Every month Compleat Golfer taps into the brain of one of South Africa’s gurus to help you master the golf course.
It’s a common occurrence in most club fourballs. You’re walking down the first fairway when one of you asks, ‘Um, is there placing today?’
A mistake of this nature will probably only cost you your pride in your weekend fourball. But on Tour, it can
be a lot more costly for a professional.
Reinard Kilian, Sunshine Tour tournament director and rules official, recalls this type of incident during the recent Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club.
‘Placing, or “preferred lies”, as we rules geeks prefer to call it, is prevalent at most courses around the country during their rainy season,’ he says.
‘At the Tshwane Open, the Pretoria Country Club course was in excellent condition and it has among the best fairways we play all year.
‘Tournament officials fully intended playing the ball down, but unfortunately, due to overnight rain earlier during tournament week, the consensus was that balls may pick up mud in the landing areas. The decision was made to implement the Local Rule of preferred lies for rounds one and two.
‘Course conditions improved after some warm and sunny weather the first two days and preferred lies were no longer needed. The Local Rule was therefore removed for the last two rounds. All players were informed by the starter
and notices were put up all around the clubhouse to highlight the change in the Local Rules.
‘Unfortunately, during the third round there were three players who forgot about this and picked up their balls in play. One even got as far as the 15th before he inadvertently picked up his ball.
‘All three realised their mistake as soon as their ball was in their hands, but by then it was too late. They incurred a one-stroke penalty. During the weekend on Tour, mistakes like this can be very costly.
‘So herein lies the lesson for all club golfers: it’s important to note that a Local Rule such as preferred lies is by its very nature a temporary measure and should be removed as soon as conditions warrant.
‘Do not assume that because there was “placing” the last time you played the course, it will still be in effect for your next game.
‘The golden rule is to check the notice board and ask the starter on the 1st tee of any additional Local Rules in play before you start your round.’
– This article first appeared in the April issue of Compleat Golfer