Another professional has had their dreams crushed following a scoring infraction. But our expert says the rules are very clear
Golf is a strange sport. Is there another game we play where we’re so fixated on being seen to follow the rules, while conversely complaining that many of those rules are “stupid”?
We abhor those we believe have bent or broken regulations, but simultaneously are outraged when the same rules penalise someone in a manner we perceive to be unfair.
There was the usual outrage online when it was reported James Hart du Preez was handed a two-shot penalty following the second round of stage one PGA Tour Q-School.
Ryan French, of Monday Q Info, wrote that his score of 74 at the University of New Mexico’s Championship Course was correct but, a couple of hours after leaving the scoring area, he was contacted by a rules official to say his marker David Hansen had failed to add his signature to the card.
It was a pivotal penalty as du Preez, known for being one of the longest hitters in the game, would narrowly miss out on qualifying.
“I have played over 300 professional events all over the world,” he told French. “I have never seen this happen”.
It’s definitely unfortunate but the Texan should look a little harder. It happens frequently at amateur level. As a rules official, I’ve even disqualified a competition winner after both he, and his marker, failed to sign the card.
But it’s also Golf 101. From the very first time you tee it up competitively – playing the lowliest competition on the ladder – you know that both you and your marker have to sign the card.
We all must have done it hundreds of times over the years. It’s like breathing. Once that final shot has been played, make sure the card is correct.
Was it down to du Preez that his playing partner, who’d shot 80, inadvertently failed to live up to his responsibilities?
Golf scorecard rule: ‘The player MUST make sure that the marker certifies the hole scores on the scorecard’
Well, yes. Because the Rules of Golf are clear that the player MUST make sure the marker “certifies the hole scores on the scorecard”.
Even then, there are caveats. Rule 3.3b (2) allows a committee to not add a penalty when a marker fails to carry out their responsibilities, such as leaving “without certifying the scorecard”, if this was “beyond the player’s control”.
And the penalty was even modified too. As I wrote earlier, the chances are you’d get disqualified for this in your weekend comp. But a Local Rule, only added to the book in January, can change that sanction to two strokes in “situations where the committee feels it is more appropriate”.
Ah, but why do we need this rule at all at the top professional events, where there are leaderboards all over the shop and scorers following groups?
You might very well question their relevance in the elite game, but the Rules are not written exclusively for the highest level.
They’re universal. When you’re playing in your club medal on a Saturday with one other player and you are the only ones who have witnessed each other’s rounds, the verification required by adding another signature to your card becomes far more important.
That scrawl is a written and binding declaration that everything occurred as you said it did.
Take away that requirement, take away the need for a witness to corroborate, and you might as well write down any number you want.
Should there be different rules for your weekend game then there are on the PGA Tour? Well, you’d certainly start a debate.
Or you could just make sure your scorecard is filled in properly. You’ve got one job. Just do it.
Now have your say
What do you think? Is this a golf scorecard rule that should be changed, or is it just something players should get right? Leave me a comment on X!
- NOW READ: Who is allowed to mark your scorecard?
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