Ask Smitty: Craig Smith answers your golf questions
Longtime golfer and golf writer Craig Smith answers technical, logistical and totally random questions about the game.
Special to The Seattle Times
Q: Do you believe the hype that next year’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay will be the most famous and important sporting event in Northwest history?
A: You bet I do. It’s a world event. It trumps the three NCAA Final Fours played in the Kingdome and leaves any all-star game in the dust. The 1998 PGA Championship at Sahalee was a major event, but the PGA Championship is the least prestigious of golf’s four majors.
Q: Are there any par-6 holes in the state?
A: No. Tom Cade of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association says the closest one is the ninth hole at the Links Golf Club in Post Falls, Idaho, when played from the tips at 777 yards. From other tees, such as the whites at 600 yards, the hole is a par-5.
Q: What happens if my ball lands in a puddle in a sand bunker?
A: According to Scotty Crouthamel, senior director of rules and competition for the Washington State Golf Association, if a ball lands in a puddle in a bunker, a player is entitled to relief or maximum available relief for casual water. The ball must be dropped in the bunker and no closer to the hole. If there is nowhere in the bunker to drop the ball, it may be dropped outside the bunker, but there is a one-stroke penalty.
Q: What do you think is the dumbest rule in golf?
A: That you don’t get relief if your ball winds up in a divot. In many situations, you are being penalized — by having to hit from a terrible lie — for having hit a good shot that landed and stayed on the fairway. And doesn’t it seem weird that a divot filled with divot mix doesn’t qualify as “ground under repair?”
What was one of golf’s silliest rules has been changed. It used to be that if the wind moved your ball, and your club was near the ball or you were addressing the shot, it counted as a stroke. An exception to the rule has been added that exonerates the player from penalty when it is known or virtually certain that he did not cause the ball to move.
Q: If my son or daughter wants to play college golf, what do they need to show?
A: Competitive success. A low handicap index is essential, but as UW women’s coach Mary Lou Mulflur put it, “Anyone can shoot a good score Sunday afternoon playing with their friends.”
Coaches want to see how prospect do in tournaments. State high-school tournaments are about the only scholastic events that make the cut because summer tournaments and junior-circuit tournaments, such as those of the American Junior Golf Association, have stronger fields.
Coaches want to see improvement, athleticism, ability to handle adversity and academic skill.
Most men on the top Division I NCAA college golf teams were scratch players or better in high school, and most women at that level shot in the 70s. The scoring averages are lower for mid-level Division I schools and Division II.
At the Division III level, there are many programs where men averaged in the 80s in high school and women were in the 90s.
Craig Smith was the longtime golf writer for The Seattle Times and is now a freelancer