Camelback Golfers – READ THIS OR ELSE!

GodfatherIf you continue to play golf at Camelback and you haven’t read this, a curse will be cast upon you. Your hair will fall out. (Note to those of you with sparse or no hair: In your case, a secondary curse will be administered the results of which are far too gruesome to detail in a public forum such as this.)

It has come to my attention that some golfers continue to be conflicted and/or confused by the rules governing “lateral hazards” in general and in particular, the rules as they pertain to the native grass areas at Camelback Golf Club. Please read this missive and absorb it. Inculcate it both into your conscious and subconscious minds, your ID, your EGO, your memory, your yin and your yang. Kindly understand this so thoroughly that in the event you talk in your sleep, you recite variations on this rule rather than cry out the name of someone with whom you had a love relationship in the past. In that regard, having a thorough grasp of this rule may not only save you penalty strokes on the golf course, it could also save your relationship at home.

ALL NATIVE GRASS AREAS ON THE AMBIENTE COURSE ARE DEEMED “LATERAL HAZARDS”. There are certain God given or natural laws of nature that apply to lateral hazards. Some for your bemusement are:

  1. Your ball is in the hazard AT THE LAST POINT OF ENTRY. It doesn’t matter if your ball is 700 feet in the air, the point of entry is that point where a vertical line straight down from your ball crosses the line of the hazard.
  2. Assuming you find your ball without being bitten by a rattlesnake, ravaged by a coyote, bobcat, or member of the grounds crew, you have the same five options for your next shot that you would if you had hit your ball into a lake. Those options are …
    • Play the ball AS IT LIES.
    • Drop two clubs lengths from the LAST POINT OF ENTRY, but no closer to the hole. There is a one stroke penalty.
    • Drop a ball within two clubs lengths of a point on the opposite side of the hazard in line with the LAST POINT OF ENTRY no closer to the hole. There is a one stroke penalty.
    • Play the ball from the location of your previous shot. There is a one stroke penalty.
    • Play the ball from any point you wish on a line directly, i.e., straight back, in line with the flagstick and the LAST POINT OF ENTRY. You may legally drop the ball back 800 yards if you’re so inclined (as long as you’re still in bounds), however, this option may have to be addressed in another post relating to mental competence. There is a one stroke penalty.

Things YOU MAY NOT DO if you’re going to play your ball from within the hazard.

  1. You MAY NOT ground your club in such a fashion as to be deemed “testing the ground” or “improving your lie or swing path”. You MAY lightly brush the grass in the course of addressing or swinging as long as it is not done to remove the grass or otherwise improve your swing path.
  2. You MAY NOT touch or move any loose impediments in your swing path or the path of the ball. You MAY NOT move rocks or native vegetation. “I paid two hundred dollars for this club” is not a statement that grants a waiver of the rules. You MAY move unnatural loose impediments such as those that are human caused. For example, you may move an empty beer can that impedes your swing. In fact, if the can isn’t empty, you may drink the contents before and/or after the swing. It may even help. You MAY move or take relief from waste or construction debris that is clearly man made. For example, you can take relief from a pile of mesquite slash having been cut and left for pickup. You may also get relief into the mesquite as long as you are not visible from any residence or by any other golfers on the course. The penalty for such relief is self-inflicted; remember, mesquite thorns are extremely sharp. If you get too close, you will come away with a much greater appreciation for the term “slash”.
  3. You MAY NOT lift your ball to identify it if it is clearly identifiable without lifting. If in doubt, your playing opponent usually has a pretty good eye for spotting your markings. If the ball does have to be lifted, make sure it is returned to the same place it was before the heist.
  4. You MAY NOT take a drop out of the hazard on a line running laterally from the point at which the ball came to rest. This technique is referred to a “desert rules” and is NOT the legal or proper way to take relief. The technique is also referred to a cheating, even if done with the noblest of intentions.

Now that I have hopefully made it clear how to proceed on those rare occasions when your ball unfairly, unjustly and no doubt in defiance of the physical laws of the universe makes its way into a “native grass lateral hazard”, let me take a little extra time to clarify the term “native grass area”.

