Readers Letters - Jan/Feb 2012
Rules blown off course
Up to the end of 2011, if a ball moved by an outside influence, a player could replace the ball and then play his shot, albeit under a one-shot penalty – Rule 18 2b. This has been seen on tour quite a number of times in extremely windy conditions, notable examples concerning Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy.
Now, in the new Rules of Golf 2012 - 2015 I see that Rule 18 2b has been changed to state that no penalty is incurred – which I think we’d all agree is sensible – but that the ball must be played from the new position in which it came to rest. In my opinion, players could be penalised by several situations occurring and this does not seem to be in the true spirit of the game.
For instance, a player might hit a good shot into the green in severe windy conditions. Upon reaching the green – and having marked the ball and been through his routine – the player then prepares to putt, the wind swirling round his flapping trouser bottoms, whereupon the ball...
1. Rolls into the hole! (OK, we’ll take that!)
2. Rolls off the green and into a bunker
3. Rolls off the green and into a water hazard
4. Rolls off the green into a run-off area, etc, etc.
Surely the players, caddies or officials can determine where the ball originally lay and moved from! Why was the decision made that the ball must be played from the new position?
I have enjoyed recent contributions from your Rules expert, Ashley Weller.
I’d be interested to hear what he has to say on the above.
Peter Rowley, Cheshire (via e-mail)
Ashley Weller writes:
The Rule dealing with a ball at rest moved by an outside agency is, in fact, dealt with in Rule 18-1, not 18-2b, and has remained unchanged in that there is no penalty and the ball must be replaced. Rule 18-2 deals with a ball at rest moved by the player, his partner, caddie or equipment. Specifically, Rule 18-2b states that after a player has addressed the ball, if the ball subsequently moves (other than as the result of a stroke), the player is deemed to have caused the ball to move, is penalised one stroke and the ball must be replaced.
There are two changes to the Rules for 2012 that need to be considered here.
The first is the Definition (found in a section at the start of the Rule book) of Addressing The Ball. Previously this was defined as when the player has taken his stance and grounded the club, from 2012 this will be when the player has grounded his club, regardless of whether he has taken his stance. Secondly, an exception has been added to Rule 18-2b, giving a player some additional protection. It states that if it is known or virtually certain that the player did not cause his ball to move, Rule 18-2b does not apply, so he is not penalised.
So, in the cases of Harrington and McIlroy that you refer to, if it is certain that wind caused the ball to move, even though both players had addressed the ball, they would now escape penalty. The fact that the ball, in these circumstances, would not be replaced is due to the fact that wind is not classed as an outside agency (again refer to the Definitions section), so Rule 18-1 does not apply and the ball is not replaced. So, all in all, the player comes out on top under the changes to the Rules!
...and more on the Rules
In a recent club competition I encountered a rather unfortunate incident with regard to my ball landing in a completely flooded greenside bunker.
According to the R&A Rules of Golf, the player is entitled to relief without penalty providing that he drops his ball within the confines of a bunker. If this is not possible then he can drop outside the bunker (no nearer the hole) under a penalty of one stroke.
This has caused divided opinion among my fellow members as to whether a penalty stroke should be incurred due to the fact that the bunker is full of casual water. Why should a player be secure relief without penalty when fairways are flooded with casual water yet if it occurs in a bunker a one-shot penalty applies?
I would appreciate hearing what you or fellow readers of the magazine think about this Rule?
Keep up the good work producing the best quality magazine in golf – I always look forward to receiving the next issue and only wish that you published more regularly.
R. Cox, Kenton, Harrow
Thanks for a touch of Frost
In June this year I took advantage of Gi’s offer of a free lesson with coach Dan Frost. After watching me hit some balls and filming my swing on video at his teaching base, Pachesham Golf Centre, in Surrey, Dan quickly diagnosed my problems. He told me that my swing lacked speed, there was too much lateral movement of my body and that I needed to focus on rotation in order to set about correcting this.
