August 4, 2000
Congratulations to Rob Witsil, noted Cape Region attorney and athletic man-about-town. He won this summer’s golf knowledge contest, which ran in the June 30 column. Witsil earned a hardbound copy of Troon McAllister’s The Foursome, the funny new golf novel now in its third printing (Doubleday, $23.95 SRP).
Here’s a summary of the contest questions, along with the correct answers:
A. You removed an out-of-bounds stake that impeded your second shot to the green. You put the stake back after the shot, though. A related question asked why provisional shots are nearly always better than the one that forced the provisional in the first place.
Don’t move these stakes. USGA Rule 13-2 says golfers can’t move anything used to define the out-of-bounds areas of the golf course. The penalty in match play is the loss of the hole, and a two-stroke stinger for stroke play competition.
As for why provisional shots are almost always better, this is one of life’s little mysteries.
It could be that golfers relax a bit because their provisional shot might not count if they found their first ball in-bounds. Or it could just be one of the many ways that golf mentally unhinges its players.
B. Witsil wrote a nice description of the meaning behind the phrase “No good hole (or no good drive) goes unpunished:”
We always think that we’ve figured the game out after a good stroke or hole–necessarily causing the next swing to be harder and stronger–ergo, failure and punishment.
C. You should not be pleased if your golfing buddies call you the Roberto Duran of Putting. Duran is a famous boxer, who hits with Hands of Stone. Good putters have a delicate touch. You don’t.
D. When a playing partner from the Deep South immediately shouts after one of his drives, “Run! Run like y’all stole somethin’, you sumbitch!,” he’s not talking to you.
He simply hit a low-trajectory drive that won’t carry as far as normal. He’s hoping the ball will roll a long way.
His profanity merely emphasizes his desires, which is perfectly understandable under the circumstances.
E. This question involved a newly built club that came apart on its first swing in competition, on a tee shot. The clubhead whipped right off the shaft, and on its first bounce smacked into the golf ball. The ball shot forward and splashed into the pond.
In this situation there is no penalty for hitting the ball, and the next shot is played from the tee box. If you can find the first ball, use it, but there’s no penalty for starting over with a new ball.
Ironically enough, a penalty stroke is assessed if the clubhead broke off on a second shot not on the tee.
This is yet another indication that there are sadistic elements in the Rules of Golf.
F. The last question dealt with the wind moving a ball that seems to be stopped. A sudden gust blows the ball 15 feet directly into the hole before you pick it up.
Your competitor claims the ball must be put back in the original spot. He also makes a snide remark that makes you feel like smacking that smile off his face.
Now it’s your turn to be snide. The ball wasn’t really at rest, and you neither touched the ball nor addressed it for the putt when the wind pushed it.
If the wind-blown ball rolled into a bunker instead of the hole, then your next shot is from the bunker. This rule is consistent, even if it hurts.
Regrettably, it is not okay to smack that smile off his face, at least not physically.
On the other hand, the fact that your ball stays in the hole should take the smile off his face just as quickly.