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banner Monday, 23 July, 2001, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
That's just not golf
Ian Woosnam
In the bag? Ian Woosnam suffers Open agony
In the wake of Ian Woosnam's costly error over the amount of clubs in his bag at The Open, BBC Sport Online's Sanjeev Shetty examines the weird world of golfing rules.

Ever had a game of golf ruined by that person you just knew was 'Mr Rules'?

The one who tells you that your ball was actually one millimetre ahead of the tee posts and therefore represents an instant disqualification from your annual hacking session?

Maybe you never even got that far, because the man at the pro shop told you your outfit was just not suitable for the golf course.

The captain of the England football team might be able to get away with a mohawk for a haircut, but that v-necked tee shirt will cut no ice on the fairways of courses up-and-down the country.


It's such an obvious thing it seems ridiculous that it has happened
  David Rickman, Royal and Ancient Club's rules secretary
Never fear though - it is not just the amateurs who get picked on.

Lee Janzen, a two-time US Open champion, knew the feeling after the quirkiest of ends to his campaign at this year's championship.

During a first round that was disrupted by stormy weather, Janzen was required to leave a hole with his ball on the fairway.

When the American resumed, he wiped the area where his ball had finished before replacing his ball and continuing the round.

An official who saw the "offence" deemed that worthy of a two-shot penalty, but failed to notify the player until he finished his second round.

Idiosyncratic

The infringement took him from a cut-saving total of five-over to an enjoy-the-flight home tally of seven-over.

It was not the first time that Janzen had fallen foul of law's idiosyncratic rules.

Lee Janzen during his second round at the 2001 US Open
Janzen: Here comes the rain again
In the first round of the NEC World Series of Golf in 1998, Janzen was disqualified after a TV viewer turned him in for allowing his ball to sit on the edge of a cup for longer than is allowed.

It has not been established whether it was the same viewer who rang up the organisers of a US Tour event during the '90s regarding a "transgression"' by Craig Stadler.

The "Walrus" found his ball nestling under some branches and was forced to play his shot from a kneeling position.

Not wishing to soak his trousers on the wet ground, he placed a towel between himself and the grass - a heinous move spotted by a viewer who notified the authorities.

The eventual result was disqualification for Stadler.

No report has yet emerged as to whether the TV viewers in question have active lives.

Woosie owns up

But it is not always a case of spectators "informing" on the golfers - indeed the players themselves are often too honest for their own good.

In the great tradition of golfing honour and self-regulation, Ian Woosnam came clean about his own mistake at Lytham.


I am getting over it - I'm getting there but I am not fully over it
  Padraig Harrington on his Belfry blunder
He informed the R&A representative as soon as he realised he had 15 clubs in his bag, one more than the permitted number.

Sporting justice was meted out with a ruthless efficiency on the second tee - Woosnam was immediately given a two-shot penalty and his title hopes were summarily dashed.

But even Woosnam's case pales into insignificance compared to that of Philip Parkin at the Italian Open nine years ago.

He was disqualified from the event after he confessed to playing a whole round with an extra club - even though the "offending" implement was his son's toy putter, which had been absent-mindedly left at the bottom of his bag.

Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of golf is the fact that so much rides on that piece of paper handed to the player before he starts his round - the scorecard.

In 1968, at the US Masters, Argentine Roberto De Vicenzo was set for a play-off with Bob Goalby to decide the winner of the first Major of the calendar year.

But dear old Roberto had mistakenly signed for a four at the 17th hole, instead of the birdie three that he had made and most had seen him make.

That of course cut no ice with the organisers, who can only go by the mark of a pencil.

Poor Padraig

Finally, there is the Benson and Hedges Open at the Belfry last year, which put paid to the "luck of the Irish" theory.

Padraig Harrington failed to sign for a score going into the final round of a tournament that he led by five shots.

Padraig Harrington at the European Open
Harrington: Who took my pencil?
It was a mistake that was only discovered when the officials at the course wanted to frame his record scorecard for the clubhouse.

The result was that he missed out on a first prize of 166,000.

And Harrington, renowned as one of the most laid-back members of the European Tour, was left desolate and distraught.

"I am getting over it," he said some four months after the event. "I'm getting there but I am not fully over it."

No-one, it seems, is safe from golf's rigid rule back.

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