Saturday, May 25, 2013

Colonial DQ, Overton and the Putting Aid


            Today at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Jeff Overton was disqualified under Rule 14-3 for using an artificial device.  While he was waiting to make the turn during his 3rd round, there was a backup at the 10th tee.  He asked a starter if he could use the practice area while he waited, and then went to the practice putting green and used a putting alignment device.  During the stipulated round that is a breach of Rule 14-3 for which the penalty is disqualification.
            There are two Rules at play here that should get some clarification before word of mouth butchers the truth.
            First, Overton was indeed permitted to practice putting or chipping on or near the practice putting green.  Some believe that the Committee is allowed to prohibit such practice, but that is not the case.  Rule 7-2 permits practice putting or chipping on or near the putting green of the hole last played, any practice putting green, or the teeing ground of the next hole to be played provided a practice stroke is not made from a hazard and the player does not unduly delay play.  Note 2 to Rule 7-2 only permits the Committee to prohibit practice putting or rolling a ball on the putting green of the hole last played.  Between holes, a player is always permitted to practice putting or chipping on or near a practice putting green provided the action does not unduly delay play and a stroke is not made from a hazard.
            However, this Rule does not permit a player to practice as they would prior to a round, meaning, training aids, alignment devices and other artificial equipment designed to assist a player are not permitted.  This includes alignment rods, weighted donuts (remember Juli Inkster) or compasses.  When Overton used his putting alignment device he was in breach of Rule 14-3, which unfortunately sends him to Dairy Queen.
            Specifically, Rule 14-3a states that a player may not during a stipulated round make a stroke with an artificial device or unusual equipment that might assist the player in making a stroke.  For those questioning an alignment guide as such a device see Decisions 14-3/10 and 14-3/10.3.

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