Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The MGA Quiz Results are Out!

Kudos to the MGA on another fine Quiz for 2015.  Every year it challenges the best Rules minds in the country with questions that pick out the tiniest nuances of “hidden gem” decisions.  This year was no different.  And as always, I feel the need to either justify or explain the mistakes as Ryan Gregg and I post “our guesses” each year in an attempt to work our way through this labyrinth of a Rules quiz.

This year we guessed wrong on 4 questions.  I must say a couple times, they just got us. And another couple times, I have an argument that I would love to be heard…

MGA Correct Answer in GREEN
Ryans’ Answer in YELLOW

7. On the tee of the 17th hole of a match where Player A is 1 up and the “One Ball” Condition is in effect, Player A notices that he is playing his last Titleist ProV1 ball. He makes a stroke from the tee and the ball comes to rest in a water hazard. He asks Player B if he has any ProV1s he could borrow, but unfortunately the opponent only has ProV1x balls. Player B believes this is sufficient, so he gives him a ProV1x. Player A proceeds under R26-1a. His next stroke lands on the putting green. As he prepares to mark his ball, his coin falls out of his hand and moves the ball, which he immediately replaces and all of which is observed by Player B. He completes the hole in two more strokes. After they have walked off the green, Player A asks Player B what he scored, to which Player B replies, “eight”. What is the status of the match?
A) Player A is dormie.
B) Player A wins the match 2 & 1.
C) The match is all square.
D) Player A is disqualified.

This is where one of my pet peeves comes into play.  On most Rules exams (certainly the ones that count for certification or other purposes), when a question is asked about the status of a match or a penalty in match play, you are told to assume a claim is made.  Several times on this year’s exam, whether or not a claim was made was the deciding factor between right and wrong and was done in a severely tricky manner.  In this question, we agreed that the breach of the one ball condition was overlooked and therefore would not be applied. However, when A failed to inform B of the penalty he incurred for moving his ball (the fact that B witnessed this is irrelevant, Rule 9-2 refers to Rules that a player incurs a penalty for using, such as 26 or 28 and that interpretation has been confirmed with Golf House).  So with a match play question, we made the assumption a claim was made in which case A lost the hole and the match was all square.  Well as we can see, the question meant exactly what it said.  No claim was made and therefore the match stood as played with A the winner 2 & 1.

11. In stroke play, a player’s second shot comes to rest on the putting green two feet from the hole. The player putts his ball. As the ball is rolling, a gust of wind blows a leaf that hits the ball and deflects it into the hole. After he retrieves his ball from the hole, the player moves on to the next hole and tees off. What does the player score for the hole?
A) 3
B) 4
C) 5
D) The player is disqualified.

The MGA got us on this one. We correctly identified that this was a cancel and replay situation and that he failed to replay and incurred a two-stroke penalty for that. However, we missed the part of the Decision (19-1/3) that states the stroke that was deflected does not count in his score.  They gave all the information necessary to know this wasn’t a serious breach, but we operated from the Rule and didn’t go to the Decision which provides that little kink.  Kudos!

17. Both players in a match have reached the green. Player A is away and putts his ball. As the ball is rolling towards the hole, Player B putts his ball and it strikes A’s ball, leaving it a few inches from the hole. Player A believes he must play the ball as it lies so he taps his putt into the hole. Player B informs A that he was supposed to cancel the stroke and replay the ball. Believing Player A played his ball from a wrong place, Player B claims the hole and picks up his ball. After they tee off on the next hole, they find a member of the Committee who rules that:
A) Player A wins the hole as Player B never holed out.
B) Player A wins the hole as Player B’s ball struck Player A’s ball.
C) Player B wins the hole as Player A played from a wrong place.
D) Player A wins the hole as Player B made a stroke while Player A’s ball was in motion.

I have a problem with this question.  I do not disagree with the answer as written, but it doesn’t translate to the application of the situation as a referee in the real world.  The question states that B made the claim, which means that the claim was about the wrong place.  A never made a claim about B breaching Rule 16-1f.  So kudos on a very tricky answer.  BUT, if I am a referee or member of the Committee and that entire scenario is presented to me, I am required to act on everything reported to me and reported in that question is B’s violation of Rule 16-1f. I have to give A the hole as that violation occurred first.

19. On the first green, both Player A and Player B lie one. Player A replaces his ball in front of Player B's ball-marker by mistake. He lifts B’s marker and then realizes that he has put his ball back in a wrong place. He informs his opponent of his error. Player A replaces his opponent’s marker to its original position, lifts the ball, finds his own marker, and replaces his ball properly. He then two-putts for a three. Player B properly replaces his ball and completes the hole in four strokes. What penalty, if any, is Player A assessed for lifting B’s ball-marker?
A) A loses the hole.
B) A incurs a penalty of one stroke and the hole is halved.
C) If B makes a claim for a violation of R18-3b before any player tees off on the second hole, it will be upheld.
D) There is no penalty and A is 1 up.

This is a great question because you need to find the Decision and read it very carefully.  When we first got this question it brought up the question “What about the claim?  Was a claim made? Was no claim made?  Do we have wrong information?”  However, seeing the answer it is clear the question means EXACTLY what it asks for.  However, I do absolutely DESPISE answer C.  The claim will be upheld how? It’s a throw-in answer because they couldn’t figure out something different to put in (in match play questions what else do you have sometimes but win, lose or half right?) and it’s a bogus throw-in answer.  But you know what, it’s really difficult to write this kind of a test and even more so to come up with 3 wrong answers to every question so I’ll step-off the soap box know.

