Your four-ball is progressing well enough. All four players are competing against net par and the mood is positive. Then, without a hint of what was brewing, the player whose card you are marking slices his ball OB. After shouting obscenities to anyone within earshot, which may just include the entire golf course, he proceeds to smash his club against his golf bag, repeatedly.
When his outburst is finally over, Tantrum Ted drops another ball close to where he last played and commences his pre-shot routine. It is only then he notices that the shaft of his favourite club, a 7-iron, is bent. He kneels down on one knee, places the shaft of the club over the other knee, and attempts to coax it back to some form of playability.
At this point you notice your caddie and Tantrum Ted’s exchange several glances. It occurs to you that Ted’s caddie’s trundler, the hand cart she uses to pull his golf bag around the course, has also taken a beating. Being the knowledgeable type you are, you know that the piece of equipment in question belongs to the caddie, not the golf course. It is the caddie that will be required to have it repaired. At what point, you wonder, will you inform your playing partner of his obligation to make good the damage?
Satisfied he had done as much restoration as possible, Ted adopts his stance. At this point you feel you can’t hold back any longer. What should you say?
Firstly, that Ted has damaged his caddie’s trundler is not your responsibility. You may choose to say something to encourage him to make good his damage, but that can come later. Also, most caddies are well equipped to take care of such matters themselves. Ted will pay… one way or another. No, your obligation to the rest of the field should be his use of an illegal club.
Rule 4-3b. Damage Other Than in Normal Course of Play:
If, during a stipulated round, a player’s club is damaged other than in the normal course of play rendering it non-conforming or changing its playing characteristics, the club must not subsequently be used or replaced during the round.
PENALTY FOR BREACH OF RULE 4-3b:
You are not obliged to say anything. You could wait for him to play his shot and then advise him that he had in effect disqualified himself. Or you could wait for the end of the round and simply not sign his card. But you’re a good bastard, so you warn him that the Rules don’t permit him to play with a club whose characteristics have been altered through damage incurred other than in the normal course of play.
Having heard your explanation of why his 7-iron is now out of play for the rest of the round, Ted again blesses the entire golf course with a string of profanities. After accusing you of being a small-minded pedant who is overly concerned with rules so trivial as to mean nothing, he carries on regardless.
At the end of the round you exchange cards, returning his unsigned. You also inform him of his obligation to make good on the damage incurred to his caddie’s hand-cart – about 500 baht’s worth you reckon. You notice the caddie master, fresh from discussion with Ted’s caddie, begin to approach. A good time to depart.
Upon handing your card into the golf organiser, you advise him of events relating to your non-signing of Ted’s scorecard as well as the damage to the trundler. During the drive back to Pattaya, you ponder over the tirade of abuse Ted hurled your way after learning he had been disqualified.
Is it all worth it, you ask? It is social golf after all. These golfers arrive in Pattaya for a few weeks of fun and frivolity on golf courses the like of which they don’t encounter back home, in conditions they can only dream about. Is it fair that they be subject to what some regard as over-officious rules?
I have heard this and similar themed arguments many times. Often by people ignorant of the Rules, or blind to what golf is really about. What gets me genuinely upset is the attitude of those who think that the Rules of Golf should be applied less stringently in Pattaya than they are at their home course. WTF? We play competition golf FFF! Why should the Rules be applied any different here – because they are on holiday? Yeah right!
And as for the club-throwers, club-benders, shaft-snappers and ball-tossers who abuse the sanctity that many regard the golf course to be, what gives them the right to put a strain on their playing partner’s day out?
They come in all shapes and sizes as well, these tossers. Some I have known are genuinely decent people once they are off the course. Others are plain ugly, in spirit and demeanour, whether on the course or off.
What amazes me whenever such an outburst occurs is the implied righteousness behind the frenzy – like they actually believe their game is good enough to warrant such displeasure at a bad shot? Whether their handicap is five or 25, their game hardly justifies such overt displays of temper as to affect every other player and caddie present.
“Oh, but I use this to jolt me back into the right frame of mind,” is an often heard refrain. Bullshit! If a player needs to generate an orchestrated display of loud temper, so as to get his game back into the right grove, what does it say about his mental prowess?
Another common act of anger is to take to the course as if it is the cause of whatever went wrong. Here we see the enraged golfer use his club to hack the ground in a flurry of strikes, as his caddie looks for a hole to crawl into. What most Farang probably don’t realise is that when golfers intentionally damage the course, most caddies will feel some sense of responsibility. Many caddies feel they owe it to their employer to protect the course from undue damage. An attack on their course is an attack on them. And their peers are watching.
Moreover, Buddhists by nature are reserved. They tend not to push themselves into roles or activity that attracts attention. Overt displays of anger, loutishness, shouting obscenities and the like are absolutely frowned upon.
A golfing buddy of mine, a Canadian with a handicap that ranges between 11-14 and a Pattaya regular, was a clod-attacker from way back. At least once per round he would attack some part of the course with whatever club he held and with loud venom. His caddies nearly always felt threatened. He genuinely believed he made it up to them by tipping generously at the completion of the round, which he invariably did.
He just didn’t get it.
He had subjected them to hours of anxiety where they may have wondered if they were safe or otherwise. He also incurred the wrath of all caddies present simply due to exhibiting behaviour they and most other Thais find totally unacceptable. Finally, he most likely caused his caddie to lose face in the eyes of her peers. Yet away from the course he was a decent bloke, often displaying charm and generosity. He didn’t get it, and as regards his on-course attitude, neither did I.
Some may refer to me as a tosser, and perhaps with good reason, but I do not lose sight of what we play golf for. We play for the enjoyment it brings. We play for many reasons, including the chance to test our golfing skills. If we fail to meet expectations, we have lost what, exactly?
Unless we lose our temper – then we have lost something. We have lost the respect of our playing partners and certainly the caddies. But more importantly, we have lost the chance opportunity that golf can bring with its very next shot.
What about today’s adjustable drivers – can you adjust them during play?
Whether it is drivers, irons or putter, the key issue here is how was the damage caused? If damage was caused during the normal course of play, then yes, the player is entitled to attempt to repair or replace the club, without penalty. In the case of adjustable drivers, no; a player cannot adjust them during a round. The player may, however, tighten screws that have come loose during the normal course of play. Best not slam that fancy new driver hard into the ground after a wayward drive. Such action just may cause the screws to loosen……