By Clyde Luther
During the recent NCAA Division I Championship the players encountered suspensions of play on three occasions; two because of dangerous situations, lightning, and one for darkness. It became clear very quickly that all the players were not familiar with some of the provisions dictated by these situations. Let’s review the procedures.
First, in a dangerous situation with the course about to encounter lightning, the Committee will sound one long blast of airhorns to indicate that play is suspended and the players must suspend play immediately. Players may not elect to play another stroke, except under Rules of Golf Decision 6-8b/7, a player, having addressed the ball and then completes his stroke without hesitation would not incur a penalty. All other situations of playing a ball after suspension could result in disqualification.
Let’s look at the next situation of suspending play due to darkness. In this situation we encountered two players who were refusing to continue play because they felt it was getting too dark and could not read putts. In this situation, it is once again the Committees’ decision when to discontinue play. The players cannot make that determination and are subject to a delay penalty if they do so. There are four times that play can be suspended; 1) by the Committee, 2) by the player if he is ill and then for only 10-15 minutes (Decision 6-8a/3), 3) in waiting for a Ruling by the Committee and 4) if the player believes there is danger from lightning. Please note that suspending play because the player feels it is getting too dark is not one of the allowed times.
Lastly, let’s review the procedure for resumption of play. Remember, when play was suspended for a dangerous situation You did not have to mark your ball. However, if you had lifted the ball you may replace the original ball or substituted ball on the spot from which it was lifted. If the player had not lifted the ball he may now lift the ball and clean it and replace it with the original ball or a substituted ball. What if your ball has been moved by wind, water or even taken by some outside agency? You may now estimate where the ball was originally lying and place a substituted ball on that spot.
Please familiarize yourself with Rules 6-8a,b,c,and d. It may save you from an embarrassing situation.