Golf etiquette and other short subjects

March 2, 2012

Bill Maxwell, a longtime golfing buddy of mine, happens to be a CPA in real life. He recently took a break from his massive pile of tax returns to send out an intriguing golf etiquette question to our spring golf group. See what you think the correct answer should be.

As Bill recounts it, two players are in a sudden-death playoff, winner-take-all tournament. Albert drives his tee shot to the middle of the fairway, but Charley’s tee shot veers off to the far right. Charley has some trouble finding his ball, and so Albert goes to his aid for a few minutes. Albert then gives up the search, and tells Charley he will go ahead with his second shot.

Albert’s approach comes to a stop 15 feet from the hole. Immediately afterward, Charley announces that he’s found his ball, and hits it. Both players watch Charley’s ball land only inches from the hole.

Here is the etiquette issue - what should Albert say to Charley at that point, considering that Albert pocketed Charley’s original golf ball during the search?

This is a game of honor, after all.

Bill’s story is a variation on the famous golf cheating scene in the James Bond movie, “Goldfinger.”

Bond is playing Goldfinger, his evil host, in a match play game. During the round, Goldfinger cheats in various ways, such as coughing loudly while Bond is putting, and moving his golf ball out of a bad lie.

At an opportune moment late in the round, Bond switches Goldfinger’s golf ball while searching for Goldfinger’s errant drive in the rough. On the last hole, Bond deliberately misses a putt, giving Goldfinger the victory. Just as they are gathered around the hole, however, Bond “notices” that Goldfinger played the wrong ball.

The evil mastermind loses the hole and the match. Goldfinger’s plans for cornering the gold market don’t work out so well later on in the movie, either.

So there’s the real golf etiquette lesson for you: Cheat at golf, and you can kiss goodbye your chances at world domination.

Ruddo’s to open third golf store

The folks at Ruddo’s Golf are taking over the old Atlantic Books space in Fenwick Island and will soon open up a third store in their local chain.

Ruddo’s opened up its first golf outlet just west of Ocean City, Md., on Decatur Highway near Route 50. Several years ago the firm expanded to the Cape Region with its second store now on Route 1 near Midway.

PGA professional Bret Marshall will be overseeing operations at the new location in Fenwick Island, 101 Coastal Highway. For Marshall, this means he will be able to walk to work from his nearby home.

Pete McCaffery will continue managing the Midway store as he has for several years. He thinks the newest outlet will be open within the next couple weeks.

They are nice folks who keep well-stocked stores year-round and maintain a tradition of customer service. Check them out at

Maybe he should have just picked up his ball when he had the chance
In a recent Ruling of the Day at the USGA website, Player A’s putt managed to hit Player B’s golf ball as it sat on the green. In this case, however, Player B had previously marked his ball’s resting spot, and had simply set the ball down elsewhere on the green to wait his turn.

Under these circumstances, Player A has options in match play. He can retry his putt, canceling the first stroke, or play the ball as it lies.

In medal play, however, Player A must play the original putt where it lies. Player B incurs no penalty stroke, but must replace his ball where it was originally marked, and play on.

That’s a pretty odd situation, one that could have been easily avoided. If you mark your ball on the green, why not hold onto it until it’s your turn to putt? Is that so hard?