Originally Posted by Pomerol
As Seniors Captain it is normal to act as Referee in our singles final over 18 holes.On our 17th, player 1 was in a ditch which is part of a lateral hazard with his ball resting against part of a branch of a tree which had fallen from a dead branch overhead.Our course is not strong financially and only employs one green keeper so course maintainance is poor. I decided it was unfair to penalise player 1 so I (under no pressure from Player1) remover the branch from the hazard
.Player 1 went on to win the hole. Player 2 objected to my action. Unsure of the legality of what I had done we discussed the situation and decided to replay the hole.
i would appreciate input on what I did, especially should Player 1 have been obliged to take a penaly drop in the unplayable situation?
As referee you had neither the right nor the duty to remove the branch. Note in the definition that the referee is only there to apply the rules, not to determine the fairness of the rules. The rules are not intended to be fair, only to be applied equally to all players. There are many courses which don't meticulously groom their hazards, my own included. When a player hits into a hazard, he has to accept the fact that he may have trouble with his next shot. That is simply the nature of hazards. To be honest, I think that your act was unfair to Player 2, since it seems that he might have been in a position to win the hole, and your act changed that outcome. Since your act forced them to have to replay the hole, any advantage he might have had for avoiding that hazard was negated.
A "referee" is one who is appointed by the Committee to accompany players to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules. He must act on any breach of a Rule that he observes or is reported to him.
A referee should not attend the flagstick, stand at or mark the position of the hole, or lift the ball or mark its position.
A referee could have made a determination of abnormal ground if such was warranted, but he should not be allowed to breach a rule in favor of either player. By moving a loose impediment in a hazard, I feel that your overstepped your authority. If there was concern for maintenance issues, then you or someone appointed by you could have gone over the course before the match and addressed those concerns. My Men's Club has a couple of members who go over the course a day or 2 before each tournament to mark the course, including any abnormal ground conditions which they might find through the green. They also would look for such things as large downed branches which could have an unfair effect on play. Our hazards often have a litter of branches and stones which can significantly affect play, and getting a good or bad lie in such conditions is just the luck of the draw.