Q: My friend Fred teed off on No. 17. His ball hit a tree on the right side of the fairway, bounced onto the 16th green and rolled into the hole. Does this count as . . . anything?
—Jack Haga, Nicholasville, Ky.
A: Absolutely. Although it wouldn’t have affected his score (he needed to take a free drop off the green, no closer to the correct hole), your friend pulled off a feat exponentially more difficult than a hole-in-one. Will it ever be duplicated? Unlikely. Rather than buy drinks, he ought to go out and water the tree, then send a box of chocolates to the superintendent for the kind hole location. Finally he should have the ball mounted and placed behind the bar, with a small plaque describing the feat: the ultimate conversation starter.
Q: Many of the women on the LPGA Tour use magnetic clips on their visors to hold their ball markers, yet none of the men on the PGA Tour do. Is there a rule that prevents the men from using them?
—James Hickock, West Jordan, Utah
A: The Rules of Golf famously don’t discriminate along gender lines, and you can mark with pretty much anything artificial that you like—coin, tee or even the plastic disc with the little nub on the bottom. Small and nondescript is preferred, however, and the magnetic ball marker you speak of fits the golfer’s code nicely. Why do LPGA Tour players seem to prefer the magnetic ball markers more than their male counterparts? Skirts frequently don’t have pockets or belts, and thus the magnetic clip on the bill of the cap or visor is simply more expedient.
Q: Is a two-way chipper legal?
—Johnny Stripe, Amarillo, Texas
A: In our view, chippers are—how to put this delicately—uncool. A two-way chipper? Sorry, but that is next-level goofy. It’s also a rules violation, according to John Spitzer, the USGA’s managing director of equipment standards. He says that clubheads must be generally plain in shape and have only one striking face.
If you have room in your bag to add a club just to help with chipping, consider using a super game-improvement 7-iron (you can likely find one on eBay). The wide sole and relatively flat face (compared with a wedge) is much like a chipper, it’s perfectly legal, and it looks better in your bag.