Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Golf in the City and Rule 18-1



            For those of you that work the San Francisco City Championship, you will probably be incredibly disappointed to hear that I had never been to Lincoln Park until this past weekend.  The legend of the SF City as a breeding ground for incredibly unique Rules situations has grown and grown to the point where a good chunk of questions that are used on the NCGA exam come from incidents during that tournament.  Well, Saturday I had the opportunity to finally play the golf course and find out what all the hullabaloo was all about.
            Lincoln Park is truly an experience in golf “in the city.”  The holes are very close together and it is a place for the average golfer or the occasional golfer to go and enjoy a round.  What that means is that every hole is a veritable war zone, with shouts of “Fore!” coming from every direction and you’re never really sure whether you’re in the line of fire or not.  That said, I can say my experience was a truly positive one and I recommend to anyone who has not played Lincoln to give it a shot.  It may not be in the best condition, but some of the views on the course are truly unmatched.

View from the Hill of the 7th fairway to the City
            Of course, my experience at Lincoln Park would not have been complete without a true Rules incident, very similar to the kind that occurs regularly during the SF City.
            On the 13th hole, the one par-five on the course, the tee shot is through a “chute” of sorts and over a hill making the landing area blind for a scratch golfer like myself. (The players I was with claimed to have never seen anyone hit the ball over the hill).  Sure enough, I hit a solid drive, down the right side and over the hill.  We had waited a bit of extra time just in case the group in front of us was still in range.  When I arrived at where my ball should have been, a group from the 1st hole had three players hitting from right around the area of my ball.  And sure enough, my ball was nowhere to be found. I searched for a couple minutes and then asked one of the players from the group on #1 if he had seen a Nike and he replied that he had seen my ball rolling in the fairway right next to the group in front of us.  So I confirmed, you definitely saw a ball rolling in the fairway and it went right next to the group in front of us?  Could they have picked it up?  He answered yes.
            For a weekend round, that was good enough for me to proceed under Rule 18-1.  I had virtual certainty that the group in front had picked up and taken my ball from the fairway, so I was entitled to replace a ball without penalty.  Even with the assistance of the random golfer on the other hole, the original spot was no determinable so I had to operate under Rule 20-3c to get a ball back in play.  We determined as near as possible to where we believed the original laid and I dropped a ball at that spot.  Of course, Rules nerd that I am, even during this casual weekend round of golf, when the ball rolled closer to the hole than that spot on the drop, I re-dropped.  And when it did it again, I placed the ball where it first struck the course on the re-drop.  Rule 20-2c at its finest.
            I played my ball onto the green and when I walked up the group in front was still on the 14th tee.  I walked over and asked if they had seen a Nike golf ball in the fairway and first they answered no, until I pointed to the Nike golf ball sitting in their cup holder.  I picked it up and sure enough it was mine, marked with “Go Dawgs!” on the side and all. Glad I ran into that other group or I would've ended up back at the tee...