Rules Riddle

After celebrating much too enthusiastically on New Year’s Eve, George arrives at the first tee for his New Year’s Day match against his arch rival, Bill. Things don’t go well for him and unbelievably he is 7 holes down without having struck a ball, when he concedes the match. George has not conceded any stroke or hole and has not breached a Local Rule or Condition of Competition. Explain how this could possibly have occurred under the Rules of Golf. I am not suggesting that this scenario will ever happen but the poser is intended to encourage readers to think laterally about some breaches of the Rules that we don’t often experience.


Rules Riddle Solution

George arrives 2 minutes after his start time and loses the 1st hole
Rule 6-3a – in match play, if a player arrives at his starting point, ready to play, within five minutes after his starting time, the penalty for failure to start on time is loss of the first hole.
1 Down

George and Bill walk to the par-3, 2nd hole where Bills tees-off. His ball bounces on the putting green and rolls straight into the hole for a hole-in-one. After congratulating Bill, George is understandably flustered and whiffs (fresh air) his ball, thereby losing the 2nd hole.
2 Down

Bill tees-off at the 3rd hole and George goes to get his driver from his golf bag. He sees that he has forgotten to remove the two new clubs that he was given for Christmas (from China), a driver with a massive 480cc clubhead and a putter with a tailored grip with indentations indicating where the hands should be placed. When he admits that he has more than 14 clubs in his bag Bill advises him that he is penalised two holes for carrying more than 14 clubs on holes 1 and 2;
Rule 4-4a – A player must not start a round with more than 14 clubs. At the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred, with a maximum deduction of two holes 4 Down

George is now 4 holes down, but worse is to come. Bill takes a good look at George’s Christmas presents and quickly recognises that the driver clubhead is larger than is permitted by Appendix ll, 4b (460cc plus a tolerance of 10cc). Also, the indentations on the putter grip make it non-conforming, because the cross-section of the grip must not have concavity, must be symmetrical and must remain generally similar throughout the length of the grip, Appendix ll, 3. Another loss of two holes for George.
Rule 4-1a - The player’s clubs must conform to the provisions, specifications and interpretations set forth in Appendix II. At the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred, with a maximum deduction of two holes. 6 Down

As you can imagine, at 6 down George is not thinking clearly as he tees his ball. As he addresses it he realises that he does not have room to make a stroke and, instead of moving his ball, he moves the tee marker away from the area of his intended stance, incurring a loss of hole penalty.
Rule 11-2 - if a player moves a tee-marker for the purpose of avoiding interference with his stance, the area of his intended swing or his line of play he incurs the penalty for a breach of Rule 13-2. 7 Down

So, George is now 7 holes down on the teeing ground of the 3rd hole, without having hit a ball. It is obviously not his day and perhaps we should forgive him for conceding the match after playing just one fresh air shot!

Good golfing,

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