Must I Use the Same Make and Model of Golf Ball to Play Out a Hole or a Whole Round of Golf?

A reader of my Blog recently asked:

‘If you play a mixed Match Play competition and the Men tee off first with their ball of their choice, is it cheating when it comes to the Ladies teeing off with their own ball, or must they tee with the ball used by the man on the first tee?’

Provided the competition does not have a ‘One-Ball’ local rule in operation then it is quite permissible to play with different balls.

It does not mean that you have to literally play with the same ball as your partner, only a ball of the same make and model.

In formats where players play one ball, often partners may agree to play a particular make and model of ball that one partner prefers, but this does not tie them to having to use that specific make and model to play out the hole or the whole round. There may be times when the ball has to be substituted and players do not necessarily have the same ball in their bag.

The one ball rule is an optional condition that Committees may choose to use. If this rule is in effect, you must play with the same brand, make and model of golf ball that you started the round with. This means that if you start playing with a Titleist Pro V1, you must play a Titleist Pro V1 for the remainder of the round and may not switch to another brand or even another model of Titleist golf ball (see Committee Procedures; Model Local Rule G-4).

This rule is usually reserved for elite competitions especially those played by the professional golfers, normal Club and County Competitions do not adopt this rule.

Enjoy your golf,

Tony

Rules of Golf Blog: www.my-golf.uk

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

May a Player Ask for Advice or Help During a Round of Golf?

Asking for Advice or Help During a Round of Golf

I recently received the following question:

‘I was out with a Junior and her Dad in a Medal Comp .
On one hole she asked her dad if she should use her 6 iron and I immediately told her she cannot ask him any questions like this during a round of golf of in which he was not paired with her or working as her caddy ? I did not see if he then gave any visible indication (a nod or similar) as I went to play my ball

On another hole, played over water, the parent reminded her to take account of the wind.

When I have looked at this I found the following old ruling and would ask if this is still a ruling now following various changes ?

“The following ten questions and statements, do incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for the player asking for, or giving the advice:
“Do you think that an 8-iron will get me to the green?”
“Am I swinging too fast?”
“I think that this putt is dead straight, what do you think?”
“Should I try and play this ball out of the water hazard or take a penalty drop?”
“That was my 7-wood, what are you going to use?”
“Keep your head still as you putt.”
“You haven’t really got a shot; if I were you I’d declare your ball unplayable.”
“The wind is against us, you need at least one extra club.”
“Don’t use your driver here or you may end up in the water hazard.”

Finally, there is one statement that many of us regularly use but probably shouldn’t if the Rule on Advice is very strictly interpreted. When a fellow competitor’s putt just lips out and he goes charging up to the hole to tap it in we should try and refrain from saying ……….… “Take your time”’

Firstly, we have the definition of Advice under the Rules of Golf 2019:

Advice
Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:
• Choosing a club,
• Making a stroke, or
• Deciding how to play during a hole or round.
But advice does not include public information, such as:
• The location of things on the course such as the hole, the putting green, the fairway, penalty areas, bunkers, or another player’s ball,
• The distance from one point to another, or
• The Rules.

Interpretation Advice/1 – Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Advice
Examples of when comments or actions are considered advice and are not allowed include:
• A player makes a statement regarding club selection that was intended to be overheard by another player who had a similar stroke.
• In individual stroke play, Player A, who has just holed out on the 7th hole, demonstrates to Player B, whose ball was just off the putting green, how to make the next stroke. Because Player B has not completed the hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 7th hole. But, if both Player A and Player B had completed the 7th hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 8th hole.
• A player’s ball is lying badly and the player is deliberating what action to take. Another player comments, “You have no shot at all. If I were you, I would decide to take unplayable ball relief.” This comment is advice because it could have influenced the player in deciding how to play during a hole.
• While a player is setting up to hit his or her shot over a large penalty area filled with water, another player in the group comments, “You know the wind is in your face and it’s 250 yards to carry that water?”

