Saturday, August 3, 2013

Changing the Facts and the GPS Reality

   Over the last week I had two particularly interesting Rules situations occur, either in one of my events or via an email question.  The first is an extremely important revelation that occurred during the Associate Club Sectional Qualifying at Poppy Ridge last Thursday.

The GPS Reality

   For the past few years, the issue with distance measuring devices and smart phones has been a relatively simple one.  If you're using a smart phone later than the iPhone 3GS, there's a compass app on your phone that makes the device illegal for use as a DMD.  In particular, it was understood that you  were not able to remove that app from an iPhone.  So if a player used an iPhone as a DMD with a golf GPS app or otherwise, it resulted in disqualification.
   At Poppy Ridge, I found out that the app can indeed be removed.  I received a radio call that a player had been using his cell phone as a DMD throughout the round.  He had misunderstood the directions from the starter and believed it was ok.  When he came in I began to explain the problem with using a smart phone as a DMD.  I was going to show the player the problem by showing him the compass app, but when he handed his phone to me and I opened the utilities folder only to not find the compass app.  I asked him where it was and he said he had removed it.  Baffled, I asked him how, because I was under the impression that it could not be removed.  A simple enough task, when hooked up to your computer and iTunes it's actually easy to delete.
    This completely changed my view of how I need to handle smart phone GPS use.  It use to be an almost assured DQ.  But after reviewing the applications he had on his phone (without prying too far, I wasn't trying to find a problem but rather reassure myself and the player that there was nothing that did cause a breach) it turned out that the player was using his smart phone as a DMD legally.  This was especially good because in the format we were playing, his use of the smart phone, had it been illegal, would have taken his entire team down with him (four-ball stroke play takes the partner and the other side had X'd out on a hole taking out the team for not having enough eligible scores in a two best-ball of four format).
    This now means that every smart phone DMD situation must be thoroughly sorted out.  If the player has removed the compass app, and does not have any other apps on the phone that might affect his play (general temperature apps like Weather Channel have generally been accepted as they do not give precise information measuring immediate surroundings) the use of the phone as a DMD is acceptable.  Wow.


Deleting the compass app is not as easy as previously described, but it is still possible.  Golfers across the web have come together and figured out how to do it.  The process involves "jailbreaking" the phone so that you can view the internal files as you would in Windows Explorer.  Then you can delete whatever apps you want by deleting the file folder.  However, I don't recommend doing this unless you know what you're doing...

Changing the Facts

    I received an email question with a situation worded exactly as follows:

"I played in a match play tournament and called out my opponent for having 15 clubs in his bag.  I pointed this out on the 17th hole.  The penalty is the loss of 2 holes and he must let me know what club he is going to remove from his bag.  I was down 4 holes on the 17th hole but with the two hole penalty that put me down 2 holes with two to play.  My opponent did not remove the 15th club from his bag nor did he tell me [which club was out of play].  My question is, is he disqualified for not removing the 15th club?  I would appreciate your response."

    As you can tell, there are some important details to sort out.  The glaring one of course...4 down on the 17th hole?  Umm...I think we all see the problem there.  If he's 4 down on the 17th the match was over either following the 15th hole (4 & 3) or 16th hole (4 & 2).  However, a review of Rule 2-5 would reveal this possibility:
   If they had completed the match and continued playing prior to the result of the match being announced (playing their way in as is common with club matches) and he first became aware of the 15th club on the 17th hole, his claim was valid if made prior to the result of the match being announced.
    And although he misstated the penalty for such a breach (it is an adjustment to the state of the match penalty, not loss of hole), he had adjusted the match standing correctly.  The breach of 4-4a for having more than 14 clubs would have resulted in a 2 hole adjustment, and the match would need to be resumed at whichever point the opponent had originally won the match (either from the 16th tee or 17th tee - see Decision 2-5/5.5).
    Then, if the opponent did fail to remove the 15th club or declare which club was out of play, he would be disqualified for a breach of Rule 4-4c.  This slightly off email question might actually be on to something!  But if the facts change...
    I emailed him back stating that I needed a few questions answered before I could make a final ruling.  When did he become aware of the 15th club?  When was the match won, after 15 or 16 holes?  And when did he not remove the club, after being told of the breach or was he referring simply to the fact he hadn't removed it from the start?
    Only the first question required an answer:  he had become aware of the 15th club on the 10th hole.  Whoops.
    Going back to Rule 2-5, if the circumstances giving rise to the claim were known at the 10th hole, a claim would only be valid if made prior to starting the 11th hole.  Because he tried to hold on to the information, his claim was not valid. The match stands as played with the opponent winning 4 and 3.
    If nothing else, these two situations highlight the need to gather all the facts prior to making a ruling.  Each and every detail could have a significant impact on the ruling.

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