Rules to Play By Men vs Women

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Editor's note: Ray Herzog, a rules expert from the San Diego Golf Academy in Orlando, Fla., will be presiding over cases presented by you the reader. Please submit your on-course dispute and let Rules Judge Ray settle it.
 
Case presented by Alan:
 
In a friendly match with my friend of 50 years a dispute came up that my friend refuses to acknowledge that he is wrong. We are both chipping to a green. He first from 100 feet, me from 50 feet. He chips to about 2 feet, and then slowly picks up his clubs and starts walking to mark his ball. After 10 seconds I am about to chip and (he) says stop - he wants to mark his ball and does. The dispute is he insists that if I chipped before he had said anything I would had been disqualified/or lost the hole because he was walking and intended to mark his ball. I say the rules are clear that if he says nothing I can go ahead and chip. I say that if I wait for his ball to stop and give him 5 seconds to say something then I am able to chip. He insists that a reasonable amount of time is 30 seconds, the time it would take him to walk to his ball.
 
Alan,
 
I have to agree with you on this one. Rule 22-1 deals with a ball assisting play. It states, except when a ball is in motion, if a player considers that a ball might assist any other player, he may:
 
a) lift the ball if it is his ball, or
b) have any other ball lifted.
 
I read the rule quite a few times and it never mentioned a time frame when he could make a request to mark his ball. By you waiting 10 seconds, that is more than enough time for him to make a request. If you would have hit your shot, there is no way to penalize you. On the other hand, if you would have hit your shot after his request to mark, then that would have been an infraction and a loss-of-hole penalty. I hope this does not affect your 50-year friendship, but you are absolutely correct and your friend is absolutely wrong.
-- Ray
 
Bonus question from Lance Yorita
 
I run a golf club and every year we hold a mixed match play tournament (16 man/woman field -- we have 25 men and only 4 women members). In accordance with the recommended handicapping (per the USGA Rules of Golf), we handicap the matches at the full difference in handicaps. Now, when a man(20 handicap) plays a women(12 handicap) how do we stroke the holes? Off the man's eight hardest holes or the ladies?
 
Lance,
 
The idea of handicaps is to enable golfers of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis. In stroke play it is easy, you just subtract the handicaps at the end of the round. The lower net score wins. In match play it is a little more difficult. We have to apply the difference in course handicaps (8) to the appropriate holes. When men and women are playing a match, you dot the card according to the higher handicap. In your example, the man is getting 8 shots so he would receive strokes on his eight hardest holes. If the woman is getting strokes, she would receive strokes on her hardest holes. The USGA has put their Handicap Manual online. If you ever have a question you can go to USGA.org and click on handicapping, the online manual is a click away.
-- Ray
 
Email your on-course rules dispute to Rules Judge Ray