Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Open Championship, The Old Course and The Rules of Golf

from the R&A

The Old Course is unique in many ways and will continue to present challenges to the players contesting the 144th Open Championship this July.  Hopefully the sun will be shining and the wind benign resulting in a Rules incident-free championship, although that doesn’t happen all the time... 
The Old Course is the home of the pot bunker, with its 110 sandy iconic traps.  The bunkers are all individually named; Walkinshaw's Grave, Coffins, Lion’s Mouth, Principal’s Nose, The Spectacles, Hell.  Each has a rich history to tell and many have made or broken the scores of some of the world’s best golfers.
Perhaps the most famous is the fearsome Road bunker at the 17th green.  During the 3rd round of the 1978 Open, Tsuneyuki “Tommy” Nakajima came to the 17th hole four-under for the day and tied for the Championship lead.  He played a smart approach to the front of the green and his carefully judged putt looked good until it caught a ridge and trickled down into the Road bunker.
His first attempt from the sand hit the face.  His second also failed to get out.  His third did escape the bunker – albeit briefly - before rolling back in. Finally, his fourth settled ten feet past the pin.  Nakajima missed the putt and finished with a quintuple-bogey 9 and thus ending his Open Championship dream. 
Due to the unique design of a pot bunker, if you get too close to the face of the bunker, it is sometimes impossible to play forward.  Many players this July will find themselves playing out to the side; some may even find it necessary to deem the ball unplayable. 
A player may deem the ball unplayable at any place on the course, except when the ball is in a water hazard.  The player is the sole judge as to whether his ball is playable.  If you deem your ball unplayable (Rule 28) you may, under penalty of one stroke:
a. play again from where your last shot was played, or
b. drop a ball any distance behind the point where the ball lay keeping a straight line
between the hole, the point where the ball lay and the spot on which the ball is dropped, or
c. drop a ball within two club-lengths of where the ball lies not nearer the hole.
If your ball is in a bunker you may proceed as above; however, if you are dropping back on a line or within two club-lengths (options b or c), you must drop a ball in the bunker.
Interestingly, in the face of the Road bunker, there will be a small TV camera that will provide television spectators a close-up of all the action this July.  The camera will be deemed as an integral part of the course in the Championship Local Rules so that players cannot claim relief from interference from it and consequently afford them a better lie in the bunker.
Out of Bounds
In 1991 at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Ian Baker-Finch won The Open Championship playing sublime golf shooting 64 and 66 in the final two rounds.  By the time of the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews, in a cruel twist of fate, his confidence was low.   Baker-Finch stood on the 1st tee of the Old Course, paired with the legendary Arnold Palmer (his farewell appearance at The Open Championship) and snap-hooked his drive straight over the parallel 18th fairway and out of bounds.  Despite it being one of the widest fairways in golf, Baker-Finch had hit it 180 yards out of bounds to the left.
With its “out and back” design, the boundaries of the course come into play at a number of holes such as the 1st, 16th, 17th and 18th. If, after playing a shot, you think your ball may be out of bounds you should play a provisional ball (Rule 27-2).  You must state that it is a provisional ball (phrases such as “I’ll hit another” or “I’m going to re-load” are insufficient) and you must play the provisional ball before you go forward to search for the original ball.
The wall at the back of the green of the 17th hole on the Old Course defines the boundary on this hole. While it is unlikely that a ball will come to rest on the wall, the Championship Local Rules clarify the boundary by stating that a ball is out of bounds when it is beyond the wall (not on the wall) so there is no doubt.

At the 1984 Open Championship, Tom Watson was seeking his third Open win in a row. He was tied with Seve Ballesteros when his approach at 17th scurried over the green, crossed the road and came to rest close to the boundary wall.  
Faced with an extremely difficult chip, and with the boundary wall impeding his backswing, Watson unsurprisingly could only make bogey.  He lost out to Ballesteros who made an iconic birdie on the 18th to win by two strokes. 
It is worth remembering that objects defining out of bounds are deemed to be fixed and there is no relief without penalty from them.  You can proceed under the unplayable ball Rule or try your luck like Miguel Angel Jiménez did in 2010.
Finding the ball in a near impossible position inches from the boundary wall, Jiménez struck the ball against the wall, the ball then ricocheted off the wall over Jimenez’s head and onto the green.
Jiménez said, “There was no place to drop it. I took out my sand wedge and hoped to get a good break but I had no idea how it would turn out as you can’t practise that sort of shot!”

