Rules and Rants
Officiating the 2012 PGA Club Professional Championship of Canada
Rules Officials provide some insight into officiating the PGA of Canada's Titleist & FootJoy PGA Club Professional Championship
Adam Helmer, Manager of Rules/Competitions & Cam Crawford, Coordinator of Rules/Competitions
Published on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 02:43PM EST Last updated on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 03:16PM EST
For the second straight year we were fortunate enough to end our season on a high note by officiating the Titleist & FootJoy PGA Club Professional Championship of Canada at the PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
We received the invitations from former Golf Canada tournament staff member, Adam LeBrun, who is now the Managing Director of Championships and Events for the PGA of Canada. Adam is also currently an advisory member on the Golf Canada Rules of Golf Committee.
Golf Canada and the PGA of Canada work together on many initiatives dedicated to improving all sectors of golf in Canada, as both organizations are part of the National Allied Golf Associations (NAGA). This is just another example of how both organizations are working together and sharing resources.
Another connection at this tournament for Golf Canada is with the title sponsors, Titleist & FootJoy, both of which are also national partners of Golf Canada’s Canadian Amateur Championships. Before the tournament and between rounds (and rulings), Adam and Cam had the opportunity to catch up with Titleist & FootJoy representatives and learn about some of the new products that Acushnet is launching next season, including the new Titleist Pro V1/V1x, which has received rave reviews to date after unveiling the Pro V1 at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. The new Pro V1/V1x will also be made available to Golf Canada national amateur championship competitors through product seeding as part of their registration package.
Overall, it’s a great experience for Golf Canada staff to work with PGA of Canada and PGA Village staff and the club professionals competing in this national championship; giving them an opportunity to put their Rules knowledge to the test and gain valuable practical experience.
From a Rules perspective, course set-up and officiating have certain unique characteristics when visiting a different club, which is especially true for a club in Florida as opposed to one here in Canada. At the PGA Village’s Wanamaker Course - named after Rodman Wanamaker, who inspired the birth of the PGA of America - players and officials encountered a variety of Local Rules considered unique relative to those located north of the border. Several of the Local Rules included:
1) Out of Bounds: In addition to Section B, item #1 on the PGA of Canada Standard Local Rules, out of bounds is defined by the following:
a) Inside edge of street curbing on hole #1, #2, #13, #14, #16 and #17.
Note: A ball, which crosses a public road defined as out of bounds and comes to rest beyond that road, is out of bounds, even though it may lie on another part of the course.
Like many clubs in the state of Florida, the PGA Village courses are surrounded by homes and neighbourhoods for retirees, snow birds and the like. As such, to simplify definitions of the margins of the course, many street edges were used to define areas deemed to be Out of Bounds. Furthermore, the note to this Local Rule contemplates situations where holes are segregated by streets, sidewalks and homes, whereby it is possible for an errant shot to cross one of these margins and come to rest elsewhere on the course property in a position that is, by definition, ‘in play’. In equity, a ball which crosses these margins is deemed to be Out of Bounds, regardless of where the ball lay once it has crossed these margins.
2) Dropping Zone for Water Hazard - #6 and #18: If a ball is in or it is known or virtually certain that a ball that has not been found, last crossed the margin of the water hazard marked yellow on holes #6 and #18, the player may proceed under Rule 26, or as an additional option, drop a ball under penalty of one stroke in the Dropping Zone.
#6 Forward teeing ground (93 yards)
#18 Right side of fairway (144 yards)
On hole #6 and #18 on the Wanamaker course, the hazards were defined as a water hazard (yellow line), which permits for relief under Rule 26-1, for a ball that has last crossed the margin of this hazard. Unlike a lateral water hazard (red line), the only options available to players were (under penalty of one stroke) to play a ball as nearly as possible from where they last played, or drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the line where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard between the hole (flag) and where the ball is dropped. However, with the inclusion of the above-noted Local Rule, players were entitled to use the Dropping Zones as an additional option.
While one might ask why give the players an additional option or why define the margin as a water hazard versus a lateral water hazard, the answer revolves around maintaining the integrity of the hole being played, as it was meant to be played. With respect to the holes in question, both approach shots to the green required players to negotiate the hazards which were maintained with the implementation of the Drop Zones, despite being an additional (third) option.
3) Left Green on Hole #8: The left putting green on Hole #8 is a wrong putting green. Players must proceed under Rule 25-3b. (See video at botton of this blog on how to take relief)
The classic Tom Fazio layout at the Wanamaker Course features ample water, wetlands and interesting design features. The 8th hole is no different, which in addition to multiple water hazards and waste areas, also features a second putting green on the hole. While only one putting green remained in play for the duration of the championship last week, the second green (located left of the hole itself), was defined as a wrong putting green. In turn, a player whose ball came to rest on the wrong putting green was required to take relief under Rule 25-3b, which requires the player to lift their ball and drop it within one club-length of and not nearer to the hole than the nearest point of relief. It is important to note that interference by a wrong putting green would only occur when the ball itself – not the players’ stance or area of intended swing – lies on the wrong putting green.
4) Coquina Sand: Coquina sand areas (tan coloured sand, containing shells, pebbles and the like) are deemed to be through the green. Coquina sand paths are deemed to be integral parts of the course.
The Wanamaker Course features a number of bunkers, waste areas and unique traits, which included areas of Coquina Sand. Many of these areas were closely situated to (or a part of) cart paths and bunkers on the course itself. Based on their proximity to the areas of play and the playability of the surface itself, these areas were deemed to be through the green and/or integral parts of the course. It is important to note that areas deemed through the green contain the whole area of the course, except the teeing ground and the putting green of the hole being played and all hazards on the course. Furthermore, there would not be free relief available for a ball coming to rest on an area with Coquina Sand, regardless of whether the areas were deemed to be through the green or integral parts of the course.
5) Bird/Animal Foraging Damage: Areas of the golf course damaged by birds or other foraging animals may be declared Ground Under Repair only by a PGA of Canada Rules Official. Such GUR will be limited to the lie of ball and the area of intended swing.
With an array of wildlife on Florida courses, including various species of birds and reptiles, damage caused by these animals could occur at any time throughout the championship, particularly to an area not previously defined as Ground Under Repair (GUR). With the guidance of a Rules Official, players would be entitled to relief from these areas should their ball or area of their swing be subject to interference. However, interference to a players’ stance would not be enough to permit for free relief in itself.
6) Fire Ants: If the ball lay through the green the player may, without penalty, drop a ball within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.
Yet another unique and dangerous situation players could potentially face on the Wanamaker Course included multiple areas riddled with fire ants, insects whose bite can be toxic, painful and create immediate discomfort. In equity, a player would be entitled to free relief from this dangerous situation as described in the Local Rule above. Similar situations are covered in the Decisions to the Rules of Golf for snakes, bees and even bird’s nests.
Hopefully this summary of Local Rules unique to the PGA Village – Wanamaker Course (and many other Florida-based courses) will help you play by the Rules in your travels down south this winter. Many thanks and congratulations to the PGA of Canada and its staff, title sponsors Titleist & FootJoy, the PGA Village and all of the PGA of Canada Professionals for a great week down in Port St. Lucie!
For more information, please consult our Rules of Golf publications – for purchase in Golf Canada’s eStore, or at your local book retailer. As always, our ‘Ask an Expert’ tool can be utilized and accessed via our website, where we would be happy to answer your Rules-related inquiries.