Rules of Golf: Hitting your partner's club
02 May 2011
by Lynne Cowan of amateurgolf.com

see also: Northern California Women's Team Challenge I, Fountaingrove Golf & Athletic Club


FAIR OAKS, Ca. (May 2, 2011) -- The Team Challenge, the first tournament of season for the Women's Golf Association of Northern California, recently wrapped up at Lincoln Hills Golf Club and Northridge Country Club.

The tournament was a two-day best-ball of four with stableford scoring. The unique aspect of this event is that the four players are split into two twosomes that play in different groups. So, neither twosome knows how the other is playing.

The team of Ana Yamauchi, Tracey Mundy, Kathy DeYoung, and myself --- all with ties to El Macero Country Club --- were the low gross winners with a two-day total of 129 points. We narrowly beat the team from Green Valley Country Club; Tina Barker, Dolly Coleman, Itsuko Moridaira and Judy Blohm, winning by a single point.

That single point should have been two points if not for a mishap on the first hole the first day by my partner, Kathy DeYoung. While I was a few yards ahead in the fairway sizing up my next shot, Kathy was hitting her approach shot to the green.

After her approach, she went to put the club back in her bag and noticed that there was already an 8-iron in the bag. She inadvertently grabbed the 8-iron from my bag. Kathy and I are golfing buddies and play together often and we happen to have the same model of Powerbilt irons. We knew there was a penalty involved but weren’t quite sure how many or who got it. After some discussion with a nearby rules official and some questions about the ruling we decided to address it after the round when signing the scorecard. Prior to the tournament the committee decided to have the twosomes be considered a side. This protects the entire team from being disqualified when one player makes a serious breach --- like using a non-conforming club.

After consulting with Gail Rogers, an NCGA and USGA rules expert, the committee determined that there were three rules involved. Rule 31-6, which essentially states that a 'side' is penalized for any breach by either partner. Then there’s Rule 4-4a which is maximum of 14 clubs. For stableford competitions you are referred to Note 1 under Rule 32-1b which basically states that you have to report the facts to the committee or you will be disqualified and the committee will deduct two points for each hole where the breach occurred.

So, the points we would have earned on the hole were deducted. Luckily our teammates, Ana and Tracey, made a par and a bogey on the hole so our team only gave up one point.

It's interesting how the dynamic of a team event is so different from an individual one.

Kathy commented, "It's one thing to make a mistake when you're just playing for yourself, but when you’re playing on a team, you feel bad because you don't want to let your teammates down."

I agree. Sometimes I find playing in a team setting harder than playing individually because you want to play well and contribute so you try harder for the team. As any golfer knows, though, that rarely works in this game. Although the flip side is you have teammates to back you up and take up the slack if you’re having an off day. I guess it’s just how you look at it.

So, despite the mishap on the first hole, our team managed to squeak out the victory and we all got an education on a complicated ruling.

The gross and net winners of all the flights can be found by clicking on the results tab.
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