COVID-19 Restrictions for Each Nation in GB&I

With the good news that Golf should be returning on Monday 29 March 2021 the PGA has broken down the latest COVID-19 restrictions for each nation and produced a helpful diagram explaining the tier-by-tier of golf activity allowed in your region.

*The diagrams were reviewed following the latest Government announcements in the week commencing 22nd February, 2021.

Click on the ‘Read More’ link to read a copy of the appropriate version for your Nation.

England Flag

England

Read More……

Scotland Flag

Scotland

Read More……

Northern Ireland Flag

Northern Ireland

Read More……

Republic of Ireland Flag

Republic of Ireland

Read More……

England Golf -All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf February 2021 Infographic

With the full expectation that Golf can return from March 29 2021, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for golf has shared this infographic on the roadmap for the return to golf.

Each stage is highlighted to assist in understanding the change in restrictions during each stage of the government’s plan.

More detail and an in-depth update of the Play Safe Stay Safe guidance will be available early next week.

File Name: England-Golf-Roadmap-February-2021-Infographic.pdf

You can download a copy of the Infographic by clicking on the download Button below:

Will keep you posted as more information on Playing Safe and Staying Safe emerges

Keep safe and well

Playing Golf is on the horizon

Tony

Update to Guidance on the Rules of Handicapping as Applied Within GB&I February 2021 – Version 1.4

CONGU have published an update to the Rules of Handicapping as Applied to GB&I.

This revision replaces the advice for Mixed Foursomes regarding the non-application of Adjustments for different Tees so they use the same approach as for any other mixed tee
foursomes and Adjustments are applied when there are differences in Course Ratings/Par between courses being played

You can download a copy of the Revised Publication by clicking on the download button below:

 

Rules of Golf 14.1c Marking, Lifting and Cleaning a Ball – So this means a player can DELIBERATELY clean their ball for a one-shot penalty?

I received a comment on Marking, Lifting and Cleaning your ball, which relates to the wording of Rule 14.1c:

‘If the player cleans a lifted ball when not allowed, he or she gets one penalty stroke.

The comment was:

‘So, this means a player can DELIBERATELY clean their ball for a one-shot penalty?

I am thinking of recent tournaments where many mud balls veered off-line. (With a 2 /3 shot lead and playing your second shot from 200yards on the last hole over water, it would be sensible to deliberately clean your ball !!!!)’.

Well, this is not quite true!

You may be forgiven for thinking it, but I would go no further than that unless you want to be tarred with the same brush as Phil Mickelson or Patrick Reed and have members think twice before playing with you or have your Club banning you from competitions.

Why?

In the first place you must have a good reason for lifting your ball and you can only lift a ball under a Rule of Golf.

So, if you have no legitimate reason to lift your ball you will incur a 1-stroke penalty for that on top of your 1-stroke penalty for cleaning the ball.

But, if you felt you had a good reason to lift your ball, you are still deliberately breaching a Rule of Golf for your own advantage and gaining an advantage over your fellow competitors.

Which brings me on to the real reasons why you should not even contemplate cleaning your ball when it is not allowed.

  1. The central principles of the game of golf for a player are:
    • Play the course as you find it and play the ball as it lies.
    • Play by the Rules and in the spirit of the game.
  2. You are responsible for applying your own penalties if you breach a Rule, so that you cannot gain any potential advantage over your opponent in match play or other players in stroke play.
  3. All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by following certain advice and this includes:
  4. Acting with integrity – for example, by following the Rules, applying all penalties, and being honest in all aspects of play.

Something that we all sign-up to when we book a tee-time or enter a competition

Note: There are exceptions where the Rules allow the player to alter conditions on the course and require or allow the player to play the ball from a different place than where it lies, and these are set out quite clearly in the Rules of Golf.

There is no penalty under the Rules for failing to act against the spirit of the game in this way, except that the Committee may disqualify a player for acting contrary to the spirit of the game if it finds that the player has committed serious misconduct.

The meaning of Serious Misconduct is dealt with under Interpretation 1.2a/1:

The phrase “serious misconduct” in Rule 1.2a is intended to cover player misconduct that is so far removed from the expected norm in golf that the most severe sanction of removing a player from the competition is justified. This includes dishonesty, deliberately interfering with another player’s rights, or endangering the safety of others.

