Saturday 21st July - Ruling of the Day
Although the fierce reputation of Carnoustie tends to be most closely associated with the nerve testing final stretch entwined with the Barry burn, the traditional links also offers up some lesser known quirks throughout the round. One prime example of this is the combined 4th and 14th greens at Carnoustie, a double green on the course measuring nearly 80 yards long.
When playing the 4th hole during the 3rd round, Thomas Pieters found himself on the back portion of the green a considerable distance away from the 4th pin. As it is a double green, he was not considered to be on a wrong putting green and was not entitled to relief. It is worth noting that the Committee could define the green into two separate greens if they wanted by using paint dots, stakes or some other method (see Decision 25-3/1), however, the large double green at Carnoustie is one of the features of the course and so is treated as one green.
Being that he was so far from the hole, Pieters decided that he wanted to chip the ball rather than putt and asked the referee if he would be allowed to use a club other than a putter. There is nothing in the Rules of Golf that requires a player to use a putter on the green, and as he was ‘fairly striking at the ball with the head of a club’ (Rule 14-1a), the referee confirmed that the player was permitted to use an iron to chip the ball. The player was also made aware that although he was chipping the ball, he would still need to have the flagstick attended to avoid any potential penalty should he hole out, as the rules simply state that ‘the player’s ball must not strike the flagstick in the hole, unattended, when the stroke has been made on the putting green’ (Rule 17-3).
With a level of precision that would be the envy of most golfers, Pieters was able to play the shot skilfully without damaging the putting green, and while there would have been no penalty if he had damaged the green, he would certainly not have been a popular person with the green-staff had he done so.