Why have a countback?

In my opinion the countback system to determine a winner in golf is very strange and most unfair.
Why? Because it is the only sport in the world that determines a winner by the equivalent of tossing a coin.
Two, three or more golfers finish on 36 stableford points but the winner is decided by who gets the most points on the back nine. Why? They played equally good golf and thus should be equally rewarded.
Imagine if Tiger Woods returns home and his wife/girlfriend asks “Darling, how did you go in the Masters today?” … “Oh, I played great,” he says, “but I lost on a countback. But hey, that’s golf.”
What if two horses are in a dead heat to win the Melbourne Cup, and the trainers are called together by the stewards and told that the winner was the horse that ran the fastest second half of the race? Or what if two teams are tied when the siren sounds in the AFL Grand Final, and the AFL decides that the team that kicked the highest score in the second half wins the flag?
These scenarios are the equivalent of determining a golf comp by the countback process.
I am unaware of any other sport that decides a result on the equivalent of a coin toss. Cricket, Soccer, Rugby, Baseball, Gridiron (and on and on) all either play off to determine a winner, or declare a draw (and thus split the prize/points).
I believe that most members play for the self satisfaction and kudos that result in triumphing over their foes and mates rather than the small cash amount allocated for winning. I would personally like to see a club get on the front foot and show the way to other golf clubs in the interest of fair play.
I think it would be appropriate to put a question to the members along the lines of: “If you tied for first in a club comp (Club Championship excepted, which would be played off) would you prefer the result be determined via the countback process or would you prefer to be declared an equal winner?”
Imagine the angst if the Club Champion was decided by countback!
Bruce Ferrall


A closed US Open

Once again those of us who cannot afford or refuse to pay for Foxtel were deprived of seeing this year’s US Open. We have the world number one golfer and many other good Australian golfers playing in one of the world’s best competitions yet we’re not be able to watch it. Instead we have to put up with repeats of repeats of the usual rubbish from the states. No wonder TV stations are laying off staff and reducing the number of programmes.
Stuart Watkins


Escaping bunkers

With the inclusion of all levels of talent, age, and disability, golf is able to played by all.
I myself have severe osteoarthritis and need a cart to play a reasonable game off 13 handicap.
My problem is bunker accessibility. Hitting a ball out of a bunker is no drama for me, it’s getting me in and out of traps that have no access points which costs me strokes. In matchplay, I have been known to concede a hole simply because a bunker was impossible for me to exit… that is if I could enter it in the first place!
I also see the elderly risking life and limb when they find themselves in a bunker. I am not advocating the removal of bunkers—they are an integral part of our game—however surely course supers/greens committees should be mindful of their membership and visitors and without damaging the integrity of their course traps, make access points at the lowest spot while keeping any difficulty, which I personally enjoy, still there. After all, there must be some penalty for finding yourself in one, but there should not be a penalty for physically not being able to remove yourself from it.
Sue Hazell


An Owlbatross?

The golf club at Charlestown, NSW, has the third hole as a Par-5 with a protected nature area to the left side well before you reach the fairway. From the tee this is reachable only with a fierce duck-hook travelling a very short distance.
One of our members in a recent Saturday comp scored a fair dinkum OWLBATROSS with his tee shoot by bringing down to ground a native owl by waking it up from its slumber in the trees.
Mr. Owl was looked after by other members of the group and after making sure it was not seriously injured, he was released back in that nature area.
We are not sure if Mr. Owl will want to change his place of residence, but our club member is most welcome to try and score a proper Albatross in the future. In the meantime we hope he is the only one to score an Owlbatross.
Teji Khaira


In and out…and in the hole

I was hoping for a bit of clarification on a rule. I was playing at my local course on the weekend. I had a tap-in putt on the first hole. After making the putt, as I bent down to retrieve my ball from the hole, it bounced out off the bottom of the cup and landed about 100mm from the hole again. So I putted it in again and took that score, but obviously had us talking for the next 17 holes about whether or not it should count, as it went in the hole on the first putt.

Lee Smith

Dear Lee
According to the Rule Book: A ball is “holed” when it is at rest within the circumference of the hole and all of it is below the level of the lip of the hole.
Since your ball wasn’t “at rest” before bouncing out (as far as we can tell from the letter), it wasn’t considered “holed” in the first putt.

A similar thing recently happened to Padraig Harrington. His approach (for eagle) went in the hole, then bounced out. Unlucky!

Watch the Video here:


About Richard Fellner

A four-time winner of the Australian Golf Media Awards, including Best Photojournalism, Best Opinion, Best Column and Best Photographic Presentation, Inside Golf Group Editor Richard Fellner is the quintessential Golf Tragic, having played the game for over 50 years (but has never gotten any better!) He has played and reviewed courses all over the world, and has interviewed many of the great players of the game (including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Greg Norman). Richard is a member of both the Australian Golf Media Association and the Golf Society of Australia, and has been a featured guest on many Australian "sports talk" radio shows and networks, including ABC Grandstand, SEN 1116, Melbourne Talk Radio 1377, 2GB and others. Follow Richard Fellner on Quora


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