Tuesday, July 21, 2015

US Amateur Qualifying and the Missing Tee-Marker

                Those who have worked events with me know that I am extremely particular when it comes to course setup.  Notably, I have a very specific manner in which I want the tee-markers to be placed that is different from the common practice.  A little background is necessary:
                Dotting teeing grounds is done for several reasons depending on the championship and timing of the dotting.  In major championships like the Opens, dots are placed behind the marker so that if one is displaced the Committee knows where to replace the marker, but also so that the player can see the markers are placed where they are supposed to be.  Since the markers are placed by staff on the morning of play, the dots do not have significance as far as alignment toward the landing area.
                In qualifiers and other championships at the SRGA level, in many cases the dots are placed in the days leading up to the championship and are placed so that SRGA volunteers or course staff can properly place the markers aligned appropriately to the landing zone.  Once the marker is on the dot, the dot then can be used to replace the marker in the proper spot.
                But funny things happen at SRGA tournaments or qualifiers, and markers sometimes go missing.  So I always place tee-markers with the front outside corner of the marker on the dot, leaving just enough of the dot for Committee to see.  For me, the dot serves a third purpose: the replacement marker when needed.
                I contend that the tee-markers should be placed with the leading outside edge on/touching the dot so that if a tee-marker goes missing and a player estimates the teeing ground using the dot, the teeing ground dimensions have not changed.  Perhaps the Committee doesn’t have a replacement marker once the missing marker is discovered, and needs to use the dot to define the teeing ground.  If the markers have been placed as I describe, the dot is an exact replacement and the teeing ground has not changed.
                My neuroticism is typically met with some contention because it is against the common practice. However, at US Amateur Sectional Qualifying yesterday, my specific placement came into play.
                The 17th hole at Bayonet Golf Course is located not only near the entrance road, but also near a teeing ground for the other golf course on the facility.  Our third to last group played significantly ahead of the maximum pace leaving a decent gap behind them.  During that gap, someone decided that the nice USGA tee-marker would make a great souvenir and when the penultimate (all you Senior Open officials can chuckle) group arrived they found only one tee-marker.  We had a very small group of officials and the group knew it might be some time before they could find an official, so they found the dot and played from the estimated teeing ground using the dot as the second tee-marker.

Decision 11-4b/2 covers this situation exactly:
Q. In stroke play, competitors in a group, finding one tee-marker missing from a teeing ground, determine for themselves the area of the teeing ground based on the position of the remaining tee-marker and the shape of the tee.  What is the ruling?
A. The correct procedure is to discontinue play until the Committee resolves the problem.
                However, if the Committee is satisfied that the competitors did not gain an advantage by playing from the place they judged to be the teeing ground, it would be appropriate for the Committee, in equity (Rule 1-4), to accept their scores, without penalty.  Otherwise, they incur the penalty prescribed in Rule 11-4b.

Since the dot was placed at the exact corner of the actual teeing ground and the players used that to estimate the teeing ground, it was extremely simple to determine that they gained no advantage.  If you place the markers in any other manner and try to use the dots, then it is possible for the players to play from a different spot than the original teeing ground depending on the size and shape of the marker.  There may be no advantage involved, but why not set up in the first place so that the teeing ground doesn’t change?

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