The Rules of Golf can be complicated, as we’ve been reminded often this year, but it still behooves to know them, as one junior golfer in England learned the hard way last week.
Josh Hogarth, 15, playing in the junior championship at South Moor Golf Club, an Alister MacKenzie design in the village of the Middles, used a 6-iron on the 186-yard par-three 14th hole, and appeared to have made a hole-in-one, though the ball lodged against the flagstick.
“I thought you had to pull the flagstick out keeping it directly upright,” Hogarth told the local newspaper, the Chronicle. “When I did that, the ball squirted out and ended up an inch from the hole.”
He tapped it in for a two.
Alas, 17-4 in the Rules of Golf state: “When a player's ball rests against the flagstick in the hole and the ball is not holed, the player or another person authorized by him may move or remove the flagstick, and if the ball falls into the hole, the player is deemed to have holed out with his last stroke; otherwise, the ball, if moved, must be placed on the lip of the hole, without penalty.”
In other words, all he had to do was maneuver the flagstick to a degree that allowed the ball to fall and he’d have had an ace.
“If I had known the rules, it would have been a hole in one,” Hogarth said. “I signed for a two on the scorecard instead of one. I shall put it down to experience. It’s a lesson learned.”
Hogarth at least won the junior championship, though his round of seven-under par 65 only equaled the course record. Had he been able to sign for an ace, he’d hold the record outright.