AUBREY PLAYS THE MID-WEEK MEDAL

It was not normal for Aubrey to enter the mid-week medal, which was not strongly supported, because most members worked during the week. However, he had missed the Saturday medal whilst attending a wedding and decided he would play. He was always keen to get a qualifier on his record. The September day was very breezy, but not too prohibitive.

On the Booking Sheet, he had entered against the names of two individuals he didn’t recognise, so when he arrived, he enquired in the Pro shop as to who they were. The Pro gave him the names as Victor and David, and added that they’d already taken their cards. Aubrey thanked him and went towards the 1st Tee. He saw a couple of guys on the practice putting green and asked if they were the fellows he’d be playing with.

“If you are A. Fulton, yes, pal. I’m Vic and this is David.” Hands were shaken and they all moved off to the Tee. Cards were exchanged and Vic, with a handicap of 10, was the first to drive off. Aubrey was next and David last. His handicap was 15. It transpired that Vic and David had been golfing pals for many years, and were used to playing regularly together.

“Funny we haven’t come across you before,” David said to Aubrey, as they walked down the first fairway.

“Well, I usually play on a Saturday.”

“Ah, we’re five-day members, so Saturdays are out for us.” As they approached their tee shots, Aubrey heard Vic saying to David,

“It’ll be lift and place again, I expect, ‘cos the weather’s the same as last week.” David agreed, but neither had bothered to check with the pro or read notices. He bent down to lift his ball, which was in the rough just off the fairway. Aubrey couldn’t get to him fast enough. He had read the notice in the Pro’s shop, which had stated that, because of the wet weather, ‘mark, lift, clean and REPLACE’ is permitted in the General Area of the course. He was just in time to see David lift his ball, without marking it, and start to look for a good spot to place it. Aubrey’s face went red as he spluttered,

“You can’t do that…” (He’d forgotten David’s name already). “That’s not what the notice said in the shop.”

“What are you on about? asked David, a bit put out. “We’ve always done it this way,” and he looked to Vic for confirmation. Vic had heard all this and was nodding his head vigorously in agreement with him.

“Nevertheless, I think you’re mistaking this local rule with ‘Preferred Lies’, which is a different thing altogether.” Aubrey was firm with them both.

“But the notice always says ‘Lift, clean and place’, so that’s what we do,” Vic interjected.

The game had only reached the tee shots and Aubrey was already embroiled, quite rightly, with these two members who had patently been breaching the temporary local rule for some time. Aubrey ploughed on…

“Words have precise meanings in the Rules, and you are mistaking the word ‘PLACE’ for ‘REPLACE’. This local rule never uses the word ‘PLACE’, because the intention is that a player may clean his ball and must put it back where it was.” Aubrey was pontificating now, but that was his way of dealing with Rule breaches. It didn’t win him many friends.

Disgruntled and unhappy, David did as Aubrey had pointed out and the game moved on. Aubrey, not for the first time on a golf course, was left to walk the fairways alone, as his fellow competitors muttered together.

The game went smoothly for a few holes, with Vic and David wondering how they’d the misfortune to be playing with Aubrey. They’d reached the 10th green, and Vic’s ball was on the front slope, which was a feature of that green. Just as they were stepping on to the green, a sudden gust of wind blew Vic’s ball down the slope, further away from the hole. Vic gave a shout and went to retrieve it, until he heard the dreaded words from Aubrey,

“What are you doing? You must leave the ball where it is.”

“That’s nonsense!” shouted Vic, as he moved nearer to where his ball had come to rest.

“I’m afraid not,” Aubrey retorted. “If you’d marked, lifted and replaced your ball before it blew away, then you’re entitled to replace it, but you hadn’t done so.”

“When did that rule change then?” Vic enquired, angrily.

“The only change to this rule is that you can now replace your ball if, as I say, you’d marked it beforehand,” Aubrey patiently explained.

“Are you sure? How do you know?” Vic was digging his heels in about this.

“All I can say is that I’ve passed the R & A exams, and I’ve studied the changes that were made to the Rules in 2019 – and this is one of them.”

“Aren’t you the clever bugger …” Vic muttered to himself, but gave in and played from where his ball came to rest.

Towards the end of the course, on the 16th to be precise, a shallow ditch crossed the hole and was classed as a Yellow Penalty Area. It was about 120 yards from the Teeing Area and any decent drive could fly over. All three players drove off, but David had the misfortune to hit a poor drive. It was touch and go whether it carried the ditch. Vic got to the ditch first and started searching in the shallow stream. When David arrived, he immediately spotted the top of a ball, which was plugged on the sloping bank at the far side of the ditch.

The Penalty Area was defined by yellow line, and the bank was within that line.

All three walked over the little footbridge, and Aubrey was aware that David was about to prise his ball out of its plug mark.

“What are you going to do?” Aubrey enquired, thinking David was about to take penalty relief.

“It’s a plugged ball and I get free relief.”

“Ah, but relief is only available in the General Area – and you are in a Penalty Area, so there is no relief except for taking a drop outside the Area for 1 stroke.” Aubrey turned away.

“How do you know that I can’t get free relief?” David’s voice showed his indignation.

“Because I know the Rule,” said Aubrey, with an air of finality.

“Well, I’ll be looking it up when I get in,” was David’s riposte, but he took his penalty, dropped a ball back behind the ditch and they moved on, with not so much as a word addressed to Aubrey for the rest of the round.

After leaving the 18th green, cards were checked, signed and exchanged in silence. There were no handshakes for him, either, as they left for the Clubhouse. Aubrey was quite used to these finales and didn’t bat an eyelid.

“Thanks for the game. See you another time perhaps,” Aubrey called to the disappearing backs of the others.

Vic and David whispered, “Not if we see you first mate…!”

Courtesy of Ivor Bellas – November 2020

Rules invoked;

Temporary Local Rule. Mistaking the permitted Temporary Local Rule for “Lifting, Cleaning and Replacing Ball” for the “Preferred Lies” Local Rule.

Rule 13.1d(2). When to replace ball moved by natural forces (or not), on the Putting Green.

Rule 17.3. No relief under other Rules for Ball in Penalty Area. In this case “Embedded Ball”.