Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Moral Match Play Question for the Masses


This week, I was out on the golf course with a few of the regular guys I golf with. Everyone can play, everyone has ability and everyone can fire a round under par. It's a fun little match that sometimes gets heated, and usually ends with a $10 or $20 being passed between guys.

This match had a moment that was different, and seeing as though I write golf, I figured what better way to figure out the correct resolution than to ask around and see.

We play a Round Robin team game where everyone is a teammate for six holes.

My friend Wes and I were teammates for the first six holes, and after Wes made a 18-footer for birdie on 4 and I made a snake from about 40 feet on 5 for birdie, we were 2-up with one to play. The game allows presses, and the way our competitor rolls, a press is always anticipated.

After the press was called, the two guys hit poor tee shots and were in trouble. One guy ended up in his pocket, the other about 35-feet short of the hole for birdie. Wes, who hit driver up the left side of the short par-4, pitched cooly on to about 10-feet behind the hole, and with our playing partner missing his birdie putt, had a chance to win the press, making it a $20 sweep for the first six hole match.

Here is where the incident occurred. Wes missed the putt, and as it was rolling over the lip, he snapped it away with his putter. The putt wasn't traveling fast at all, and may have rolled a foot and change away from the hole, but Wes wasn't thinking and was pissed he missed the birdie attempt. All three of us had an interesting look on our face. I was rattled enough to miss a 4-footer to save par. The other guy made par, and we went to the next hole with Wes apologizing over and over for his actions.

Now, the putt probably would have been conceded. Like I said, it was barely moving, but nobody really knew the next step. As Wes continually said he'd take a five, and the playing partners saying, "No, no," it seemed that we would tie the press and win the bet, banking $10. When the 18 holes ended, however, the partners asked what we were going to do about that hole.

What do you do? Take the five since you basically picked up without being told the putt was good? Or do you give the guy a four and tell him that it better not happen again?

Any thought is appreciated.

11 comments:

Matt said...

Take the 4, don't let it happen again and use the money won with that score to buy beers @ the 19th hole.

Ryan said...

Take the 4. If it's going to miss inside of 18 inches, the comebacker is good anyhow. Fork over the cash.

Marty said...

Take the 5. It sucks - but until the putt is conceded you have no idea what is gonna happen.

George Beardsley said...

If I'm them, I give you the four -- with much deserved sarcasm. If I'm you, I leave it completely up to them and take what they give me. Unless of course if they're good friends. Then over the beer I'd buy, with their money of course, I'd tell them how much they remind me of my 5-year-old niece...

Nick said...

If these are guys you play with all the time I am sure putts like that are given, and this one should be given. If you don't play with them all the time then penalty should be called.

Hernandez Jones said...

I think if Wes, as he did, offered the right of refusal to the opponent by insisting to take a 5, and the opposition didn't accept it immediately, then it is a 4. By waiting until the end of the match, they are essentially waiting to see how much they were down before re-evaluating the situation, which unfairly puts Wes at a now arbitrarily enforced disadvantage. Even though he was guilty of the mistake, once you turn down his offer to punish himself, its poor sportsmanship to try and enforce it later.

Hernandez Jones said...

** In a match amongst friends.

Jeff said...

It sounds like you handled it pretty well for a game with buddies, but...

Obviously Wes shouldn't pick up his putt, in particular when it it is still moving. From a rules point of view I don't see how Wes can take a 5. His score (loss of hole) can not count on this hole but your team would score a 5 based on your score.

Your team should take your medicine and take a 5. It puts your opponents in an awkward place for you to do anything but take a 5based on your score. In essence you're making them the "bad guys" for playing by the rules.

The Long Reef Fantasy Golfer said...

If you play and gamble like my best friends and me, you give him nothing and take him nowhere.

He doesn't even get a 5 - his ball is in the pocket and conceded for the hole.

And then you give him total shit about it for the next 12 holes that you are not partners. And take some more cash off him.

And you do this in the knowledge that if he is a true TRUE friend, he would happily do the same to you.

Shane B. said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. I think it is interesting the different thoughts from different people. My buddy took a 5, which was basically a concede since it didn't matter, and it ended up costing him $30 in bets.

He did, however, pay my half of that press bet because he felt bad.

Jeff said...

Sounds like a good friend and a good guy. I bet he doesn't do it again and you all get a few laughs about it.