Even with balls you can’t play from wrong green

Friday December 1 2017

Kenya's Richard Ainley in action during the 12th Tusker Malt Uganda Open at the par-72 Uganda Golf Club (UGC) Kitante course on September 27, 2017. PHOTO | EDDIE CHICCO |

Kenya's Richard Ainley in action during the 12th Tusker Malt Uganda Open at the par-72 Uganda Golf Club (UGC) Kitante course on September 27, 2017. PHOTO | EDDIE CHICCO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

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During a ladies’ tournament at Limuru Country Club back in 1983, the late Leah Mburu was preparing to chip onto the 18th green to complete her round of golf.

The proximity of Limuru’s 18th green to the club house has been known to fill many a golfer with tension especially when the club house is full of spectators and adoring fans.

As fate would have it, the late Leah Mburu had one fan - - little Richard Ainley - who did not think that she could make a mistake on the golf course.

In an attempt to chip her ball into the hole on the 18th, the late Leah shanked her shot and her ball ended up on the 9th green.

Ainley, who was about four years then, did not hesitate to run to the ninth green, retrieve the ball and before anyone could do or say anything, he ran and dropped it into the 18th hole.

For him, Aunty Leah was playing the 18th hole so the ball had no business being on the ninth green; the beauty of a child’s innocence.

While playing the 18th hole, the ninth green is what is known as the “wrong green”.

A wrong green is any green other than the green of the hole being played and it includes any practice greens.

It is against the Rules of Golf to make a stroke from the wrong green.

The golfer whose ball ends up on the wrong green must take relief from it.

There is a major difference though for the procedure that is adopted in this instance from the one used in abnormal ground conditions.

Relief from ground under repair or casual water is available for the stance.

However, when it comes to the wrong green, relief is not granted for the stance. For instance, if the golfer in fairly taking their stance to play their ball can only do so while on the wrong green, they do not get relief for their stance.

Relief is only available for the lie of the ball.

Therefore, when taking relief, the nearest point of relief must be a point just off the green that is not nearer the hole than where the ball lay.

The nearest point of relief will not take into consideration the stance of the player in this case. The golfer is then allowed to drop the ball within one-club length from the nearest point of relief.

This may sound like a very straight forward Rule but at a PGA tournament three years ago, I watched on television as tour professional, Seung-Yul Noh played from a wrong green.

He was penalised two strokes for the shot. The penalty has nothing to do with taking a divot. Even if the player used a putter, as long as they make a stroke, the two stroke penalty in stroke play should be imposed and in match play the player should lose the hole being played.

One question that I have been asked by a few golfers is if there is a Rule that requires golfers to use a putter on the green.

Whereas there is no Rule that prohibits us from using any other club on the green, I am sure you will not be popular with the green keeping staff if you use anything other than the putter.

I recently watched as Justin Thomas used his wedge to hole his ball from five feet away.

Since the Rules of Golf prohibit us from repairing spike marks on the green, Thomas thought it best to use a wedge to avoid any influence from the spike marks.

This is not the kind of shot that we, the weekend golfers, should attempt.

What may look like an easy shot when executed by golf professionals, may leave a scar on our greens that may take a long time to heal.

One golf professional who can probably pull off such a shot is Richard Ainley.

He is no longer known to run after errant shots but his skills on the golf course are probably a testament of his exposure to the game from a very young age.


I have not been to The Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort in over eight years.

After the World Golf Awards hosted by La Manga Club in Spain this past Saturday, I have a reason to visit.

The Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort was a nominee for the World’s Best Golf Hotel 2017 award.

Even though they did not win this category, they emerged best in Africa.

As a country, we should be proud of this achievement. This and the fact that our country was a nominee for the Africa’s Best Golf Destination for 2017.

We have what it takes to be a great golfing destination.