Tournament / Rules Opinion

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By Scott C.

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  • 11 Replies
  1. Scott C.
    Irvine, CA

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    Hey everyone, I have a rules question that I’d like the groups opinion on. Here is the backdrop....I’m playing in a member-guest, there is some decent money at stake for a lot of players. It’s not uncommon to see north of $5,000 change hands among teams after three days. We have 9 flights with 8 teams each. The rule booklet clearly states USGA rules apply.

    Most people know the you can’t use a range finder with slope mode enabled. We are on the 8th holes of a nine hole match. Severe downhill par 3. We shoot the pin at 168, the other team says its 154. Huh? How’d you get that number? Our range finder calculates slope. A discussion follows in which they say rules allow for a range finder to be used with slope. We say no. They say they’ve been using it during the match.

    Wed take it to the pro, he confirms the rule. Says that it is automatic loss of hole in match play. The pro takes it to the committee.

    How would you rule? How would you apply the penalty to previous holes?

  2. pauldrue
    Nashua, NH

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    In my opinion, if the rule is in place before the tournament, the rule affects play throughout.

    Paul
  3. JEFF R
    Canton, GA

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    Well, you can't make up the rules. The USGA put it in writing. If you use a distance-measuring device before two different strokes during the round, when a Local Rule permitting distance-measuring devices is not in effect, you are disqualified (See New Decision 14-3/20).
    www.usga.org/.../rules-and-decisions.html
  4. Keith M
    Acworth, GA

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    Loss of every hole preceeding. It's the golfer's responsibility to know that it's being played by USGA rules.
  5. John B
    Kenmore, NY

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    If the local rule allows range finders, but does write that using the slope function is prohibited, then it should be allowed.
  6. Doug E
    Urbana, MD

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    Private or club tournament rules trump USGA rules, when special provisions outside USGA rules are clearly stated in the rules sheet for the tournament. Typically a golf club or organized league running an event would be considered the committee, and is running the show their way. Not the USGA. The committee can decide to use USGA rules, but may make provisions if they so choose for their own tournament.

    Not that long ago, rangefinders and gps of any sort were not allowed in tournaments under USGA rules, unless it was a condition of the event specified by the rules committee for the event. Now rangefinders are allowed for most non-pro or high-level amateur events, but those with slope are not....unless it is a clearly stated condition in the rules sheet, usually available before the event to all participants. If it just says rangefinders are allowed in the rules sheet, without mention specifically of the slope feature, IMO, using slope would be a violation of the rules, since the USGA rulebook is generally being followed for the event. And the rules presently acknowledge rangefinders as legal for certain events (but without slope) and no mention to restrict slope was specifically mentioned. So, if no specific mention of slope feature being allowed in the event-specific rules, those who used it should be either DQ'ed or take loss of hole for every hole on which it was used if it was match play.
  7. John B
    Kenmore, NY

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    I understand your point, but, If "private or club tournament rules trump USGA rules, when special provisions outside USGA rules are clearly stated in the rules sheet for the tournament" then it should be clearly spelled out that the slope function cannot be used in that rule sheet.

    Because later you state if it is not spelled out it falls under USGA rules: "If it just says rangefinders are allowed in the rules sheet, without mention specifically of the slope feature, IMO, using slope would be a violation of the rules, since the USGA rulebook is generally being followed for the event".

    As a rules official myself, if you are trumping USGA rules, then if not stated it should be allowed, otherwise how would a competitor know - he only knows that rangefinders are being allowed under these "private or club" rules.

    As one clearly involved in a number tournaments, we always insist that the restriction on the slope function be spelled out on the rules sheet.
  8. John B
    Kenmore, NY

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    I believe we agree... my problem is in that "private or club rules trump USGA rules". Very simply, the local rule just has to state that range finders maybe used in accordance with USGA rule 14-3/20.
  9. 0 Posts

    If in fact the non-slope rangefinder rule was in effect and spelled out before the tournament began to the players, the offending team should be penalized as such for each instance.
  10. Scott C.
    Irvine, CA

    0 Posts

    Thanks for weighing in guys! Great discussion. Though many agreed we were in the right, the committee chose to not enforce the rule, despite it being written. According the USGA rules, a local committee can't impose a rule contrary to the rules of golf. The book specifically states that they can't alow slope enbaled range finders. It certainly became the talk of the event. Ironically, the next day on the same hole, our opponent got got caught doing the same thing. We didn't play well-enough to win, but rules are rules.
  11. vurich
    First Tee Box

    0 Posts

    Once again, the rules need to be simplified, IMHO. This situation really takes away from the spirit of the event, which is to play the greatest game ever invented.

    Either allow range finders or do not.

    I vote for allowing them at all times and in every situation, including the Pro Tours.

    It will speed up play and make it more enjoyable to everyone, fans and spectators.

    Even having a graphic on T.V. showing slope, distance, ect.

    Again, IMHO, the rules of the game of golf are stuck in the past.

    Move forward with the technology available to us.

    #TeamTitleist
  12. Tom B
    Northborough, MA

    0 Posts

    Scott....3000 miles away, this exact thing happened at out Club in the 4 ball Championship last year. And yes they lost that hole, and the previous holes as allowed under the rules. 9th hole of a 9 hole match is when they found out. Offender stated he didn't know the slope function was turned on. No matter, his obligation to know and know the rules. Remember ranger finders are only allowed under a local rule provision. One partner took the news OK, the other....well let's just say not so well.

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