Members of my favourite Golf Society in Thailand, the Mainly Unquenchables Golf Society (the MUGS) returned to Bangkok this week from their regular mini golf tour to Cha Am / Hua Hin. There they played the Dragon Hills, Royal Hua Hin and Springfield Village courses. Apparently, the trip gave rise to more than the usual number of disagreements about golf rules interpretation. The MUGS organiser, Charlie (a.k.a. the “Ayatollah Hogmanay”) was called upon a number of times to issue his edict. The MUGS “clubhouse”, the Limping Cockroach pub is still echoing with opposing views.
Billy, he of the flailing golf swing that can only be compared to a manic food mixer, was first to tee off on the tour. He skulled his ball, never to be seen again, off the heel into thick grass about twelve yards to the left of the tee to resounding cheers from the other fifteen members, and their caddies, gathered around. He opted to play three off the tee, but the onlooking crowd were roughly evenly divided as to whether or not he was allowed to tee the ball up again. Charlie’s decision: yes.
Then, Mike, a huge man and a former senior manager for a multinational company in Thailand, whose weight in stone is only just less than his handicap (24) and Dave, who all around eighteen holes and, indeed, throughout the post-golf evening, keeps up a non-stop commentary (which is probably what caused the problem), got into a mess on the 12th hole. They were sharing a golf cart and, it was only when they took their putters out that they realised that, inadvertently, they had been playing the hole using each other’s clubs! The general consensus was that they each should be penalised two shots for each shot that they took with the wrong club. Charlie’s decision: one two shot penalty each only.
On Springfield, John, a retired security expert with a bad back who, as he finds it difficult to bend down, takes a second caddie to tee up the ball, had an air shot on the 2nd fairway. It was only as he addressed the ball again that he realised that it was his playing partner’s ball. As it was the wrong ball, John claimed that he should not be penalised! Charlie’s decision: one shot penalty.
A seemingly innocent mango grove caused a furore on Royal Hua Hin. Stephen, a lecturer in law at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, and as fastidious and meticulous on the golf course as off, hit a long iron into the mango trees. To the incredulity of his playing partners, he immediately claimed free relief as going into the grove would constitute a “Dangerous Situation” under the Rules of Golf. Apparently, according to Stephen, mango is in the same family as poison ivy and the mango fruit skin contains urushiol, which can cause dermatitis. The last time he had picked a mango on the golf course, having subsequently answered nature’s call, he developed a rash in a rather…er, sensitive area, if you know what I mean. Hey, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘scratch golfer’ doesn’t it. As it happened, Charlie was playing in the same four ball and, much to Stephen’s disgust, ruled that his ball should be played ‘as it lies’ or, declared ‘unplayable’.
Back at the Limping Cockroach, Charlie was able to back up his decision by referring to the USGA Decisions on the Rules of Golf: Decision 1-4/11 – Meaning of “Dangerous Situation”.
“Q. According to Decision 1-4/10, a ball lying near a live rattlesnake or bees’ nest is a “dangerous situation” and relief should be granted in equity. If a player’s ball comes to rest in or near an area of plants such as poison ivy, cacti or stinging nettles, should the provisions of Decision 1-4/10 apply?
A. No. The player must either play the ball as it lies or, if applicable, proceed under Rule 26 (Water Hazards) or Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable). Decision 1-4/10 contemplates a situation which is unrelated to conditions normally encountered on the course. Unpleasant lies are a common occurrence which players must accept.”
Ain’t golf wonderful! If you have had to seek a ruling on an unusual happening on the golf course, please post it, or email it to me and I will do the rest.
Play fast, swing slow.