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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hampstead golfer Lauren Thibodeau learns that rules are rules

There is no grounding of a club in the hazard. It’s a pretty simple, straight-forward rule, but mistakes are made every now and then regardless.

Hampstead 14-year-old Lauren Thibodeau and her caddie, Eric Wragg, dealt with it firsthand on Tuesday at Windham Country Club. ...

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There is no grounding of a club in the hazard. It’s a pretty simple, straight-forward rule, but mistakes are made every now and then regardless.

Hampstead 14-year-old Lauren Thibodeau and her caddie, Eric Wragg, dealt with it firsthand on Tuesday at Windham Country Club.

After finishing Day One of the New Hampshire Women’s Golf Association’s State Am with a 1-over 73 for a first-place tie with eventual champion Dana Harrity, Thibodeau dropped to seventh after the second round – shooting a 16-over 88.

It was a rough round of golf for the incoming Pinkerton Academy freshman. A round that included a 12 on the par-5 fifth hole and a nine on the par-4 10th.

The nine on 10 included a two-stroke penalty for her caddie grounding a club in a hazard.

Wragg uses a technique of stepping on the club face to predict what the trajectory of the ball will be after contact.

Not sure of being in a hazard due to the angle of red markers, Wragg thought he would avoid the chance of penalty if in a hazard by placing his hand under the club face to prevent the actual club from hitting the ground. Two holes later, Thibodeau was informed that she was in fact being assessed a two-stroke penalty.

Over at Green Meadow Golf Club in Hudson, New Hampshire Golf Association Tournament Director John Jelley said the penalty was assessed properly.

Jelley, a golf rules aficionado, was overseeing the NHGA Stroke Play Championship when asked about the situation.

“They most definitely got that ruling correct,” Jelley said. “You cannot ground a club in the hazard. You can’t put your hand on the ground in a hazard. Technically, if that area was deemed a hazard, he did both.”

The penalty was called in accordance with Rule 13-4b

“13-4. Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions.

Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:

a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;

b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club; or

c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.”

So whether Wragg’s hand was under the club face or not, with the area of play deemed a hazard by NHWGA officials, the two-stroke penalty was the correct call.

Always stressing the importance of being up on the rules of the game, Jelley admits that even he doesn’t know every subsection of every rule. But like the golfers he works with over the summer, he is continually re-reading his rule book and keeping updated on any changes as much as possible.

After this week, Jelley’s spring rules seminar – already a standing-room only event – may have a few more golfers in attendance next year.

Comfort zone

Dana Harrity started strong and finished stronger on her way to a record 16th NHWGA State Am title.

A skilled golfer, the 55-year-old North Hampton resident thinks there’s a little more to her success than just the talent oozing from every pore. When asked what that extra advantage is, the Abenaqui Country Club member points to her golf bag. More specifically the contents of that bag.

“My equipment fits me to a T right now,” said Harrity just two days prior to the start of the State Am at Windham Country Club. “I’ve had a close relationship with PING for a long time, and my equipment is just absolutely perfect for me.”

Her set of clubs isn’t a starter set off the sports store rack, that’s for sure. Fourteen clubs in the bag and all are modified to certain specs.

She rattled off her favorite tools: “My I25 driver has 10 degrees of loft and a regular shaft; my G25 fairway 4 and 7 woods have a regular shaft; my 31 degree hybrid replaces my 6 iron and two more hybrids take the 4 and 5 out of the bag – those all have senior shafts; and my 7 iron has a senior steel shaft.”

While the regular shafts are stiffer, those senior shafts are more flexible, which gives her more height. Something she admits her game was lacking at times.

“I’ve always hit very thin and low,” Harrity said. “That flexibility helps me a lot.”

Quite a mix of instruments that she takes on the golf course to get the job done.

“It’s a weird set of clubs,” she said, “but a set that is perfect for me. Driver, woods, irons, wedges, putter – it’s just a really good combination.”

The Local Golf Journal is a regular feature in The Telegraph. To discuss a potential journal topic or to report charity tournaments and aces, contact George Scione at 594-6520 or gscione@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Scione on Twitter (@Telegraph_BigG).