Saturday, February 16, 2013

Peg Barnard Invitational Round 1

With day 1 in the books it's safe to take a look back at all the great things that happened.  First, the weather was amazing and it looks as though we're going to dodge a bullet with the potential frost.  But that isn't Rules news. 

We had a shotgun start in groups of 3 and the set pace of play was 4 hours and 41 minutes.  Not cheetah speed by any means, but no small feat for a collegiate shotgun either.  All groups finished under pace of play and all scorecards had been returned within 5 hours and 10 minutes.  If you've ever worked a collegiate shotgun your jaw probably just dropped.

Most of the rulings today were simple and typical.  Ground under repair, obstruction relief, french drain questions, the usual suspects.  One ruling stood out as it was complicated and thought provoking.

The 12th hole at Stanford University Golf Course is a par 5 with the tee shot over a ravine that transitions from a water hazard to lateral water hazard on both sides.  The player severely hooked her tee shot.  While the official went forward to pinpoint the location where it last crossed the margin of the lateral portion of the hazard, the player stepped forward and dropped and played under 26-1b with relation to where her ball last crossed the margin of the regular water hazard on the other side of the ravine. Unfortunately, that was not the correct place.  The rover was called in to address the wrong place ruling and here's where it got even more interesting.

First, there is a two-stroke penalty for a breach of 26-1 in addition to the initial one-stroke penalty for proceeding under 26-1. It was determined that because she played an unobstructed shot from a pristine lie rather than an obstructed shot from a horrible lie, the player gained a significant advantage and therefore her breach was a serious one and needed to be corrected in accordance with 20-7c.  She then dropped under 26-1c with relation to the correct reference point and played on.

The debate that ensues is what constitutes a serious breach.  Decision 26-1/21 details how a distance advantage can constitute a serious breach.  A player that plays several yards closer to the hole has not committed a serious breach, whereas a player that plays 50 yards closer has.  In this particular situation distance was not the main consideration as the player actually dropped incorrectly from about 50-80 yards farther from the hole.  However, Note 1 to 20-7c states, "A competitor is deemed to have committed a serious breach of the applicable Rule if the Committee considers he has gained a significant advantage as a result of playing from a wrong place."

Playing from a pristine lie from further away potentially allowed the player to use a longer club and advance the ball more successfully than where her drop should have been.  The Committee can also consider this a significant advantage and therefore a serious breach. It was an unfortunate turn of events for the player, and it stings even more that if she had proceeded under 26-1a (stroke and distance) instead of dropping 20 yards in front of the teeing ground under 26-1b, there would have been no wrong place penalty. 

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