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« 2013 Open Final Round Preview And Comment Thread | Main | Day 3 Chintz: 18th Green Noticeably Slower »

Note To Open Competitors: Yell In Wake Of Laird Penalty

Kevin Murray with the strange saga of Martin Laird not speaking loudly enough for his playing competitor or referree to hear him tough his ball to identify it in the 10th hole rough.

After a 9 on the third hole, this happened at the 10th:

On the par-four 10th, he found the rough twice in succession and, on the second occasion, did not tell playing partner Dustin Johnson or the referee he was going to touch his ball to identify it.

Laird is adamant he told the ball-spotter, but that is not enough under the rules.

He said: "If I had said, 'Dustin, just went down to find my ball,' or, 'Rules official, I'm going to identify my ball', loud enough for one of them to hear, it would have been fine.

"It's the fact that none of them heard it, even though I said it.

"A spotter said to me, 'There's a ball here. I'm not sure if it's yours'.

"I said, 'I'm going to identify it'. I put the tee in the ground [to mark it] and didn't even lift my ball, just moved it a quarter roll to see the number.

"At the time I was thinking more about the golf shot I had coming up than about the ruling. It's one of those lovely rules of golf."

Here is the Q&A with David Rickman explaining why a penalty was incurred:

Q. Can you explain what happened?

DAVID RICKMAN: Well, my understanding and what's been explained is that Martin hit his tee shot in the rough. He then looked to identify that by just gently parting the grass on that occasion. That was fine. He then hit a second shot, also stayed in the rough. And on that second occasion he marked the position of the ball and touched it and just moved it ever so slightly. This is now a situation, by putting his hand on the ball, this is a situation covered by Rule 12-2, which requires the player to announce to his fellow competitor, before getting his hand on the ball, either to move it slightly or to lift it, in either of those circumstances, and he didn't do that. Obviously this week we've also got a walking referee and an observer. Those two individuals would also have qualified as somebody to make that announcement, but I'm afraid by not doing that, it's a breach of Rule 12-2 and it's a one-stroke --

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVID RICKMAN: Well, I believe he maybe said it to the ball spotter, who was in closest vicinity. But the rule is very specific. It needs to be the fellow competitor, the fellow competitor is there to protect the interests of the rest of the field, and therefore, we are specific about who that needs to be. Because you need to give that fellow competitor, or as I say this week, the referee, the opportunity to come over and observe the player's actions. That's the protection that the rule gives.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVID RICKMAN: The ball spotter saw that this was happening. The referee also saw a tee, on this occasion, a tee coming up and down, and that, of itself, indicated that perhaps there had been more than just the parting of the grass, I'm afraid.

Q. (Inaudible.)
DAVID RICKMAN: I don't believe it was a spectator, no.

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Reader Comments (24)

As Rickman says, "the rule is very specific" and was broken, hence the penalty, lesson learned, case closed.
I find the irony of the questions being inaudible delicious.
07.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterUnderTheChin
Laird was in melt down at the time so you have to feel for him a bit but the important point is the one David Rickman makes about the fellow competitor.It can't be too long before Geoff posts Huggans piece from the Scotland on Sunday - then we should really see the anti-establishment sh-t fly!!!
07.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Yes, isn't it ironic.
07.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Touching your golf ball, except when it is on the putting green, is very serious business. tough beans.
07.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Martin, Martin, Martin.....Dustin Johnson was in possession of your scorecard....aka your paycheck. Therefore it is doubly important that you make sure you use simple language delivered in a non-verbal context and make EXTRA sure he's aware of what's going on!

Think Sock-Puppets when communicating with DJ.
07.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Is it just me or is everyone getting really pissed when given a penalty they don't like or a slow play penalty? Is this not a reflection on society and how rules are ok, as long as they are not applied to you? ex. dress codes, speed limits, etc.....
07.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Rules are way too complex. Players need to be accompanied by a lawyer, in addition to a caddie.

