by Ivor Bellas
The weather at the beginning of March was sufficiently benign as to allow the Club Committee to declare that Saturday’s medal would be a Qualifying Competition for Handicap purposes.
Aubrey had entered and was drawn to play with two members he did not know. He walked purposefully down to the 1st Tee where he met his fellow competitors, Darren and Mark. They had not been members for long, but had obviously shown a competence at the game to have acquired handicaps of 12 and 14 respectively. Aubrey, by virtue of the fact that he held a handicap of 9, drove off first and their round got under way.
The first hole proved uneventful, but on the par 4 2nd, Darren’s drive entered the fairway bunker on the left. Aubrey, ever alert, overheard Darren telling Mark that he thought the new rules involved some changes to bunker play, but that he didn’t know what they were. Mark shook his head, equally in the dark about it. Aubrey came alongside them and asked
“Did either of you come to the Rules Presentation I made in January? It was well publicised.” They both said no.
“Well, let’s see what the situation is Darren.” Aubrey began to preen himself. “Your ball has come to rest beside a twig, and under the old rules you could not remove it, but now you can because it is a loose impediment.”
“Oh, right,” said Darren, and proceeded to remove the twig.
As they chatted among themselves it became obvious to Aubrey that Darren and Mark only knew parts of the old rules, which they had picked up from members of long standing, with no guarantee that such information was correct.
They moved onto the Teeing Area of the par 3 hole 6. Aubrey had the honour, tee-ed off and put his ball onto the green. Darren hooked his Tee shot so badly that he thought it may have gone beyond the Out of Bounds fence. After a string of expletives he turned to Aubrey and said, “The guys we played with in a fourball last week told us that the New Rules allow you to drop a ball on the course at the point where your ball went Out of Bounds, instead of playing a provisional.” Aubrey, trying not to sound exasperated, corrected Darren.
“Darren, the New Rules for Out of Bounds are the same as the Old Rules. You still have to play stroke and distance. However, the New Rules do allow a Club Committee to create a Local Rule giving the option of dropping near the point of entry under penalty. This Club has not adopted such a Local Rule. So, you need to play a provisional, or just play 3 off the tee.”
Darren accepted the situation and played 3 off the Tee. The game progressed without further incident until the group reached the putting green of hole 14. All three players were on the green, and Mark prepared to putt first. He made a couple of half-hearted practice putts, but on the performing of his third practice putt the toe-end of his putter accidentally caught the ball causing it to move.
“Damn, what do I do now?” He turned to Darren for an answer. “Does that count as a stroke or have I got to replace the ball?”
Darren, totally clueless, looked blank and shook his head, while Aubrey stood by and let them both stew for a moment before coming to the rescue.
“Under the Old Rules the ball had to be replaced under penalty of 1 stroke, but now there is no penalty for accidentally moving your ball on the putting green. You are still required to replace it.”
“Thanks,” said Mark, very relieved. They each putted out and moved on to the next Tee.
It was down the right of this 15th hole that drainage work was being carried out. The whole area was encircled by a white line to define it as an Abnormal Ground Condition. Aubrey played a poor drive and his ball rolled into the drainage works. When he reached it he began to determine what might be his nearest point of relief. Darren and Mark were watching in amazement as Aubrey paced about club in hand measuring this way and that until Darren said, “Just drop a ball where you want in a nice spot and let’s get on.”
“That is not what the procedure is,” Aubrey spluttered. “Have you not heard of the “Nearest Point of Relief” with regard to free relief from this sort of area?”
“No?” was Mark’s querulous retort.
“Right,” said Aubrey. “If you would like to come here I will demonstrate the process for you so that you can do it correctly in future.” He then showed them how to establish the nearest relief spot and take a club length from there as the dropping area, not nearer the hole.
“When you drop the ball in this relief area, it must remain there and your next stroke must be played from it. If the ball bounces or rolls out of this 1 club area it must be dropped a second time, and if it rolls out again you must place the ball on the spot where it first touched the ground after your second drop.”
“Oh right.” The other 2 players chorused. Aubrey was not convinced that they would conduct such a procedure another time, but he left it at that and they continued without any other incidents to the end of the game.
THE RULES INVOKED IN THIS TALE.
12-2a. Removing Loose Impediments from bunker.
18-2a(2). Out of Bounds and Model LR E-5.
13-1d Ball accidentally moved on putting green.
16-1a Relief from Abnormal Course Condition.