Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Dad's Putter

            Everyone has sentimental, nostalgic days for various reasons.  Today is one of those days for me.  It’s my father’s 66th birthday.  He died in a private plane crash in March of 2006 while I was still in school at the University of Georgia.  This article won’t be his story, but today I am reminded of something he always did when we played golf.  He always marked the golf ball on the putting green with the toe of his putter before he cleaned it, and for the longest time I thought it wasn’t permitted.

            Then I got myself a Decisions book.  And this brief article will be about how my dad had it right all along because of what Decision 20-1/16 says.  Decision 20-1/16 is titled “Method Used to Mark Position of Ball: and describes the various acceptable and unacceptable methods for marking a golf ball.  Sure enough, while it is not recommended, placing the toe of the club at the side of, or behind the ball is acceptable.  So is using a tee, a loose impediment or scratching a line (so long as the putting green is not tested and a putting line is not indicated).

            What is not permitted is to use a pre-existing mark or blemish to mark the golf ball.  It is “necessary to physically mark the position of the ball.”  The Note to Rule 20-1 recommends using a ball-marker, small coin or similar object, but it uses the word “should” which as we know in Rules jargon means, “You ought to do this, but you’re not penalized if you don’t.”

            So this one’s for you dad, for abiding by the Rules (at least in this instance) and for all the memories of your putter Woody holding steady as the ball gets a simple wipe of the thumb.

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