Friday, March 8, 2013

Live from Seattle: Rules School Day 2

            Day 2 is complete at Rules School here in Seattle and it was a doozey of a day.  Starting with Rule 20, we also made it through Rules 15 and 21-28.  There were a couple important thoughts that I would like to share about the principles of the Rules and also my one shining moment (I’ve now met my quota for the year):

“You’re Stuck with What You Got Right”

            Whether it’s his quote or not, I give John Van Der Borght credit for the phrase, “You’re stuck with what you got right.”  The discussion was about changing relief options when re-dropping. 
            To simplify so all Rules followers can follow - beginners and advanced alike - we re-drop under several different Rules.  
  • Rule 20-2a requires a player to re-drop when a dropped ball strikes any person or equipment of any player before or after it strikes a part of the course.  
  • Rule 20-2c gives us one of our “Lists of 7”, or seven situations where a dropped ball must be re-dropped without penalty.  
  • And then there’s Rule 20-6, or the “Eraser Rule” allows us to correct an improper/incorrect drop without penalty.

            Under Rules 20-2a and 20-2c, when re-dropping we are not permitted to change relief options.  For example, if I am proceeding under 26-1c for relief from a lateral water hazard and the ball rolls back into the hazard, I cannot then decide to proceed under 26-1b.  I dropped the ball correctly under 26-1c and I am required to continue proceeding under 26-1c.
            If, however, I attempt to proceed under Rule 26-1c and drop the ball three club-lengths from where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, when I am correcting the mistake under Rule 20-6, I could then decide to proceed under 26-1b, ie change my relief option.  I could not, however, then decide to play the ball as it lies (without being penalized for moving my ball at rest).  It was correct for me to proceed under Rule 26 and I am bound to Rule 26.  Since I didn’t get the 26-1c part correct, I am not bound to that option.
            Simplifying the ability to change relief options to the statement, “you’re stuck with what you got right,” helps clarify (at least for me) when I am allowed to change.

Playing a Wrong Ball Moving in Water in a Water Hazard

            Several years back the Rule was changed so that you could play a wrong ball out of a hazard.  An important exception remained under Rule 15-3a and 15-3b that there is no penalty for playing a wrong ball moving in water in a water hazard.  I hadn’t given it too much thought, but couldn’t figure out why.
            The answer is simple.  Rule 14-6 allows a player to play a ball moving in water in a water hazard, but with the stipulation that the player must not delay in doing so in order to allow the wind or current to improve the position of the ball. 
            Because a player must play the ball moving in water without delay, this would prevent a player from identifying their ball, which would normally be permitted under Rule 12-2 were the ball lying anywhere else on the course.  Since the Rules don’t give the player the opportunity to identify the ball in this situation it would be unfair to penalize the player for then playing a wrong ball.  How could the player possibly know it was a wrong ball?  This little tidbit gave me a stronger realization of the principles behind the Rules and why we have the Rules as they are.

My Shining Moment

            Consider the following question given after Rule 24:

A players ball lies on top of a discarded score card such that the ball is not touching anything but the score card.  She reaches down and lifts the score card which causes the ball to move and roll a few inches away.  She places a tee in the ground approximately at the spot underneath where the ball originally lay on the score card then lifts and drops the ball as near as possible to that spot not nearer the hole.  The ball hits the ground and rolls a few inches farther from the hole.  The ruling is the player:

a.              Incurs no penalty and must play the ball as it lies
b.              Must correct the error of dropping the ball by lifting and placing it at the spot marked by the tee without penalty.
c.               Incurs one penalty stroke for removing the obstruction before lifting the ball but otherwise has proceeded correctly.
d.              Incurs one penalty stroke and must correct the error of dropping the ball by lifting and placing it at the spot marked by the tee.

Has anyone caught it yet?

Rule 24-1b states, “If the ball lies in or on the obstruction, the ball may be lifted and the obstruction removed.  The ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball lay in or on the obstruction but not nearer the hole.”

How about now?

The Rule states that the ball MAY be lifted and the obstruction removed.  There is no requirement that the ball be lifted first, and under Rule 18-2a, there is no penalty if the ball is moved as the result of moving a movable obstruction. Answers C and D are out.  If the ball lies through the green or in a hazard, the player has proceeded correctly and the answer is A (the intended answer).  If the ball lies on the putting green, the player has dropped when she should have placed and must correct the error under 20-6 by placing the ball at the correct spot.  So if the ball on the score card was on the putting green the correct answer is B.  The question does not tell us where the ball and score card lay and therefore the question has two correct answers depending on where the ball lay.
Yesterday I made the mistake of not reading a Rule correctly and missed the question.  This time I read the Rule and realized the problem with the question and pointed it out.  There’s my one shining moment and good catch for the year…

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