Water Hazards
The Swilcan Burn lies in wait on the 1st hole on the Old Course.  Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie all found the Burn when playing in the 2010 Open Championship and had to drop out under penalty (Rule 26-1).
If your ball is in a water hazard (yellow stakes and/or lines) you may play it as it lies or, under penalty of one stroke:
  • play a ball from where your last shot was played, or
  • drop a ball any distance behind the water hazard keeping a straight line between the hole, the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard and the spot on which the ball is dropped.
If your ball is in a lateral water hazard (red stakes and/or lines), in addition to the options for a ball in a water hazard, under penalty of one stroke, you may drop a ball within two club-lengths of, and not nearer the hole than:
  • the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, or
  • a point on the opposite side of the hazard equidistant to the hole from the point where the ball last crossed the margin.
The Swilcan Burn is in parts marked as a water hazard and in parts a lateral water hazard.  So depending on where your ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, determines the options that you have for relief.
Of course, you can always play the ball as it lies but sometimes it is better to take your medicine and move on.  In 2000, Notah Begay reached the 17th hole eight under par.  His second shot was too long and ended up in the Swilcan Burn behind the green.  He decided to play from the water, unsuccessfully, and dropped three strokes finishing with a 69.
Double Greens
There are seven “double greens” on the Old Course, i.e. greens that are shared by two holes.  Interestingly the numbers of the holes sharing the green always add up to 18, e.g. 2 and 16, 3 and 15.   
If you are playing the 2nd hole and you pull your approach left such that you are on the portion of the green that is really intended for play of the 16th hole, it does not mean that you are on a wrong putting green (Rule 25-3).  You must play the ball as it lies.  However, if the actual hole cup of the 16th hole interferes on your line of putt, you are entitled to relief without penalty under Rule 25-1b.  The hole cup is a hole made by a greenkeeper and is by definition, ground under repair.   
Some of the putting greens on the Old Course are vast.  It is possible to find yourself on the green 50 yards away from the hole.  The Rules of Golf do not require players to use a putter when the ball lies on the putting green and there is every chance that some players may elect to use a wedge in order to cope with the severe slopes that are a feature of many of the greens. Warning: do not try this at your home course unless you have nerves of steel and are prepared to face the wrath of your club greenkeeper! 
Links courses are exposed simply because they are located by the sea and wind often plays a big factor.  In 2010, play had to be suspended for 65 minutes during the 2nd round of the Open Championship due to the high winds which were causing balls to move on the putting greens.  
Only one player was penalised that day when his ball moved after address (Rule 18-2b).  Nonetheless, this Rule was amended in 2012 to the effect that there is no penalty if your ball moves after “address” - when you have grounded your club immediately in front of or immediately behind your ball - if it is known or virtually certain that you did not cause the ball to move.  So, penalties for the ball moving after address will be less frequent in high winds and gusty conditions than they used to be.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Dunblane GC: Girls or Ladies Fun Day

Girls Or Ladies Fun – Open Day - Sunday 19th April
Sunday 19th April 2015

Improvers Sessions (reception 09.30 -09.45) for those who have had lessons previously or already play golf

Absolute Beginners Sessions
(reception 10.15 -10.30) for those who have little/ no experience of golf. equipment will be supplied: wear comfortable, warm clothing and training shoes

Paul Jamieson
Nicola Melville
Cecilia Kenny

Lunch @1230

Q&A with the Pro’s @ 2pm

Close 2.30pm

Option of Golf 10 or 18 holes after 2pm

£15 per person Under 18s are free

Email - - if you are interested.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Golf Rules on Tour – March 2015 R&A

Rulings relating to golf equipment are few on Tour but there have been a couple of cases in recent months.

