Calling A Golf Rules Infraction On A Competitor

This particular article has nothing to do with a friendly match. The reason I say this is that I do not pay any attention to any golfers game outside of a competition. I do follow all the happenings of the round, but I do not care what other golfers are doing with respect to what they record as a score. In competitions, focusing on ensuring all my competitors and myself follows the rules to the best of our ability.

Without going into detail about the rules infractions, I want to focus how and when to point out that a rules infraction occurred. First and foremost, I immediately call a rules infraction on myself when I realize that I broke a rule. I call over my opponent, outline the situation and we agree on the number of strokes (if any) I need to assess myself. Then we discuss the potential drop area or if I need to replace my ball to its original spot. It is all very congenial and I know that I did the right move by including my competitor during this potentially difficult situation.

If I perceive an infraction by my opponent, I try to point out the challenge as soon as possible. I do this by walking up to my opponent and calming asking about the what I saw. I cite the possible rules infraction and discuss the situation. Additionally, I try to never let the infraction go past the next tee shot. There are times when I was asked about a rules infraction after the fact and this is when things get dicey. Fortunately, the largest penalty assessed was two strokes; it has never resulted in the disqualification of a players.

As you can see, the main point about discussing rules infractions is to do it calmly and respectfully. Generally this is enough and we can come to the proper conclusion that protects the player and the field.

But what happens when two players do not agree with the call. Instead of pulling our the rule book (I have done that) the competitor plays two balls. One from where they feel is the proper call and one from where I thought the call was for that situation. Then we record both scores and as the head rules official; which is usually the club professional. We both explain our view and then the Pro makes the ruling. Over the years, I made only one wrong call and bought my opponent a beverage to apologize. He knew I did not intentionally challenge him and was very understanding. Although I was wrong, it was important the I stepped up and made the call. Regardless of what you think, this and the other rules situations need to be addressed for the sake of the players and the overall field.

Calling a rules infraction on a player is part of golf. It does not happen often, but every golfer needs to have the courage to step up in this delicate situation. My only recommendation is to approach the potential confrontation respectfully and calmly. And if no agreement can be reached, play two balls and talk to the rules official.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


4 thoughts on “Calling A Golf Rules Infraction On A Competitor

  1. This went pear-shaped for me in a big way during a large invitational event 20 years ago. I finally had to say to my competitor ” John, I will not sign your scorecard”. The circumstance was not ignorance but an obvious rules violation by a single digit player.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jim: Being in charge of 38 players, and playing only net competitions I have the players police the rules themselves. Being net competition (gross score minus
    handicap) I have told the players that if they see a rules infraction and they do not call it, it may cost them points in the points race and possibly a cash prize at the end of the day.

    I tell the player that calls the infraction and the player that it was called against
    to see the rules committee after the round. It seems that the situations are
    usually settled in an amicable way. I

    Sitting down with the members of the rules committee both players get a better
    knowledge of the rules, and everybody walks away still friends.

    The players have no choice as to what the rules are, as every players gets a book of u.s.g.a. rules at the beginning of the season. Along with the rule book we also hand out a list of local rules.

    The one thing I will not tolerate is players agreeing to skip certain rules. I tell them at the beginning of the season if I find out that players agree to skip the rules, they are done for the season. I try to be tough but fair. But some players push some things to far.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike,

      I understand your view and your frustration. I have played in many Sr. Men’s events where only some of the teams are playing by the rules; the rest just play their game and submit their score. It is very frustrating and one of the reasons I stopped playing.

      Cheers Jim


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