News From Terre Haute, Indiana

On & Off the Course

May 6, 2012

ON AND OFF THE COURSE: With some tricky rules, golf is not a walk in the park

Golf is not a casual sport, even though it has a term called “casual water.” No sport can call itself “casual” if it has a book of 34 rules with more than 100 sections and subsections, and over 2,000 explanatory decisions. Even though the basic rule of golf is “hit the ball where it lies,” and the premise is to get the ball from the tee to the hole with hitting it as few times as possible, golf is a very complicated game.

At the recent Missouri Valley Women’s Golf Tournament, held at the Country Club of Terre Haute, the rules officials got their work in. They were called in for two rules infractions which ended up in disqualifications to two players (neither were ISU players). The first happened to a player because she made an adjustment to her driver to alter the head to keep her from slicing or from fading. Her playing partners pointed out to her that she could not do that, so she put it back to where it had been. The group continued playing, and she used her driver again on the next hole. When the rules official got to the group, he called in the other rules officials, because he wanted to be certain as to what the ruling should be. He hadn’t run into this problem with one of the new adjustable drivers yet!

All three of the rules officials agreed that it was a new enough problem, they’d better check with the USGA. So they called the rules office of the USGA for verification. The ruling was, that even though she had put the club back to its original position, she was disqualified because she had altered the club, and they could not tell whether or not she had put it back to its original position. If she hadn’t used that club again, she wouldn’t have been disqualified; she just would have had to take that club out of play for the remainder of the round. The rule is, that you cannot play with a club that has been altered during play, unless by accident.

Another disqualification came to a player who should have known better. This player, throughout the day, would mark her ball on the putting surface to the side of her ball, but then when she replaced her ball, she would put it down in front of the mark. The rule allows you to mark your ball on any side (except in front, which would be touching the line of the putt), as long as you replace it the same way. One of her playing partners noticed this action, and pointed it out to the third member of the group.

The player did it continuously, so the two playing partners called in their coaches to watch. They all saw the same thing, so those coaches called in the coach of the player who was marking incorrectly, and as soon as that coach witnessed the same thing, she disqualified her own player. Not only was this embarrassing for the coach, it hurt the team. It was unfortunate for the playing partners too, because they had the stress of wondering how to deal with the situation.

All in all, the Missouri Valley Tournament was a smashing success, with many compliments to the Country Club on how nice the course was, how well organized it was, and how helpful the volunteers were. They even complimented the neighborhood dog, Tippy, who roamed the course throughout the tournament, but without barking.

• Quote of the Day: “The countless volunteers were all charming, as were the squirrels on the front 9. My 11-year-old son and I noticed no squirrels on Tippy’s back 9. A coincidence? I think not.” — Parent of one of the players, in a letter to the Country Club host committee.

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    March 12, 2010