(from: R&A website)
Breaking Clubs

During the final round of the Thailand Classic at Black Mountain Golf Club, Scott Hend played an excellent escape shot from behind a tree but snapped his club in the process.  As the club had been damaged in the normal course of play the player was permitted to replace the broken club.  This is as per Rule 4-3 which allows a club which is no longer fit for play to be replaced, providing the player does not unduly delay play in obtaining a replacement and providing he does not replace the club by borrowing a club selected for play by any other person playing on the course or by assembling components carried by or for the player during the round. 
Under the Rules of Golf, a club is considered unfit for play if it is substantially damaged, e.g. the shaft is dented or significantly bent, the clubhead becomes loose or detached, or the grip becomes loose.
The player does not need to replace the broken club with the same type of club, e.g. a broken 9 iron could be replaced with a 3 wood, providing it is a conforming club.
Should Hend’s club have been damaged but still fit for play he would have had the option of using the club in its damaged state for the remainder of the round, irrespective of whether the club was still conforming.  Alternatively he could have repaired it or have it repaired, provided this did not unduly delay play. 
If, however, a player damages a club and renders it non-conforming other than in the normal course of play, i.e. though acts of abuse such as throwing it, slamming it into a golf bag, or intentionally striking something (like the ground or a tree) other than during a stroke or practice swing, then the club may not be subsequently used or replaced during the round. However, if the player started the round with fewer than 14 clubs, then he would be entitled to add another club for whatever reason under Rule 4-4a (see Decision 4-3/8).
Non-conforming Clubs

Matt Every was not so lucky after he was disqualified during the second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii for using a non-conforming club which had been damaged during a previous round.
Every had bent the shaft of his 4-iron during the first round of the tournament and unfortunately he not only forgot to take the club out of his bag prior to starting his second round, but he proceeded to use the club for his second shot at the 18th hole (his 9th hole of the day).  Every realised himself that he may have breached a Rule and spoke to PGA Tour referee, John Mutch who confirmed to Every that the penalty for using a non-conforming club was disqualification, under Rule 4-1a.  If Every had not used the club but just carried it in his bag, the penalty would have been two strokes for each hole that he had carried the club, up to a maximum of four strokes (Rule 4-1a). 
The Rules state that “The shaft must be straight from the top of the grip to a point not more than 5 inches above the sole (i.e. the neck). Every’s club was non-conforming as there was a substantial bend around 10 inches up from the neck.
The crucial difference between the Matt Every and the Scott Hend rulings is that in Every’s case the club in question was already non-conforming when he started his round.  
Lava Trouble

Bernard Langer had some club trouble of his own during the first round of the Champions Tour, Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in January.  He hit his second shot at the par five seventh hole to the right of the green into an area of lava rocks.  Unfortunately for Langer he took several more strokes to escape from the lava rock, including a miss and a double hit, eventually two putting the from 50 feet for a quintuple bogey 10. 
As per the definition of ‘stroke’ in the Rules of Golf, a stroke is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball.  Therefore if a player intends to strike the ball, but misses it, the stroke still counts in the score for the hole. 
Langer immediately called the double hit on himself which resulted in him incurring a one-stroke penalty.  Rule 14-4 states that if a player’s club strikes the ball more than once during the course of a stroke, the player must count the stroke and add one penalty stroke.
Langer recovered well and went on to score a level par 72 for the round. Watch the incident here.

Friday, 3 October 2014

PGA Pro's smash through the 1000 lesson barrier

The Ryder Cup wasn’t just a roaring success for Paul McGinley and Europe with a team of PGA pros smashing through the one thousand free lessons barrier at Gleneagles.
Indeed such was the demand for coaching that hundreds had to be turned away daily from the PGA Swing Zone as spectators eagerly sought the chance to get swing and putting advice.
And while the majority of the 40,000 plus spectators swarming over the PGA Centenary Course were Scottish, there was a melting pot of nationalities visiting the PGA Swing Zone including Americans, Canadians, Mexicans and Europeans.
Among the PGA pros dispensing lessons was Dalmahoy-based teaching pro John Murray – a Scotland-based Dubliner.
“It’s a great week, and you get all sorts coming in for lessons,” he said.
“I had an eight year old from Blairgowrie with an unbelievable swing who hit the ball fantastically and was just very naturally talented. One of the best I’ve ever seen.
“At the other of the spectrum I had a rugby player who’d never picked up a club in his life but his rugby days are coming to an end and after trying golf decided this was going to be his new sport.”
Heather Gaunt, coach education and development manager for Scotland, branded the exercise a huge hit and is already looking forward to next year’s Open Championship at St Andrews were PGA pros will again be on hand to give free lessons.
“It’s been a really positive experience, we’ve had everything from absolute beginners through to golfers who play off scratch and just wanted to work on a few things such as posture and alignment,” she said.
“The quality of the coaching has been fantastic and bar the odd break to go and watch a bit of the golf they’ve been working from eight to seven. Their enthusiasm and energy has been incredible and I just want to thank the PGA pros for giving up their time and making it such a success.
“The feedback from the public has been tremendous, we even had people coming back day after day for a lesson.
“We also a dad and his son came to see one of the pros, George Boswell, who a few years ago had told this dad his son really need to get some proper coaching, which he’d done, and had just finished in the top 10 in a European junior event and they just wanted to come and say thank you to George which was nice.”
The 12 PGA pros helping the Ryder Cup go with a swing were Andrew Munro (Elie Sports Centre), Lesley Mackay (Lesley Mackay Complete Golf), Gavin Cook (Elie Sports Centre), John Mulgrew (Airdrie Golf Club), Ian Muir (Ian Muir Golf Ltd), Bob Collinson (Bearsden Golf Range), Gordon McLeod (Monifieth Golf Links), Ryan Scott (Loretto School Golf Academy), George Boswell (Mearns Castle), Nicola Melville (Nicola Melville Golf), John Murray (Dalmahoy) and Allan Martin (Buchanan Castle).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Q&A for Ryder Cup Swing Zone

