I am not a happy man! My beef is with The R&A and its Rules book which I assumed carried the Rules in their entirety. I have discovered that they have left a Rule out that could save me two or three shots a round!
The missing rule is: ‘Ball coming to rest, just short of the hole (Rule 19-6)’. Now because it has been left out of the book no amateur seems to know its definitive explanation. Thus, I have seen players apply it in different ways. For example, it is rare to see it invoked during competition play, though not unheard of and prevalent in forms of play such as swindles. The first great mystery this perplexing edict brings forth is who is the first player allowed to call on its use. My research has thus far been unable to pin this down with any satisfaction.
Suffice to say that at some stage one of the players’ balls will come to rest close to the hole. It is important to note two things at this point. Firstly there appears to be no official distance from the hole that qualifies for the rule to be used. Secondly for the first use of the rule in the round it cannot be the player himself who asks for it. Instead, once their ball has come to rest one of the other players may choose to say ‘take it away’ and the player is allowed to pick up his ball and score the hole as completed with the use of just one additional ‘free’ stroke’.
An interesting transition happens now as the player who received this ‘gimme’ moves from being the gimmee to the gimmer and is now under severe pressure to bring parity to the round and award the ruling to each of his playing partners in turn. Even it seems, if that players ball is further from the hole than his was. His obligation to reciprocate thereby manifests itself with his echoing cry of ‘take it away’.
A further codicil appears to be the ability for players who have as yet not received their gimme to call on the gimmer directly with a call of ‘surely that’s a gimme?’ My experience indicates that this is guaranteed to receive a positive reply and the ball is picked off the surface with due haste. And thus it is that an inexorably growing length of putt is given under 19-6 as the round plays out.
Perhaps now you can understand my anger over The R&As omission. I regularly miss putts such as these which should have been fairly given under this Rule. Of course, during my research I did suffer bouts of doubt. Was there really such a Rule? Could an organisation such as The R&A really make such a ‘school boy’ omission?
But always I was pulled on by the comfort of knowing that ours is an honourable sport, played by honourable people. After all, there is no way that Rule 19-6 could be a fallacy, for if that were the case then the dozens, nay hundreds of players I had seen invoke it would in fact – just be cheating….