If nothing is said, it’s not against the rules

2013-09-06 00:00

THE most popular club competition played in this country in recent years is 4-ball betterball Stableford.

It’s enjoyable to play with a partner against two other players. It’s customary to play for a small wager and because it’s competitive, there is often a bit of banter and gamesmanship between the four players.

Of course the etiquette of the game is observed as well as the rules.

The partners often play as a team on the putting green insofar as putting goes; one putting before other to give his partner a “free putt” for a greater number of Stableford points. However, there is a common occurrence on the putting green that is against the rules.

Let’s say that Harry and Sam are partners and their balls lie just off the green. Harry putts with the flagstick in and his ball comes to rest close to the hole. It’s Sam’s turn to putt from off the green and Harry’s ball is behind the hole. Sam says to his partner, “Leave it there”. Sam didn’t want the ball marked because he wanted to use it as a back-stop for his ball.

It seems that many golfers, who have been playing for a long time, are unaware that this is a serious breach of the rules.

In fact, if they agree not to lift the ball that might assist Sam, both players would be disqualified under rule 22-1. This rule is headed as “Ball assisting or interfering with play”.

In the decisions on the rules of golf book, the rule deals specifically with Sam and Harry’s situation (Rule 22/6). Luckily, one of the playing competitors advised them that the ball cannot be “left there” because it was assisting Sam and it wasn’t fair to the rest of the field. So Harry tapped in his ball without further incident, but it sparked some discussion.

However, there is a remarkable flaw in this rule, a loophole you might say.

What would have happened if Sam had said nothing to Harry and he putted with the ball there in the same place? The answer is — nothing.

If Sam’s ball had hit Harry’s ball, there is no penalty because the ball was off the green. If another player requests the ball to be marked or holed, that must be obeyed.

If nothing is said, it’s not against the rules, but it is a team tactic, therefore that rule should be more specific. Or is it a case of, know the rules and use them to your advantage?

From the 19th hole:

Three old golfers, Sam, Harry and Fred, were sitting together after their weekly game of golf. These are some of the things they were overheard saying to each other:

Sam said: “Childhood is like being drunk. Everybody remembers what you did except you.”

Harry said: “If you think women are the weaker sex, just try pulling the duvet back to your side.”

Fred said: “There’s a strange new trend at the office. People are putting names on food in the company fridge. Yesterday I had a tuna sandwich named Kevin.”

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