Anyway, the key here is that Decision 20-1/6.5 tells us the 18-3b does not apply to ball-markers.  We didn’t see that Decision and therefore went with an 18-3b penalty. We were torn at one point as to whether wrong information should be considered, but the question doesn’t ask that…it asks for the penalty for lifting the ball-marker. The key to 20-1/6.5, however is that it is an equity decision.  Even though 18-3b does not apply to ball-markers, the opponent would still get a one-stroke penalty had the ball-marker been moved such that the original position was not accurately marker.  That isn’t the case here though, because there is a ball in the original position, which means the position was still accurately marked.  Nice job on this one guys!

All in all, another great Quiz from the MGA.  I know they work on it together in the Rules office, but special kudos to whomever of the staff is the mastermind, I know what time and effort goes into an exam like this, so despite my minor grievances I know very well it is a well put-together and vetted quiz.  Cheers until next year…

If you liked the MGA exam and haven’t taken the West Coast Challenge, see NCGA.org for our Bluebook Quiz.  Find it under the Rules tab in the Know Your Rules archives.  Submit the answers online to get the explanations.


  1. I don't agree with the result in #11 at all. If the stroke is cancelled and must be replayed and he hasn't done so, the ball has not been holed and he should be disqualified.

    1. fredkostecki@sbcglobal.netMarch 19, 2015 at 8:54 PM

      Bob- I agree with your conclusion as I have set forth below.
      I believe the answer to question 11 of the MGA 2015 Rule quiz is incorrect as explained below. I do not have the experience with the Rules that all of you have but I believe Decision 19-1/3 is misinterpreted in concluding the quiz answer to be "B" or a score of 4. I also do not believe a score of 5 is the correct answer.

      This quiz question obviously causes confusion, as the authors of the quiz intended it to do, because the ball is deflected into the hole as opposed to being deflected away from the hole. We know that Rule 19-1b is the operative Rule but it is not quite clear as to what is done if the ball is not replaced and replayed. The penalty for failure to follow the Rule is two strokes. For this reason, in an attempt to clarify what happens, Decision 19-1/3 was written. In this Decision, the answer tells us the stroke that was deflected is cancelled and does not count in the competitor’s score. I believe one of the critical parts to this Decision (since it is the basis for the quiz answer) is that the stroke that was deflected is cancelled. It is treated as though it never happened. Another critical part of this Decision is that the player played the “cancelled” stroke from its new position and he holed out. It was from a wrong place and under Rule 20-7c the player was penalized under the applicable Rule 19-1.

      In the case presented in the quiz, the player never did hole out because the stroke that was deflected was cancelled and a ball was never holed before the player played from the next tee. Consequently, Rule 3-2 was breached and the player is disqualified. I believe Rule 3-2 overrides Rule 19-1 in this quiz situation.

    2. Bob and Fred,
      I am usually the first to disagree with MGA answers if I believe they had not been vetted. With respect to 11 we have to remember that a penalty has in fact been applied here. Remember, when a player is required to proceed under a Rule, meaning the ball is supposed to be put somewhere else, and then he doesn't, he incurs the general penalty and is not required to correct unless a serious breach is involved.

      In the case of this question, the player played from a wrong place in breach of Rule 19-1 which required him to cancel and replay. Since he did not, he incurred a two stroke penalty and then the Committee must determine if a serious breach was involved. Since we had enough info to know the ball was not far from the hole the Committee could very well Rule it not to be a serious breach. The trick is that Decision 19-1/3 states the stroke that was deflected does not count in his score.

      While I do not believe this Decision contemplated the stroke being holed, the answer that the MGA gave follows from the Decision as written. We don't have to like the ruling, but that's what it is.

    3. I would argue his failure to replace in the MGA question was in fact a serious violation; he avoided having to navigate any putt . . . a distinct advantage, at least for someone with my talent level.

    4. fredkostecki@sbcglobal.netMarch 20, 2015 at 2:45 PM

      Ryan- I agree there is a point when a ruling is given and we must accept it even though we do not like it. With that said, I will make my last comments on this issue. First, This is a quiz prepared and answered by The MGA which is not the USGA and therefore they may make a mistake in the interpretation of a Rule. Second, you write above "With respect to 11 we have to remember that a penalty has in fact been applied here." While a penalty has been applied, we (Bob and I) believe the wrong penalty is applied. Third, you write "In the case of this question, the player played from a wrong place in breach of Rule 19-1 which required him to cancel and replay." In fact, the player did not make a stroke from a wrong place because he did not play another stroke.
      Thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in this discussion. I hope The MGA does have an opportunity to hear our arguments and respond to them.
      Sincerely, Fred

  2. #17 also puzzles me. He made a stroke while another ball was in motion (the penalty for which is loss of hole) before anything else was done. How did he not at that moment lose the hole. I assume if a claim is made all of the circumstances are subject to review. NO?

    1. Bob,
      I think my explanation above addresses the general issue with the question. The question as written, that is the player made a claim about the wrong place, and a counter-claim was not made about playing while another ball was in motion in breach of 16-1f. Therefore, the claim about the wrong place was upheld and not the 16-1f. The question and answer are correct as a "test" question. In reality, if a Committee was given the facts reported above I believe it would be required to act upon the breach reported, that is the 16-1f breach, and the ruling would be reversed. Alas the trickery of the MGA Quiz...That is why it is notorious.