Amended local rules will help keep all golfers safe
Charles Wangai executes a bunker shot at Thika Sports Club. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

On a video conference meeting the other day, a friend of mine told me that the last time he saw me was ‘BC’.

In my mind, I thought he meant that it was a very long time ago as I understood that ‘BC’ to mean ‘Before Christ’. I quickly reminded him that we had met in his office sometime in January.

“Yes! That was ‘Before COVID’” he responded. I realised that this pandemic is not only changing our way of life but even the very common acronyms are not safe. The Rules of Golf have not been spared either.

There are certain things that we have come to accept as sacrosanct in the game of golf; play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, is a mantra that all golfers are introduced to when they start playing the game.

We have also come to accept that bunkers are those sand-filled hollows on the course meant to be raked and kept smooth should we have one of those unfortunate shots that enter there.

To stop the spread of COVID-19, rakes have been removed from most golf courses and this has left golfers on their own as they keep the bunkers smooth.

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Most East African golfers are used to playing with the help of caddies who are generally expected to smooth out the bunkers for their players. Now that we don’t have caddies nor rakes on the courses, bunkers are in horrible state.

I was initially taken aback to see a notice from Uganda Golf Club allowing preferred lies in bunkers. My first reaction was that Local Rule was not allowable; preferred lies are usually given in the part of the course known as the General Area and not the bunker. I quickly turned to the COVID-19 Local Rules and sure enough, this is one of the Local Rules that a club can adopt.

Without caddies, many golfers are finding it hard to keep the bunkers in playable condition. It is probably time that all clubs adopted this Local Rule until we can have caddies and rakes back. The other COVID-19 Local rule that I came across was one adopted by Thika Sports Club; the use of a mobile application in the place of scorecards.

The Rules of Golf require that all golfers taking part in a competition have a scorecard that is then given to a marker who fills it in and returns to the player for signature.

This is not a practice that is encouraged during these times. A Local Rule can be introduced that does not require a player to exchange cards with a marker. This then makes the practice adopted by Thika Sports Club very attractive as the scores can be transmitted online to the committee.

There are a few other Local Rules that clubs can introduce to help reduce the possibility of the spread of COVID-19.

 

Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited

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