KNOW THE RULES
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hona McRae, R&A assistant director – Rules, explains that fourball matches can proceed even if a side is unable to field two players, as was the case in the LPGA Tour’s recent UL International Crown event…
Melissa Reid and Charley Hull of England were due to play a fourball match against Japan’s Haru Nomura and Mika Miyazato in the UL International Crown in July this year, when news came through that Hull was unwell and would no longer be able to tee it up.
This left Reid to play the match against the Japanese side on her own. She decided to take on the pairing and battled to a remarkable 1dn loss, much to the surprise and delight of the spectators who were willing her on as the underdog.
S“Walking up a few holes, the crowd were just amazing, everyone cheering me on. I needed that. I felt kind of on my own out there and they really kept my spirits up,” Reid said afterwards.
Playing a fourball match and representing the side on your own will hopefully only ever be a rare occurrence, but is certainly permissible under the Rules. Rule 30-3a states that a side in fourball match play may be represented by one partner for all or some of the match. Both partners do not need to be present.
However, should your partner turn up late or recover sufficiently in time to still participate in the match, the absent partner can join in, but must wait until the hole currently being played has been completed. The partner can join the match between the play of holes, but not during the play of a hole. There is no penalty to the partner for being late or joining in the match at a later time.
Although the absent partner can only join the match between the play of holes once the hole currently being played has been completed, he or she can offer their partner advice during the playing of that hole.
As the UL International Crown event was a professional competition, handicaps were not relevant. However, what do you do in a handicap match if the player with the lowest handicap is unable to play for the side?
In determining handicap allowances, the handicaps of the three players should be reduced by the handicap of the absent player. Although not present, they are still considered part of the side, and this should be taken into account when determining the strokes to be given and received.
Mel Reid was forced to go it alone at the UL International Crown
Both partners do not need to be present
Absent partners can join the match between the play of holes, but not during the play of a hole
In a handicap match, the absent player’s handicap should be taken into account when determining strokes to be given/received