AUBREY JOINS THE WEDNESDAY DRAW
Aubrey came to the club to practise. It was not his normal day and whilst in the locker room a member entered, and announced that he was looking for one player to make up 3 x 4 balls in the usual Wednesday draw. Aubrey said nothing. He had heard on the club grapevine that interest in the draws had dwindled quite a lot, because they, allegedly, took so long.
“Do you fancy a game?” He was confronted by the member looking for someone to play. Aubrey had to make a decision. He hesitated a while then decided a game would be better than practising.
“Fine, yes. I’ll join you. Thanks,” he replied.
“Ok, what’s your name?”
“I’m Aubrey, and you are…?”
“Fred.” They shook hands. “We start at 12.30 so we’ll see you on the 1st Tee.”
Fred left the locker room, happy to have enticed someone to make up the numbers.
A few minutes later, Aubrey rolled up at the 1st Tee dressed immaculately as usual, but was rather nonplussed to see the apparel worn by Fred and two fellows, who he assumed were the rest of their group.
“Hey, Aubrey,” Fred motioned him over. “Come and meet the others. He duly shook hands with Basil and Peter. “My handicap’s 23,” said Fred. “What’s yours?”
“12,” was the response.
“Basil’s 27 and Peter’s is 21, so you having the lowest handicap means we tee off first.” Fred gestured to Aubrey to tee off.
“It’s 4BBB Stableford, full handicap. Aubrey didn’t class himself as a golfing snob – maybe he was – but he wondered what sort of experience he’d let himself in for.
Nothing untoward happened during play of the first 3 holes, except that Aubrey was becoming irritated at the slow pace of play. Apart from a strong tendency to saunter between shots, the others were playing in the traditional manner of waiting for their turn. They didn’t appear to have adopted the new concept of ‘Ready Golf’, as outlined in the new Rules 2019. Being Aubrey, he felt he ought to raise the matter with them, so on the 4th Tee he addressed them in his ‘holier than thou’ voice:
“I wonder if you have all understood the main thrust of the New Rules?” The others stared at him as though he was from Mars.
Fred answered him, “What do you mean, what’s to know? We drop the ball from the knee, and can putt with the flag in. That’s about it.” Basil and Peter were whispering, wondering where Fred had found him.
“You didn’t come to the Rule Seminar I gave for club members then?” queried Aubrey, knowing the answer.
“No,” Basil piped up. “We heard a bit about the New Rules, but rules hardly figure in our games anyway. We just get on with it and trust each other to do the right thing.”
At this admission Aubrey gave them the thin, humourless smile of an undertaker….
“So, you know nothing about the concept of ‘Ready Golf’ then?”
“Well, the whole idea of the main changes is to speed up games, because so many players are complaining about slow play.” Aubrey put on his superior manner as he went on to explain ‘Ready Golf’, and how it is aimed at progressing a game more quickly rather than waiting one’s turn to play, as was expected under the old rules. He then went on to suggest that their approach to a game was perhaps a reason for the decline in numbers entering the draw.
“Don’t be b….y ridiculous,” Fred spluttered. That brought the amiable mood to an end. However, the game continued, in the kind of strained politeness that seemed to be the hallmark of Aubrey’s games.
On the 5th hole Peter drove off down the avenue of trees, which were a feature of the hole. His ball was sliced somewhat, struck a tree and crazily bounded back into the teeing area. Nobody said anything at first, then Fred began to laugh. Peter joined in and then waited until the others had played before approaching his ball. He took out an iron and prepared to take his stance, when he heard Aubrey saying:
“What are you doing, Peter? You can tee up your ball again without penalty.”
“That can’t be right. I’ve already played my tee shot,” Peter declared.
“It’s a fact that the Rules allow a player to proceed under the Rule for Teeing a Ball, even after a stroke has been played. So, your ball being in the same teeing area for this hole you are entitled to tee it up again.” Aubrey spoke in his best tutorial fashion, and Peter, with a shake of his head decided to take Aubrey’s word for it in the absence of any awareness of his own. The other two looked on in disbelief, to the extent that Fred determined to look it up when they finished the game.
Then Peter, having changed his iron for the Driver, had a thought: “What stroke am I playing now then, Mr Clever Clogs?”
Aubrey ignored the less-than-humourless jibe.
“You are playing 2”.
The round continued,, but Aubrey was clearly the odd one out. Poor old Basil seemed to hit his ball into most of the bunkers on the course and invariably took more than one stroke to get out. That was due to his lack of technique rather than the difficulties of the bunkers themselves. On the short 12th hole his tee shot bounded into the bunker on the left of the green. He took an agricultural swipe at his ball; it popped up and his club struck it a second time. It landed on the edge of the green. They all saw the second strike, but Basil didn’t know what to do. Neither did Fred nor Peter.
Aubrey helpfully said, “The Rule has changed for this.” To which Basil naively replied,
“What did the old Rule say?” Neither Fred nor Peter proffered a guess let alone an answer. It was obvious they hadn’t a clue.
“Will he have to play it again?” Fred hazarded a comment. Aubrey was basking in the knowledge that he knew the answer, and relished the moment until he said,
“Under the old Rule there was a penalty stroke added, but under the new Rule there is no penalty so Basil can play his ball from where it has come to rest.”
“Nay, that can’t be fair – his ball is on the green.” Peter didn’t like Aubrey’s ruling.
“I’m sorry, but I’m correct.” Fred again made a mental note to look it up when they got back to the clubhouse, notwithstanding the fact that he had no idea where he might look in the Rule Book. He had never looked at the old Rule Book with any serious intent.
They eventually trudged off the 18th green towards the clubhouse, complaining in whispers that they had not enjoyed their afternoon much at all. Peter was distinctly heard to mutter to Fred
“Where the heck did you find this bloke? Don’t invite him again.”
Aubrey himself reckoned he’d had more enjoyable rounds than this. “After all,” he mused to himself, “if you’re playing a game, you should at least make some effort to know the rules of the game, even if you’re never going to be an expert. Still, I suppose, it takes all kinds…” He made his way to the clubhouse behind the others.
When Aubrey later got to the bar, he expected to buy a round of drinks, but he didn’t realise that the members he had joined were among those who played their golf and went straight home. He drank a half of lager alone – not for the first time, and probably not the last.
Courtesy of Ivor Bellas – May 2020
The Rules invoked in this tale.
Rule 6/4 – Strokeplay. Players encouraged to play when ready, so long as safe to do so.
Rule 6/2 – When teeing area Rules apply.
Rule 10/1a – Fairly striking the ball.