And we wonder why the game is dying...
07.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBud
Growing the game you are a beginner and want to pick up the game, sure, here is a book of a thousand rules to confuse the hll out of you and make picking up the game even tougher.

i think it says so much about the book of rules when players that have played golf their entire lives are still questioning certain rules and not understanding them. golf is supposed to be a game played with honesty. why not simplify the entire book and let common sense rule. if you haven't improved your lie, no rules infraction. slight movement of leaves, a small wiggle of the ball, etc should not be infractions.
07.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom
Tom-define slight and small to me.Also how much does a lie have to be improved for you to say it is improved?Nothing wrong with what you say for fun golf- but not in the Open in my opinion.
07.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
"how much does a lie have to be improved..."

Who said the the lie was improved? He simply identified his ball.

The dispute was who he informed - the ball spotter, a referee, playing partner...

Tell me why that matters!

Should there be specific wording for the statement one must make - LOL.

"Based on rule 12.4.31 V1.1, I hereby announce to you, my partner, that I will identify my ball. If you do not agree, speak now."
07.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBud
Bud- read David Rickmans statement then maybe you will understand.
07.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
BS. The wording of the rule was intended to apply in the usual situation where you have nobody but a playing partner in the field of play. In a tournament, that just isn't the case. You have a zillion different tournament officials, marshals, ball-spotters, rules officials, etc. etc. in the field of play. They are agents not only of the other players in the group but of the tournament, the organizers, and the game itself. Rules are to be interpreted purposively, not slavishly literally. The rule's purpose--avoidance of an undeclared movement of the ball--was fulfilled in this case by Laird's declaration. Let me posit the case by way of an absurd example. Had Laird made his declaration directly to a rules official, and the rules official had acknowledged it, how would you feel about the rules official then wagging his finger at Laird after Laird touches the ball and announcing to all and sundry, "Tsk tsk, that's a one-stroke penalty"? According to Rickman's ruling, that would have to be the outcome on those facts. Satisfied now, all you finger-waggers?
07.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHammerwielder
As an addendum to my previous post, and in anticipation of the point that Rickman said identifying it to an "observer" or "rules official" would have satisified the rule, there is nothing in Rule 12-2 that permits such persons to be recipients of a declaration that complies with the rule. The rule states: "Before lifting the ball, the player must announce his intention to ... his marker or a fellow-competitor in stroke play and mark the position of the ball. He may then lift the ball and identify it, provided that he gives his opponent [or] marker an opportunity to observe the lifting and replacement. ... If the ball is the player’s ball and he fails to comply with all or any part of this procedure, ... he incurs a penalty of one stroke." A "marker" is "one who is appointed by the Committee to record a competitor’s score in stroke play. He may be a fellow-competitor. He is NOT a referee." I add to that that he is not an "observer" either. Dustin Johnson was the marker in this group and therefore the only person under the strict wording of the rule to whom Laird could have announced his intention in order to avoid the application of the penalty. Rickman was therefore completely wrong both in his interpretation that a declaration to the observer or rules official would have been sufficient under the language of the rule, and in failing to interpret the rule purposively to permit the declaration to be made in a compliant way not only to a rules official or observer but to any other official on the course. There is no basis in the rule at all for Rickman's interpretation.
07.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHammerwielder
Which shows that you don't understand the duties of a referee as well as Mr Rickman does.
07.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Chico: I don't understand why this is so. In his comments, Rickman plainly stated: "Those two individuals would also have qualified as somebody to make that announcement [to]". That is not correct. The rule expressly states that making the announcement to a referee (or by extension to his assistant, the observer) does NOT satisfy the rule. If the player made the declaration to a referee, the referee would be under a duty to point out to the player what the rule provides and seek to prevent a breach of the rules, but in that case he would be obliged to say the player must make the declaration to his fellow player and not to him, the latter course of action not satisfying the rule. But that doesn't make Rickman right, indeed he's wrong in stating that Laird could make the declaration to the referee and thus comply with the rule. Furthermore, Rickman was not talking about a referee's ethical duty to prevent a player from breaking the rules, because he also stated that "The referee also saw a tee, on this occasion, a tee coming up and down, and that, of itself, indicated that perhaps there had been more than just the parting of the grass, I'm afraid." As soon as the referee observed this, he was under a duty to try to help the player avoid a breach by calling his attention to the rule he was about to break. A referee is not there just to call penalties.

