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The Official Website of the Golf Coaches Association of America



Knowing the Rules of Golf Definitions - It Might Save Your Day

April 2010
By John Reis

The recurrent theme of my articles for the Golf Coaches’ website has been that definitions are instrumental in administering the rules. Those of us who enjoy sharing our knowledge of the rules always emphasize the importance of knowing the definitions, as that knowledge will oft times lead us to the correct solution to a given situation.

A case in point arose at this spring’s Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship held in late March at Dove Mountain at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. It was not only the site for the Callaway, but earlier in March it hosted the Accenture Match Play won by Ian Poulter. It was a marvelous venue situated in the mountains overlooking Tucson, AZ, and as you can imagine, the course was carved from the mountains and surrounding desert. Truly one of Jack Nicklaus’ fine designs.

In the deciding match between Martin Trainer of the University of Southern California and John Catlin of the University of New Mexico, young freshman Catlin was 2 down with 2 to go, and it appeared USC was about to wrap up the championship, but as we all know, wild things happen in match play. John won 17, and then made a spectacular 30-foot downhill putt on 18 to square the match. So off they went to the 19th hole deadlocked. John hit a good drive and Martin pulled his just slightly off the fairway into the desert, and unfortunately the ball lodged under an ugly cactus. He had no choice but to chip out and hope to make a one-putt par, and also hope that John would make no better than par. John was sitting in his cart in the middle of the fairway, and as Martin chipped his ball towards the fairway it appeared that his ball might strike John’s cart. Seeing this, John quickly drove away to avoid being struck by the ball.

Now the question is, was John OK in getting out of the way? If we look at Rule 24, which deals with obstructions, we see “When a ball is in motion, an obstruction that might influence the movement of the ball, other than equipment of any player …, must not be moved.” Was John’s cart a movable obstruction? No. And why? Well, if we look at the definitions, we see that equipment is “anything worn or carried by the player or anything carried for the player by his partner or either of their caddies…”. The definition then states “Equipment includes a golf cart, whether or not motorized”. So John was within his rights to move that cart because the definition says that the cart is equipment and not an obstruction. John went on to win the hole, and the Lobos were crowned 2010 Callaway Collegiate Match Play Champions. A great tournament with a terribly exciting finish!

Know the definitions. They will answer so many of your questions.