The Committee must determine if the misconduct is serious considering all the circumstances. Even if the Committee determines that the misconduct is serious, it may take the view that it is more appropriate to warn the player that a repeat of the misconduct or similar misconduct will result in disqualification, instead of disqualifying him or her in the first instance.

There are several examples of actions by a player that are likely to be considered serious misconduct included amongst them is:

  • Deliberately not playing in accordance with the Rules and potentially gaining a significant advantage by doing so, despite incurring a penalty for a breach of the relevant Rule.

Penalties other than disqualification may be imposed for player misconduct only if those penalties are adopted as part of a Code of Conduct under Rule 1.2b

An action that may be considered as a compromise when dealing with a ‘Mud Ball’, is that, when replacing your ball, there is no requirement to place it back in the same orientation.

It must be placed back in the same position horizontally and vertically, but it can be rotated so that your club will not strike the mud on the ball.

What you are not allowed to do is place the ball with the mud downwards, (acting as a tee-peg) this would raise the position of the ball vertically from its original position, the ball not being placed in its original position.

But this action still depends upon your lifting of the ball being legitimate under a Rule of Golf in the first place.

Enjoy your golf but play fair with your fellow golfers.

England Golf – COVID-19 Update 28 January 2021

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf is fighting our corner and continues to make a case for Golf being a safe form of exercise and to resume as soon as possible, outlining the rationale behind their arguments.

The report states that golf has the same health benefits as walking, cycling, and running and, with the uncrowded nature of golf courses and strict protocols provided, risk of transmission during golf is lower than these other health enhancing physical activities.

If scientific evidence is to be applied logically and consistently, golf should be permitted to return during the current phase of national lockdown (which commenced on 4 January 2021).

The report also puts forward practices and procedures for the safe management of golfing facilities during COVID-19 restrictions which have been been enhanced to reflect the new variant and national lockdown.

During National Lockdown, or Tiers higher than 4:

  • Persons from one household should be permitted to play together.
  • Two adults from different households may play, while children under 12 from these households should be permitted.
  • 2 metres + (aiming for 3 metres) should be adhered to for members of different households.
  • 4 markings should be placed adjacent to the tees 3 metres apart, highlighting appropriate social distancing • Travel to venue must be local (in keeping with wider guidance re exercise)

The report also sets out operational guidance for golf facility owners, professional and administrative staffs engaged in the management of golf courses, clubs and driving ranges when COVID-19 restrictions are in force in the Nations and Regions of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

It emphasises the point that it is essential that golfing facilities operate safely, meeting the sporting, physical activity and mental wellbeing needs of patrons, while abiding, at all times, by prevailing government public health restrictions.

In response to this, England Golf released the following COVID-19 Update yesterday

‘In response to the latest national lockdown and the government making clear it intends to maintain its “science first” approach in their decision-making process, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf has updated its “COVID-19 Secure Golf in the United Kingdom” paper.

This now includes greater evidence and rationale from leading experts to again make the case for the sport to make an early return.

The updated document, titled “COVID-19 Secure Golf in the United Kingdom 2021“, has been informed independently by epidemiologist and Principal Advisor on Physical Activity for Health to the four United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers, Professor Charlie Foster and Chief Medical Officer to the European Tour, Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Andrew Murray.

Letters have been sent to the Prime Minister and the Chief Medical Officers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales enclosing copies.

The paper showcases the steps taken by those in the golf industry to ensure players’ and staff safety by meeting the various COVID protocols, as well as the commitment to continue this and be able to recognise and adapt to the changing circumstances linked to the virus.

It goes on to cite academic and scientific research that clearly demonstrate the link between physical activity and physical and mental wellbeing, including supporting the immune system and helping fight disease.

Professor Charlie Foster commented on the paper: “As the paper shows, golf can be played safely, and it should have a central role in the government’s thinking when it comes to helping people exercise now and as we come out of pandemic restrictions.

“I have therefore recommended that an expert in physical activity join the SAGE advisory group to ensure there is consistency across the sciences represented within it, and to provide advice on allowing physical activity to return as restrictions are reduced.”

Dr Andrew Murray added: “Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your health adding years to life, and having many mental and physical health benefits, be that through – for example – walking, cycling, running or golf.

