Dr. Robin Farran teaches Advanced Rules at the Golf Academy and is widely regarded as one of the top USGA Rules Officials in the country. He helps write and revise the book! Each week, he sends out new and different Rules incidents, but this week’s offering has to be my favorite so far.
It has to do with the addition of penalty strokes after a player has returned his score card but prior to the close of competition. Under the new limited exception to the disqualification penalty for submission of an incorrect score card (Rule 6-6d), a player is not disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player did not know were incurred before returning the card. As you’re about to read below, the strokes can really start to add up:
1. In stroke play, after a player had returned his score card but prior to the close of competition, the Committee became aware that a player had used a hand warmer to heat his golf ball in his pocket between holes. The player did not realize that warming a golf ball during the round was an issue.
**Use of a golf ball that was purposely warmed during the round is a breach of Rule 14-3. In 2016, a breach of Rule 14-3 is two strokes, however, for multiple breaches, the penalty is disqualification. In this incident, the player is disqualified.
2. After Round 1 of a 36-hole stroke-play competition, a coach discovered that one of his players misunderstood the Local Rule for lift, clean and place in a closely-mown area and had proceeded under the Local Rule procedure when his ball was in the rough on six occasions.
** The 2016 Exception states that if a competitor learns before the close of competition that he failed to include a penalty on his score card that he did not know he had incurred, the penalty will be added to the score for the hole and an additional two-stroke penalty for each hole where the player breached Rule 6-6d.
In this incident, if the breach of the Local Rule occurred on six different holes, the player incurred four penalty strokes, a two-stroke penalty for a breach of the Local Rule and a two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 6-6d, would be added to the scores of each of the six holes where there was a breach of the Local Rule, a total of 24 penalty strokes.
If there were two breaches of the Local Rule on each of three holes, six penalty strokes would be added to each of the three holes where the breach occurred? Four penalty strokes for the two breaches of the Local Rule on each hole plus two penalty strokes for a breach of Rule 6-6d on each of the three holes, a total of 18 penalty strokes.
3. During Round 3, a spectator reported to the Committee that one of the players during Round 1 had touched the water in a water hazard prior to play of the ball in the water hazard. During the Committee’s discussion with the player, the player acknowledged that the club touched the water but did not realize that it was a breach of a Rule.
**The 2016 Exception states that if a competitor learns before the close of competition that he failed to include a penalty on is score card that he did not know he had incurred, the penalty will be added to the score for the hole and an additional two-stroke penalty for each hole where the player breached Rule 6-6d.
In this incident, the player was required to add four penalty strokes to the score for the hole where the breach of Rule 13-4b occurred – a two-stroke penalty for a breach of Rule 13-4b and a two-stroke penalty for breach of Rule 6-6d.