RULES

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS -

NZ Golf Inc.'s Phil Aickin gives his views on is­sues sur­round­ing the rules.

The very suc­cess­ful McKayson New Zealand Women's Open pro­duced a fan­tas­tic win­ner in Cana­dian Brooke Hen­der­son. It was no sur­prise that the fickle Auck­land weather played its part and the event was ex­tended to Mon­day, which was a con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion im­pact­ing on play­ers travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion.

The lo­gis­tics be­came a headache for tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers, but it was heart­en­ing to see so many vol­un­teers and spec­ta­tors re­turn for the late fin­ish.

Win­dross Farm, which has only been open for a year, proved to be an ex­cel­lent test of the player's tal­ents and de­sign­ers Phil Tatau­rangi and Brett Thomson, along with the mem­bers, should be very proud of how this new course played. So too should the greens staff who worked huge hours both be­fore and dur­ing the tour­na­ment to pro­duce a high­qual­ity sur­face re­gard­less of the rain that even­tu­ally af­fected the tour­na­ment.

But what of the rules and pace of play that went with the cham­pi­onship?

As one of only seven rules of­fi­cials, it was a busy four and a half days. The play­ers tend to err on the side of cau­tion and are re­luc­tant to pro­ceed with a straight for­ward re­lief sit­u­a­tion, in­stead call­ing for a rules of­fi­cial through the scor­ing net­work. Even tak­ing re­lief from ca­sual wa­ter, which was preva­lent on the fi­nal day, re­quired our help. The speed of play was hor­ri­ble at times and the wait for a rules of­fi­cial to ar­rive added to the time that 18 holes was tak­ing. Whilst the LPGA have their pace of play pol­icy, it just doesn't seem to work and only hav­ing the seven of us didn't help.

In to­tal I, might have dealt with 20 rul­ings on each day but there are three that stand out.

The first was in the sec­ond round on the 12th hole. Due to the fair­ways be­ing a lit­tle young, the tour­na­ment rule was a one club length, mark, lift, clean and place on the closely mown area of the hole be­ing played. One of the top Amer­i­cans wasn't sure if her ball was on the closely mown area, or just in the rough, and af­ter my close in­spec­tion I showed her what I thought was the fair­way line and ad­vised that she would have to play the ball as it lay. As the ball was on a down­hill slope, very close to a bunker, a place was go­ing to pro­vide her with a much eas­ier shot, so she wanted to de­bate the de­ci­sion. This wasted time and I felt that it re­quired one of the reg­u­lar LPGA Tour of­fi­cial's in­volve­ment so I made the call for as­sis­tance. For­tu­nately, I was cor­rect and it was dealt with swiftly al­though the player still wanted to de­bate the sit­u­a­tion.

On Saturday, the course was hit with very strong winds in the af­ter­noon. One of the tour­na­ment favourites, play­ing the par-5 14th hole, found her drive in such a po­si­tion that due to the wind she wanted to start her ball on a line well right of where she wanted her ball to fin­ish. But on this line, was a tele­vi­sion tower and she there­fore wanted in­ter­ven­tion re­lief. In pro­fes­sional golf, many tem­po­rary immovable ob­struc­tions (TIOs) are erected in­clud­ing grand­stands, mar­quees and tow­ers, but they need to meet two re­quire­ments for re­lief to be granted. The first is that the TIO is di­rectly be­tween the ball and the land­ing area and the sec­ond on the line of play. This ball only met the sec­ond re­quire­ment, so once again I was in a po­si­tion where I de­nied re­lief. And once again the player wanted to be con­fronta­tional and de­bate the de­ci­sion and due to the player's at­ti­tude, I needed to again re­quest that an LPGA rules of­fi­cial take over the rul­ing. In am­a­teur golf, we never have to deal with TIOs, but I was pos­i­tive that I un­der­stood the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the rule and it was pleas­ing when I was proven cor­rect. But, once again the player wanted to stand and de­bate the rul­ing and was rais­ing rul­ings from pre­vi­ous events, once again wast­ing time. In my opin­ion there was a case for Rule 6-7 to be in­voked which in­volves a penalty for un­due de­lay.

On Sun­day, we were hit with per­sis­tent rain and even­tu­ally the greens could take no more and pud­dles started to ap­pear. I put the call out for a squeegee to the 15th green and the lead LPGA rules of­fi­cial con­firmed that we could em­ploy Rule 25-1b(iii) which al­lows a player to move around the ca­sual wa­ter on the putting sur­face. While wait­ing for the squeegee it was the best way to keep play mov­ing, but to my sur­prise, one of the Amer­i­can play­ers was sur­prised to learn that this was an op­tion. Stand­ing in dis­be­lief, she said she had never heard of that rule be­fore and wanted to make sure I was cor­rect. For­tu­nately, on my con­fir­ma­tion she ac­cepted my an­swer and didn't want to in­volve the LPGA rules of­fi­cials on this oc­ca­sion.

Next year Win­dross will be fully grown in and I am sure we will play the lie which will help from a rules per­spec­tive. And hope­fully the play­ers will be more ac­cept­ing to the lo­cal rules of­fi­cials in­volved and the LPGA re­turn with a bet­ter pace of play pol­icy.

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