By Chad Napier
Don’t assume anything in golf.
Just like you “can’t assume the double play” in baseball, you can’t assume your opponent in golf play is going to give you a four-inch putt.
The golf book is full of formalities that may sound archaic when reading but in application you can understand its purpose. For example, a golfer must announce, “I’m hitting a provisional” when re-teeing a shot preceding a shot which may or may not have went out of bounds. Can’t we just assume that is why the guy is hitting another ball?
I learned this the hard way back in the East Tennessee Amateur match play tournament in 2014. I was playing against the local news celebrity Paul Johnson on the par 3 third hole at Elizabethton Golf Course. I hit my tee ball to about eight feet on the high side of the deadly sloped green. Paul went greenside left and missed his par putt. I chose the right line but left my birdie effort about six inches short. In disgust, I slapped the putt away and my opponent kindly informed me he did not give me the par putt as he should not have.
All twelve-inch putts are not created equal no matter as much as your Saturday playing group would like to think. I have played in invitationals, two-personal member guests, and proams where the rules specifically state all putts must be holed. Yet, it never fails I see putts getting kicked back to the putter all over the course.
Social media was ablaze with opinions a couple weeks ago following the U.S. Girls’ Junior match where Elizabeth Moon missed her birdie effort to win the hole and match. When her ball rested four inches from the cup and before her opponent had any chance to concede the par putt, she dragged the ball back. In extremely uncomfortable fashion, Erica Shepherd proclaimed she did not give that putt to her and was announced as the winner.
Rules are rules, if the putt is not conceded or putted out, the golfer is out of luck. Sure, Shepherd could have walked toward the next hole as it she had conceded the putt. Some even opined Shepherd should have said she gave the putt and no one must have heard her. Any one could have made that four-inch putt in any circumstance or could they? We have all missed that twelve-inch putt but yes that was a four-inch putt at most. But where do you draw the line, six inches, 10 inches? What about a downhill six-inch bender?
I.K. Kim won her first major last weekend when she dominated at the Women’s British Open. Ironically in 2012, Kim missed a one-foot putt to win a major at the formerly named Kraft Nabisco Championship.
We are slowing transitioning to a society of assumptions. We assume the government should provide health care, employment, and safety from high caloric beverages. We assumed Drake and Usher would continue to put out quality music. We assumed Florida Georgia Line after “Cruise” would continue to destroy country music. 49% of us assumed Hillary Clinton would be our President.
This brings me to the week’s biggest assumption – Rory is going to run away and hide this week at the PGA Championship. The premise is reasonable and warranted since Rory has quite a track record at Quail Hollow where the major is going to be held this week. I’m excited for the possibility of this event being the most exciting major of the year. The finishing holes at Quail are some of the most challenging on Tour.
Yes, summer is winding down and crème is rising to the top in anticipation of the Fedex Cup playoffs, for which I assume you are excited! I may be wrong though . . . . college football is right around the corner!!
Chad Napier is an attorney who when not in the court room travels around the country playing golf every chance he get’s. Along the way he has made friends with PGA Tour players, caddies, and fan’s like you and me. You can follow Chad on Twitter at @ChaddyNap