In both these respects Rickman was in error. And I still contend that he was in error in interpreting the rule in an overly literal fashion in this case when the purpose underlying the rule was satisfied on the facts.
07.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHammerwielder
Hammerwielder- I would agree with you 100% that the ref or observer should stop a player breaching a rule if they possibly can.I have done so on numerous occasions-all refs have.In this case the breach occurred as soon as he touched the ball so it would have been hard to intervene quick enough.I don't have a Rules book to hand so I might be an odd word out but these definitions may help.An observer is someone who is appointed by the committee to assist a referee to decide questions of fact and to report breaches of a rule.A referee- similar definition-ie he is appointed by the committee etc but it is his duty to act on any breach he observes or is reported to him.Observers are used in majors and the Ryder Cup etc as it can be a great help to the ref to get a heads up if he is unsighted or in the case of the ball being moved/picked up by the crowd.When there is a walking ref-as in this case the ref is in charge of that game and questions such as "is that a pitch-mark or "would you consider that ball to be embedded?" Or even "I would like to identify my ball" can be directed at the ref without going through the normal process of asking your fellow competitor.IThe players are well aware of that fact.Imust admit you make me chuckle when you accuse Rickman of not knowing the Rules- he is probably the leading expert on the Rules of Golf outside the USA .You are obviously interested in the Rules- you have a Rules book which is more than most and I suggest you enrol on a Rules course which is exactly what I did 25 years ago.I thought I was fairly good at the rules but quickly learnt I wasn't and was hugely impressed by my tutors.I've had great times via the Rules of golf and understanding them better might save you from getting all of a tizzy when things like this crop up.
07.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
@Hammerwielder- I did reply at length but my post seems to be lost in the ether-as we're the ones I put up about Muirfield set up and to be honest I can't be bothered to re- write them!Check observer and ref in the definitions it may help.I do agree that a ref should intervene to stop a breach if poss but it would have been hard in this case as the breach occurred as soon as he touched his ball.
07.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
This debate itself illustrates the absurdity of the rule. And there are many rules like it.

One needs a lawyer before playing a shot. Especially when playing with someone who is a rules nut case.

After all, does golf not pride itself on the integrity of the individual player?
07.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBud
The rule is not absurd.What is absurd is the notion that competitive golfers wouldn't take advantage if they weren't properly regulated.
07.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
So Chico, you know tha I respect your opinion, and I consider you a friend; mi cas et su casa (sp?) anytime...but the very notion that a golfer would tak advantage of a situation (cheat) if he rule is not spelled out with such length is a slap in the face of all we hold dear: that a golfer is an honorable man who would always call an nfaction on himsel.

So which way is it? Is a golfer a shady untrustworthy character, or an honorable man?

This is the fault of the rules on rules on rules. It all needs to be shitcanned, and a new simple set of rules available- and I am talking about fr tournament play.
07.23.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Chico. You must be a joy to play with in a weekend game....

Play as a single much?
07.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBud
Digs-I'm sure we have come across both!i know we will probably never agree on this but its my belief that the old simple rules became more complicated because they just didn't work!I've tried like hell to simplify them but I always fail- but if anyone comes up with a set that works then they will have my complete respect and support.
07.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
No Bud I've got loads of golfing friends and as far as I'm concerned in a weekend game they can play to whatever rules they like. but when I am playing for a living that's different.
07.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico

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