I had the pleasure of working at Stanford University Golf Course for the US Junior Amateur Championship Sectional Qualifier. Once again, the NCGA was able to muster up enough officials to send one out with each group.
I had put in a request to work with one of the starters, to get that checked off my training list, before heading off with my assigned group. I was lucky enough to work with Ted Antonopolous, the head pro at Mayacama, for an hour and a half. Ted is a true professional, and has a very nice touch with the players. Our goal is to set them off on time and informed. As I said in my previous post, from Rancho Solano, starting is one of the most enjoyable parts of this job.
My group of three players included a rising high school junior, sophomore, and eighth grader. The fun started almost immediately.
One of my players hit a big snap hook off the second tee. We headed off, searched for the allotted five minutes in the weeds, and then the rover drove him back to the tee. He was about half way there when his ball was found, about fifty yards from where we were searching. I explained to his parents that it was too late, five minutes is the limit for a ball search, after which the ball is deemed lost.
Three holes later, behind the fifth green, a different rover told me the player’s mom came over to ask, and they had a detailed discussion about why the ball was lost even though it was found.
A very interesting and instructional, event happened on the thirteenth hole. I was not at the tee when the players teed off, but about 75 yards up the fairway. The same player who suffered the lost ball, started walking down the right side, so I headed that way. (I could see the other two players’ balls in the fairway.) When we got down around where the ball should have been, a spectator told us she had heard a ball land behind her but didn’t see it. Since she was standing on a cart path, and the other side of the path was out of bounds, the player headed back to the tee. Here’s where the fun began.
I called the back-nine rover to come transport him. He started walking back, and before the rover got there, he called me over, saying he’d found his ball, about 75 yards from where we he thought it had crossed OB. I asked him if he was sure, and he showed me the ball, a Titleist 2 with a red line. Since it was quite a way from where we expected it to be, I told him he could mark and lift and positively identify it. He declined and said he was sure it was his.
In the mean time, the rover arrived, and jokingly chided me for not having him hit a provisional in the first place. The player punched out short of the green, and the rover went up to the 14th tee to investigate the delay there. (Stanford GC’s par three holes ALWAYS cause backups.) The player got to his ball and called for me again, explaining that it was not in fact his—now he could see a “S” logo on it, and it definitely was not his.
I called the rover back, and we discussed the situation with the player. He drove the player back to the tee to re-tee. He drove into the rough, hit the green from there, and sank a twenty-foot putt. But… For what score?
The rover and I spent a few minutes discussing the sequence of events. We thought we had the right answer, and he said he’d get confirmation, and he came back a few minutes later with the verdict from another official, one who has scored 100 on the USGA rules test. Here’s the tally:
One: Stroke from the tee
Two: Stroke from the rough, which turned out to be the wrong ball, so the stroke does not count, but...
Two and Three: Penalty strokes for playing a wrong ball. Player must now play the original ball, which was out of bounds, so…
Four: Distance penalty for OB
Five: Stroke from tee
Six: Stroke to green
Seven: Holed Putt
The other two players were really curious. I explained the sequence to them, and told them that a good rule to go by is if an official suggests that you identify your ball, it’s probably a good idea to do so. The player, the rover and I discussed it further after he had teed off on the 15th, and he was satisfied with the ruling and thankful for the lesson learned.