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Can Michael Greller use his rangefinder on the first tee of the Augusta national team?
This Sunday, when Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson reached 9th place at the Albany Golf Club, the impact on the rules of golf was particularly noticeable-but they teeed off at 17th place. (The tee for the final round has been moved.) The violation resulted in two penalty shots for each player, and this lively situation collapsed in the post-match meeting with reporters:
Henrik Stenson's indifferent explanation of playing from the wrong tee is funny pic.twitter.com/z3259GR2NT
But this is a different rule nugget — also involving Jordan Spieth and his caddie — that caught my attention. Like the details of any good golf rule, it is hardly important or relevant, but that's why it is interesting. I won’t claim to know the rules, but I do like to push them beyond logical boundaries, so I’ve started investigating what happens if you hit the ball on the wrong island of TPC Sawgrass or if your ball stops at Augustus Does the ball on the Hogan Bridge in Towers National Park or embedded in the side of the hole count as an A? Unless it happens suddenly, none of these things matter.
So on Friday morning, when Spieth finished pre-match preparations on the green, the communication between Spieth’s caddy Michael Grayler and two PGA TOUR employees caught my attention.
Tour media official Jack Ryan stood with scoring official Rick Wilder; they were observing the movement on the first tee and thinking about how far to fly through the garbage area on the right.
Wild asks Groeller for the carry number.
"Are there any rules, if I tell you, I will get in trouble?" Grayler responded.
"No," the official replied. "In fact, you can shoot it with a laser right now, it doesn't matter."
Um! I haven't considered this possibility, and judging from his reaction, I am not sure if Greler has considered it. Wild further explained: Distance measuring equipment is forbidden to participate in PGA Tour matches, but only for players' actual rounds. Players and caddies use them throughout the practice round to collect information and take notes for later use. Under the same rules, caddies can shoot a certain distance with a laser before the game without being penalized. In fact, caddies can stand on the first tee at the beginning of the round and collect information before their players start his round. An interesting loophole.
The official pointed out that the tour does not allow caddies to walk on the ropes with other groups before the afternoon tee time, for example, to gain distance. But I can see Grayler's wheels turning as he considers various possibilities.
So is this really important? maybe not. I think I can imagine a caddy who pays special attention to detail on a hike with a laser on Sunday morning, just to double check that the pin table in the afternoon has the correct numbers. But it is more realistic to imagine that the wind has changed from a practice wheel and a relatively new caddie to a course that wants to shoot a tree, a bunker, or a green.
Take the Riviera’s No. 10 course as an example. This is a drivable par 4 hole with a smooth green and a terrible set of bunkers. Of course, your codebook contains almost all the information you need, but it’s okay to quickly adjust the flagpole 10 minutes before your kick-off time to get the exact number and develop a strategy accordingly.
Or imagine that you started on the last nine holes in Mayakoba on Friday—a rare nine hole that started at par 3—and you want a precise yardage to the hole. Do not worry! Let your caddy arrive at the tee a few minutes in advance and you can start. Maybe this is what Chris Kirk did when he started his round with an A this year.
It is often helpful to link these rules courses to something in your own game. In this case, I'm not sure if it is applicable-most non-tour events allow the use of rangefinders. But I think this is something that is hidden while you are playing the game. Once you are successful on the tour, every small advantage is important.
Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Massachusetts native joined GOLF in 2017 after a two-year mini tour. Dethier graduated from Williams College in 2014 with a major in English. He is an 18-year-old author in the United States. He described in detail the year he lived in a car at the age of 18 and played a round of golf in each state.
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