“Golf’s careful planning and compliance with COVID-19 tiers and regulation means its level of transmission from playing is likely to be extremely low, much lower than indoor space, or more populated outdoor areas.

“This is supported by the various scientific research the paper cites and I encourage those in SAGE and in government to review those as I am sure they will conclude that golf is similar to walking, running and cycling in being beneficial, and is safe to play with the relevant protocols in place.”

The Group’s Chair, North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey said: “It is entirely understandable for government to utilise scientific advice available when creating its strategy, but it is equally important for that scientific evidence to be applied evenly.

“With the help of Professor Foster and Dr Murray, this paper provides that scientific evidence and demonstrates that golf can be played safely with the various enhanced protocols appropriate for the new variants.

“I am grateful to them and all the bodies in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf for their hard work on preparing this thorough paper.

“Again we have been clearly able to make the case that golf is ready, willing and able to return safely at the earliest possible opportunity.”

So keep your fingers crossed and an eye on the press.

Stay safe and well

Tony

Marking and Lifting a Ball

Marking and Lifting a Ball

Hope you are all keeping safe and looking forward to the day playing golf can return, in one form or another.

Following my last post, concerning Winter Golf, an interesting observation was made by a follower of My Golf Blog:

‘I can’t see in model local rule E-3 any recommendation to mark the ball’.

Previously up to December 3st 2018, the Local Rule for Preferred Lies included the words:

‘Before lifting the ball, the player must mark its position’.

In the 2019 Rules of Golf this wording was removed, so removing the requirement to mark a ball if taking relief when a Local Rule for Preferred Lies has been adopted.

The Previous Rules of Golf always stated that the position of a ball must be marked before it is lifted under a Rule that requires it to be replaced.

But, what many of you may not have known was that there was never any requirement to mark the position of a ball that was to be lifted and placed or dropped when taking relief under a Rule of Golf.

There was always confusion over this, especially given the wording of the ‘old’ Preferred Lie local rule which conflicted with the Rules of Golf (old Rule 20.1)

The position with Marking and Lifting a ball has now been clarified with the wording of Rules of Golf 14.1.

14.1 – Marking, Lifting and Cleaning Ball

This Rule applies to the deliberate “lifting” of a player’s ball at rest, which includes picking up the ball by hand, rotating it or otherwise deliberately causing it to move from its spot.

a Spot of Ball to Be Lifted and Replaced Must Be Marked

Before lifting a ball under a Rule requiring the ball to be replaced on its original spot, the player must mark the spot which means to:

  • Place a ball-marker right behind or right next to the ball, or
  • Hold a club on the ground right behind or right next to the ball.

If the spot is marked with a ball-marker, after replacing the ball the player must remove the ball-marker before making a stroke (otherwise the player gets one penalty stroke – my wording).

If the player lifts the ball without marking its spot, marks its spot in a wrong way or makes a stroke with a ball-marker left in place, the player gets one penalty stroke.

If multiple Rule breaches result from a single act or related acts, see Rule 1.3c(4).

When a ball is lifted to take relief under a Rule, the player is not required to mark the spot before lifting the ball.

You can read more by clicking on the link below:

Procedures for Ball: Marking, Lifting and Cleaning; Replacing on Spot; Dropping in Relief Area; Playing from Wrong Place (randa.org)

Keep safe and well

Best wishes

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules and Handicapping Blog: www.my-golf.uk

World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf – Updated 4 November 2021

World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf

This post may be a little academic at this time of a Third Lockdown and Golf Courses being closed in England, Wales and Ireland (Scotland remaining open), but I have received a number of emails over the last few weeks concerning the WHS and Winter Handicaps, Winter Tees, Winter Courses and Winter Rules.

The most common problem has been where Clubs have not rated their Winter Tees, because of their temporary nature,  but wish to run competitions on these courses.

Added to this is is the fact that Club Handicap Software will not offer the option for winter handicaps under the  WHS.

It is the intention of the national federations that there is a 12-month handicapping season.  WHS allows for the return of scores less than 18 holes, when a club designates some unplayable, for example due to wet conditions or lack of light.  Handicap Software Systems  have  guidelines allowing for shortened holes and winter tees.  PCC (the new equivalent to CSS) is designed to account for daily playing conditions and handicaps are calculated against this, not the course rating (the new equivalent to SSS) or par.

