A lot of things happens within the Rules of Golf these days.
R&A and USGA Monday announced that as of January 1st 2018 it is possible to adopt a new local rule.
1. The Rules of Golf as of today.
If your scorecard is returned with a score lower on a hole than the one actually taken – and this is due to a failure to include a penalty that you at the time of returning did not know you had incurred – you will incur the applicable penalty AND two extra penalty strokes (Rule 6-6d).
2. The Rules of Golf as of January 1st 2018 (if the new Local Rule is applied).
If the Local Rule is applied, the extra penalty of two strokes is no longer applied, and therefore the player only incurs the penalty under the applicable rule.
You ground your club in a bunker behind your ball, but you touch the sand so little, that you don’t notice. It cost you a penalty of two strokes, but you don’t include them in the score for the hole (since you did not know, you had incurred them!) – and returns the scorecard.
- If the local Rule is not applied, you will incur two penalty strokes for the breach, and an additional penalty of two strokes, in all four penalty strokes.
- If the Local Rule is applied, you will only incur the two penalty strokes for grounding.
The Local Rule formulates this way:
The Exception to Rule 6-6d is modified as follows:
If a competitor returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken due to failure to include one or more penalty strokes that, before returning his score card, he did not know he had incurred, he is not disqualified.
In such circumstances, the competitor incurs the penalty prescribed by the applicable Rule, but there is no additional penalty for a breach of Rule 6-6d.
This Exception does not apply when the applicable penalty is disqualification from the competition.
5. Bad Local Rule.
I am not sure what to think about it. The change in itself is OK.
- First of all I think it is bad, that the Rules of Golf (once again) are changed just because a few professional players have been penalized under the Rule. It makes it seem like professional players have a special status compared to us “normal” amateurs.
- Secondly (once again) they undermine the meaning of the concept of a “Local” Rule. The meaning is to regulate about local abnormal situations (Rule 33-8a states: “The Committee may establish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions…“). And in this situation it is not “abnormal” conditions.
- R&A and USGA states that the new Local Rule is the most correct thing to do. For me it is hard to take that point of view serious, when the penalty in many years have been disqualification and when it in 2016 was changed to two penalty strokes. Each time it has been stated that the change has been done after thorough considerations. But nothing has changed since 2016. So again it seems that they will defend a change, that really is made because the medias write a lot about a few professional players that have been penalized under a Rule that has been there for years and has been made after many considerations.
- In reality it is Rule 6-6d that is changed. And you cannot do that in a Local Rule. Rule 33-8 thus states: “A Rule of Golf must not be waived by a Local Rule. However, if a Committee considers that local abnormal conditions interfere with the proper playing of the game to the extent that it is necessary to make a Local Rule that modifies the Rules of Golf, the Local Rule must be authorised by the R&A.” Again: The way it has been changed (by giving a possibility to apply a Local Rule) does not make any sense. They should have changed directly in Rule 6-6d and not via a Local Rule.
Well now I got that out of my system!
Do you agree?
Or am I just an old, angry, stupid rules geek?