Interpretation Advice/2 – Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Not Advice
Examples of comments or actions that are not advice include:
• During play of the 6th hole, a player asks another player what club he or she used on the 4th hole that is a par-3 of similar length.
• A player makes a second stroke that lands on the putting green. Another player does likewise. The first player then asks the second player what club was used for the second stroke.
• After making a stroke, a player says, “I should have used a 5-iron” to another player in the group that has yet to play onto the green, but not intending to influence his or her play.
• A player looks into another player’s bag to determine which club he or she used for the last stroke without touching or moving anything.
• While lining up a putt, a player mistakenly seeks advice from another player’s caddie, believing that caddie to be the player’s caddie. The player immediately realizes the mistake and tells the other caddie not to answer.

Secondly, we have the Rule of Golf itself, Rule 10.2 which deals with the limits to the advice or help a player may get during a round and who may give it.

Rule 10.2: Purpose: A fundamental challenge for the player is deciding the strategy and tactics for his or her play. So there are limits to the advice and other help the player may get during a round.
a.
Advice
During a round, a player must not:
• Give advice to anyone in the competition who is playing on the course,
• Ask anyone for advice, other than the player’s caddie, or
• Touch another player’s equipment to learn information that would be advice if given by or asked of the other player (such as touching the other player’s clubs or bag to see what club is being used).
This does not apply before a round, while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a or between rounds in a competition.
See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player may give advice to his or her partner or the partner’s caddie and may ask the partner or partner’s caddie for advice).
b.
Other Help
(1) Pointing Out Line of Play for Ball Anywhere Except on Putting Green. A player may have his or her line of play pointed out by:
• Having his or her caddie or any other person stand on or close to the player’s line of play to show where it is, but that person must move away before the stroke is made.
• Having an object (such as a bag or towel) set down on the course to show the line of play, but the object must be removed before the stroke is made.
(2) Pointing Out Line of Play for Ball on Putting Green. Before the stroke is made, only the player and his or her caddie may point out the player’s line of play, but with these limitations:
• The player or caddie may touch the putting green with a hand, foot or anything he or she is holding, but must not improve the conditions affecting the stroke in breach of Rule 8.1a, and
• The player or caddie must not set an object down anywhere on or off the putting green to show the line of play. This is not allowed even if that object is removed before the stroke is made.
While the stroke is being made, the caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play or do anything else (such as pointing out a spot or creating a shadow on the putting green) to point out the line of play.
Exception – Caddie Attending Flagstick: The caddie may stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play to attend the flagstick.
(3) No Setting Down Object to Help in Taking Stance. A player must not take a stance for the stroke using any object that was set down by or for the player to help in lining up his or her feet or body, such as a club set down on the ground to show the line of play.
If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away from the stance and removing the object.
(4) Restriction on Caddie Standing Behind Player. When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made:
• The player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.
• If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away.
Exception – Ball on Putting Green: When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.

See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player’s partner and the partner’s caddie may take the same actions (with the same limitations) as the player’s caddie may take under Rules 10.2b(2) and (4)).
(5) Physical Help and Protection from Elements. A player must not make a stroke:
• While getting physical help from his or her caddie or any other person, or
• With his or her caddie or any other person or object deliberately positioned to give protection from sunlight, rain, wind or other elements.
Before the stroke is made, such help or protection is allowed, except as prohibited in Rules 10.2b(3) and (4).
This Rule does not prohibit the player from taking his or her own actions to protect against the elements while making a stroke, such as by wearing protective clothing or holding an umbrella over his or her own head.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 10.2: General Penalty.

Taking what the correspondent described, I am assuming that the Girl and her Dad were competing in the same competition as fellow competitors and not partners, if so, this will be interpreted as:

1. ‘On one hole she asked her dad if she should use her 6 iron’. General penalty of 2 strokes to the Girl for asking for advice.

2. ‘I did not see if he then gave any visible indication (a nod or similar)’. If he did then he would receive 2 penalty strokes for giving advice.

