Cathy Schmidt, an LPGA teaching professional in Bradenton, Florida tells this story about a rules situation she encountered while playing in the 2012 LPGA Teaching & Club Professionals National Championship. See if you can figure out her score for the hole.
“Blame my poor shot on loss of concentration. Slow play due to tough course – Donald Ross’ French Lick in Indiana. The teaching pro’s games were not up to par and slow play ensued. Too much time in between shots and too much distraction from idol chit chat. My fault, too. I was ready to tell a story when I heard, ‘It’s your shot, Cathy’.
“(I) hit my tee shot on a par 3 into the fescue. With rules officials, the two other players, my caddy and a few spotters (looking), it seemed like I was going to have a lost ball. Then at 4:58 I stepped on what felt like a ball and identified it to be mine. The mark was the blue sharpied whale stencil, provided in the starter tent that (for fun reasons) I chose to use that day for my id-ing mark.
“One stroke for stepping on the ball. Then (I) placed it, but could not improve the lie so (I was) still in a hole in the fescue. Shot number two hits me and falls back into the fescue, so now I’m lying 4, out on 5 and up (on the green) in 6. I go to mark my ball and see that the whale is not on a Titleist.
“Wrong ball! Some other player used the same stencil. So back to the tee box, lying four, hitting five. (From the tee I) bogied for a grand total of eight. By the time the rules officials decided what strokes would remain and what ones did not count, I was too confused to argue and just went on to play my best to the end.
“Just before entering the scoring tent, the rules official stopped me and the player who had my card to tell us I took a nine for the hole and to add one more stroke. They had miscounted.
“LOL! I had fun, though. Fortunately, I only got (penalized) strokes; (I) could have added a host of hitchhiking chiggers from the fescue to itch my thoughts of slow play away.”
That’s quite a story, wouldn’t you agree? But the more I read the account, the more I thought that the final count of 9 wasn’t correct. So I contacted two “rules gurus” at the Minnesota Golf Association, Doug Hoffman and Lisa Overum and went over the situation with them.
Doug & Lisa’s conclusion:
“When she picked up the ball and either replaced or dropped it after stepping on it, she had a responsibility to (then) identify the ball as hers. Had she done so, she would have discovered that the ball was not hers, and she should have kept looking for her original ball. By not doing so and putting this found ball into play, she is treated as having declared the original ball lost. Of course, this requires her to go back to the teeing ground under ‘stroke and distance.’ When she simply placed or dropped the ball and subsequently played it, she was in violation of Rule 20-7c for having played from a wrong place with a serious breach. This is a ‘must correct’ situation requiring her to go back under the applicable rule (27) and proceed correctly with an additional two stroke penalty. The strokes played with the ball played from the wrong place do not count.
“(We) both agree that the score is 8 either way you count it. She played five strokes and incurred three penalty strokes – 1 under Rule 27 and 2 under Rule 20-7c. She does not incur the (2-stroke) penalty for the ball hitting her (Rule 19-2) since that stroke was deemed not to count.”
Are you still there?
For your reference, here are the rules mentioned above:
Rule 27 – Ball Lost or Out of Bounds: If a ball is lost … the player must play a ball, under penalty of one stroke, as nearly as possible at the spot from which the original ball was last played.
Cathy complied with this rule by going back to the tee once she determined that her ball actually was lost.
Rule 20-7c – Playing from Wrong Place: If a competitor makes a stroke from a wrong place, he incurs a penalty of two strokes…
Raise your hand if you got the right answer! It pays to know the rules or, at the very least, know how to find the applicable rules in the Rule Book. In this case, it would have saved Cathy one stroke. And one stroke is one stroke.