Jakub Joachim / Dreamstime
Our club match play championship and our intra-club team match play are about to begin. I love match play, but would like guidance on handling a match play rules infraction by my opponent in a way that will not stress me out. Can you help me?
In match play, knowing your options under the rules of golf can remove the stress of handling a rules infraction by an opponent. There are two elements to remember when you are playing a match without a referee to assist you with match play rules and rulings, which is the case for most women golfers (and men too) in club match play competitions:
- First, you need to understand how to make a proper claim, Rule 2-5.
- Second, you need to know that you are allowed to ignore a breach of the rules if you choose to.
To make a valid match play rules claim, remember two steps.
First, the player making a claim must tell her opponent she is making a claim and that she wants a ruling. Second, she must state the facts on which the claim is based.
Simply saying, “You can’t do that,” does not meet the requirement of stating the facts of the claim. Saying, “You accidentally moved your ball and did not replace it before you played. I believe you lost the hole,” is a good example of giving the facts that you want reviewed by the committee for the match play rules claim.
Adding, “Since we don’t know for sure what the answer is, I am making a claim and we’ll get a ruling as soon as possible,” completes the second step.
Even a valid match play rules claim has a time limit. When you observe a breach of the rules, a claim must be made before anyone in the group tees off at the next teeing ground. In a case where it’s the last hole of the match, the claim has to be made before all players in the match step off the putting green.
If the circumstances for the match play rules claim aren’t discovered until after all the players have left the last green, then the claim must be made before the results of the match are made official.
You can ignore an observed breach
In match play without a referee walking along, you have an option available to you that you never have under stroke play rules: You can ignore a rules violation.
That is because match play is between you and your opponent, and so your decision to ignore the match play rules breach affects only the two of you.
If you are already 3 or 4 holes up, you may feel you do not want to inflict more pain on your opponent. You can choose to ignore a breach of the rules that you have observed.
But remember, if you suddenly lose the next few holes, you cannot go back and make a claim. You cannot put the information of the match play rules violation in your back pocket and use it if you need it in the future. Your window of opportunity to make a claim for a match play rules breach that you have observed closes when the first player tees off on the next hole.