How golf CATS cost Charania victory at Safari Tour Series in Limuru

Simon Ngige at Safari Tour Golf series at Limuru Country Golf club ON Wednesday, Oct 7, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Cats have a way of finding the most inconvenient place to sit to cause the most discomfort...

As a child, I found the evenings to be the most special time when visiting with my grandparents.

Guuka (my grandfather) would have captivating stories to tell while Cûcû (my grandmother) would provide a plate of roasted maize or other snacks to keep my siblings and I satisfied.

That was the equivalent of the modern-day pop-corn at the movies… Guuka’s stories were action-packed and as vivid as a Spielberg movie.

There was, however, one problem; Mbuthi, my grandmother’s cat. Mbuthi was the feisty, diva of cats and she had her preferred chair in my grandparents sitting room.

Woe betide anyone who tried to remove her from this chair; she would loudly protest and even fight back.

It was the best and most comfortable chair right opposite Guuka’s chair, but we eventually learnt how to let Mbuthi be.

There are CATS on golf courses that must be treated in the same way as Mbuthi; they must be left alone.

The golf CATS cost Rizwan Charania victory at the first tournament of the 2020-2021 Season of the Safari Tour that was played this week at Limuru Country Club.

The golf CATS is an acronym for Conditions Affecting The Stroke; woe betide anyone who tries to improve on them.

The Conditions Affecting The Stroke that must not be improved according to the Rules of Golf are the lie of the ball at rest, the area of intended stance, the area of intended swing, the line of play or the relief area where the ball is going to dropped or placed.

On the third round that was played on Tuesday this week, Charania found his tee shot next to a bush on the par-three seventh hole.

As he was assessing his next shot, he took a practice swing and clipped a small twig from the bush. Charania then came to ask me what the penalty was for the infringement on the Rules.

“Would the twig that you clipped in your practice swing have affected the area of intended swing in your eventual stroke?” I asked trying to establish if indeed he had improved his Condition Affecting The Stroke.

“I believe that it would have,” Charania answered.

“That will be a two-stroke penalty on the hole…” I informed him.

Charania went on to be joint second with Samuel Njoroge at the Limuru leg of the Safari Tour event, losing by one shot to Greg Snow, the eventual winner.

I don’t mean to begrudge Greg Snow the win; he played very well and he is a very talented golfer.

However, for me, two things that stand out in this incident; Charania is the epitome of the perfect golfer. There was no one near him as he took the practice swing and unlike the European Tour or the PGA Tour, there were cameras following his every move.

He would have easily gotten away with the infringement but he reported the infringement of the Rules to his marker and took the penalty in the chin.

The other thing that this incident reminded me of is the misinformation that is rife in many golf clubs.

There are individuals who will penalise fellow golfers for every single leaf that they cause to drop from a tree or bush in their practice swing.

The proper way to assess a penalty is if the leaves would have affected the CATS.

It is possible for a player to clip hundreds of leaves and not get penalised. If there are many more leaves in the area of intended swing and the area has generally not been improved, then there should be no penalty.

However, if there was only one leaf in the area of intended swing, a practice swing that takes it out is deemed to have improved the CATS.

Many years from now, Charania may remember the golf CATS that cost him a win at Limuru Country Club in just the same way that I remember Mbuthi.

Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited