Time’s Up

A leisurely pur­suit, ex­cept when you’re on the clock

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life -

Play­ing golf has a beau­ti­ful way of warp­ing time. You start out on the first tee, and next thing you know, you’re walk­ing off the 18th green and four hours have mag­i­cally elapsed. Though time is of­ten for­got­ten when we’re on the course, the game and its rules are filled with all man­ner of time im­pli­ca­tions.

You have five min­utes to find a lost ball (rule 271c). The clock be­gins tick­ing when you, your side or your cad­die(s) ar­rive at the area where the ball is likely to be. Dur­ing the fi­nal round of the 1998 US Open at the Olympic Club, Lee Janzen’s drive on the par-4 fifth hole ap­peared to dis­ap­pear in a cy­press tree. After search­ing for about three min­utes, Janzen was con­vinced the ball had van­ished. He trudged back to the tee. Within the five-minute time frame, wind dis­lodged the ball from the branches. Janzen re­sumed play with the ball, made par, and went on to win by one stroke.

Start­ing times are sa­cred (rule 6-3). If you show up more than five min­utes late, the penalty is dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion (although the com­mit­tee could waive the penalty in very rare cases such as se­ri­ous med­i­cal emer­gen­cies). If you’re less than five min­utes late, it’s a two-shot penalty in stroke play or loss of hole in match play. The model for all of us: Arnold Palmer says he never missed a start­ing time in almost six decades as a pro.

If your ball hangs on the hole’s edge, you have 10 seconds for it to drop (rule 16-2). Tim­ing starts the mo­ment you ar­rive at the ball. (You can writhe in dis­be­lief be­fore ap­proach­ing the cup, and the clock won’t start. But don’t be un­rea­son­able about it.) There is no ad­van­tage to wait­ing longer than the al­lot­ted 10 seconds; if the ball falls in after that, you must add a stroke to your score, the same as if you’d tapped it in.

Then there’s the is­sue of slow play (rule 6-7). If you ex­ceed a pre­de­ter­mined time limit de­fined by the com­mit­tee, the penal­ties es­ca­late for each in­frac­tion up to dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Only an of­fi­cial can de­ter­mine if a golfer’s play is un­duly slow.

If dark­ness falls dur­ing a round, don’t fin­ish the next day for hand­i­cap pur­poses (hand­i­cap man­ual). The SAGA and Hand­i­caps Net­work Africa say you must en­ter your 9-hole score for in­com­plete 18-hole rounds. Fewer than 9 holes must be cap­tured as N/R. –GuyYo­com

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