When is a Scratch Cup not a Scratch Cup?

A question for you: when is a Scratch Cup not a Scratch Cup, and why am I asking that? Well it's all got to do with a ruling!

An incident occurred on Saturday in Ballybunion whereby a player competing in the Senior Scratch Cup failed to put his handicap on his card for the afternoon round, having done so in the morning round.

His two-round total was enough to give him a nett prize but he was disqualified and, of course, the ruling was questioned. I hasten to add, not by the player himself, who accepted his disqualification without any problem whatsoever being the sportsman that he is.

However, the bar counter experts were having a field day coming up with all sorts of scenarios including arguments such as "it's a 36-hole event and his handicap was on the card for the first round so that's good enough".

People try to engage me in these type of discussions all the time under the misapprehension that I am some sort of expert on the rules (I readily admit that I am not) but I always try to steer clear.

Anytime I have a question on the rules of golf, for me there's only one man to talk to and that is former GUI official John Molyneux who is, in my opinion, the greatest authority on the rules in this country.

I spoke to John who told me that the committee were 100% correct in disqualifying the player under rule 6.2B, which states: "In any round of a handicap competition, the competitor must ensure that his handicap is recorded on his score card before it is returned to the Committee. If no handicap is recorded on his score card before it is returned (Rule 6-6b), or if the recorded handicap is higher than that to which he is entitled and this affects the number of strokes received, he is disqualified from the handicap competition."

So it's there in black and white and, as John explained, the key word in that rule is "any". So even if the competition was over four rounds and a player had his handicap on the card for three of them, he would still be disqualified for not having his handicap on the fourth card because of the word "any".

However, if the player in question on Saturday had qualified for a Gross Prize then he would not be disqualified as handicaps are not required on the card in a Scratch competition, which as the name suggests is played off scratch. So the only time a Scratch Cup is not a Scratch Cup is where the nett prizes are involved and handicaps are required!