Rule of the Month: Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman (Ladies Too)

By Sr. Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly

To charge a military officer with Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) requires two elements of the offense. First, the accused did or omitted to do certain acts. And second, under the circumstances, the acts or omitted acts constituted conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman. The maximum punishment of a guilty verdict is dismissal from the military service, forfeiture of all pay and possible confinement up to one year or more if the accused is found guilty of additional offenses.

Remarkably, Rule 1.2 Standards of Player Conduct sounds somewhat similar to Article 133. Under this Rule, a player may be disqualified for acting contrary to the spirit of the game if it finds that the player has committed serious misconduct.

Angry Golfer

Depending on the Code of Conduct established by the Committee or Course, the player might be required to forfeit any prize won and may be issued a suspension from playing in future tournaments for a period of time.

Test your knowledge of player conduct and the penalties that may be issued by the Committee with the following questions. Please remember that the Committee in charge of the competition must evaluate each situation to determine the appropriate action. With that said, there are gray areas and one Committee may see the situation differently than another.

Questions:  True / False
  1. In anger after a poor shot, a player slams his club into a nearby tree causing the shaft to bend. He should be disqualified for serious misconduct.
  2. The Committee in charge of the competition or course may establish a Code of Conduct that may prohibit a player from playing in future events.
  3.  At the 3rd hole, a player disagrees with the width of the teeing area and re-positions one of the tee-markers to make the teeing area wider and makes a stroke. The Committee may choose to disqualify the player.
  4. If it is discovered after the competition is closed that a player was guilty of serious misconduct, he or she may not be disqualified.
  5. The Committee in charge of the competition may establish a Local Rule that sets its own standard of player conduct in a Code of Conduct. The Code may include one-stroke penalties or the general penalty as well as disqualification.
  6. All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game. This includes a few housekeeping items, including replacing divots, smoothing bunkers and repairing ball marks on the putting green. A player may be disqualified for failing to do his or her part of the housekeeping.
  7. A player is concerned where the ball will come to rest after being dropped in the relief area. The player drops a ball without the intention of the ball being put into play to test where the ball might come to rest. Since the player had no intention of that ball being in play there is no penalty and the procedure is allowed.
  8. A player is using a handicap that the player has intentionally manipulated with higher scores to gain an advantage in a net competition. The player may be disqualified even if the competition is closed.
  9. Using vulgar or offensive language may get a player disqualified.
  10. No question about it. The examples given above make us all look uncultured and uncivilized. When in fact, quite the opposite is true. The vast majority of golfers play by the spirit of the game by acting with integrity, showing consideration to others and taking good care of the course. However, it only takes one person acting outside of the expected spirit of the game to spoil it for the rest of us. Which is why Rule 1.2 exist. With that said, read Answer #10 for a quick review of expected behavior of all golfers.
  1. False. Rule 1.2a and Interpretation 1.2a/1. While the outward show of frustration in this case is misconduct, it is unlikely to be considered serious. Therefore, there is no penalty and under Rule 4.1a(2) the player may continue to use the club for the remainder of the round.
  2. True. Rule 12.2b.  The Committee may adopt regulations regarding player conduct that would suspend the player’s privilege to play in future events for a period of time.
  3. True. Rule 6.2b(4) and Interpretation 6.2b(4)/1. Generally, when a tee-marker is moved, it must be replaced and there is no penalty. However, in the situation presented, the player disagreed with the Committee’s decision of where the tee-markers should be and may be disqualified for serious misconduct contrary to the spirit of the game. The same ruling would apply to a player who purposely destroyed a tee-marker.
  4. False. Rule 20.2e(2). While this is an unlikely occurrence, the Committee has the authority to disqualify a player under Rule 1.2 for serious misconduct after the competition has closed.
  5. True. Rule 1.2a & b. We recommend that every course and Committee adopt a Code of Conduct to ensure that every golfer understands what is expected of them in terms of behavior. Without a Code of Conduct as a Local Rule, the Committee has no authority to issue any penalties other than disqualification for serious misconduct. Note to Committees: Put it in writing and make sure that every golfer is informed of its existence.
  6. True. Rule 1.2a.  Generally, a player should be warned of his or her failure to act as expected in these situations. However, a Committee has the authority to disqualify a player if it finds that the player’s actions, or lack thereof, constitute serious misconduct.
  7. False. Interpretation 14.4/2. Test drops are not allowed and the action is so contrary to the spirit of the game that the Committee would be justified in disqualifying the player under Rule 1.2 for serious misconduct.
  8. True. Rules 1.2a and 20.2e(2). In this situation, the player has acted contrary to the spirit of the game and should be disqualified for serious misconduct.
  9. True. Rule 1.2a and Interpretation 1.2a/1. While vulgar and offensive language may be considered serious misconduct that could get the player disqualified, the Committee may choose to warn the player that he or she may be disqualified for continued use of offensive language.
  10. See below:
    - Act with integrity by following the Rules, applying all penalties, using an appropriate handicap and being honest in all aspects of play.

    - Show consideration to others by playing at a prompt pace, looking out for the safety of others and not distracting other players.

    - Take good care of the course by replacing divots, smoothing bunkers, repairing ball-marks and not causing unnecessary damage to the course.

    - And don’t forget to read the Code of Conduct Local Rule. Ignorance of the Code of Conduct Local Rule and Rule 1.2 Standards of Player Conduct is never a viable defense.