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juanrjackson

Rule Question - on Paula Creamer

28 posts in this topic

I was at the McDonald's LPGA Championship today. Paula Creamer was at #10. She teed her ball....setup.....took a swing & hit the ball in the right rough about 50 yards.

She called for a rules official (RO) & said her ball was falling up the tee during her swing....she said she tried to stop her swing but could not & hit the ball. The RO said she could re-hit her tee shot without a penalty.

Is that the right call? Seems like if you hit the ball it is in play. Has anyone ever heard of this before?
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I was at the McDonald's LPGA Championship today. Paula Creamer was at #10. She teed her ball....setup.....took a swing & hit the ball in the right rough about 50 yards.

I do not have my rule book handy, but I think you are right, and the official made a mistake. If she swung and hit the ball, it is in play. iacas is knowledgeable on the Rules of Golf, so I will be interested in what he and others say about this question.
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WHAT!?!

That is so wrong...

The ball is in play...

It would be different if she accidentally bumped it off the tee but, no way

The RO made a mistake
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I believe the correct ruling was made. For the ball to be in play off the tee you have to have made a stroke at it. Until then, it's not in play. You can kick it off the tee, knock it off when addressing it, etc. You can't swat at it with a swing-like motion or that would either be a stroke or practice, both of which have their associated penalties.

Paula tried to check her swing, thus she didn't have the intent to hit the ball. The definition of "stroke" is the only time, I believe, where "intent" matters in the Rules of Golf.

Source: Definition
A "stroke" is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if a player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball he has not made a stroke.



So, again, I believe the correct ruling was made. I haven't seen it, of course, so I don't know how much she tried to "check" her swing, so I have to go by what was said above.

P.S. Rules Officials rarely make mistakes.
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Source: Definition A "stroke" is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if a player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball he has not made a stroke.

Doesn't that part about "before the clubhead reaches the ball" mean anything? She had to have hit it, right?

P.P.S. -- The only Rules Officals who never make mistakes are the ones giving you a ruling. All the others are fallible! LOL
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Under the rules, what she did was the same as accidentally hitting the ball when you are setting up, ie. waggling the club. If you dont INTEND to hit it, it doesnt count. That is also why a whiff is counted as a stroke, it was an intention to hit the ball.
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Under the rules, what she did was the same as accidentally hitting the ball when you are setting up, ie. waggling the club. If you dont INTEND to hit it, it doesnt count. That is also why a whiff is counted as a stroke, it was an intention to hit the ball.

I don't know the rules well enough to really argue based on knowledge, but it would seem to me that your logic doesn't make sense. (Of course it IS golf we're talking about, how much DOES make sense in this game!

) But, she took a backswing. She started a downswing (obviously, since the ball ended up going ~50 yards) and made contact with the ball. How is that NOT intending to hit it? Who starts any downswing WITHOUT the intention of hitting the ball? Just because the ball happened to move on the tee and she didn't make solid contact, to me, has nothing to do with her intention to hit it or not. Only possible scenario I could see is that she tried to pull a Tiger and wasn't strong enough to completely stop the downswing - in that case I could see that a rules official who was watching her swing could determine intent and might allow her to re-tee...
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I don't know the rules well enough to really argue based on knowledge, but it would seem to me that your logic doesn't make sense. (Of course it IS golf we're talking about, how much DOES make sense in this game!

Good post and good point. If she tried, but was not able, to check her swing, that might have been the reason for allowing her to tee it up again, without penalty. That is the only explanation that makes sense.
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The rules official did not see her swing. He came over from another hole & she explained it to him & said once she saw the ball falling off the tee she tried to stop her downswing but could not.

Plus she was telling it to anyone else that would listen. People in the crowd were saying they saw the ball falling off the tee. I only saw her swinging & then the ball only going about 50 yards.

I felt like yelling "Go buy a mulligan at the clubhouse" lol
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The rules official did not see her swing. He came over from another hole & she explained it to him & said once she saw the ball falling off the tee she tried to stop her downswing but could not.

If you had yelled that, Paula's expression would have told you what she thought of that remark. She does not hold her emotions inside, as you know.
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But, she took a backswing. She started a downswing (obviously, since the ball ended up going ~50 yards) and made contact with the ball. How is that NOT intending to hit it? Who starts any downswing WITHOUT the intention of hitting the ball?

Tiger Woods has stopped downswings in mid-downswing. He did so famously at the Masters when birds flew over him and cast a shadow, and does so here too:

Only possible scenario I could see is that she tried to pull a Tiger and wasn't strong enough to completely stop the downswing - in that case I could see that a rules official who was watching her swing could determine intent and might allow her to re-tee...

