No Statute of Limitations

Since the Lexi Thompson ruling, there has been much discussion on making a change to the Rules that would prohibit a penalty from being applied after a round has been completed and score cards have been signed. Jack Nicklaus has been a proponent of this idea. However, did you know that currently, there are four situations in stroke play where there is no time limit whatsoever on applying a disqualification penalty? In fact, the Rule says a penalty of disqualification must be imposed!

Let’s take a look at this Rule.

Rule 34 (Disputes and Decisions) is split into three parts. The first part addresses Claims and Penalties and is split into two sections; Match Play and Stroke Play (match play always comes before stroke play in the Rule Book since it came about first). The second section covering Stroke Play says that once a competition is closed, the Committee may not rescind, modify or impose a penalty. That’s it; done, finished, ended, complete and over with…except in four situations.

These four violations are considered so egregious and so contrary to the spirit and integrity of the game, that the Committee must apply a penalty of disqualification no matter when the atrocious act has been discovered.

If a competitor:

  1. Has agreed to waive the Rules; or
  2. Returned a score on which he knew he recorded a handicap that was higher than he was entitled to and this affected how many strokes he received; or
  3. Returned a score lower than actually taken (except when he didn’t know he incurred a penalty and thus did not include the penalty stroke or strokes); or
  4. Knew that he had been in breach of any other Rule that carried a disqualification penalty

Now, I’ll give you that #1, #2 and #4 are flat out cheating. However, in #3, if we reviewed the tape 100 years after you won the U.S. Open and we found that you miscounted on hole #4 of the second round, you would be disqualified and required to give back the prize money and the trophy.

Ouch, now that seems harsh!

Remember, it pays to know the Rules. Knowing the Rules of Golf can help you save strokes and enjoy the game of golf.

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