Your Club will still be able organise non-qualifying competitions and process these through your Handicap Software for publication.

The World Handicap System states that acceptable scores for handicap purposes should be posted throughout the year.

However, this is not really feasible when winter courses are in play, especially courses which are not sand-based; the advice is that when course conditions are poor then it is not reasonable to be submitting qualifying (Acceptable) scores.

Regardless of the season, acceptable scores can only be submitted on a rated course (which would include a temporary rating where necessary).

If a Club does not have such a course, for whatever reason  and a common one now is that Winter Tees have not been rated, then clearly such scores cannot be submitted.

Appendix G of the Rules of Handicapping is solely for when there are temporary adjustments to a course for reasons such as emergency maintenance on a tee etc. and does not include a winter course.

So, if a club wants to offer Acceptable Scores during the winter period when winter tees are in use, then the course being played needs to have a rating, whether that is a full rating or a temporary rating.

A Club must apply for this rating and it is up to the appropriate County to provide this service (albeit at their convenience – they are all volunteers!).

Whilst the aim is to allow submission of Acceptable Scores all year, a level of realism is required on courses that are clearly sub-standard due to weather conditions (as they would have been in previous years).

This situation may not just be for winter, it would not be unreasonable, even in the Summer playing season, that a club could prevent the return of Acceptable scores (competition and social/General Play) if the course is not in a good condition – examples of this could be when the greens have been hollow-tined or heavily top dressed.

Until a Course Rating has been issued a Club may only run Non-acceptable Competitions.

To sum up:

Acceptable Scores – Winter Competitions

To run Competitions and want scores to be acceptable for Handicap Purposes:

  • Competitions must be run over 9 or 18 Holes.
  • Rounds must be played in accordance with Rule 2.1 of the Rules of Handicapping Page 26.
  • Preferred lies are allowable under the guidance below.
  • Scaling up is allowed in accordance with Rule 3.2 of the Rules of Handicapping (Page 36/37).

If a Club cannot run Competitions that are acceptable for Handicap Purposes, it can still run Non-acceptable Competitions that can be set up using Club Software or Manually to record Scores and Winners.

The following procedure is quite permissible, and several Clubs are following similar ones.

Non-Acceptable Scores – Winter Competitions

To run Competitions where scores are not acceptable for Handicap Purposes, but where results can be processed, a neutral slope of 113 and a Course rating equal to the Par of the holes being played can be used.

This will mean a Chart to generate the Course Handicap is not required (i.e., your Course Handicap is your rounded Handicap Index).  The scores cannot be Acceptable for handicap purposes, but it does allow non-qualifying competitions to be run during this period (lockdown notwithstanding).

    • If your Club uses Software to run the competition you can follow the guidelines within the software to cater for unrated courses.
    • If your Club runs its competitions manually, you can use the Handicap Index as the basis for the calculation of a Course Handicap and/or Playing Handicap which should then be adjusted relative to the number of holes being played.

Guidance on the Preferred Lies Period

Preferred Lies – Model Local Rules E-2 and E-3.

In England, Wales and Scotland the Preferred Lies Period runs from 1st October to 30th April while in Ireland, the Preferred Lies period is from November 1st to April 30th.

Clubs can run competitions where scores are acceptable for handicapping purposes during this period when both Model Local Rule E-2 and E-3 are in force.

It is recommended that a Local Rule permitting preferred lies in the general area outside of the preferred lies period should be used only in extreme circumstances where scores will not be accepted for handicapping purpose (WHS Guidance document Appendix H).

The purpose of preferred lies as described in Model Local Rule E-3 is to protect areas of the course cut to fairway height or less.  This Model Local Rule allows players to lift, clean and place the ball within six inches in the General Area cut to fairway height.  It is recommended that the ball should be marked before lifting.  The ball must be placed in the relief area within six inches of the reference point.

However, it is not recommended that this Rule is routinely adopted for the General Area as a whole because it could give a player an unfair advantage by offering her/him free relief from an unplayable lie, e.g., a ball located behind a tree or under a bush.

There is another Model Local Rule, E-2, that may be adopted which allows balls to be cleaned in the General Area when conditions such as wet ground throughout parts of the course may cause mud to stick to the ball.

