By Robert Bicknell

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April 23, 2006

Stop overestimating your caddie's mental abilities...

A caddie is supposed to assist the player by providing relevant information such as yardage, distance to hazards, club selection recommendations, putting lines and, of course, to clean up after the player. However, there are a few basic facts that everyone needs to remember and top of the list is that, although many try hard, they are not PGA Tour caddies, ok?

Most caddies, if not all, come from farming or fishing communities and never saw a golf club until the began working for a club. If would be safe to say that they are, in most cases, not rocket scientists, but for the most part, they are pleasant company during the round, have basic knowledge of the game and try to keep the player happy.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule and I’ve had a few that were hard-pressed to walk and chew gum at the same time.

I prefer to do the handicapping duties at my club, simply because I know how much is actually riding on the accuracy of the handicaps and do not want people to think that there are any shenanigans going on. It also gives me the opportunity to monitor how the members are playing and how the courses are performing.

It also gives me the opportunity to enjoy a few laughs as I review the scorecards. Sadly, there are not many things to giggle about when you consider how many players are actually cheating themselves out of mucho dinero due to faulty scoring.

Yes, believe it or not, players still cannot count accurately.

I would love to joke that "if I had a dollar for every wrong score…", but the fact is that many players have LOST mucho dinero simply because they cannot do simple addition correctly. Funny enough, there are a few bankers in that group as well.

Yes, many will undoubtedly blame their caddie for scoring wrong, with some justification, but in the end, the player is responsible for the actions of his / her caddie. If the caddie records the wrong information, or totals the scores incorrectly and you’re foolish enough not to double check, then you deserve to suffer the consequences.

When you think about it, it is amusing to consider that some players cheat like hell, while most others are unfailingly honest. Yet, these same players screw themselves when it comes to the end result and they match scorecards to determine a winner.

Go figure…

A group of players last week asked me: "Is there a penalty if someone moves your ball marker on the green without permission from the player?"

Yes, Decisions on The Rules of Golf (20-1/2) says a player can only move his opponent’s marker if receiving permission from that player. Violation is one stroke penalty.

Naturally, these guys took it a step further : Fellow-Competitor Lifts Competitor’s Ball and Sets It Aside; Competitor Plays Ball from Where Set Aside.

For that we go to Decision 15-3b/3:

Q. In stroke play, B marked the position of A’s ball on the putting green, lifted it and placed it nearby on the green. A failed to replace the ball. He putted it from where it lay and holed out. The error was then discovered. What is the ruling?

A. When a ball is lifted, it is out of play — see Definition of "Ball in Play." When A played a stroke with his ball which was out of play, he played a wrong ball.
If A knew that B had lifted his ball, he incurred a penalty of two strokes under Rule 15-3b and was required to replace his ball on the correct spot and play out the hole.

If A did not know that B had lifted his ball, A could not be penalized for playing a wrong ball. If he became aware of the mistake before playing from the next tee, he was required to replace his ball on the correct spot, without penalty, and complete the hole. If he learned of the mistake after playing from the next tee, the score with the wrong ball would stand and there would be no penalty.

Now you know…and I need some Tylenol.

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