I think you're both right and wrong here. You're right in citing Tiger, but I think you're wrong in having the requirement that the rules official saw her swing.

In golf, honesty rules the day and if Paula says she tried to stop her swing, that's all the RO really needs to hear. He doesn't need to have seen anything. The WORST thing that could happen to a player is to be caught cheating, so it's quite unlikely Paula's going to lie and say that she tried to stop her swing when she didn't. Like I said above, without seeing anything of it or reading more about it anywhere, it seems the correct ruling was made.
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In golf, honesty rules the day and if Paula says she tried to stop her swing, that's all the RO really needs to hear. He doesn't need to have seen anything.

I agree. However, having said that, absent awfully strong winds, I'm finding it hard to visualize a circumstance where the a ball would "fall off" a tee after having been at rest long enough to work through a pre-shot routine, address the ball, and initiate the swing....... For the OP.......was it really that windy out there?
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11-3. Ball Falling off Tee
  • If a ball, when not in play, falls off a tee or is knocked off a tee by the player in addressing it, it may be re-teed, without penalty. However, if a stroke is made at the ball in these circumstances, whether the ball is moving or not, the stroke counts, but there is no penalty.


14/1.5 Intent to Strike Ball Ceases During Downswing; Club Not Stopped But Path of Clubhead Altered to Avoid Striking
Ball
Q. A player begins his downswing with the intention of striking the ball but decides during the downswing not to strike the ball. The player is unable to stop the club before it reaches the ball, but he is able to swing intentionally over the top of the ball. Is the player deemed to have made a stroke?

A. No. The player is considered to have checked his downswing voluntarily by altering the path of his downswing and missing the ball even though the swing carried the clubhead beyond the ball.

If the player had not successfully checked his downswing (i.e., he had struck the ball), he is considered to have made a stroke.
---------------------------
Not related to Paula but to earlier comment about moving the ball with a practice swing.

18-2a/20 Ball in Play Moved Accidentally by Practice Swing
Q. A player makes a practice swing and accidentally moves his ball in play with his club. Has he made a stroke?

A. No. He had no intention of moving the ball — see Definition of "Stroke."

However, he incurs a penalty stroke under Rule 18-2a for moving his ball in play, and the ball must be replaced.
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11-3. Ball Falling off Tee

Even in (1) above, my bold/itals, it could still hinge on the definition of "stroke" in which intention is a deciding factor.

I tend to agree with what Eric said earlier about honesty, and that being all that mattered to the RO in that circumstance. But woe betide the golfing karma of anyone who "misremembers" their intentions to suit the circumstance, if ya know what I mean. How this would all play out in a game between a couple of blokes where a lot of cash is on the line, I don't know. I'm too much of a newb and by necessity frugal to even think of gambling on golf. That's not to say there's even more cash on the line in a pro tournament. I guess her credibility counts for a lot in those circumstances. Another poster couldn't imagine there being enough wind to blow a ball off a tee -- but if the tee isn't level after insertion into the ground, it doesn't take much of a breeze to cause it to roll off. I've had some that barely wanted to stay on. (Time for a pair of bifocals??)
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Since Paula is right-handed, doesn't this decision get referred to the 1st base umpire

dave
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However, having said that, absent awfully strong winds, I'm finding it hard to visualize a circumstance where the a ball would "fall off" a tee after having been at rest long enough to work through a pre-shot routine, address the ball, and initiate the swing.......

In soft ground, I've seen a tee tip slowly. Especially the Zero Friction tees - some people have a hard time getting the ball to sit on those things without soft ground.

Q. A player makes a practice swing and accidentally moves his ball in play with his club. Has he made a stroke?

That's irrelevant. That's a ball in play - the ball's not in play off the tee until a stroke has been made at it. Paula's ball was not in play.

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I agree.

It was not that windy, but I guess it does not take a lot of wind to blow a ball off a tee.

I was behind her & was not looking at the tee during her swing so I cannot say whether the ball was falling off or not. Fans to the right of her said they saw it falling off. It just seemed really odd since I had never heard of a similar ruling in golf & I have watched a lot of golf on TV & played a lot in person. I had never seen a ball that flew approximately 50 yards ruled not in play.
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iacas is right, it is not a stroke if no intent to hit the ball is apparent.
But, if it's just a cheap shot to get out of a shank, then we'll never know. That rule has an opening in it.

I doubt Creamer was lying about trying to check her swing, but you never know.
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