On the Ambiente course, we have the following eight areas: teeing grounds, putting greens, sand traps, fairways, the rough (you know – those areas that look like the fairway, but aren’t cut nearly as close to the ground), lakes, cart paths and “OTHER AREAS”. If you’re not in one of the first seven, you’re in a “native grass area”. Native grass areas typically have native grasses in them, and sometimes flowers. They also have snakes, mice, rabbits, bobcats, coyotes, and raptors, but to keep things simple, we’ll not refer to them as native animal areas; we’ll stick with native grass areas.

Here are a couple of the biggest sources of confusion when it comes to native grass areas. In the event that the following “interpretations” appear to violate the rules or spirit of the game as you may know them, consider them “sub-local” rules for our group only (unless the Club adopts them). They are hereby declared “the rules” as set by the Tournament Committee (me) and Chair of the Handicap Committee (also me).

  1. If a cart path runs adjacent to a native grass area and your ball comes to rest on the cart path or sufficiently close to the edge of the cart path as to cause you to risk injury or club damage, you MAY take relief on the non-hazard side of the cart path – EVEN IF YOUR BALL COMES TO REST CLEARLY ON THE HAZARD SIDE OF THE CART PATH.
  2. If a cart path runs through a native grass area, i.e., native grass areas exist on both sides of the cart path where your ball comes to rest, you may take free relief, however the drop must be made IN THE HAZARD. You must drop within one club length of the point of nearest relief from the cart path. Note this is a “local rule for our group only” and is in opposition to the official USGA position on this question. The USGA says you get NO RELIEF in such situations; you play the ball where it lies – even if it’s on the cart path. You still have all the options available for relief from a lateral hazard, however, it’ll cost you one stroke.

One final (famous last words) comment on the native grass question. If you’re playing golf on the Padre course and you’re ball comes to rest in a native grass area on the Ambiente course, e.g., behind the #12 green, these rules still apply.

I sincerely hope these clarifications make play easier, less stressful and faster. If I’ve missed anything or you have any further questions or comments, hit the comment button and let’er rip!

Also be aware that if any interpretation remains nebulous or ambiguous, resort to “Jones Rule #138”, i.e., all rule interpretations shall be made in a manner that favors the author and his team.

The Rules are The Rules, but …

The USGA has a clearly defined set of rules for the game of golf. Most of our fellow golfers have a pretty good understanding of those rules, at least when there are witnesses present. On top of these rules, players need to be familiar with any “local rules” which may be applicable on any given course. The extent of the rules that govern our play may sometimes seem burdensome and confusing. However, whenever frustration sets in when dealing with those rules, consider yourselves lucky that you didn’t have to play golf at Richmond Golf Club in England in 1940.

According to one source, German planes would fly from Norway on bombing missions. Because of icy weather conditions, the barrels of their guns had a small dab of wax in the muzzle to protect them from clogging with ice. In addition to attacking industrial targets close to the golf courses, after crossing the coast, they would clear their guns by firing a few rounds at the golf courses. Golfers were encouraged to take cover. It is said they also were asked to play by the following rules.

RichmondLocalRules

The next time you get a bad lie in the fairway, relax. It could be a lot worse.

 

Going Native on Ambiente

High GrassWith a few new members and a few whose memories come into and out of focus from time-to-time, let’s review the rule associated with playing out of the “native grass” areas on the Ambiente course at Camelback.

Native grass areas are deemed “lateral hazards”. This means:

  1. YOU MAY NOT ground your club when addressing your ball. You MAY lightly touch the grass, but you MAY NOT do anything that alters the swing path such as taking practice swings that tear or uproot the grass or plants near the ball.
  1. YOU MAY NOT move any loose impediments in the hazard. You MAY NOT brush any rocks or pebbles aside. YOU MAY NOT pick up or move any twigs, pine needles, coyote droppings. You DO NOT get relief from “obstructions” if you’re in a hazard without incurring a penalty stroke. This includes things like the fire hydrant on the ninth hole.
  1. YOU DO NOT get free relief from standing water if you are IN the hazard. That’s sort of why it’s called a “hazard”. After the rains, many of the native grass areas become native rivers. No relief without penalty.
  1. YOU MAY NOT “build a stance”. You can place your feet firmly on the ground, but you may not uproot plants or kick big rocks around while taking your stance.

