Finding your opponent’s ball doesn’t always make him happy

2012-08-10 00:00

MOST regular golfers know the rules of golf. They are by no means experts, but they know enough to get by without making obvious mistakes and avoiding getting themselves penalised or disqualified.

There is also a small percentage of golfers who know the rules very well and it must be said, that these golfers in certain circumstances, have an advantage over the golfers with average rules knowledge. An example of this was when Sam was playing in the monthly mug. He was playing well as was one of his playing companions, Fred, who happened to be his marker. Their scores were equal after 16 holes, they were in the same division and they had a small wager on the game. Sam hit a bad tee shot at the 17th hole, a par three. He hit behind the ball, it was a dreadful shot and it went into long grass short of the green. Sam said a few choice words and mentioned that he probably wouldn’t find that ball, so he told Fred that he is going to hit a provisional ball.

The provisional shot was a real beauty, it flew straight at the flag-stick, pitched on the green, rolled up to the hole and stopped just a couple of millimetres short. Sam said: “Don’t bother looking for my first ball, I’m declaring it lost. My provisional ball is now the ball in play.” With such a good shot, it was obvious for Sam not to find his original ball, so he walked past where it entered the long grass.

But Fred walked to the exact spot where Sam’s first ball went and he found it. Sam wasn’t happy. He wasn’t sure of the rule so he played both balls. He declared his first ball unplayable, took a penalty drop and made a five with it. He made a bogey four with his provisional ball. Now Fred had been playing golf a lot longer than Sam and was quite an expert on the rules of golf.

Walking off the 17th green, Fred told Sam that a provisional ball will only become the ball in play if the original can’t be found – and Fred found the ball. Sam should have declared the ball lost before hitting the provisional. Fred won the wager and took Sam’s money. Sam wasn’t too bothered about that but it did bother him that Fred went looking for the ‘lost’ ball. Did Fred look for it as a matter of courtesy and kindness or was he fully aware of the rules? There are some rules of golf that seem both unfair and illogical.

From the 19th hole

AFTER examining a male patient, the doctor took the man’s wife to one side. “I must be honest with you”, said the doctor in an ominous tone. “I don’t like the look of your husband.”

“Me neither,” said the wife. “But he brings home a good salary and he’s good with the kids.”

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