Saturday, April 18, 2015

Knowing the Conditions of the Competition

Rule 6-1 states, “The player and his caddie are responsible for knowing the Rules.  During a stipulated round, for any breach of a Rule by his Caddie, the player incurs the applicable penalty.”
It is important to note that the term Rule does not refer only to the 34 Rules listed in the book.  The definition of Rule tells us that the term Rule really refers to those 34 Rules in the Rules of Golf AND the interpretations in the Decisions on the Rules of Golf.  Rule also includes any Condition of the Competition established by the Committee, any Local Rule established by the Committee and all the specifications on equipment matters found in Appendices II-IV and “A Guide to the Rules on Clubs and Balls.”
That is a whole bunch of stuff the player and caddie need to know.  And as we’ve seen, most players and caddies do not know all of those items, in fact most Rules Officials need to (and should) refer to the text of those items before making rulings.  That doesn’t let the player off the hook, especially when it comes to things like the Conditions of the Competition.
The Conditions are typically provided on the entry form, the tournament organization’s “Hard Card” (Local Rules and Conditions that are in effect for every tournament the organization runs) or on the Notice to Players/Competitors.  Common Conditions include the requirements that the driver be listed on the List of Conforming Driver Heads, or that the ball used is listed on the List of Conforming Golf Balls.  The PGA Tour utilizes the Note to Rule 7-2, which prohibits practice or testing/rolling a ball on or near the putting green of the last hole.  Another popular Condition is the Transportation Condition which prohibits caddies and players from using automotive transportation during the stipulated round.
The text of this Condition can be found at Appendix I-C and is relatively simple in its prohibition, not quite as simple in its penalty.  This Condition carries a “maximum penalty per round/adjustment to the state of the match” penalty statement.  This is like Rule 4 and 6-4 penalties where if the player or caddie rides for two or more holes, the player will incur a maximum penalty per round (two hole adjustment in match play, 4 strokes in stroke play, 2 per hole).
During the European Tour’s Shenzhen Invitational on Friday, Edoardo Molinari’s caddie forgot about this Condition and hopped on a cart to catch a ride between the 9th and 10th holes. Because the breach was between the play of two holes, Molinari should have incurred a two stroke penalty on the 10th hole (it is considered a single hole breach), however, Molinari’s caddie never mentioned that he had ridden in a cart and so Molinari never knew he was subject to a penalty.
Molinari completed the round and returned his score card – without the two-stroke penalty – and left for home. Since the issue was discovered prior to the close of competition, the Committee was required to disqualify Molinari for returning a score lower than that which was actually taken in breach of Rule 6-6d.  Even though Molinari was unaware that his caddie had breached the Rules, he was still responsible for any breach of the Rules by his caddie during the stipulated round and therefore he needed to include that penalty on his scorecard. 

Fortunately (if you want to look at it that way), Molinari had already shot a 75 and was not in great position in the event, but in professional golf, every missed cut is missed money, so ouch. This is a great reminder to all players that they should always read all information containing Conditions of the Competition prior to starting an event.

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