(Taken from website)

Brookline was a wake-up call to Nicola Melville at the competitive rivalry between Europe and the United States.
The St Andrews based PGA pro will be able to savour the experience first hand at Gleneagles in 2014 where she is one of 11 coaches helping to give hundreds of free lessons during Ryder Cup week. caught up with Nicola to talk Ryder Cup in its latest swing zone Q&A.
What does it mean to you to be coaching at the Swing Zone at the Ryder Cup?
It's very exciting! The Ryder Cup is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and I'm very much looking forward to being a part of it and experiencing the atmosphere.
You only have 15 minutes for the free lessons but what do you hope to achieve in that time and what do you hope the spectators will get out of it?
With only 15 minutes it's important to get to the point fast. To do that you need to ask the correct questions to establish each player’s goals and wishes which is one of the things taught on the PGA level 3 coaching qualification.
What spurred you to become a PGA professional and why did you choose it as a career?
Since I took up golf I’ve always wanted to turn it into a full time career. Being a PGA pro opens doors into many areas of the golf industry, for example coaching or business.
What’s the best thing about coaching golf?
It is very rewarding teaching someone who hasn't played golf before and seeing them get the same enjoyment that I got from it when I first took up the game.
Growing up, what was your first Ryder Cup memory?
The 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline. I had only taken up golf a year or so earlier and I didn't realise just how much rivalry there was between the Europeans and Americans! (Sergio Garcia, below left, and Jesper Parnevik celebrate a putt at Brookline)
What was the first Ryder Cup you attended (if any) and any special memories?
This is actually my first Ryder Cup, so I really looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere. It's not every day such a big event comes to the area.
Why do you think the Ryder Cup is so special and what do you like about it?
It's difficult to describe. The passion and rivalry between the two teams isn't something you normally see at a golf tournament. It's almost like a football match but a bit friendlier!
Who has been your favourite Ryder Cup player over the years and why?
I enjoyed watching Colin Montgomerie (below with Payne Stewart) play in the Ryder Cup. He has never been the most popular player with the Americans but he was able to use that to his favour!
Who has been the most influential Ryder Cup player of all time?
Seve Ballesteros. He had so much passion for the Ryder Cup and was able to inspire his team-mates. Even after his death you could still see it at the last Ryder Cup at Medinah when the whole European team were trying to win it for Seve and his close friend Jose Maria.
What do you make of Paul McGinley’s three captain’s picks (Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood) and is there anyone else you would like to have seen selected?
I wouldn't have picked anyone different, in fact they were my exact predictions! Even though Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood haven't been in the best form recently they are experienced Ryder Cup players and are capable of raising their games for the big occasion. Stephen Gallagher came so close to securing an automatic place and they really need a Scot in the team!
If it comes down to a crunch putt to win the Ryder Cup for Europe on the Sunday, which of Europe’s 12 players would you trust the most to sink the putt and why?
Ian Poulter, he thrives on the pressure of the Ryder Cup plus he is one of the best putters on the team
Finally, score prediction please?  
Europe 15.5- USA 12.5

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Royal and Awesome

A few pictures of myself wearing my new trousers. Many thanks to Royal and Awesome

Very nice and colourful clothing. Looking forward to wearing them this summer.

