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Opinion & Analysis

The View from the Ref’s Side of the Fairway: Refs Get Pushy

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We refs sometimes monitor landing zones that are soggy, hoping to help players find and take free drops for balls that become embedded in the fairway. A ref friend of mine told me the following rather quirky tale about his approaching a player who had just pulled his ball out of the muck in a stroke-play tournament.

The player cleaned his ball and was preparing to drop. My buddy, suddenly and without a word, pushed the player hard on the shoulder. The shocked player regained his balance and gasped, “What the hell are you doing?”

My friend responded, “Saving you two strokes.”

Right before the player was going to drop, he raised his foot to stomp down on the irregularity of surface caused by his removal of the embedded ball. He apparently didn’t know that doing that is a violation of Rule 13-2: Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play. (Decision 13-2/10 describes this exact case, and note that it’s also a violation of Rule 13-2 if you repair the area after your drop if doing so improves your situation.)

Fortunately, the surprise shove prevented the player from leveling the surface and from getting the resulting 2-stroke penalty. (My quick-witted friend, with virtually no time to think and even less to reason with the player, deftly transformed this otherwise rude act into one of kindness.)

Here are a couple of other things to keep in mind when dealing with an embedded ball. (The details can be found in Rule 20-1, Rule 20-2c, Rule 25-2, and Rule 25-2’s related Decisions.)

  • You are not obligated to mark your embedded ball before lifting it, though you have that option. (Anytime you’re going to have to “replace” a ball you must mark it, so it does remain a good habit to get into. And at times, marking can help you determine if the ball needs to be re-dropped as well — but it’s not technically necessary to mark a ball when it is later going to be dropped.)
  • You may clean your ball after lifting it.
  • You must drop your ball “as near as possible to the spot where it lay” (but no closer to the hole) even though the disturbed ground there may end up causing interference for your next shot.
  • If your appropriately dropped ball rolls back into the hole from which you lifted it, you must drop again and place on the valid spot it last hit the course if it rolls back in a second time. (Same thing if it stops closer to the hole than the point it embedded.)
  • If your ball embeds in a new place when you drop it, you are again entitled to relief. If it embeds yet again after the next drop, place the ball as near as possible to the place it last embedded, but again, no closer to the hole.
  • By the base Rule, you get free relief for embedded balls only when they are in a “closely-mown area through the green.” But there is a Local Rule that might be in force that extends the free relief to most other areas through the green — not just those that are closely-mown. (The PGA Tour regularly employs this Local Rule. See Appendix I of the Rules for more details and note that the relief does not apply if you are embedded in sand that is not in a closely-mown area.)
  • Any doubt as to whether a ball is actually embedded “should be resolved against the player.”
  • You may (really, should) fix the surface when you and your group are past the problem area so it doesn’t impact players in following groups.

One last thing, while you may not repair the irregularity of surface you create when you remove your ball from its embedded position, there’s nothing in the Rules which says that you can’t be extra careful when extracting it. Try to keep the surface as undisturbed as you can. It might end up helping you with your next shot.

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Howard Meditz is a member of the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association and author of the book, How to Love the Rules of Golf, available on Amazon. He holds “The Highest Level of Rating” in knowledge of the Rules of Golf, a designation awarded by the PGA of America and the United States Golf Association. He's a member of the Rules & Competitions Committee and a rules official for New York’s Metropolitan Golf Association; a member of the Executive Committee and a rules official for New York’s Westchester Golf Association; a rules official for the Women’s Metropolitan Golf Association; and holds a seat on the Board of Governors and is Rules Chairman at Connecticut’s busiest golf facility. (He really loves the Rules of Golf.)

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Bert

    Nov 7, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Even though his actions sound good, a golf referee, should never physically touch a player. I understand what occurred and the outcome was beneficial to the player, but what if …….

