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The knowledge of the Rules of Golf is a never-ending journey

GOLF By Vincent Wangombe | May 8th 2020

Since the Ministry of Health gave the directive to close all churches, I have been attending mass on the YouTube channel of the St. Paul’s University Chapel.

This past Monday, Father Anthony used the Johnnie Walker slogan “Keep Walking” to encourage the faithful on their journey of faith.

My journey of faith and that of my knowledge of the Rules of Golf are similar. I keep learning new things every week. Following my article last week on the golf ball that ended up in a bird’s nest, I received an email from a friend at The R&A, the governing body golf that, together with the USGA, write the Rules of Golf.

In my last week’s article, I had taken the stand that a ball inside a bird’s nest on the ground was not entitled to free relief as I did not think it qualified as Ground Under Repair.

In the definitions section of the Rules of Golf, Ground Under Repair (GUR) includes any animal habitat such as a bird’s nest. My argument was that since the nest was on the ground, it would not be considered to be a bird’s habitat as it was not in situ.

I have since learnt from my friend at The R&A that the Rules of Golf do not require that the nest be in use for it to qualify as Ground Under Repair.

“We have agreed as per the definition of GUR that a bird’s nest is covered under this and there is no requirement for the nest to be in use, in position etc. Therefore, the player would be entitled to relief.” Wrote Daniel Sommerville from the R&amp A.

A few lessons that I learnt from Andy McFee, a senior European Tour rules official, when I attended the Tournament Administration and Referee School, also known as the Level Three Rules School, is that there are two types of referees; one who has made a mistake and one who is going to make a mistake.

The other lesson was that when we make a mistake, we must quickly go to those we told and tell them the correct position lest they make the same mistake again.

The Rules of Golf are complicated by the fact that we get very many different scenarios when playing the game on different courses. There are some instances that have never happened to anyone else before.

The main aim of The R& A and the USGA is to ensure that similar cases are treated in the same way wherever golf is played around the world.

To the gentleman who called me about the ball in the bird’s nest, it may be too late to tell you that you deserved relief and that I am sorry if you lost a wager as a result of my judgement. I can, however, offer you a bottle of Johnnie Walker whiskey as a peace offering.

For those who read my article last week, you now know that you are entitled to free relief should your ball get into a bird’s nest or if your swing is somehow impeded by one.

I will use this COVID-19 pandemic time when things are not as fast-paced as they normally are to try deepen my faith in God and improve my knowledge of the Rules of Golf. I would urge all golfers to read up on the Rules of Golf.

One way of doing that is by downloading the “Rules of Golf” application from The R&A and attempting the quizzes. Let us keep walking on our journey to improving our knowledge of the Rules of Golf.

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

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