3. ‘On another hole the parent reminded her to take account of the wind’. Parent receives 2 stroke penalty for giving advice. The Girl does not get a penalty because she did not ask for it, however she must endeavour to stop her Dad from offering advice, otherwise she is regarded as having asked for the advice and receives a 2-stroke penalty each time. Difficult for her at her age and it being her Dad giving the unsolicited advice, but Rules are rules, especially in competitions where you are competing against other players.

( I have also been made aware of Dads lining their children’s putts for them, which again carries the General Penalty if they are not playing partners or acting as caddies)

Note Rules of Golf Interpretation 10.2a/2

Player Must Try to Stop Ongoing Advice that Is Given Voluntarily
If a player gets advice from someone other than his or her caddie (such as a spectator) without asking for it, he or she gets no penalty. However, if the player continues to get advice from that same person, the player must try to stop that person from giving advice. If the player does not do so, he or she is treated as asking for that advice and gets the penalty under Rule 10.2a.
In a team competition (Rule 24), this also applies to a player who gets advice from a team captain who has not been named an advice giver.

With the following:

However, the following ten questions and statements, do incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for the player asking for, or giving the advice:
“Do you think that an 8-iron will get me to the green?”
“Am I swinging too fast?”
“I think that this putt is dead straight, what do you think?”
“Should I try and play this ball out of the water hazard or take a penalty drop?”
“That was my 7-wood, what are you going to use?”
“Keep your head still as you putt.”
“You haven’t really got a shot; if I were you I’d declare your ball unplayable.”
“The wind is against us, you need at least one extra club.”
“Don’t use your driver here or you may end up in the water hazard.”

The answer is yes, the General Penalty would apply to either the player giving the advice or the player asking for it.

The same is true for:

Finally, there is one statement that many of us regularly use but probably shouldn’t if the Rule on Advice is very strictly interpreted. When a fellow competitor’s putt just lips out and he goes charging up to the hole to tap it in we should try and refrain from saying ……….… “Take your time”

Otherwise someone could have stopped Rory, in the first round of the Open 2019, rushing his tap-in putt and he would have been there, playing on the weekend.

A final point is that if this ‘giving or asking for advice situation’ continues during a round then the players should be disqualified from the competition and if their actions persist into other competitions, then the Committee would have every right to suspend them from entering competitions for a period of time determined by the Committee. They would obviously require third-party evidence of this happening.

I know this is a little long-winded, but I hope it clarifies the situation of asking for or giving advice from a player, other than a playing partner

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules Blog: www.my-golf.uk

Submitting Non-qualifying Away Scores.

Reporting Non-qualifying Away Scores.

Some players seem a little concerned about England Golf’s decision to enforce CONGU Clauses 4.5b and 8.12 of the CONGU Unified Handicapping System and the effect it may have on their handicap.
– Clause 4.5b allows the Union to require a player to return to the Home Club information regarding scores in Non-Qualifying Competitions as provided by Clause 8.12.
– Clause 8.12 states that the player must provide to his Home Club information regarding scores in Non-qualifying Competitions.

In a statement made by Gemma Hunter, Handicap and Course Rating Manager of England Golf, players should not be overly concerned because the submission of theses away scores do not impact directly on their handicap.

The reason for making players submit these away scores is to gather evidence on the performance of players playing Competitions away from their home club.

Over recent years, England Golf has been aware of a number of cases of players who protect inflated handicaps, only to repeatedly collect high-value rewards when playing in competitions away from home and at this stage it is
purely an information gathering exercise to provide clubs with evidence to support handicap reviews.

The ruling has been introduced for members of English golf clubs to stop what England Golf calls rogue players manipulating the system to their advantage.

Because it is difficult to identify individual players the new stipulation requires that everyone playing in non-qualifying competitions away from home must return their scores to their home club. Players who ignore this responsibility could even have their handicap suspended.

England Golf has introduced this clause of the CONGU handicapping system to provide clubs with evidence to support handicap reviews.

