Golf Course Management

OCT 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Through the green Jack Fry, Ph.D. The Rules of Golf and its fine lines The match was all square through 17 holes. After a difficult day of worm-burners and pop-ups off the tee, I was focused this time. I fixed my eyes on the Nike swoosh and hit the ball solidly with my new, white TaylorMade R11 driver. I followed the ball's path more accurately than NBC's Flight Tracker follows Tiger Woods' ball off the tee. And then, unfortunately, it started "tracking" toward a large pond on the left. As it descended, it was too far away to tell if it went in the water. As I walked toward the hazard, I did my best to think positively. Don't dwell on the last shot, right? I was playing better — the ball did take fight, it traveled more than 150 yards and I didn't have to scream "fore!" from the tee. And I knew my opponent, Steve, was beginning to sense the groundswell of my momentum. After all, I'd won the last two holes, and this hole could decide the match. This is serious business, with $10 and bragging rights to the winner. If I didn't fnd the ball, I'd take a drop from the lateral hazard (Rule 26-1, Relief for Ball in Water Hazard) and give up only one stroke; he was lying in the deep rough and likely wouldn't reach the green anyway. An expansive area of tall grass, some of which was inside the margin of the hazard and some that was not, surrounded the pond. I searched for several minutes, but to no avail. It must have landed in the water. I removed a new ball from my bag, and began to measure two club lengths from the spot where I believed it last crossed the margin of the hazard. It was then that Steve interrupted and told me I'd have to return to the tee and play my third shot. He claimed that in order for me to take relief under Rule 26-1, it must be "known or virtually certain" that the ball went in the hazard. Now, don't get me wrong. I like Steve. But in this case, he was trying to rain on my parade. This was the one shot I'd struck solidly all day. No doubt the power I demonstrated off the tee had him shaking in his FootJoys, and he was making up new rules on the fy. I explained to him that I was "virtually certain" that he was trying to take my money, that the ball few like a rocket off my club, traveled high in the air and landed in this general vicinity. I aggressively yanked my copy of the "Decisions on the Rules of Golf" from my bag and started searching. After reading the frst two sentences of Decision 26-1/1, I knew I was in trouble: 80 GCM October 2013 "When a ball has been struck towards a water hazard and cannot be found, a player may not assume that his ball is in the water hazard simply because there is a possibility that the ball may be in the water hazard. In order to proceed under Rule 26-1, it must be 'known or virtually certain' that the ball is in the water hazard." Steve was right. I couldn't assume the ball was in the hazard, as there was a chance it might have been lost in the tall 'When a ball has been struck towards a water hazard and cannot be found, a player may not assume that his ball is in the water hazard simply because there is a possibility that the ball may be in the water hazard.' grass outside the hazard. I didn't see the ball fight as it descended, and neither of us saw a splash. In this case, the placement of the hazard margin, allowing some tall grass outside the hazard, prevented my "virtual certainty." After we completed the hole, I handed Steve a $10 bill, and once again refected on how the superintendent, through course setup, had a direct effect on the Rules of Golf and how the golfer plays the game. GCM Jack Fry, Ph.D., is a professor of turfgrass science and the director of the Rocky Ford Turfgrass Research Center at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. He is a 17-year educator member of GCSAA.

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