Date: July 29, 2016
Author: Tom Fee, GolfWA

Rules Corner: Rummy’s stick & flick

Brett Rumford's latest Instagram post features an extraordinary new "shot" which raises some interesting rules issues.

Firstly, wow! I tend to hit my 60 degree wedge lower than my driver, so I can only imagine the skill involved with that, um…shot.

Brett says;

“For those that are struggling with their face control when chipping try the "Stick & Flick" technique. I don't believe the R&A stipulate in the rules of golf 'how long' a ball must stay on the face at impact – so – "flick" that "stick" where you want it“

Ok, Brett. That got a good laugh out of us! Now it’s time for us to ruin the fun.

We’re sure you all know this is somehow against the rules, but which rule?

The first step in situations like this is to go straight to the definitions, which starts on Page 30 of the latest edition of the Rules of Golf.

PSA 1: GolfWA sends clubs one rules book for each member. If you’re a golf club member and don’t have a book, contact your club. They’re free!

PSA 2: The R&A also has a free rules app for iPhone and Android. Check it out!

Anyway…here’s the R&A's definition of a stroke.

A "stroke" is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball, but if a player checks his downswing voluntarily before the clubhead reaches the ball he has not made a stroke.

In our opinion the only thing working for the Stick & Flick is the forward movement of the club. There is no intention to strike the ball — and while the ball does move there's a massive grey area when there's an intention to stop the ball on the club. We could probably slow down the vision and spot a double hit too.

Have we sufficiently ruined the fun? Yes…but we're not done yet! Let’s see what the penalty is.

The problem with using the definitions for a ruling is that it gives you no course of action. Again we dig through the rules towards Rule 14: Striking the ball, which says;

The ball must be fairly struck at with the head of the club and must not be pushed, scraped or spooned.

Unfortunately the R&A leaves us to our own devices when it comes to defining pushed, scraped or spooned — but we’ve found a useful definition for spooning from a technique used in Croquet.

It is simply pushing the ball with the mallet instead of tapping. It is recognized by making no noise.

There we have it. And the penalty? Two shots in stroke play or loss of hole in match play.

So now we know the ruling on a shot none of us mortals would be able to make. But there are other golf "shots" out there that could get you into trouble if you listen to the wrong people.

For example, former NCAA Division 1 college golfer James Lepp who rose to prominence on the Golf Channel's Big Breakreality show.

His ‘saucer’ chip shot was derived from the saucer pass in ice-hockey. After receiving numerous phone calls about this potentially groundbreaking technique, the USGA, R&A and Golf Canada got together to make a decision. Dale Jackson, Director of Rules at Golf Canada, said;

'The rule that would be breached is Rule 14-1 that says in part the club can't be pushed, spooned or scraped. Scraped here basically means you are intentionally dragging or pulling the club along the ground before it hits the ball, which is what he does.'