The new system will highlight players who, for example, take part in as many competitions as possible at home and whose handicaps creep up 0.1 on every occasion – but who repeatedly win prizes away from home. Similarly, it will
show up the players who play the bare minimum of competitions at home, but who are known for their away successes.’

Following a Continuous Assessment Report or an Annual Review, if there is suspicion over a player’s handicap and known playing ability then looking at a player’s submitted Non -qualifying scores may provide evidence that her/his current Handicap is not a true reflection of their playing ability and a Handicap adjustment is justified.

The new rule applies to all stroke play scores returned under competition conditions, including team events.
Individual scores or Team results must be returned in all Singles, Am-Am and 4BBB with the exception of Texas Scrambles, Foursomes and Greensome competitions, or casual social rounds.

Another comment by Gemma Hunter, states, “We’re not talking about a sleeve of balls. These are big prizes including luxury trips overseas, sets of clubs and electric trolleys. It’s essential to do this to protect the integrity of the system. We can’t sit back and let people manipulate the system, but without evidence clubs can’t take any action.

It’s not about recording every score in a Fourball Better Ball but returning the team score.

If the same individuals or teams keeping winning or coming near the top of leader boards at events away from home, that should at least indicate to their club’s handicapping officials that further investigations are required – and the only way to achieve that is by asking for all the scores
to be reported.

Social golf is not affected, but clubs are advised to be aware of performances in swindles which the handicap committee could take into account at the annual review.

England Golf also recommends that clubs which run non-qualifying open competitions should inform the prize winners’ home clubs of their scores.”

Individual scores or Team results must be returned in all Singles, Am-Am and 4BBB with the exception of Texas Scrambles, Foursomes and Greensome competitions, or casual social rounds, failure to return these scores by the
player could result in loss or suspension of handicap under clause 24.1.

If and when the New world Handicap System comes into operation these non-qualifying scores should be recorded automatically and rogue players identified by the Handicap Software ‘factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control’, which means it will pick up players whose recorded scores may indicate a playing ability different from that expected from their handicap, either better or worse.

You can download a copy of England Golf’s Recording of Non-qualifying Scores by clicking on the download button below:

Download “England Golf Recording of Non-qualifying Scores” Recording-of-Non-Qualifying-Scores.pdf – Downloaded 29 times – 215 KB

You can download a copy of England Golf’s Reporting Non-Qualifying Scores Q&A by clicking on the download button below:

Download “England Golf Non-qualifying Scores Q&A” Non-Qualifying-Scores-QA-2017.pdf – Downloaded 20 times – 256 KB

So enjoy your golf, but play fair and help root out these bandits.

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules of Golf Blog: my-golf.uk

Can Shotgun Starts be Run as Qualifying Competitions?

I received a question recently as to the status of Shotgun Starts and whether they could be run as Qualifying Competitons for Handicap Purposes

Under the Rules of Golf, a Committee is at liberty to set any teeing ground where a player will start her/his round and can stipulate the order in which holes are to be played in that round, so covering split tee starts and shotgun
starts.

Under the CONGU Unified Handicap System Decision 1(g) Shotgun Starts may be played as Qualifying Competitions so long as the course being played conforms to Competition Playing Conditions

Definition: Competition Play Conditions
Competition Play Conditions prevail during Stroke Play, Par/Bogey and Stableford competitions over 18 holes and for competitions played over a Designated Nine-Hole Course under the Rules of Golf from Competition Tees.
Competition Play Conditions shall not prevail when the length of the course played varies by more than 100 yards (91 metres) from the length of the Measured Course.
Note 1: Special rules apply when the length of a Measured Course has been temporarily reduced or increased – see Clause 13.
Note 2: Special rules apply to Nine-Hole Qualifying Competitions – see Clause 22.

Decision: Dec.1(g) Status of a competition in which shotgun starts are employed or competitors are authorised by the Committee to start other than at the first tee.
Competitions in which competitors are authorised by the Committee to commence play elsewhere than from the first tee will be Qualifying Competitions for handicap purposes provided all other requirements of the
UHS are satisfied. This includes ‘Shotgun Starts’.

