Originally Posted by iacas These threads get old because nobody else ever seems to encounter the bizarre mix of poor markings and weird course situations that you have. Plus I think half the time people think you're making situations up just to ask questions about them.
As for your question, nobody can answer because we were not there. The ball hitting the stick is likely not the only possibility. It's also possible that two PGA Tour rules officials would have ruled differently. We are human. The rules cannot be made such that they're going to be applied the same 100% of the time, and the more you simplify them the more situations where two rulings could both work will increase, not decrease.
This was not a made up situation- while I have come up with some hypothetical situations at times, all the specifics I give are the actual truth unless I have stated otherwise in the thread.
My guess is that most golfers who encounter these type situations don't bother posting on the internet- they simply decide how to play it (often times wrong according to the rules) and then move on. Most will continue to make the same rules mistakes over and over. I also things it makes a difference where you play- when I played in So Cal, I encountered very few of these type situations as the courses were usually dry without complicated water hazards.
True, there may have been other possibilities besides hitting the stick, but in my mind this was the most likely other than the ball being plugged, which it turned out to be.
I think you are right that different rules officials can rule differently in the same situation- things like "reasonable doubt" and "virtual certainty" are hard to define and have different meanings to different people- just ask different groups of people who watched the O.J. Simpson case.
However, I disagree that simplifying the rules has to magnify this problem. Sure, if it is done incorrectly then you leave too many blank or uncovered situations, but it doesn't have to be this way. i.e. if hazards, OB and lost balls were treated the same, you wouldn't have the "virtual certainty" issue regarding whether a ball was lost in a hazard or lost outside the hazard- you would treat both the same. Sure, this might change the game in your mind, but it would create less ambiguity, not more. And yes, you wouldn't know exactly where a ball was lost, but being a few yards off on the drop point has much less impact on someone's score than having to decide whether you can be virtually certain a ball is lost in a hazard and drop by the hazard or that you don't have virtual certainty and have to go back to where you last struck the shot. Of course, if the drop point is the issue for you, then you could make all hazards, lost balls and OBs play like an OB (either distance only or stroke and distance).
My thinking is similar for drops- why have 6 different possibilities instead of only 2 or 3?
Back to the topic-
1. What was the area of the abnormal ground condition?
2. Did we have "virtual certainty" if the ball was lost in this area?
The uncertainty for me RE 1 is what area was actually ground under repair- How is a player suppose to figure that out when you have a combination of casual water, wet areas that may not be wet enough to be considered casual water and a ground under repair sign but no circled area. The best answer I have gotten so far with this is play under 3-3 and take it to the committee, but nobody has told me what the committee should be looking at to determine the scope of the abnormal ground condition area?
RE 2, obviously, it is hard to know if a ball is lost in a particular area without knowing the size of the area. Additionally, I have asked a few times if the possibility of the ball hitting the flag stick and ricocheting 30+ yards (without 4 players seeing or hearing it hit the stick) is enough of a possibility to negate virtual certainty? NOBODY HAS ATTEMPTED TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION.