Sunday, May 4, 2014

Terminology and Finer Points

            A couple of random goodies to whet your appetite…

            When watching television coverage of PGA or LPGA events, we frequently here commentators refer to “line-of-sight” relief for temporary immovable obstructions like grandstands, scoreboards or TV towers.  There is no such thing as “line-of-sight” relief, however, and the correct term to use is line of play.
            The Local Rule in Appendix I for Temporary Immovable Obstructions provides relief for ball that has interference on the player’s line of play.  Line of sight is never used as a term.  The difference is actually significant because a sight-line might be different than the line of play and a line of play does not require a visual connection (meaning you don’t have to see the hole for it to be on your line of play).
            Interestingly enough, there are actually two Decisions that discuss “line of sight” but in reality, when looking at the text, they are both referring to line of play.  While the two terms are frequently and commonly interchanged, it would be best to use the correct terminology and state line of play relief.  Line of play is a specifically defined term in the Rules of Golf that a Rules Official can provide relief for under the TIO local rule.  Line of sight doesn’t actually exist in the Rules, so it would be very difficult for an official to provide line of sight relief.

Scoring and Individually Identifiable:
            We had a very interesting situation in an NCGA qualifier recently, the details of which I actually will not go into, but it brought about a revelation is the meaning of “individually identifiable” as is required in Rule 31-3 (Scoring in Four-Ball Stroke Play).
            Individually identifiable has commonly been though of as “the Committee has to be able to tell who shot which score.”  In general this is still correct, as a single 4 drawn across both partners’ boxes on a four-ball score card would still lead to a disqualification.  But if, rather than drawing a single number across two boxes, the marker wrote the same number in both boxes, how would the Committee know who shot that number on each hole?  Many have felt for some time that a card done in such a fashion would also lead to disqualification as the Committee could not tell who shot the listed score, however this is not entirely true.
            Individually identifiable in 31-3 means that a single number is associated with a single player on the score card.  So, in a scratch four-ball competition, if the marker and side signed and returned a card that had the best ball score written in both boxes, even though the Committee is not able to tell who shot the score on any given hole, the side would not be disqualified.
            I’ll go through this slowly… If the better ball score is recorded the same in both boxes, that means arguably that the side signed for a wrong score on every hole.  We don’t know which partner, but one of them is wrong unless they actually shot the same score on the hole.  However, in four-ball stroke play, the side is only disqualified under Rule 6-6d if they sign for a wrong score that is lower than the side’s score for that hole.  In this unique situation, none of the wrong scores are lower than the side’s score for the hole – they are all the same.
            A bit of support for this comes from Decision 31-7a/1 where a marker attributes a score for a player that did not hole out.  In the Decision, the marker gave the player who did not hole out a 6, and the player who holed out received the 5 that he actually made.  The side is not disqualified even though they signed for a wrong score, because the wrong score is not lower than the side’s actual score for the hole.

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