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Major RJM Warren-Dawlish M.C. has been Secretary of Royal St Luke’s Golf Club in Suffolk since 1985. A leading authority on the Rules of Golf, guerrilla tactics and continental drift, he has graciously agreed to publish items of his correspondence is these columns. The opinions, prejudices and obsessions expressed are his alone and do not (necessarily) reflect those of Golf International or Golf Today.

Royal St. Luke’s Golf Club (Est. 1603)
pulsa inveni repulsa

The Court of Equity

Having to deal daily with the lunacies of members, visitors, caddies and the Healthy & Safe Executive (whose railings now rule & rile the world) it is most agreeable to be invited to undertake duties of a higher nature. Such was my recent election as one of the nine Justices of the Court of Equity, set up by the British Golf Union to examine cases which the R&A finds to be ultra vires – i.e. beyond it.

As you all know the Supreme Court of golf is constituted by R&A Rules Limited and the United States Golf Association. They jointly oversee and – every four years – agree any necessary amendments to the Rules of Golf. However, where an issue does not fall within the scope of the Rules, and yet directly affects the game, is there a Rule? There is.

Rule 1-4: Points Not Covered by Rules: If any point in dispute is not covered by the Rules, the decision should be made in accordance with Equity.

So there you have it. Equity is the last stop on the road; the final swish of the legal cur- tain. However, exactly what constitutes “equity” has remained the subject of profound philosophical debate among golfers. Deriving from the Latin naturalis aequitas, or natural equality and fairness, it is helpfully defined by the OED as “A recourse to general principles of justice.”

Some say that equity is just common sense, which again just begs the question: what is sense? Is it that a prior knowledge which derives from the exercise of pure reason, or is it that empirical knowledge which can only be generated a posteriori by sensual and physical experience? As we all know, such debates rage daily in caddy huts and halfway houses. The whole thing is a minefield. Which is why the British Golf Union is to be congratulated on the setting up of the Court of Equity. The court sits quarterly and in rotation around the countries of the British Isles to hear cases which the Rules Committee cannot handle. Two examples of the submissions and judgements which constitute its caseload are presented below, and I would invite any reader with a personal query on a matter of Equity to contact me at this address.


To: The Justices of the Court of Equity
Sitting at York.

May it please your Honours;

Following a radical prostate operation I have to wear a surgical appliance, namely an Alert!™ incontinence pad which incorporates a loud warning buzzer. Should I become, well, leaky, the thing goes off for 60 seconds and can only be silenced by hauling out the pad and squeezing it. I have finally trained Wilkins, my caddy, to squeeze it into silence in situ, but this does involve a bit of a struggle with atten- dant grunting and commotion.

Now, during a matchplay tie with Mr H.D.Gunter at Bagshot GC, Surrey, the rain repeatedly got into my trousers and simulated losses of continence. The buzzer went off twice while Gunter was driving, again when he was trying to get out of a bunker at the 12th and finally on the 18th green as he was addressing a 5-footer to win. I’m afraid he exploded. He accused me of deliberate tactical buzzing, in effect cheating, and stormed off claiming the hole and the match.

The issue is: can a surgical appliance such as mine be deemed to be an Outside Agency or is it an Unlawful Appurtenance. The R&A say they cannot rule (surprising, given the level of incontinence at St Andrews) and have referred the case to your Court for settlement. I am, with high consideration,

Your Honours’ obliged & humble servant

R.A. Kingsbury.


We find no reference to noise-emitting incontinence pads in the published Decisions of the Rules of Golf Committees of the R&A and USGA. We are thus competent to adju- dicate in equity and rule as follows: Your matchplay tie with Mr Gunter must be replayed. In order to restore equity be- tween both parties, Hargreaves will also wear an Alert!™ incontinence pad which he will be permitted to trigger, without warning, an equal number of times to yourself. This will be achieved using a con- cealed water bottle affixed to the inside of his trousers. In addition the party with the higher handicap will be permitted extra buzzes equal to ¾ of the difference. Failure to comply with this ruling will result in your being, literally, hung out to dry.


To: The Justices of the Court of Equity
Sitting at Carmarthen

May it please your Honours;

As you will be aware, the PGA has sanctioned the use of powerful laser rangefinders in the professional tournaments they control. These devices are apparently based on the Maser, used by the military to disable – i.e. fry – enemy installations at great distances. At Whinfields GC we are currently having a trial of Maser rangefinding during three monthly medals. The results have been unexpected. A member used his Maser to set fire to the back- side of another member’s plus-fours last week and stands accused of arson fire, while yet another scared the Captain witless on the 12th tee by igniting his cigar from the clubhouse balcony half a mile away. This clearly cannot go on – and we can find nothing whatsoever about Masers in the Rules.

I am etc,

G.E. Evereard.


A Maser is of course a device for Mi- crowave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A Laser by contrast is a light amplifier that works with higher frequency photons in the ultraviolet spectrum while the Maser operates at the longer wavelength infra-red sector of the electromagnetic spectrum. We would have thought that this distinction was obvious. We are most surprised at your club’s use of hand-held Masers on a golf course since they produce, as your Captain discovered, not visible light waves but microwaves which do precisely what they do domesti- cally in the kitchen – i.e. they fry things.

We find that it is clearly not equitable, indeed it is quite disgraceful for a member to set fire to another player’s trousers during a Medal round without due warning. Indeed, the removal of a fellow competitor’s trousers, and especially plus- fours, whether by physical debagging or by the remote application of Maser radiation, is all the more reprehensible given the cost of replacement. Furthermore, the deliberate igniting, at very long range, of a player’s cigar, cheroot or joint, with or without his knowledge and consent is unwarrantable, since players should not smoke on the course.

We find that the Whinfields Masers be soused and doused.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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