Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lowest Scores Ever Likely in the Bahamas

            The Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic is digging into the Rule book this week and is taking advantage of the Committee’s ability to define the course.  Due to heavy rains and course flooding the current plan is for three stipulated rounds of 12 holes each, to be played in a peculiar order: 10-6-7-4-5-11-12-13-14-2-3-8 according to the LPGA website.  For those of you wondering how this is within the Rules, or what Rules govern this Committee action, let’s take a closer look at the applicable sections of the Rules of Golf.
            Like most Rules situations, we must first start with the Definitions.  The definition of Stipulated Round tells us the two things we need to know: The “stipulated round” consists of playing the holes of the course in their correct sequence unless otherwise authorized by the Committee.  The number of holes in a stipulated round is 18 unless a smaller number is authorized by the Committee.  As to extension of stipulated round in match play, see Rule 2-3.
            Really, everything we need to know is in that Definition right there.  How can the Committee use 12 hole rounds?  The Committee is permitted to authorize a stipulated round of any number of holes 18 or smaller.  If we look back in history, the first 12 Open Championships hosted at Prestwick were all 12 hole stipulated rounds.  So shortened rounds actually goes back 150 years.
How about that crazy order?  The Committee may authorize players to play the course in any order they wish.  We most commonly see this with the Committee authorizing players to start at the 10th hole and continue in order from there.  Or perhaps it’s a local club event and it’s a shotgun start.  We also saw an abnormal sequencing of holes at the 2009 President’s Cup at TPC Harding Park.  There the Committee renumbered the holes to match the sequence they wanted the players to play.
            Interestingly enough, this means players must be extremely careful that they play the holes in the sequence determined by the Committee.  Given the order above, a player who proceeds from the 10th hole to the 11th hole and tees off will have played from a wrong teeing ground and is subject to penalty under Rule 11-5 and must correct the error.  Even though the 11th hole will be played, the sequence determined by the Committee requires players to play the 6th hole after completing the 10th.  Basically, players need to throw out the old numbers and just play in the order they’re told.
            Abnormal weather brings abnormal situations, so I’m sure we’ll have something come up down in the Bahamas besides more Twitter pics of the LPGA ladies enjoying the pool and beach.

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