Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Winter Match Play Blues

            While Play is suspended at the WGC-Accenture Match Play because it is snowing in Marana, Arizona – heavily I might add – I think it’s the appropriate time to take a look at something very important to match play… Claims.

            You have likely heard about the “two-ball” rule, or Rule 3-3 which allows a player to play out the hole with two balls in the event that they are unsure how to proceed or have a doubtful situation.  Many do not realize that this Rule only applies to stroke play.  In match play, a player is not permitted to complete the hole with two balls in the event of a doubtful situation.  In fact, Decision 3-3/9 explains that a second ball played in match play is a wrong ball, and will result in the player losing the hole if a claim is made.

            So how do you resolve a dispute or doubtful situation in match play?  You make a claim.  I mentioned that a second ball in match play is a wrong ball and the player loses the hole if a claim is made.  If a claim is not made, what happens – nothing.  The hole will stand as played with the original ball. 

            In stroke play, it matters that the correct procedure is followed on every hole and so a breach such as a wrong ball, or a serious breach of playing from a wrong place must be corrected.  It matters because you’re not playing against one person, but the entire field.  In match play, your opponent (or opponents) is the only player concerned with your score.  So if they are ok with an incorrect procedure they do not have to call a penalty.  Always remember that even in match play you cannot agree to waive a Rule of Golf, however, Note 1 to Rule 2-5 states, “A player may disregard a breach of the Rules by his opponent provided there is no agreement by the sides to waive a Rule.”  So when a doubtful situation arises, or you believe a breach of the Rules has occurred, a claim must be made.

            But you can’t just make a claim all willy-nilly.  There is a correct procedure and timeframe that must be followed in order for the Committee to consider a claim.  First, the player must notify his opponent that he is making a claim or wants a ruling, and he must state the facts upon which the claim or ruling is to be based.   Decision 2-5/2 discussed the kinds of statements that do and do not constitute valid claims.  Basically, if you want a ruling or want to make a claim, you should say that – exactly that.

            A claim must also be made in a timely manner and must otherwise fit into the guidelines set by Rule 2-5.  Rule 2-5 clarifies how a valid claim is made at different times throughout the round.  Sometimes you don’t become aware that a breach occurred until a later hole or even after the round.  There are different stipulations to make the claim valid in those cases.  What is clear, however, is that you cannot hold onto a known breach of the Rules until needed.  For example, if you notice that your opponent has started the round with 15 clubs, but on the 15th hole you’re 2 down and want to even the match, you cannot then make a claim.  The fact that there were 15 clubs was not previously unknown to you.

            Rule 2-5 can be complicated, so rather than trying to explain every intricacy I’ve broken the Rule down into the chart below.  Hopefully this will help increase your understanding of Rule 2-5, claims and match play in general.

Rule 2-5: Making a Valid Claim

Timely Manner 
A claim has been made in a timely manner if made as follows:
a.         During the Round – Before any player has played from the next teeing ground
b.         On the Final Hole of the Round – Before all players have left the putting green
c.         After Leaving the Final Putting Green – Before the result of the match has been announced

The circumstances or violation giving rise to the claim became known…

On the Hole in Question (Violation occurred on the same hole)
Claim is valid if -
a.         Made in a timely manner

On a Later Hole (Violation occurred on a prior hole)
Claim is valid if -
a.         Made in timely manner AND
b.         The facts were previously unknown to the player AND
c.         The player had been given wrong information

After the Result of the Match has been announced
Claim is valid if -
a.         The facts were previously unknown to the player at the time the result was announced AND
b.         The player had been given wrong information AND
c.         The opponent knew he had given wrong information

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