NorCal Hickory Rule - putting

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Steve H

NorCal Hickory Rule - putting

Postby Steve H » Tue Jul 28, 2015

400
"The Stymie", by Artist J. C. Dollman, Circa 1899

I'm not advocating the return of the stymie for medal play, but would like to propose that the USGA rule of 2 penalty strokes for hitting another ball on the putting surface, be lifted for hickory play so as to encourage more players to keep their golf balls on the green rather than automatically mark, lift and clean, out of habit.

The SoHG instructs us that we should play hickory golf with modern USGA rules with a few exceptions:
  • No range finders or distance measuring devices
  • 14 club limit lifted
  • Equipment exceptions such as concave faces, "BakSpin" grooves, etc allowed as per SoHG equipment guidelines which includes approved reproduction balls, reproduction clubs, and a host of other equipment exceptions.
I always strive to be authentic to the hickory experience as I can, by not marking my ball just because it is on the putting surface. I have put a lot of effort into weaning myself away from the habit and process of marking my ball, cleaning it, (which often means licking the pesticides and fertilizers - yuckie!) and then aligning some label at the hole.

Recently I found myself in a tournament about 6 feet above the hole on a fairly steep green. The three of us in the group this day, all prescribed to the authentic experience and only marked our balls when they were an obstruction. The golf balls of my fellow competitors lay off to the side of the hole and below it about 4 feet. They weren't in any way an obstruction, a distraction, nor even on the through line in any danger of being hit should I miss, but I insisted they mark them. Why? Because if my ball should happen to lip-out, there was a good chance it would be redirected and potentially hit one of theirs. The result would have been a 2 stroke penalty according to the USGA rules (19-5) governing the tournament as per SoHG guidelines.

USGA rule 19-5a:
If a player’s ball in motion after a stroke is deflected or stopped by a ball in play and at rest, the player must play his ball as it lies. In match play, there is no penalty. In stroke play, there is no penalty, unless both balls lay on the putting green prior to the stroke, in which case the player incurs a penalty of two strokes.

On an August afternoon in sunny California a group arrives at a green. There are no pitch marks, the green is firm, and all lay 20 feet from one another. What is the first thing everyone does? Marks, lifts their ball and places it in their pocket. When it's their turn to putt, they squat behind the ball, and then go through the ritual of lining up some distinguished marking on their ball with the hole. The marking can be anything from a simple stamping on the ball to an ugly permanent marker around the circumference. If the ball finishes anything further than a tap-in, the process is repeated. With everyone within close proximity of the hole, the threat of a penalty for hitting another ball justifies marking, but a lot of times, the ball is in no way an interference. And that is what I'd like to see change; the penalty lifted.

Image
Everyone would agree this is UGLY!

I'm not advocating the return of the stymie for medal play, but would like to propose that the USGA rule of 2 penalty strokes for hitting another ball on the putting surface, be lifted for hickory play so as to encourage more players to keep their golf balls on the green rather than automatically mark, lift and clean, out of habit.

Are there situations where this rule change may gain an unfair advantage such as a speedy downhill putt racing further by? Of course, that is why the rule was adopted, but I think the spirit of hickory play, outweigh the potential for gaining a slight advantage in those circumstances. AND there is nothing that stops the good-spirited hickory golfer, to ask fellow competitor to mark ball in such instances out of respect for fairness of play.

What do you think?

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Steve H

Re: Hickory Rules - Proposal for a putting rule addendum

Postby Steve H » Tue Jul 28, 2015

Chris McIntyre's Auld Golf Society guidelines pertaining to Rules 1903-1920 now contain an updated version of said rule:

http://auldgolfsociety.com/?page_id=373

Auld Golf Society wrote:The unique Auld Rules of Golf that the AGS will use for Stroke Play that are specific and/or different from Match Play rules are:

4) When all balls are on the putting-green, a competitor may ask a player with whom he is competing to lift their ball if it is in direct line of the competitor’s putt. Otherwise, all balls must remain untouched and played from where they lie. If a competitor chooses to putt their ball with the ball of a player with whom he is competing left in place and near their line, and the ball strikes the ball of the player with whom he is competing, the competitor shall play the next shot from where it lies, while the ball which was struck shall be at once replaced (no penalty).