  2. Ryan

    Nov 7, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    This could be a good event to watch. Most recreational golfers, whether they admit it or not, will pick up there ball at a certain, when they feel they’ve endured enough for that hole. I sometimes play in a group that plays skins, and only birdies or better can win, so everyone picks up after missing for par. No point past that, and we’ll have 3 foursomes done in 3 hours.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: St. James Bay Golf Club in Carrabelle, Florida

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day comes from GolfWRX member Bimmer1, who submitted St. James Bay Golf Club in Carrabelle, Florida as his gem of a course. Situated within the North Flordia pines, St. James Bay gets praised for both its value, quietness and excellent layout in Bimmer1’s description of the course.

“I’ve played this course for good prices over the years. Excellent and challenging layout.  I’ve been out there when there is almost no one on the course at all.  I often wonder how they have enough money to keep it in the shape they do.”

According to St. James Bay Golf Club’s website, those good prices range from $35-$59 in summer, while their winter rates drop into the $30-$45 range.

@GroupGolferFL

@StJamesBayGolf

@Porteous3187

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member evgolfer, who takes us to Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, Arizona. The course sits at the base of South Mountain, offering up some stunning scenic mountain views, and in his description of the track evgolfer praises the fair test that the course offers up to players of all levels.

“I love it because the price is always right as a City of Phoenix municipal course. The conditions are usually fairly decent. Also, the course presents a fair challenge to me as a high handicapper and still appeals to low caps. It is easily walkable. Not surrounded by houses, not overly tight or cramped. Designed by Gary Panks. Not overly penal.”

According to Aguila Golf Course’s website, in peak time, an 18 hole round can be booked for $29, with the rate rising to $44 should you wish to add a cart. While, off-peak the price drops to $34, which includes a cart.

@TheHectorRios

@VernonLorenz

@HSTuscon

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Opinion & Analysis

This stat indicates Tiger Woods will win major 15 in 2019

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For Tiger Woods’ fans, it’s been over 10 years waiting for his 15th major victory. Even with PGA Tour win No. 80, plenty are already looking ahead to next year’s major.

Looking into Tiger’s performance at the majors in 2018, and more recently the PGA Championship, there’s exciting news for his fans. Tiger briefly held the lead at this year’s Open Championship, only to finish in a tie for sixth. But, it’s his performance at the PGA Championship, when he stormed home for second place thanks to a final round 64, and the recent statistics behind that tournament, that will get his legion of supporters brimming with confidence.

Going back to 2015, strong performances at the PGA Championship have proven to be a great form line for the following year’s major winners. In fact, if you go back further into the records, it extends for several years prior as well. Let’s take a look at recent PGA Championship results and the players that emerged from those performances that lead to major victory the next year.

The 2017 PGA Championship was one of the strongest forms lines in recent years. Justin Thomas won the tournament by two shots, but Patrick Reed, and Francisco Molinari tied for second. Reed went on to win this year’s Masters and Molinari won the Open Championship to capture their first major championships.

At the 2016 PGA Championship, Jimmy Walker surprised the field with victory, but an emerging talent in Brooks Koepka finished tied for fourth and would go on to secure his 1st major in 2017 by winning the U.S. Open. Interesting, Patrick Reed and Francisco Molinari were also just outside the top-10.

The 2015 PGA Championship was won by Jason Day, but current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson finished tied for seventh. Dustin went on to win his first major, the U.S. Open, the following year at the Oakmont Country Club. Also worth noting: Jordan Spieth finished second to Jason Day and went close to winning the Masters the next year only to finish in second place.

Fast forward to this year’s PGA Championship where Tiger finished second behind Brooks Koepka. Is it a sign that his 10-year major drought could end in 2019? And don’t forget, if Tiger has a great chance in 2019, then surely players that finished around him in that tournament, such as Adam Scott, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Gary Woodland, must have high hopes for 2019 too?

All this is true and only time will tell if the tournament form line stacks up.

Anyway you look at the 2018 PGA Championship results, it’s a great form line for 2019, and Tiger could well be in the mix in the big ones next year. With his body coping well with the rigors of the tough PGA Tour circuit, Tiger Woods’ fans can be feeling good about his chances for the 2019 season.

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