Why every golfer needs to know rules when playing

By Vincent Wang'ombe: Friday, July 12th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Golf
William Odera follows his shot. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

There are a few similarities between the Ryder Cup, the biennial competition between teams from Europe and The United States, and the Victoria Cup, the annual competition between Kenya and Uganda.

The Ryder Cup trophy was donated by Samuel Ryder back in 1927 when the tournament started.

The Victoria Cup trophy was donated by Moses Tanui in 2016 when the inaugural tournament was played at Muthaiga Golf Club. The most important similarity is the format of play; match play. The competitors get a point for winning a four-ball, foursome or singles matches.

Whereas both teams are usually equally matched when it comes to four-ball and singles matches, Kenyans have previously done better in the foursome matches.

This is probably due to the fact that the Kenyan players have more experience competing at the Nairobi District Foursomes as well as the Tannahill Shield.

At the 2019 Victoria Cup competition held at the Uganda Golf Club last week, it was clear that the Ugandan team have been working on the foursomes and they came out with all guns blazing.

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They played better than their Kenyan guests and won the trophy for the first time in the Victoria Cup’s four-year history.

There was however a marked difference between the mastery of the Rules of Golf by the Kenyan team. The Kenya Golf Union has for the last few years insisted on the team members sitting The R&A Level One Rules of Golf certification before representing the country.

The knowledge of the Rules of Golf helped on one or two occasions for the Kenyan players.

In one of the four-ball matches pitting Robinson Owiti and William Odera of Kenya against Daniel Baguma and Rodell Gaita of Uganda, Owiti’s mastery of the Rules of Golf was clear.

Leading one up on the 18th hole and having hit his second shot onto the putting green, Owiti watched as Baguma chipped in from off the green for a birdie.

The only problem was that Baguma had played out of turn. Despite being on the putting green, Owiti’s ball was much further from the hole than Baguma’s. Owiti exercised his match play right of recalling Baguma’s shot.

What Baguma did not understand was that despite the introduction of ready-golf in this year’s Rules, this does not apply in match play.

A player must seek the permission of his or her opponent to play a ball that is closer to the hole. The fact that one player is off the putting green does not necessarily mean that they play before the player who is already on it.

It, however, makes a lot of sense in stroke play to allow the player who is off the green to play first if the one on the putting green is going to clean their ball.

On a different match, the two junior players from Kenya who were on their first outing for the country, Korby Gatiramu and Daniel Kiragu, missed an opportunity to go ahead of their opponents on one of the holes. Kiragu had a ten-foot putt that stopped just at the edge of the hole. Kiragu and Gatiramu stood there talking to the ball hoping that it would drop.

Their opponent, Joseph Cwinyaai walked over and picked the ball in a gesture of concession of the next putt. What the rookies did not know was that Kiragu was allowed enough time to walk to the hole and ten extra seconds.

By denying them the right to wait the ten seconds, in which the ball may or may not have fallen in the hole, the ball would have been treated as holed by Kiragu’s last putt.

The Kenya Golf Union will be conducting a Level One Rules School at the Karen Country Club on Friday 19th of July. It is an opportunity for those that intend to play some good golf to learn how they can use the Rules of Golf to help them improve their game and even to debunk the myriad of myths that keep going round.

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