Rules of Golf

Rules from The G4D Open - Modified Rules of Golf

The R&A
01 Jun 24
4 mins

Jim Gough, Chief Referee Tor the G4D Open, explains some of the key considerations when applying the Rules of Golf in events involving golfers with disabilities.

The G4D Open returned to the Duchess Course at Woburn in May this year for its second staging. The Championship is truly inclusive, with a field of 80 players made up from men and women from 19 different countries, with ages ranging from 15 to 68, playing in nine sport classes across multiple impairment groups.  As was the case in 2023, the field included players that use the modifications in all four of the categories of disability that are covered by Rule 25 in the Rules of Golf. I was delighted to be involved with the refereeing team again, which included officials  from The R&A, EDGA,  DP World Tour and a guest referee from the Singapore Golf Association. We had much drier conditions for this year’s Championship compared with last year and that led to fewer rulings across the three rounds, with only 88 rulings reported by referees compared to the 130 reported in 2023. As is the case at most championships, the most common ruling given was for abnormal course conditions (Rule 16.1). This accounted for approximately half of all rulings given (43), with most of these rulings involving interference from artificially surfaced paths or animal holes.  There were 15 unplayable ball rulings reported, with three of those being for players in wheeled mobility devices, meaning they were allowed four club-length lateral relief (rather than the usual two club-lengths) (see Rule 25.4m). It can be a particular challenge for players in wheeled mobility devices to be able to position their devices to allow them to play shots from close to the edge of a bunker due to the size and shape of these devices, when most standing players would be able to do so.  A significant addition to the Rules at this year’s Championship was  the inclusion of Model Local Rule M-4, which allows players in wheeled mobility devices to take free relief inside the bunker and they are unable to take a stance to play the shot due to the mobility device.  This, in combination with access ramps, which the Woburn course team once again installed in all bunkers on the course, meant that the seated players in the field would almost always have the opportunity to play their ball from a bunker, without penalty.  There were seven rulings reported that made use of MLR M-4, but once the relief procedure was explained to the players, they were comfortable with taking relief themselves in most cases without the assistance of a referee. The Rules also give seated players the option to take back-on-the-line relief outside of the bunker for one penalty stroke instead of two under Rule 25.4n if they wished. The following video also gives more details of some of the specific Rules that are available for golfers with specific disabilities under Rule 25. Once again there was some excellent golf played with Kipp Popert narrowly edging out last year’s champion Brendan Lawler by a single shot to claim victory in the men’s competition and the highest ranked female player in the field, Daphne van Houten, took home the trophy in the women’s competition