Saturday, April 20, 2013

Oops! Double Hit Chip


            Sure enough as soon as I tune into the LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko’olina, something happens.  Hee Kyung Seo called a Rules Official over to determine whether she had double hit the ball.  From the video replay it appears she struck the ground moving the ball first, and then may have again hit the ball in motion right afterward.
            The penalty for double-hitting a golf ball is one stroke and the original stroke counts.  The ball must be played as it lies (where it came to rest).  Seo hesitated and called in a Rules official because she was not quite sure if she was supposed to continue or replace the ball.
            There was some argument whether or not hitting the ground first and then the ball counts as a double hit.  The answer is yes.  Decision 14-4/3 states, “Even though the club itself did not initially strike the ball, the ball was put into motion due to the stroke; therefore, Rule 14-4 applies.”
          ( As a side note, had Seo not recognized the double-hit and eventually signed her score card without the one-stroke penalty, THIS would be a situation where Decision 33-7/4.5 could apply.  If it were not plausible for the player to know she had double hit the ball and only video replay showed that she did, the Committee could assign the one stroke penalty after she signs her score card without disqualifying her for not including the penalty in her score.)
            I like how the LPGA is handling this.  Rather than making the ruling right on the spot, they’re taking the time to go back to the TV trailer and review the footage.  If there is any doubt, it will likely be resolved against the player. 
Final Ruling:
  After reviewing the video evidence, LPGA official Brad Alexander and the crew ruled that Seo had not double hit the ball and was not subject to a one-stroke penalty under Rule 14-4 (nor was she in breach of Rule 14-1 by spooning the ball as was briefly discussed by the commentators).  The previous discussion is relevant though.  
   While she did strike the ground first and then after that, the golf ball, this instance differs from the situation above in Decision 14-4/3.  In Seo's case, she struck the ground first, but that initial strike of the ground did not put the ball into motion.  It is only after the club bounces and strikes the ball that her ball first moves, and there was no conclusive evidence that the club struck the ball a second time after that.  It's a good ruling and it happened because they took the time to review the evidence, and obtained second opinions.  We don't always have television to assist with difficult situations like this, but we always have the option of using the radio to get a second opinion, to confirm a ruling or just to get another set of eyes and ears on a situation.

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