As a means of demonstrating this he gave me a drill where he tied one end of a resistance band around the hosel of the club, the other end around the upper part of my left arm. When I then made my swing, the pull of the resistance band quickly encouraged me to ‘set’ my wrists and the club earlier in the backswing, and with a similar re-hingeing on the through-swing I was able to increase my clubhead speed through impact.
To stop my lateral movement he suggested another drill where I set-up in my regular address posture (without a club) before placing my arms across my chest, whereupon he asked me to make a turn with my body while tapping the toes of both feet. As I write this I appreciate it may sound a little weird(!), but trust me when I tell you that doing this really helped me to feel the way my upper body coiled over the stability of the legs.
I know there are a lot of good young coaches out there but I wanted to write and commend Gi on giving Dan a platform. Since June my handicap has been cut from 7.3 to 6.4 and I recently won my club’s order of merit.
I will be continuing my lessons in 2012 in the hope of making it to 4 by the summer. We are currently working on the short game, following themes featured recently in Gi (see issue 106), and I can already see improvement. So thanks again to Gi for introducing me to Dan Frost – and to Dan himself for giving me the opportunity to work with him.
S. J. Wren Swindon, Wilts
Faldo: misunderstood – and sorely missed on this side of the Atlantic
Sir Nick Faldo is without question the greatest British golfer of all time. He worked tirelessly to be the best player he could be and his record speaks for itself. And yet throughout his career he was dogged with bad press, often accused of being surly, an arrogant individual obsessed only with his own success. In return for having the bravery to rebuild his swing to compete at the highest level (and having the balls to repeat it under the greatest pressure), he was labelled a boring, ‘mechanical’ golfing machine.
Seems like he was short-changed, to me. Yes, it may be true that Nick could come across as surly and self-centred. (I am not a tour player, but I imagine that to blank out what’s around you there are times when this goes with the territory.) It is also true that, on a number of occasions, he put his foot in his mouth will illadvised comments, thanking the press ‘from the heart of my bottom’ being an all-time low at Muirfield in 1992.
But aren’t we all guilty of saying something we wished we hadn’t at some time or another? It’s a thoroughly human trait.
On the golf course, Nick’s only ‘crime’ was that he was at work, totally focused on what he was doing, as most top professionals are, in any walk of life. And to watch him in full flow was something magnificent to behold – with that repeating rhythm and pure, relentless striking of the golf ball. For anyone who loves the game of golf, it was a privilege to watch him play.
Which is why I was so pleased to see Sir Nick back in the UK – if not in person then at least gracing the cover of your excellent magazine with a typically well thought out teaching piece in your Oct/Nov issue (106).
I speak as I find; I have met and spoken with him several times and he has always been courteous, friendly, and generous. He has signed books, even one of his golf balls, and on one occasion in the player’s car park at Wentworth he even gave me the glove he was wearing, which he signed. Something I will always cherish.
Why is it in this country we cannot seem to embrace our true sporting heroes?
Faldo is one of them, not only for his golfing achievements as a player, but also through the creation of the Faldo Series, which has grown into a truly international vehicle, giving talented youngsters to experience top-class competition.
Recent graduates have included Yani Tseng and Rory McIlroy – two of the finest golfers in the world today. It’s a shame the mainstream press in this country don’t put in the same effort they did on knocking Nick Faldo to help promote what he is doing for the game of golf.
Those who watch and listen to Faldo commentating for the Golf Channel and CBS Television in America love him for his quick wit, dry humour and – most of all – for his knowledge of the game and the ability to talk a great deal of sense in all golfing matters. It’s a shame we don’t see more of him here in his homeland. Golf broadcasting in the UK could sorely use someone of his stature to spare us the banality of journeyman pros. Congratulations on a great magazine. I hope that in the pages of Gi, at least, we are treated to further lessons and features with a genuine (if often misunderstood) legend of the game.
Chris Norton, Chichester, West Sussex
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