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Bob Boyles

Re: Hickory Rules - Proposal for a putting rule addendum

Postby Bob Boyles » Wed Jul 29, 2015

Are you suggesting people putt with mud balls?

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Steve H

Re: Hickory Rules - Proposal for a putting rule addendum

Postby Steve H » Tue Aug 11, 2015

Bob Boyles wrote:Are you suggesting people putt with mud balls?
No. Chris McIntyre's Auld rules are, we are not. You are still allowed to mark, lift, and clean a ball on the green anytime. Under Chris' Auld golf rules, you are not permitted to lift your ball unless asked by a competitor.

I am encouraging people to mark less often by lifting the penalty for hitting another ball.
The Auld rules are requiring that you not mark.

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Bob Boyles

Re: Hickory Rules - Proposal for a putting rule addendum

Postby Bob Boyles » Tue Aug 11, 2015

My understanding is that Ouimet had to putt a plugged ball in the 2013 Open. Can you imagine?

I would assume that a plugged ball falls under USGA rules which are the underlying base for Auld's addendum rules?

I enjoy clean balls personally :lol:

no penalty for hitting another ball on putting green I'm ok with. Not being allowed to mark and clean your muddy ball on the green seems a bit much imho.

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Steve H

Re: Hickory Rules - Proposal for a putting rule addendum

Postby Steve H » Wed Aug 12, 2015

My understanding is that Ouimet had to putt a plugged ball in the 2013 Open. Can you imagine?
Yes, and was forced to manufacture shots to avoid such. That was how the game was played. I will add that golf at the turn of the century was still very much a Scottish game played in America. The parkland course and new maintenance practices would soon separate American golf from its oversea beginnings. Golf in America would evolve into an aerial game. As such, balls plug.

From "remembering Francis Ouimet article: Al Tays wrote:The rules of the era did not allow a player to pick up a ball and clean it or loosen it from a plugged lie, even on the green. In his first-person account of the tournament for The American Golfer, Ouimet explained his strategy at the 10th: “Fearing that a high pitch might mean that the ball would bury itself on the green, as had happened a number of times during the tournament, I tried the experiment of playing the shot with a midiron, trusting to the soft turf to keep the ball from over-running, while at the same time expecting the running shot to prevent any accumulation of mud on the ball. Like a novice, I was too eager to see what happened on the shot, looked up to watch the ball and, consequently, made a bad flub.” He reached the green in two, then three-putted for his 5.


From The Greatest Game Ever Played: Mark Frost wrote:Francis smiled. "That almost sunk us here yesterday, didn't it?" (referring to the plugged ball).
Eddie nodded, afraid to say anything.
"They'll let us lift the ball out of a buried lie today," Said Francis. "Let's fly it in."
Francis hit a beautiful short-iron that dropped onto the green twenty-five feet from the flag.
Harry followed with an equally effective tee shot, to the left of the flag near Ted, inside him by five feet. When they reached the green, they discovered all three balls were sitting up cleanly, but pitch marks created by Vardon's and Ray's shots when they bit into the soggy grass lay directly along their line to the hole. The USGA had ruled that embedded balls could be lifted and cleaned, but added nothing about repairing divots. Francis's ball had spun slightly to the left when it landed; he alone had a clear path to the cup, although a small patch of mud had stuck to his ball.

Fair or unfair, not being allowed to mark, lift, and clean balls had a huge impact on how one played the game.

Everything in moderation I have always preached. A middle ground of lifting the 2 stroke penalty would be a good gesture towards recreating the past and something we as hickory golfers should append to our "hickory" rules. People mark their ball way too often.

The SoHG has created "hickory" rules, but there is very little to these other than the lifting of the 14 club limit and use of range finders. Everything else is strictly equipment related. I think it's time to expand on the rules to include playing of hickory golf as well.

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Bob Boyles

Re: Hickory Rules - Proposal for a putting rule addendum

Postby Bob Boyles » Thu Aug 13, 2015

good nfo. I have yet to read that Frost book, but it's on the list.


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