This past Thursday, my partner Jo & I played in the third round of the Daily Mail Foursomes, a national match play competition. We were playing against our good friends and neighbours Pyecombe Golf Club in wonderful conditions. The match was close and on the 4th hole, after missing her putt and halving the hole with us, our opponent put a ball down and putted again. “Be careful,” I said. “You’re not allowed to practice your putting on the front 9.” “Really? It must be a local rule”, she replied. “It’s a 9 hole course rule. As we’re going to play this hole again, this is similar to testing the green”, I said. In our women’s section, we often remind each other of that rule, as it’s so easy to forget. They asked us if we wanted to claim the hole because of the unlawful practice stroke, and of course we said no. We halved the hole.
When I got home, I thought I’d check the exact ruling. To my horror, even though I combed the whole entire golf rules-related internet and beyond, I couldn’t find anything that confirmed my oh so very confident assertion. The relevant ruling reads as follows:
Rule 7-2 – Practice during a round
Between the play of two holes a player must not make a practice stroke, except that she may practise putting or chipping on or near:
a. the putting green of the hole last played,
b. any practice putting green, or
c. the teeing ground of the next hole to be played in the round, provided a practice stroke is not made from a hazard and does not unduly delay play.
I even checked all the 15 decisions mentioned on the R&A website, and I found nothing. I talked to our pro and he explained that even though the 4th and the 13th holes share the same green on a 9 hole course, they are both considered two distinct holes. Thus, practicing on the 4th isn’t tantamount to testing the 13th green. How come everyone in our section thinks otherwise?
So, Lorraine, I’m very sorry that I told you the wrong rule, but there was no doubt in my mind. And I’m really, really glad we didn’t claim the hole! I will clarify this in our women’s section’s next newsletter – this particular 9 hole course myth must be dispelled.