Relief from a lateral hazard is covered under Section 26 of the Rules of Golf. You have five options:

  1. Play the ball where it lies without penalty and subject to the prohibitions outlined above. Obviously, you have to find the ball to do this. No penalty.
  1. Stroke and distance. Return to the spot from which you hit the ball. You incur a one stroke penalty. If you hit the ball from the teeing ground, you are now hitting your third shot from the teeing ground.
  1. Drop a ball within two club lengths of the point where the ball crossed the margin of the hazard. You take a one stroke penalty.
  1. Drop a ball within two club lengths of a point on the opposite side of the hazard, but no closer to the hole than where the ball first crossed the margin of the hazard. You take a one stroke penalty.
  1. Drop a ball as far back as you wish on a line from the point of entry and the flagstick. You take a one stroke penalty.

Admittedly, it is called a “lateral hazard”, but this DOES NOT MEAN you can drop a ball laterally out of the hazard. You MUST drop within two club lengths of the point where the ball first crossed the margin of the hazard (assuming you’re taking relief as defined by #3 above).

What are the native grass areas? For most golfers, it’s pretty apparent that the arroyo area on the starboard side of the course is a “native grass” area. However, some golfers lose their clarity when they end up in a little “island” area of native grass. If it looks like native grass, you’re safe assuming it is a hazard. This includes places like (1) the tall grass between the cart path and the sand traps on the left side of the #3 fairway, (2) the grass areas running the entire length of the port side of pretty much every hole on the course, (3) the grass areas above and to the left of the traps on #18, (4) the tall grass area between the cart path and the #16 green, (5) the grassy area above the trap at the end of the dogleg on the #1 hole. These are just a few of the “native grass” areas. If it’s got flowers, it’s not fairway, it’s not rough, it’s native.

A couple of final comments on this topic: if you’re playing the Padre course and hit a ball into a native grass area that’s part of the Ambiente course, e.g., the area behind the twelfth green, IT IS NATIVE GRASS and deemed lateral hazard.

Consider this a “local rule” for The Jones Boyz Group. I don’t recall if Camelback has addressed this issue, so don’t claim it as an “official” local rule for the club without checking. There are areas on the course where the cart path runs through native grass areas. For example, on #3, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9 and other holes, there are sections of the cart path with native grass areas on both sides of the path. Technically, with a ball on the path or a ball adjacent to the path where the concrete interferes with your swing and the finish on your $100 club, you are NOT entitled to relief. However, by Executive Decree of the Tournament Committee, i.e., me, we will play with our own local rule. You MAY take relief from the cart path without penalty. However, you MAY NOT take relief out of the hazard. The free drop must be within a club length of the nearest relief from the cart path, but within the hazard.

We’ve got a great golf group and we should be proud that we have fostered a culture where we play by the rules. We don’t improve our lies. We don’t bump the ball. We’re pretty much “by the book”. Hopefully, this helps some of the newer members of the group to stay on the high road.

In the final analysis, the best way to avoid conflicts with these and other rules is to hit your shots into the fairway. I’m thinking about trying that approach. I’m always open to new things.

August 15th – Book Release

Cover Front WebHow to Cheat in Golf – Confessions of the Handicap Committee Chairman is a light-hearted treatment of a serious subject. In his discussion of cheating on and off the golf course, author (The Man on the Bench) h. Alton Jones identifies numerous techniques golfers use to game-the-system. In the past, exposing the sandbaggers hasn’t been an easy task. Jones has developed and explains a number of techniques that can make it easier for golfers to identify and expose those who seem to win over and over again while defying the odds. It’s a fast and easy read that will appeal to every golfer who has ever lost a nickel on the course. It makes a great gift for your golfing partner, the Handicap Committee Chairman or the District Attorney.

How to Cheat in Golf – Confessions of the Handicap Committee Chairman is available through Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com and other fine booksellers in the United States and Europe.

