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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tiger, Monnie & Me: Rule 25-2-Embedded Ball

Monnie at the 2014 SFLGA Spring Tournament
At the Star Fort Ladies Golf Association we pick play groups for our regular play days by drawing colored poker chips from an old, tattered, mildly dirty Crown Royal bag.  There's some flexibility to the process -- you can always negotiate a private chip swap -- but for the most part we take what we get.  I'm always pleased when Monnie and I are in the same group.  I consistently enjoy the time I spend with her on the golf course.

Let me describe Monnie: she's the Lexi Thompson of the geriatric golfer set.  She's strong, has a powerful swing, and is always nicely put-together, with a seemingly endless supply of matching visors, gloves, shirts and shorts.

Monnie's an enthusiastic and competitive golfer.  She plays in state tournaments, knows practically every woman who's worth knowing in the Women's South Carolina Golf Association, is an irrepressible networker, and she knows the Rules of Golf.

When Monnie speaks, I listen, particularly if she's commenting on the arcane, intricate Rules of Golf derivatives.  

Last Saturday we both hit our third shots across the pond that intersects the fairway on par-5 8th fairway and both shots came up a little short.  (I'm not certain why this is the case, but a disproportionate number of my personal golfing woes seem to hinge on this particular hole.)  Both balls cleared the water but thunked into the muck on the far side of the pond -- we actually heard them thunk, and there weren't any tell-tale ripples on the surface of the water, so we knew they'd landed in the muck, which is clearly inside a well-marked hazard.

Embedded ball rule! Monnie declared, with a smile on her face.

I'd hit balls out of that hazard area before (with both Barb and Alma sternly warning me not to ground my club), but I'd never dreamed I might invoke Rule 25-2, pick up the ball which is always and inevitably muddy, clean it, put it down (Monnie advised dropping it lightly and gently) and take my fourth shot without penalty.  But Monnie knows Rules of Golf nuances in a way I can never hope to match, and so I followed her example and did what she told me to do.

Then I came home and studied Rule 25-2.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the rule, here it is:
A ball embedded in its own pitch-mark in the ground in any closely mown area through the green may be lifted, cleaned and dropped, without penalty, as near as possible to the spot where it lay but not nearer the hole.  The ball when dropped must first strike a part of the course through the green.  "Closely mown area" means any area of the course, including paths through the rough, cut to fairway height or less.
Following the trail of crumbs through the Rules to the Definitions, I determined that The Rules define through the green as the whole area of the course except:
a. the teeing ground and putting green of the hole being played
b. all hazards on the course.

Tiger had some problems at Abu Dhabi last year with Rule 25-2 and Monnie missed it too.  In our case, our balls were within a clearly marked hazard, they came to rest in pond muck, and the surrounding wire grass clumps and lily pads don't qualify as "closely mown . . . to fairway height or less."

Alma has told me repeatedly that I need to read the Rules and know them, and not depend on others to advise or interpret for me.  Alma is correct.  Monnie and I need to submit revised scorecards for our Saturday rounds.

In golf as in a court of law, not knowing the rules isn't a valid defense for violating them.

Check your own Rules of Golf knowledge.  Follow this link and take the USGA Rules of Golf Quiz.