Did the Earth move for you, too?

August 26, 2011

Unfortunately, I was not in Martha’s Vineyard about to start a round of golf with President Obama when the Aug. 23 earthquake hit the Mid-Atlantic region.

On the other hand, if I were on a golf course, I would know just what to do about the most important issue facing golfers during an earthquake event.

What happens if the ball moves?
As you might well imagine, the answer depends in large part on what you are doing when the ball moves. If the tremors move the ball immediately after you’ve addressed the ball, it’s the same result as if the wind did it.

Under Rule 18, it’s a single-stroke penalty.

You must also put the ball back where it was before the ground opened up and swallowed your partner’s golf cart and bag.

But wait, you might say. Isn’t an earthquake an outside agency whose ball movement would let me put my ball back without a penalty stroke?

Nope. Outside agents include folks such as forecaddies, tournament marshals, referees, or other observers. As the USGA stiffly declares in the definitions section of its rules, “neither wind nor water is an outside agency.”

Based on that logic, a little 5.9 on the Richter Scale can’t be considered an excusable event, when it comes to how the ball reacts to it - if you’ve addressed the ball before it moves.

Now, if you haven’t reached the ball when a large jagged crack appears in the ground between the green and a sand trap, and the tremors move the ball as it sits on the green, you’re entitled to just watch where the ball comes to a stop, and finish the hole from there. It’s the same as if the wind alone moved the ball before you addressed it, even without the help of shifting tectonic plates.

If you are a Cape Region golfer who played golf during the recent earthquake, I would love to hear from you about your experience.  Just send a note to the Cape Gazette newsroom or to me.

Local club tournament results
The First Annual Eleanor Soltner Memorial tournament, benefiting Delaware Hospice, took place Aug. 17 at Shawnee Country Club.

Nearly 80 golfers participated in the tournament, scored using the Calloway format, in separate men’s and women’s divisions.

Joan Crowley finished in first for the women with a 74. Linda Cavanaugh came in in second place, a single stroke back of Crowley. Sarah May took third place, a stroke behind Cavanaugh, and Betty Black took fourth place with a 78.

In the men’s division, Lenny Lesniowski won with an even par 70. James DiStefano, Gerald Burbage, and George Merchant finished next in a tie, a single stroke back of Lesniowski.

Bob Burd, who organized the event, noted that the tournament raised more than $18,000. He also expressed deep appreciation for all of the Cape Region businesses and individuals who contributed to the success of the tournament.

At Kings Creek Country Club, the Ladies’ 18-hole group played a 2, 1, 1, tournament Aug. 18. Jeannine Doane, Julie Dickson, Christine Strauss won first place.

Second place went to Marsha McLaurin, Linda Pini, and Chris Sullivan. Tricia Ritthaler, Gail Petren, and Sherry Pie took third place.

Faye Slatcher was best in the group’s closest to the pin competition, with a ball that ended up 19 feet, four inches from the 11th hole.

On Aug. 22, the Kings Creek Ladies 9-hole group played their regular round. Carole Ellison, Sally Horvath, and Linda Mazza won first place, followed by Sue Eisenbrey, Kathy Nave, and Susan Spence. Shirley Miller, Susie Shevock, and Evelyn Vanderloo finished in third.

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