Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 U.S. Intercollegiate Wrap-Up

            The 2013 Stanford U.S. Intercollegiate has come to a close and for the first time in six years Stanford defended on their home turf with an impressive showing.  Four of their players finished in the top 10, with Patrick Rodgers finishing second after opening with a pair of 66’s. 
            As a Rules Official I have to remain impartial during the event, but I have to admit I’m extremely pleased to have both the Stanford events I’ve worked won by Stanford this year.
            From a Rules perspective, the week was extremely quiet, which is a good thing for the event, a bad thing for my blogging.  I did have several interesting calls that I will highlight:

Adjustable Driver Head Loosened

            Late into the second round I received a call from Stanford’s Coach asking if a player may tighten a previously loosened driver head.  If the head became loosened in the normal course of play the answer is yes.  If the player loosened the head other than in the normal course of play the answer is no, and must not use the driver for the remainder of the round.  If you’re looking for a reference by Decision, you’re not likely to find it.  Adjustable woods have not yet been tackled in the Decisions book.
            Fortunately, the Rule covers this just fine.  Rule 4-3a states that if during the stipulated round a club is damaged in the normal course of play he has 3 options, 1) use the club in its damaged state, 2) repair the club so long as in doing so he does not unduly delay play, or 3) only if the club is unfit for play he may replace the club so long as the new club isn’t currently selected for play by another player on the course and he doesn’t delay play to do so.  Tightening a loosened head would fall under option 2.

Ball Covered By Sand

            During the final round the UC-Davis Coach called me to confirm whether it was permissible to use a rake in order to find a ball covered in sand in a bunker.  I pointed him to Rule 12-1a, which permits the player to touch or move the sand in order to find or identify the ball.  If the ball is moved, there is no penalty and it must be replaced.  Once found, the lie must be re-created except that if the ball was completely covered a small portion of the ball may be left visible.
            He followed up with asking whether this would be permissible in sand in a water hazard.  Again the answer is yes.  Rule 12-1a applies to a ball covered in sand anywhere on the course, which includes bunkers, water hazards and lateral water hazards.

Burrowing Animal Holes

            A rover was following the last two groups and on the 16th hole a player hit the ball well into some high grass and sure enough, into a burrowing animal hole.  And of course, the hole was not by its lonesome.  The rover astutely called on the radio to confirm that relief needed to be taken from only the one burrowing animal hole and that if another hole interfered after dropping, it was not a re-drop but a new situation.  He got it right, both in using the radio and the ruling itself.  Decision 20-2c/7 tells us that a second burrowing animal hole is a new condition and if, after dropping when taking relief from one hole another interferes, that would be a new condition from which the player may or may not take relief from.  Do not lift and re-drop the ball in that case.  
          If a collection of holes is in an area such that it would be improbable not to continually have interference the Committee should either mark the entire area as ground under repair or invoke the Note to 25-1 and state that interference from a burrowing animal with a player's stance in and of itself is not interference.  This would decrease the likelihood of having to make multiple drops. Also, a good Decision when dealing with burrowing animal holes in setting up a golf course is 33-8/32.5

Flower Power

            During the final round it was brought to the Committee’s attention that a player had played from the flowerbed near the 14th green.  The flowerbed was listed in the local Rules as an area of ground under repair from which relief was mandatory.  This information came about because a member of the Committee had just assisted a player in taking relief from the area and a volunteer spotter commented that a player from a previous group had played from that area.  He did not know which group or which player.
            For the Committee, the information is important, but if no players in that group were aware of the penalty and did not mention the situation at scoring, there would be nothing we could do.  Although we know the Rule was breached, it would be impracticable to ask every group in scoring if they had a player who played from the 14th flowerbed.  So yes, there is a player who got away with one.  To all you players out there, please, PLEASE read the local Rules for every event you play in.
            Had a member of the group brought the situation to our attention at scoring, the penalty is simple.  The player would incur a penalty of two strokes for playing from a wrong place in breach of the local Rule.  The breach would not be a serious one and playing out with that ball was correct. 
            In discussing the situation, the fact that the area currently had no flowers made us believe more players might not think of the area as a flowerbed.  During most months, it is filled with white and red flowers making a red Stanford S.  We still didn’t want players trouncing around in the soil there and left it as a mandatory relief area.  One official then suggested that I add plastic flowers to my tournament travel kit so I can accurately define which areas are flowerbeds in case they don’t contain actual flowers.

Double Relief

            The cement wall lining near the 7th green has been dealt with in many, many ways by the Rules over the years at Stanford.  For this year’s event, the wall was an obstruction with out of bounds defined by the fence above the wall.  With a cart path running nearby, this meant that there was a possibility a player would come to rest in a spot where they would take relief from the wall, drop on the cart path, and then need to take relief from the path.
            Where it got interesting is that when this happened, the ball came to rest near the wall in an area where there were bushes and other junk.  The player did have a reasonable stroke and was given relief from the wall and he dropped on the path.  His relief from the path however, was back in the bushes and in a spot where he would not have interference from the wall.  The player decided to play from the path.

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