Guidance on Running a Competition

Appendix I: Suspension of Play in Team Matches

Suspension of Play in Team Matches

Problems have emerged in team matches where, because of bad weather, it has not been possible to complete the matches in the format intended and, for whatever reason, no or insufficient extension of time is available.

There are many different forms which such matches can take, but perhaps one of the most common is a series of matches played over consecutive days with a set number of foursome or four-ball matches followed by twice that number of single matches. In such an event the Committee should reserve in the Conditions of Competition the right to achieve a result when play has been curtailed. The Committee could reserve the right to come to an equitable decision.

Similar problems arise in league matches where a match between two of the competing teams is curtailed and it is not possible to fix a date on which all members of both sides can resume play.

It must be stressed that in such a situation every effort should be made to find such a date, so that the match can be completed in accordance with Rule 33-2d. If, however, that proves impossible, then the choices open to the Committee are:

  1. The results of completed matches stand, and incomplete matches are declared null and void or treated as halved.
  2. The results of completed matches stand and the incomplete matches are declared null and void, the Committee appointing a day on which they are to be replayed, with each team free to alter its original team, subject to the provision that no player who took part in a completed match may take part in any of the matches to be replayed; or
  3. Declare the match null and void and appoint a day for it to be replayed with each team free to alter its original team.
The following situations in a 10-a-side team match illustrate the sort of circumstances in which each choice might be appropriate:
  1. Team A has won 5 matches, is “dormie” in 3 and all square in 2 – Choice (i).
  2. Team A has won 5 matches. Team B is “dormie” in the other 5 – Choice (ii).
  3. Team A has won 3 matches. Team B has won 3 matches and is dormie in 4 matches – Choice (ii).
  4. Only 1 match has been completed – Choice (iii).

There may, of course, be other factors which the Committee wishes to take into account. Suppose, for example, that no matches had been completed, but the only person unable to resume play the following day was a member of Team A who was 9 down with 9 to play – the Committee should award that match to Team B and instruct the others to resume play in accordance with Rule 33-2d. If that player had been 9 up instead of 9 down, that match could be declared a half and the other matches resumed.

The permutations are endless and the decisions to be made difficult and occasionally apparently unfair to somebody. The one common essential, however, is that the Committee reserves the right in the conditions of the competition to make a decision in equity when it is impossible to complete a match or series of matches in accordance with the Rules of Golf.

Suspension of Play – Fog Policy

Whether to commence or continue play in a stipulated round when fog is present is a difficult decision. Fog, by its very nature, is not easy to forecast, and it is challenging to predict when it will set in or lift.

From a playability standpoint, it is the R&A’s policy to commence/continue play in a stipulated round if the landing zone for all shots to be played are visible to the players. In this regard, tee shots requiring the use of drivers may present the most difficult challenge since such shots cover the most distance. Things such as fairway lines, hazards, trees, etc. in the drive zone must be visible to a large extent. However, the fact that visibility is partially obscured by fog such that the entire flight of the ball is not possible does not generally require a decision to delay/suspend play.

In situations where two separate courses are being used, in the vast majority of cases, if one course delays/suspends play, the other must too. This should apply (i) whether the courses are near each other, and (ii) no matter the reason for the delay/suspension (i.e. fog, lightning, etc.). Acting in any other manner could present too many scenarios where players are treated differently and perhaps unfairly.