Ivan Morris Column - The problem with golf at this time of year

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris
In his weekly Limerick Leader golf column, Ivan Morris looks at the problem with leaves on the course at this time of year.

In his weekly Limerick Leader golf column, Ivan Morris looks at the problem with leaves on the course at this time of year.

More golf balls are lost at this time of the year due to fallen leaves than errant shots.

Lost balls can even occur on the fairways but that is not the worst aspect of the fallen leaf.

Leaves cause slow play and frequent delays as golfers forlornly search for golf balls, whose whereabouts are clearly known.

And, that is not to even mention the untold damage that is caused to grass if large, broad leaves, especially, are left lying around for longer than they should.

It surprises me greatly that greens keepers and course architects have not copped on to the damage that broad leaves do and insist that only trees with relatively small leaves be ever allowed to grow on golf courses.

It’s also surprising that someone hasn’t invented some sort of a hoover-upper-extractor to gather the leaves more efficiently than the time-consuming and manpower wasteful methods that I see being employed at my home club.

Surely, a modified silage cutter would be capable of doing the job?

Not sure how much one of those contraptions would cost but it must be a feasible alternative if a number of clubs got together and did a group purchase?

As for the rules of golf aspect to fallen leaves; leaves are loose impediments, provided that they are not fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or adhere to the ball (See: Definition of Loose Impediments).

Except when both the leaf and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard, any leaf or leaves may be removed by any means, without penalty (Rule 23-1) but make sure that you do not cause the ball to move in doing so!

A leaf that is adhering to a ball is not a loose impediment and may not be removed. A leaf lying under a ball may not be removed either, even if it can be done without the ball moving. The reason for this is that a player must not improve, or allow to be improved, the position or lie of the golf ball, Rule 13-2.

However: if a player’s ball lies on the putting green there is no penalty if the ball is caused to move while removing a leaf (or any loose impediment) BUT the ball must be replaced. When a ball ‘moves’ while a leaf is being removed and the ball is not on a putting green, a penalty of one stroke is incurred and, again, the ball must be replaced (Rule 18-2a.)

I am regularly asked whether a player automatically incurs a penalty if a leaf is accidentally knocked down from a tree during a practice swing.

As long as the area of intended swing has not been materially affected, which would be true in the majority of cases no penalty incurs.

A definitive answer depends on circumstances – (Decision 13-2/0.5.)

To Speed Up Play – Slow Down Greens - Whenever I see a TV clip of major championship action that is over thirty years old I am astonished at how long the grass was, how jabby the putting strokes were and how comparatively slow the greens were back then. It’s looks like a different game.

However, it seems that the excessive speed of greens has finally gone a stimp too far.

Agronomists all over America are advising course superintendents to raise the blades on their mowers because tests have proven that greens, which are continuously kept at speeds of 10.5/11 stimpmeters and upwards suffer irreparable and unaviodable stress.

It is also the main reason for the slow play that is increasingly bedevilling the game.

Players taking three and four putts each on slippery greens that are “too fast for them”, is slowing the game down to an excruciating crawl as the deliberations and rituals of even the most humble of players are multiplied.

Also, ball marks and old holes take more time to recover when greens are shaved.

Cutting greens low may appease the low handicap lobby but it inevitably damages the grass and takes from the enjoyment of the game for the majority.

Mid-West Alliance 2014

THE dates for next year’s, ever popular, Mid-West Alliance at Dromoland have been announced; January 19 & 26; February 2 & 23 and March 9th.

There are a few significant, and dare I say it, welcome changes to the way next year’s tournament will be organized.

The most important of these is that scoring will be via the stableford points system rather than the traditional stroke-play method.

That’s no bad thing in the winter when losing a plugged ball can be a harsh punishment for a good shot.

There will be two, handicap categories. 0-3 will compete for gross prizes and handicaps 4-9 will play for net prizes.

Best news of all is that the entry fee has been reduced from €35 to €30 per day - no one will object to that!

Dromoland GC must be complimented for this gesture.

To avoid disappointment and book tee times, golfers MUST phone 061 368444 in advance.