Well worth a look if you like something that's a bit different.

Friday, 14 March 2014

SGU PGA Professional Interview

Taken from the SGU website

New: The PGA Professional Interview

Welcome back to our latest feature on our new-look website, giving you the chance to learn how PGA Professionals help and support the game up and down the country.
The PGA is responsible for identifying and fulfilling the needs of over 7,500 members working in more than 60 countries worldwide.
PGA Professionals are key to the continued global success of golf, operating in over 50 different roles – from club professionals and course architects to retailers and high performing coaches.
Focusing on Scotland’s professionals, many of whom work with the Scottish Golf Union and our national squad players, our second feature is on Nicola Melville.
Nicola is a freelance teaching professional working at St Andrews, who last year helped set up the Scottish Ladies Open Tour (now the Ladies Tartan Tour). Exciting times ahead for Nicola, pictured above with Paul Lawrie and Brian Mair, Secretary of the PGA in Scotland, so let’s find out more…
What is your golfing background?
NM: “I started playing golf at the age of 12 and won the Ladies Club Championship’s at both Bridge of Allan and Stirling Golf Club’s while in my teens. I represented Stirling and Clackmannanshire County Ladies before turning professional and joining the PGA’s training programme in 2005. To continue my development, last year I undertook the PGA Level 3 Coaching qualification and I’m now in the final stage of the assessments.”
What have been your career highlights, employment and /or playing?
NM: “I started the PGA training programme at a time when the PGA were increasing the emphasis of the programme into more academic areas, with the backing of the University of Birmingham, making it extremely challenging. Therefore completing the Foundation Degree programme was probably the hardest but most worthwhile development for my career. Additionally, being involved in starting the Ladies Tartan Tour is something I’m particularly proud of.”
Where are you currently based?
Nicola Melville
Melville enjoys her various roles in golf
NM: “I am a freelance professional based at St Andrews. I started my training as an assistant at Blairgowrie Golf Club before moving to the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews in 2006. In order to develop my career further I decided to become freelance in 2010, which gave me time to focus on other areas of interest. I’m a PGA qualified rules official and member of the PGA Rules Panel and work as a referee mainly on the PGA EuroPro Tour, which takes me up and down the country.”
You have been involved in starting the Ladies Tartan Tour (previously the Scottish Ladies Open Tour). How exciting is this for you and how significant is it for Scottish golf?
NM: “Last year, the freelance golf writer Colin Farquharson and I started the Scottish Ladies Open Tour (now the Ladies Tartan Tour). We both felt that there needed to be more opportunities for female players to play in their home country, and that there needed to be a “stepping stone” for aspiring players to make the move on the main tours.
“We were fortunate to get sponsorship from the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre which helped get the idea off the ground and encourage other sponsors. Over the course of our first season we had over 80 different players, including those from England and the Continent, which we found very encouraging.”
You are fully endorsed by the PGA in Scotland and have the backing of former Open champion Paul Lawrie. How important is this support?
NM: “Having the backing of the PGA in Scotland and Paul Lawrie is fantastic for the tour. It helps to raise the profile of ladies golf up and down the country and it gives WPGA players and trainees more events to play in and fulfil their playing requirements.”
How strong a supporter of Scottish golf is Paul Lawrie?
NM: “Paul is doing a lot for Scottish golf. Between the work he is doing with his Foundation and the money he is putting into both men’s and ladies’ Tartan Tours I’m sure it’s only matter of time before we start to see the results across Scottish golf as a whole. I’m surprised he finds time to fit everything in!”
The aim of the tour is to provide Scottish female professionals and leading amateurs a chance to test their skills with the hope of moving onto the big stage. You must be pleased to be playing a key part?
NM: “I’m very pleased to play any part I can in helping to raise the profile of ladies golf, particularly in Scotland. I’ve always felt the men’s game has received more coverage but that is starting to change.”
You mentioned your rules background?
NM: “It’s challenging work as there are so many different scenarios that you can encounter during the course of a tournament, but that also makes it very enjoyable. I hope to be able to gain more experience in this area with a view to it as a future career.”
If you would like to contact Nicola, she can be reached on email at:
If you want to work with the best coaches in the country, contact the PGA or your club professional.