Five, Four, Three, Two . . .

rocketThe Inferno Cup competition begins Wednesday, May 28th. Come aboard for some great fun and super competition over the next four months.

The Inferno Cup is for everyone. High or low handicap players are welcome. Flexible play dates mean anyone and everyone can fit the game into his schedule.

Sign-up or request more information by contacting the tournament committee at InfernoCup@GaineyGolf.org.

We have listened to you and spent many hours reviewing the previous Inferno Cup format. We have discovered we can make great improvements. Here they are.

• Inferno Cup play now includes Saturdays. Can’t make it Wednesdays or Fridays? You can now play Saturday mornings beginning June 7th.

• Greater game selection. The size of the field will usually dictate team size and game format. We’ll have a greater diversity of game formats while keeping the field level, fair and fun.

• Point allocations for events have been reworked to eliminate inequalities. A system has been designed that guarantees a fair, equitable and predictable distribution of points. Everyone that plays will stand a realistic chance of winning.

We will have a much larger field this year, but there will be more opportunities to compete. We have a lot of new faces and some outstanding players. It will be exciting and fun. It’s not too late to sign up. If you have golfing friends at the club that have yet to join us, please encourage them to sign up. Now with Saturday golf, even those with nine-to-five jobs can be competitive and join in the fun.

For complete Inferno Cup guidelines and rules, go to www.GaineyGolf.org and select Inferno Cup from the menu or click here.

Rat Fink 101 – A Short Course on Peer Review

USGA-1The entire USGA Handicap System is predicated on the concept of “peer review”. This is a euphemistic term that loosely translates into “checking on that S.O.B. to make sure he’s posting his scores correctly.” Historically, “peer review” has been done by checking the posting sheet in the locker room or wherever your club hangs it. This can be problematic because the S.O.B. may not post until the following day or maybe a week later. It may also be difficult if the club picks up the sheet every day to make entries into the handicap system. And of course, it’s hopeless in cases where the S.O.B. plays a foreign course and posts six 95’s accidentally.

With the advent of electricity (thanks to Ben Franklin), we now have computers. You can get on and double-check the postings of not only that S.O.B., but even honest, nice guys like myself. Not only “can you”, it’s your responsibility. It called “peer review”. Admittedly, it can still be difficult when the S.O.B. spends part of the year in Canada or Europe where the exchangeability of data between the USGA’s “ghin” system and their barbaric, underdeveloped handicap posting systems run in a dank, dark room with a computer driven by a hand-crank (do they have electricity in Canada?). But in the enlightened world, it can be done from the comfort of your home with a good, peety scotch in hand.

All that is required is (1) a computer with internet access and (2) a peety scotch, preferably Lagavulin or a good Laphroig.

In the address bar of your web browser, type the following web address: http://www.azgolf.org and press the “enter” key. If you don’t know your User ID and password, check with someone in the pro-shop or ask a kid under 13 to get it for you. Enter your login information.USGA-0

Presto! You will see a screen that shows your handicap card and your twenty most recent scores. (Check them for accuracy; you may be a crook.) You will also see a menu. One of the choices is “Handicap Lookup”. Select it. You’ll notice three tabs; “Single Golfer”, “Name and State”, and “Multi-Player”. I selected “Name and State” and put my own name in. I got a screen showing all of my “revision scores”, i.e., those scores that were used to calculate my current handicap. Selecting the “Recent Scores” tab allows me to see those most recent scores that will be counted toward my handicap calculation on the next update.USGA-3

You’re almost a real gumshoe at this point, but you’ll notice there is a problem. All of the scores for any given month show the same date – 8/13 for August. Obviously, I didn’t play ten rounds of golf on the 13th of the month. As it happens, the USGA doesn’t want you to know the actual dates of play when you look up a golfer by name. I’m led to believe they’re afraid you’ll be able to use this tool to tract the movements of that S.O.B and find out he wasn’t actually playing golf last Thursday, but in reality was doing push-ups in the pickle patch with another golfer’s wife. “Hear no evil, see no evil” comes to mind here. I’m not sure what happened to the “Do no evil.”

