Saturday, July 11 2020


Teed Off (May 18, 2014)

Update: May, 18/2014 - 21:05

with Robert Bicknell

With so much going on in the world today, especially here in our own backyard of SE Asia, or should I say our backyard swimming pool, the Southeast Asian Sea (Yes, I know there is another more established name for it, but it makes no sense to me geographically and I'm biased having lived in Viet Nam for 21 years), golf seems to have little importance… or does it?

Perhaps we should we discuss the nature of boundaries and the penalties involved should your ball transgress these boundaries and land in another person's backyard? Every golfer on the planet knows that a ball which goes "OB" (Out of Bounds) is no longer playable. Sure, you can collect it and put it back into your bag, but you certainly cannot play it from there because it's not a part of the golf course. It belongs to someone else who has not given you or the golf course permission to use it.

And hitting a ball OB carries with it a "stroke and distance" penalty… meaning you have to go back to where you hit from originally and hit it again (under penalty of one stroke) and try to keep it on the established course where you ARE allowed to play.

Most homeowners who live on or near a golf course are pretty open-minded about balls which land on their property and don't get upset if you jump the fence to reclaim your ball and apologise, providing you didn't break a window or hurt anyone. Hey, accidents happen, right? Sometimes you want the ball to go straight, but it screams off at an obtuse angle to oblivion and lands in someone's yard.

However, there are those occasional golfers who deliberately bash a ball out of bounds, thinking it is funny and don't really consider the ramifications of their actions. Sometimes people get hurt, and/or property gets harmed. Someone who commits a deliberate act knowing they are wrong, should be punished by law. It's different if you aim for a spot on the golf course and the shot goes wrong. That's golf. It's an inexact science.

In the US, for example, if you hit a poor shot which flies onto a different hole than the one you are playing and your ball hits someone, you are not legally libel for injuries to that player - provided you shouted "fore" (or in Viet Nam, "ball"). However, if you deliberately hit a shot in that direction, perhaps to try and cut a dogleg and you nail someone, you would be libel for injuries because you were careless and didn't take the time to make sure it was safe to hit.

You are responsible for your actions… both in life as in golf - which is one of the reasons we say golf is a microcosm of life.

I remember a story about a golf course back home which bordered a farm. Unfortunately, many drives would go through the fairway (a dogleg) and end up in the farmer's front yard. One time a bunch of football players from the university all ended up in the yard, but instead of picking up the balls, they decided to play them. Being poor players, they hacked up the lawn pretty badly which upset the farmer - who told them go back to the golf course. They were all bigger than the farmer and told him to shut up and leave them alone.

Outnumbered and suitably upset, the farmer went inside, got his shotgun and demanded they leave. They laughed and raised their clubs at him so he shot the biggest one in the left butt cheek with a load of rock-salt and the others ran like hell. The police refused to file charges because the players were in someone else's yard and acting in a threatening manner. Hence, a simple case of self-defense.

I guess the moral of the story is to stay in your own yard and behave yourself. While you might make a mistake now and then, don't make a situation worse by acting poorly when you are clearly in the wrong. Borders of a golf course are easily identifiable, so there is no excuse to try and play in an area not part of the course.

The second moral might be, never antagonize someone smaller than you because they just might have a shotgun full of rock-salt… — VNS

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