Saturday, May 11, 2013

US Open Local Qualifying and Wet Weather

            At Monday’s U.S. Open Local Qualifying at Butte Creek, we got a taste of what the PGA Tour has been facing all year long – weather.  On the Saturday night prior to the event, a nasty storm with tornado watch came through and covered the course in debris, including a downed tree on the fifth hole.  The grounds crew did a spectacular job cleaning up for the qualifying and few of the players could have known how nasty the winds had been just two days before.  Nor was that their concern, however, as a batch of rain and wind of their own came through that Monday morning, increasing the pro shop profits significantly due to players and spectators who were caught completely off guard by rain in Chico in May.

(This little guy came prepared with pint-sized umbrella and all)

            The rain didn’t cause much havoc with the Rules, but it did bring up one interesting situation that we hear about in Rules School and on Rules Exams across the country.

            The 17th hole at Butte Creek Country Club is a long par three over water.  The teeing ground side of the water hazard is low-lying and with the rains the club received the water overflowed the margin of the hazard.  Fortunately, I knew this and was able to prepare my crew of volunteer officials for the possibility of an equity situation.

            First, we have to remember what the status of that overflow water is.  Decision 25/2 tells us that water overflowing from the water hazard is casual water.  Only the water within the margin of the water hazard is in the hazard.  So if we can see the ball in the casual water portion of the overflow, the player is entitled to relief under Rule 25-1b.

Once the ball is in the water, however, it is not always possible to tell whether it is in the casual water or the water hazard.  Fortunately, one of the most commonly used Decisions to describe Equity is Decision 1-4/7 where a ball is lost in either a water hazard or casual water overflowing the hazard.  This Decision tells us that if the ball is not found, the player may not proceed with free relief in accordance with Rule 25-1b, because it is not known that the ball is in the casual water.  So if the player cannot find the ball, but we know the ball is in the water somewhere, the player must proceed under Rule 26-1 with a one stroke penalty.

With the caliber of players we had in the field, this situation did not come up, but the potential was there and that is exactly why we have Equity.

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