A harsh les­son in eti­quette and rules for the teenagers

To win you must know the rules as well as your swing, says Nick Wright.

Golf World (UK) - - THE SPIN -

Ev­ery­where you look on Tour these days, a rules con­tro­versy is ready and wait­ing to rear its ugly head. In the past few months alone we’ve had Lexi Thomp­son and Jon Rahm in­cor­rectly mark­ing their balls on the green. Cu­ri­ously, Thomp­son in­curred a four-shot penalty for her breach, which ul­ti­mately cost her the ANA In­spi­ra­tion ti­tle since she was lead­ing by four shots at the time, while Rahm who en­joyed a sim­i­lar lead at the Ir­ish Open at the time of his trans­gres­sion was awarded the ben­e­fit of the doubt and let off with­out penalty.

But the rules in­ci­dents haven’t been limited solely to the pro­fes­sional game. In the semi­fi­nal of the re­cent US Girls’ Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship, Erica Shep­herd and El­iz­a­beth Moon’s head-to­head match fin­ished all-square and had gone to ex­tra holes. At the 19th, Shep­herd made par, while Moon had a birdie putt from around 5ft to ad­vance to the fi­nals. How­ever, Moon missed the putt, leav­ing a six-inch tap-in. And that’s where the fun and games started.

Dis­ap­pointed, the 17-year-old Moon scooped her ball back and tried the first putt again – as she’s al­lowed to do in match play. It was at that point Shep­herd stepped in and said, “I didn’t say that was good.” Moon was given a one-shot penalty for moving her ball (un­der Rule 18-2) since it hadn’t been con­ceded and you can’t con­cede a putt af­ter the fact. As a re­sult, she lost the hole and the match.

Bad eti­quette or poor rules knowl­edge? A bit of both. First, a putt of that length should have been con­ceded. Real­is­ing the mag­ni­tude of her ac­tions, Shep­herd retroac­tively tried to con­cede the putt and con­vince the rules of­fi­cial to back off. She told re­porters, “I thought that since I would have given it to her, it would be just fine. We both tried to get it to where that putt was given to her but it’s the Rules of Golf. There’s no af­terthe-fact. You can’t.”

At the same time, Moon dis­cov­ered that a gimme isn’t a gimme un­til it’s ac­tu­ally been con­ceded to you. It’s un­likely she’ll ever rake a ball away from the hole with­out a ver­bal ac­knowl­edge­ment that it’s ‘good’ from an op­po­nent for the rest of her golf­ing life. It was a tough learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that there’s far more to com­pet­i­tive golf than mak­ing pars and birdies.

‘Moon dis­cov­ered a gimme isn’t a gimme un­til it’s been con­ceded’

Lexi Thomp­son’s rules vi­o­la­tion cost her a ma­jor

cham­pi­onship vic­tory.

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