.
- If the club is throwable from the hazard, the player can throw it from the hazard as long as he doesn’t ground the club or move loose impediments.
- Incur one throw penalty. Take a two club drop no nearer the hole at the point in which the club entered the hazard, then throw the club from there.
- Incur one throw penalty. Pick a point on the opposite side of the hazard, equidistant to the point the club entered the hazard and throw the club from there.
Rule 69.6 A: Throw Club Out Of Bounds
In the case where the basketball player threw his club out of bounds from the tee there is only one option:
- Incur one throw penalty. Re-throw club from tee or original position club was thrown from.
Rule 69.6 B: Thrown Club Lost
I watched a player throw his driver in disgust up at Soldier Hollow Golf Course a couple of years ago. He threw the driver into some very deep grass. The grass was not a hazard area and it was not out of bounds. A player in my group yelled over to the thrower, “you will have to throw a provisional in case you can’t find the first one.”
The options a player has after throwing a club which may be lost are as follows:
- Throw a provisional club. Declare to playing partners that the club is a provisional. In the event the first throw is not found, the provisional throw becomes the club in play and a one throw penalty is assessed.
- The player can declare the first throw lost and throw a second club, under penalty of one throw.
- The player can proceed to look for the first thrown club and throw it as it lies if found. If the club is not found, the player must return to the original throwing position and take a “throw and distance” penalty, throwing a new club.
In the case of McIlory’s throw at the BMW yesterday, the club was not lost and not in a hazard, or unthrowable. The throw would simply count as a throw and he would throw the next one where it lies.
Rory McIlory has a few options at this point, following throwing his club into the lake as per Rules of Golf 32.0A-3-A-Niner-6969, subsection B-989-E-Bravo-Niner.
- He can play a new club from the same position he threw the last one under penalty of one throw.
- He could drop a club within two club lengths of where the club entered the water hazard and throw a new club under penalty of one throw.
- Finally, he could take the point in which the club entered the hazard and drop a new club as far back as he wants, in line with the pin, under penalty of one throw.