There’s a simple solution. Select “Single Golfer” and enter the golfer’s “ghin Number”. You’ll see the information presented becomes a little more detailed and includes the actual date of play. How do you get a golfer’s “ghin number”? Ask him. Or go to the computer in the pro-shop and look it up.USGA-4

When you engage in such activities, you’re not a snoop; you’re doing the job the USGA says you should be doing. If you see something blatantly suspicious, report it to the Gainey Ranch Handicap Committee. They’ll love it that you’re not only doing your job, you’re doing theirs as well.

So . . . you think that S.O.B. is winning too many tournaments? Get off your keister and check on his handicap. You’ve got the tools and it’s your job. Go after it. As far as figuring out who’s doing push-ups in the pickle patch and with whom, that’s a more advanced topic and it’s not addressed until “Rat Fink 201”. Enroll early, the course fills up fast.

One Man’s Opinion – Don’t Post Scores for Others

Jones' Opinion
Jones’ Opinion

In the past, in an effort to assure a higher level of compliance with USGA handicap rules, team “captains” have been encouraged to post the scores of all members of their teams following golf rounds. Although the intent is noble, the result is not. Team “captains” should be encouraged to “encourage” teammates to post scores. If necessary, I have no problem with them yelling, berating and sarcastically demeaning their teammates to get them to post. Threats of physical violence are fine with me, but the individual players should post their own scores . . . post them correctly and post them all.  Here are my reasons.

  1. Page One of the USGA Handicap System manual couldn’t be any clearer. Two basic premises underlie the USGA Handicap System, namely that each player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round, regardless of where the round is played, and that the player will post every acceptable round for peer review. There are no provisions in the manual for surrogates, babysitters or house mothers. It’s the golfer’s responsibility – end of story.
  2. With captains or scorekeepers posting rounds, confusion and errors are inevitable. An increasing number of players prefer to post their own scores online. Without question there will be duplicate postings. Unfortunately, these duplicate postings are not always detected in a timely manner and having them eliminated is problematic. The golfer must call the club, explain the situation, ask that the duplicate be removed and hope that the process is completed successfully and without error. Also, it is not unreasonable to conclude that with human nature the way it is, some golfers’ abilities to detect and correct duplicates are no doubt greater when the scores are very low. High scores are going to be thrown out anyway aren’t they? Not exactly mathematically valid reasoning.
  3. The converse to #2 above is also true. If the golfer assumes the captain will be posting and the captain fails to post for whatever reason, a handicap lowering 75 may be overlooked and go unposted.
  4. Not all captains fully grasp the concept of equitable stroke control (ESC) and know how to properly apply it. Depending upon a golfer’s handicap range, he may not take a score above a certain number. When posting scores, adjustments MUST be made prior to posting. Otherwise, the handicap system does not function as intended. It is also true that the team captain has just arrived at the club house after a grueling round in 110° heat and has not only his own score to review for adjustments, he now has three other scores to check and double-check. He’s thirsty, damn thirsty and the Member’s Grill calls out his name. How much time and effort do you really think he’ll be investing in reviewing postings for ESC?
  5. The fifth and final reason for arguing against placing an intermediary in the posting process is perhaps the biggest one. It gives the “shady guys” (you know who you are) ground cover when they’re reviewed by the Handicap Committee. “Well, I didn’t post that score because the team captain was supposed to do it. It’s not my fault.” Yes it is. Read the USGA manual. But when we put the burden on someone else’s back, we confuse the situation at the least or worse yet, we give the bandits cover for their crimes of neglect or intent. And then we wonder why some guys seem to always play below their handicaps when the stakes are higher. Go figure!

In the past week, I’ve had one duplicate score posted by a team captain. It has been corrected, but not without spending a little time and a little effort. If the old system of captain postings remains in place, please take note of my personal request – DON’T POST MY SCORES. When I am a team captain, I will not post yours. I will give you your adjusted score and growl at you to post it yourself. If you don’t, shame on you. Perhaps I’ll see you in a meeting of the club’s Handicap Committee the week before one of our big tournaments.