Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Live from Martis Camp: US Junior Amateur Round 2

    Today was an eventful day as it was my first official assignment as a referee for a USGA championship.  I went with the 12:35 grouping off tee #1 and by the first green I already was involved.  A player had a questionable mark on his line of putt and proceeded to ask a fellow-competitor if it was a ball mark.  His fellow-competitor was not sure, but thought it was a spike mark so the player asked the other fellow-competitor.  He wasn't sure but was thinking it may be a scuff mark.  By this time I had made my way around the green (never walk on the green unless necessary) to examine the mark.  From my playing experience I could clearly tell it was a previously repaired ball mark and let the player know he could repair it or tap it down more if he wished.
     And then on the second hole I had my only true ruling of the day, although there were two other minor situations.
    The player's ball came to rest next to the cart path such that it was clear that the lip of the path interfered with his follow through (area of intended swing).  He started looking at an area about a full club-length away as his nearest point of relief so I pointed out his actual NPR which was a mere 3 inches or so from the original spot.  He measured his club-length backwards and asked if he could remove the stones around the area before dropping.  I explained that he could, provided they were loose and not embedded.  That comment required elaboration under the circumstances so I explained that if there was any resistance when trying to remove a rock he needed to leave it be.  After clearing the area of pebbles and rocks, his first drop rolled closer to the hole than his NPR.  His re-drop rolled into a position that still had interference from the path and I pointed to the spot where the re-drop first struck the course and he placed it.
    Later in the round, one of the other player's struck a poor tee shot on the par-3 17th hole which struck the rocks and bounced backwards into bad country. Because the ball could be lost, he hit a provisional into the middle of the green. I told the player that he should let me know if he wanted me to look for it because if he found it, the provisional had to be abandoned.  He explained he would take a brief look in areas that he could benefit from finding it but otherwise did not want to look in the deep rocks and bushes.  He didn't see it after his brief search and played his provisional.
   The only other ruling of the day was at the third hole, and it wasn't much of a ruling as the player proceeded without advice.  He had hit his tee shot into the water hazard guarding the green and proceeded directly to the drop zone.  His drop rolled slightly closer to the hole in the drop zone and he gave a brief glance at me to which I gave the thumbs up.  And that was that.
   It was a relatively uneventful day for rulings but it was a fantastic experience nonetheless.  I got to experience the USGA "Call-Up" Policy on the drivable 16th hole, including the dialogue and details needed to determine whether a call-up was necessary.  One of the two players who went for it actually did drive the green and made birdie!  (That same player had reached the 602 yard 10th hole in two earlier in the round).  I also saw the USGA's 4-checkpoint system at work.  My group finished only 1 minute over the set time-par and that was only because we were waiting on the group in front of us who had numerous situations over the last 3 holes (we were 7 minutes under pace walking off the 15th green).

    I do need to follow up from the Rules question in my previous post.  The situation received a lot of discussion and eventually we received the final ruling from the USGA, both at Golf House and on-site at the US Junior Amateur.  The ruling is reversed (please read previous post as I will not re-print the entire situation).  The ruling is that when a player drops (but does not play) a ball under an inapplicable Rule and then finds his original, 20-6 applies and he must pick up the improperly substituted ball and proceed with the original.  In other rulings that had led to the previous article's decision, the player had played the ball dropped under an inapplicable Rule.  Once the player plays a ball dropped under an inapplicable Rule, the Committee must determine the Rule that applied to the situation.  When the ball has not been played, it has been dropped "otherwise not in accordance with the Rules" and the error may be corrected under Rule 20-6.
    Just remember that even simple questions may be far more complicated than the initial appearance.  The discussion over this ruling lasted two days and bounced back and forth between the two outcomes several times before we reached this conclusion.  Fun stuff!
  And PS:  For all NCGA officials you may be interested to know that Pace of Play dominates the USGA airwaves as well...

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