The purpose of Model Local Rule E-2 is to allow players to clean the ball in the general area (which would include the Rough) when conditions throughout parts of the course cause mud to stick to the ball.  This allows the ball to be cleaned and replaced and should be limited to those parts of the course where needed, not to the whole course. The ball must be marked before lifting and cleaning and must be replaced on its original spot before playing.

During the Preferred Lie period scores may not be returned for handicapping purposes if any of the following local rules or restrictions apply: –

    1. Preferred lies in the general area or where the relief area exceeds 6 inches.
    2. The ball is lifted from the fairway and placed or dropped in the semi-rough
    3. The competition is over less than 18 holes but is not a 9 hole competition
    4. If the competition is played using winter tees or greens and a temporary modification to the course and slope ratings has not been approved by the area authority
    5. Where the use of fairway mats does not follow the rules provided in the WHS Guidance document Appendix H GH/2.

I hope this offers some help and guidance for those of you trying to work through the Winter Period and organise competitive Golf Competitions

England Golf have issued guidelines on Winter Golf, England Golf Winter Golf Checklist which you can read below or download a copy by clicking on the Download Button below:

You can download a copy of this advice by clicking on the link below:

World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf (my-golf.uk)

Stay safe and well

Best wishes

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Blog: www.my-golf.uk

England Golf – Covid-19 Update: Golf Courses Remain Open in Tier 4 Locations

England Golf – Covid-19 Update: Golf Courses Remain Open in Tier 4 locations

 

For those of you who are unfortunate to be in Tier 4, England Golf have updated their recommendations for Golf Courses located in Tier 4 following the UK Government’s recent announcements on Wednesday 22 December.

If you click on the Button below, or the link, you can learn more:

Covid-19 Update: Golf Courses Remain Open in Tier 4 Locations

Whatever you do, please Stay Safe and Play Safe

 

 

World Handicap System MIxed-Tee Handicap Calculator and Coronavirus Updates

WHS MIxed-Tee Handicap Calculator

Well Christmas is nearly upon us and the end, I hope, of an extraordinary year.

What had all the promise of an exciting golfing year with the launch of the

World Handicap System proved to be exciting in a way we did not expect.

I feel sorry, not just for the disruption to everyone’s golf but to the year that many Captains of all sections had planned and were looking forward too.

But what I have seen is that many adapted to the unprecedented circumstances and became quite enterprising in adapting their golfing calendar and competitions.

AGMs and Captains’ Drive-ins also had to be adapted, but I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone of you have taken on a position within your club this year and wish you every success for 2021.

Despite the COVID-19 Restrictions it is good to see many of you able to play golf and organise or participate in competitions.

The drive to introduce Gender Neutral Tees and also to encourage more mixed competitions, has , from the number of emails I have received,  been taken up worldwide and actually includes many Clubs in England.

This has led to more Mixed-tee Competitions being organised.

However, with the complex nature of calculating Mixed-tee Playing Handicaps under the World Handicap System, many have struggled with the new Handicap Calculations.

CONGU have come to the rescue and produced a WHS Mixed-Tee Handicap Calculator, set out in a Microsoft Office Excel Spreadsheet for everyone to use it covers:

    1. 18 Holes – 2 Tees
    2. 18 Holes – 3 Tees
    3. 9 Holes -2 Tees
    4. Foursomes and Greensomes
    5. Scrambles
    6. Team Competitions, including Best of 4 and Best f 3

To read more about the WHS Mixed-tee calculator, how to use it and Download your own copy click on the link below:

World Handicap System Mixed-Tee Calculator

Enjoy your golf

Stay Safe

Tony

PS  England Golf have updated their recommendations on Play Safe for those of you who, unfortunately, find yourselves in Tier 4.  Follow the link below:

England Golf FAQs and Play Safe Framework

Team Formats of Play: Best of 3

Team Formats of Play: Best of 3

The WHS recommended stroke allowances does not cover advice on ‘Best of’ 3-ball teams.

I have updated the Handicap Allowances Document to include the following recommendations from CONGU:

The following stroke allowances should be used:


Best 1 of 3

Best 2 of 3 All 3 of 3
70% 85%

100%

You can download a copy of the document by clicking on the Download Button below:

 

Enjoy your golf, but for those of you who cannot play at the moment stay patient until the day is announced that you can return to playing golf safely.

Best wishes

Tony