A tournament isn’t always over when the awards are handed out at the conclusion of play. This unusual development played out at the recent U.S. national finals of the World Golfers Championship at the Hill Country Golf Club at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort in San Antonio. Five players went back home thinking they had qualified to represent the U.S. in the World Golfers Championship in South Africa.
Two days later it was brought to the attention of tournament organizers that one of the players didn’t play with the correct handicap. He had played in the qualifying event with a lower index and it had climbed to 14.0 as of Sept. 15, the latest posting. The rules of competition stated a player had to play with the lower of the two.
Rule 6-2b places the responsibility on the player to ensure that his current handicap is recorded on the scorecard before it is returned to the committee. If not, he is disqualified in most cases.
However, tournament officials discovered that the local tournament director listed his handicap, not index, when first asked to verify it. Since this seemed to match his current handicap card, he was given what amounted to an extra stroke. When the tournament director was called back after the competition, he admitted his error.
Therefore, officials checked the decisions and found that there was no time limit on correcting such a handicap mistake. Since it was attributed to a committee error, not the player, the player was not disqualified. Instead, he had to add one stroke to his score for each round. (See Decision 6-2b/3 on page 91.)
That left him tied with two other players. The conditions of the competition stated that a sudden death playoff would be used to break such ties. This wasn’t possible with the players from three different places. In the same conditions of competition, there was a second way to break such ties listed–the best net score for the final 9. One of the other players got the nod with a 36, getting the trip to represent his country in an international competition.
On the surface, I found another decision (6-2b/1) where it ruled a competition should stand as played if the player did not knowingly play with a lower handicap. However, a closer inspection revealed this decision was not applicable in the San Antonio case since it dealt with penalties, not with committee errors.
In another revised decision, if a player believed he was to use his handicap index at the time of entry, not the one at the time of the competition, there is no penalty if the competition has closed. This needs to be spelled out in the conditions of competition or on the entry. In the San Antonio case, the player’s index was lower at the time he entered, not higher.