So the answer is yes, Shotgun Competitons can be organised as Qualifying Competitions.

Mixed Golf – Competition Handicap Allowance/Equalising Strokes

I recently received a question by email from one of my readers in which she says:

‘Hi Tony. Hope you can help clear this up. Our club has recently introduced mixed golf comps. The men play of the back tees and ladies off red forward tees. The Ladies SSS 69 and Men’s 67.  Therefore under congu the ladies were given 2 shots off their scores. Recently this has changed, and the ladies are no longer being given shots back as the Pro says this is not a rule but just CONGU guidance, and that as the ladies were coming in with good scores they have decided to trial the comps without any extra shots being given. My argument here is that we are playing off the harder course. It has been allocated a higher SSS. The pro says as we are a short course that this shouldn’t make a difference. Who is right? Can a club ignore Congu…is it a rule or just guidance?’

My initial comment was, ‘The reader is in fact correct and the adjustment is taken as a rule’.

Handicap Allowances, Competition Handicap Allowances or Equalising Strokes are always a source of contention and misunderstanding. In the past there was always talk of ‘Courtesy Strokes’ for the Ladies. The present-day handicap allowance can be seen to be similar but the Strokes are not given as a courtesy but MUST be given as a right, and not just to the Ladies.

The Playing Handicap Allowance was introduced in 2008 to try to encourage clubs to play more Mixed Golf Competitions. In cases where different sets of tees have been allocated different SSSs there had to be a way to determine a winner of a competition and a way to adjust handicaps in a fair and equitable manner. This was not just Mixed gender competitions but competitions between all sections, Ages and Abilities.

In Mixed Competitions, in order to maintain equity, it was decided to adjust playing handicaps for some competitors to provide a A Competition Handicap Allowance for Competitions played from different tees , players playing from the tees with the higher SSS receiving Equalising Strokes as directed by CONGU. Because it is a directive, identified by the word MUST in the instructions, Clubs do not have any choice over this and failure to do so could be seen as going against the wishes of CONGU that all affiliated clubs agree to uphold, discriminatory or even allowing players, playing the lower rated course, to play off a higher handicap than that to which they are entitled.

The reader mentioned that 2 strokes used to be taken off her score. This was usual in the early days of applying the handicap adjustment, today the adjustment, Equalising Strokes, is added to the player’s handicap before play.

If the format of a competition requires a player to play off a percentage of her/his handicap the allowance is added to their handicap before the percentage is calculated.

One other point, you may hear some members say, ‘the ladies do not need extra strokes, their tees are farther forward than the men’s’ or ‘the ladies will receive equalising strokes because the competition is being played off the men’s card’. This is a myth; the allowance is purely a handicap issue and the adjustment must be made regardless of whichever card the competition is being played against.

As a simple example, as to why this should be, in Medal Stroke Play for the purposes of the competition each player playing the course with the higher SSS MUST be awarded a Competition Handicap Allowance equivalent to her/his playing handicap increased by the difference in the two SSSs. (Should your competition have a handicap limit, if by adding the appropriate number of equalising strokes a player’s Competition Handicap Allowance provides her/him with a handicap greater than the limit, that handicap stands, and they play off that higher handicap).

If a handicap adjustment is not made an unfair result could stand. See below

Using the SSSs supplied by the reader:

Ladies Forward Tee, SSS 69, Men’s Backward Tee, SSS 67,

(Men’s SSS – Ladies’ SSS = 2), Ladies MUST receive 2 Equalising Strokes added to their handicap. if the Ladies Handicap is not increased by 2 then:

Handicap Gross Score Returned SSS for course played Nett Score
Man 18 85 67 67
Lady 25 93 69 68

 

The Man would be declared winner, which would be wrong because the Lady has in fact played to one under her handicap.

A similar adjustment must be made to playing handicaps in Stableford competitions as well, in these competitions the relationship between SSS and Par is used, and the adjustment would be the difference between the scores required to play to par i.e. (Men’s Par – Men’s SSS) and (Ladies’ Par – Ladies’ SSS). For example, if the Men’s Par was 70 and the Ladies’ par was 70

Player S/ford Points

Returned

Par for Course SSS for course played Par – SSS S/ford Points

To Play to Par

Man 39 70 67 3 39
Lady 38 70 69 1 37

The Man would be declared winner, which would be wrong because, again, the Lady has in fact played to one under her handicap.

The Ladies MUST have a Handicap adjustment of 2 strokes being added to their handicap to provide a Competition Handicap Allowance

England Golf have produced a Mixed Tee Handicap Calculator which you can download from here –  Mixed-Tee-Handicap-Calculator.

The comment that it is not a CONGU rule is not quite correct, because it is in fact a CONGU Directive that all Clubs MUST ABIDE TO and is explained in Appendix O – Competitions played from different tees 2018 of the CONGU Unified Handicap System Handbook, a copy of which you can read or download here; the comments on the length of the course are also incorrect, firstly because the provision of a Competition Handicap Allowance is a Handicap issue and nothing to do directly with the geography or playing conditions of a course and secondly because the length of the course has already been taken into consideration by the County Course Rating team when they issue the Course Rating (SSS).

On a competition day, the playing conditions of the course, whether favourable or unfavourable, will also be taken into consideration and reflected in the CSS for that competition taken from the scores returned. Tell your members not to worry about the results returned in competitions using Competition Handicap Allowances, those handicaps are for competition purposes only.

Another point that many golfers fail to realise is that although they are playing physically on a course with all its topographical features and other variables, easy and difficult holes, they are actually scoring against the club scorecard as designed by the Golf Club Committee.

But how many times do you hear ‘I played to par today’ not understanding that ‘par’ would in fact be the SSS for the course they played, or ‘I don’t know why this hole is SI 1’ when a Club may have allocated its SIs to holes relevant to Match Play rather than difficulty of play of a hole as originally suggested by CONGU. (CONGU have now suggested that because Clubs are playing more Stableford competitions Stroke Indices may be allocated according to the difficulty of play of holes or Clubs could print separate Scorecards for Stableford Competitions).

If ‘good’ scores are being returned, handicaps will be adjusted where necessary and scoring will level out naturally. Your Club’s ISV Handicap software should take care of this and apply Exceptional Score adjustments if necessary. Also, if your Mixed Competitions are setup on a computer, your handicap software will automatically apply a Competition Handicap Allowance to the relevant players and this will be reflected in the competition results, Remember, that Competition Handicaps are only used for the competition results and do not count in the CSS calculation.

My own experience lately at my own course is that with the current weather conditions and dry, harder courses and occasionally strong winds, the conditions favour our Ladies and they are returning some exceptionally good scores compared to the Men.

To disallow a Competition Handicap allowance to which a player is entitled to is at best unfair and could be seen as making a player play of a handicap lower than that to which s/he is entitled or on the other side it can be seen as allowing a player, playing the course with the lower SSS, to play off a higher handicap than that to which s/he is entitled.

New Year Golf!

Hope it is not too late to wish you all a very Happy New Year, but how has 2018 started for you?

On top of implementing the CONGU changes we have had to contend with playing in wet and windy conditions and some course closures.

Luckily only one competiton had to be cancelled after it had started.

How do you deal with this type of situation?

Well a great publication that has served me well is Scottish Golf’s ‘GUIDANCE ON RUNNING COMPETITIONS AFFECTED BY ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS’, coming from a country where ‘adverse’ could be interpreted more as ‘extreme’ it offers help and sensible advice for any golf club competitions’ committee; well worth a read and even keeping a copy in the Handicap or Competition Committees’ files.

Click on ‘GUIDANCE ON RUNNING COMPETITIONS AFFECTED BY ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS’ to read a copy.

Enjoy your golf in 2018.