Why prolific golfers end up in trouble

Thursday March 10 2016

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland on the practice ground prior to the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 2, 2015 in Norton, Massachusetts. PHOTO | ROSS KINNIARD |

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland on the practice ground prior to the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston on September 2, 2015 in Norton, Massachusetts. PHOTO | ROSS KINNIARD |  AFP

I once played a round of golf with a senior gentleman who compared a golf swing to dancing. “You can tell whether someone is a good dancer by the way they swing the club,” he told me. “A golfer who can execute a golf shot with grace and elegance, is most likely going to be a good dancer,” he added.

That is exactly what we get treated to at the Barclays Kenya Open. The talented golfers who take part in the event strike the ball with such grace, elegance and ease that it makes the game of golf look so easy. It is not uncommon, however, for these talented golfers to also end up in some trouble spots, despite the well executed shots.

Here are some areas that we may see some of these top golfers getting into some trouble:

The over-zealous caddie

The caddies at the Barclays Kenya Open have been picked from various clubs due to their outstanding performance. It is not uncommon, therefore, to find some of these caddies trying to go the extra mile to prove that they are worthy of the selection.

While the caddie is allowed to give advice on the line of putt to the player that they are caddying for, they are not allowed to stand on an extension of the line of putt of a player while he makes the stroke. A caddie standing on the extension of the line of putt of player will earn the player a 2-stroke penalty.

As I have pointed out on this column in the past, both the player and his caddie are responsible for knowing the Rules. For any breach of a Rule by his caddie, the player incurs the applicable penalty.

Casual water on the 4th hole

At the 4th hole of the Karen Country Club, there is a lateral water hazard on the right of the fairway. Should there be a heavy downpour next week, there is bound to be some water overflowing from the markings of the lateral water hazard.

Let’s say a tee shot on the 4th hole ends up in the area of the water hazard and is lost. If it is not known or virtually certain that the ball is lost in the water hazard or the casual water overflowing from the hazard, and it is not known whether the ball is in the casual water or the hazard, then the player must proceed as though the ball is in the water hazard. The player will incur a 1-stroke penalty and proceed under the water hazard rule.

Identification of ball procedure

The green-keeping staff of Karen Country Club has let the roughs grow a bit longer than usual. Some wild shots will find the roughs during the Barclays Kenya Open. In some of the cases, the players may not be certain whether the ball that has been found in the rough is theirs or not.

It is permissible for a player to touch and gently part the long grass but only to the extent necessary to see the identification mark on the ball. If the player can’t still positively identify his ball and wishes to lift it, he MUST announce his intention to his fellow competitors and mark the position of the ball.

Many times golfers, including professional golfers, forget to announce their intention to their fellow competitors and this may end up costing them a 1-stroke penalty.

Sand and loose soil

The greens on the 12th and 18th holes at Karen Country Club have just been remodeled. The greenside bunkers are deeper and have mounds that may make it more difficult for the players to find the putting surface. Should a ball not make it to the putting surface, but end up on the fringe with sand all around it, the player may not brush it aside.

By definition, sand and soil are only loose impediments when they lie on the putting green. By brushing away sand that is not on the putting green, the player will fall foul of the rule that prohibits him from improving his line of play.

This will earn the player a 2-stroke penalty. Rory McIlroy incurred a 2-stroke penalty in this way during the second round of the Abu Dhabi Championship in 2012.

Watching good golfers during the Barclays Kenya Open will be the same as watching good dancers performing on stage. Even after the “dance” is over and the applause subsided, the joie de vivre that it provides will linger for as long as we don’t try and repeat the same “moves” at home.