Saturday, February 15, 2014

Live from Stanford: 2014 Peg Barnard Invitational

            The 2014 tournament season is officially underway for me with the Peg Barnard Invitational at Stanford.  Last year was an incredible year where we witnessed NCAA history when Mariah Stackhouse shot an opening nine 26 en route to a final round 61 and an individual victory.  So far through one round, this year has not been quite as eventful.
            Only one remotely notable situation occurred and it leads to what the topic of discussion will be for today:  drop zones.
            A misunderstanding of a local Rule led to a couple players being told their only option for relief from an obstruction was a drop zone that had been provided as an additional option.  Fortunately, I don’t believe either player was significantly disadvantaged but it raised the issue of how to use drop zones.
            Most of us are familiar with drop zones for water hazards, but drop zones can be used for many reasons.  The text in the Rules of Golf Appendix I-B reads, “If the Committee considers that it is not feasible or practicable to proceed in accordance with a Rule providing relief, it may establish dropping zones in which balls may or must be dropped when taking relief.  Generally, such dropping zones should be provided as an additional option to those available under the Rule itself, rather than being mandatory.”  At Stanford, we have two kinds of dropping zones. There are four drop zones provided as additional options for relief under Rule 26-1 (Water Hazards), and there are two situations where drop zones are used as additional options for relief under Rule 24-2 (Immovable Obstructions).
            The drop zones for relief under Rule 24-2 are in place because determining the nearest point of relief in these situations is can potentially be excessively difficult.  In both cases, in order to not go closer to the hole, the nearest point of relief may be a significant distance from where the ball lies.  So on hole 7, two drop zones have been installed and the player may use the nearer of the two, and on hole 8 one drop zone has been installed as an additional option. 
            The reason I’ve made these an additional option rather than mandatory is because there are potential cases where a player could not only determine the nearest point of relief quickly, but that point would be a better option than the drop zone.  When a better option is possible, it would be unwise to take away that option by making the drop zone mandatory.  Typically, we see mandatory drop zones used with TIO’s (temporary immovable obstructions).  This is usually to protect the TIO itself (i.e., TV towers with cables or the camera itself).
            It is also interesting to note that drop zones do not have to be white-painted circles.  We are most familiar with this form because it is easy and common.  But a drop zone can be established in many shapes and ways.  This year for the Peg Barnard, because the water hazard drop zones are on the forward teeing areas where the membership has expressed dismay at the white-painted circles in the past, we have defined the dropping zones using blue tee-markers, and the drop zone is actually the size and shape of a teeing ground (a rectangle two club-lengths in depth defined by the outside edges of the tee-markers).  If you implement this method, it is important to note how the drop zone is defined on your notice to competitors and it may be useful to remind players that they may not tee the ball when using those drop zones.
            Some other interesting Rules regarding drop zones:

  • The ball may roll closer to the hole when dropped in a drop zone.
  • The ball does not have to stay within the drop zone so long as it does not roll more than two club-lengths from where it first strikes the course.
  • The player does not have to stand within the drop zone when dropping.

For the complete text regarding the use of drop zones, see Appendix I-B-8 in the Rules of Golf or the Decisions on the Rules of Golf.

For scores and info on the Peg Barnard go to

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