The Illegal "Saucer-shot"
By Torleif Sorenson on 5/6/13
Earlier today, Nathan posted video of Sergio Garcia's impressive "chip-putt". While chipping on the green is legal, Golf Canada rules committee chair Dale Jackson told the Vancouver Sun that James Lepp's "saucer shot" is not. Citing Rule 14-1, Jackson says that his counterparts from the USGA and the R&A consider it non-conforming because Lepp "scrapes" (drags) the club along the ground.

Lepp, who won the 2005 NCAA Division I individual championship, used the hockey-inspired "saucer shot" on several episodes of "Big Break" on Golf Channel in 2012. Still, it's interesting to watch — and one wonders whether the shot would be legal if Lepp did not drag the clubhead along the ground just before impact. Would the R&A and USGA go after him again for his split grip on the shaft?




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[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
The article he's not going to comment until he gets an explanation -- IMO, there's really no explanation needed. Rule 14-1 says it shall not be spooned or scraped. It's clearly a scrape motion. Really puts a damper on the last Big Break, since he won multiple challenges using an illegal shot - but much like Tiger Wood's recent penalty debacle , if the committee says it's OK at the time then it's OK.
5/6/13
 
Duke of Hazards says:
@Birdie, I'm not sure it's that clear. the rule states that the ball must be 'fairly struck.... and not be scraped or spooned'.... I feel that the spirit of the rule is to limit contact time between the implement (clubhead) and the ball so as to avoid unfair maneuvering of the ball while in contact with the clubface. James Lepp doesn't scrape the ball, he hits the ball after his club scrapes the ground. The ball's contact time with the clubface is no more than a conventional chipping stroke. I think that if he put the club immediately behind the ball and scraped the ground, with the ball 'riding' the club face whilst the scraping motion continued, that it would meet the circumstances of 'scraping' the ball as the rule was intended to define and prohibit.
5/6/13
 
jrbizzle says:
I feel the same way as I do about anchor putting. Golf involves swinging the club. Not scraping, not sweeping, not levering. Swinging, from the shoulders down.
5/6/13
 
birdieXris says:
@duke, i think the scraping mentioned in the rule is talking about striking while scraping. In the spirit of the rules using the ground as a rail to deliver the club into the ball without taking a divot is what they're talking about. Very much like what he does. Spooning (stop giggling) is the motion you're thinking about with scraping where the ball is in constant contact for longer than the fraction to hit the ball, or curling it up and throwing it on the green with the clubface. I think i'm on the fence about it. It seems hard enough to do and you're going to get a lot of sand/dew/dirt between the face and the ball but it can be perfected as we've seen and it's very repeatable.
5/6/13
 
Duke of Hazards says:
that's the issue with rules interpretations when there's so little information. the way I read the rule, it's one or the other, A or B. a ball is either struck (A) or it's not struck (B). one is acute and brief (A) and one is prolonged and manipulative (B). examples of B include spooning, scraping, pushing, all of which (again, the way I read the rule) are occurring to the ball while the club is in contact with it. there is no mention of activity prior to contact. the way I look at it, whatever happens before Mr. Lepp's club makes contact with the ball is irrelevant as it relates to this specific rule and at the exact moment of contact, his strike on the ball is identical to a conventional chipping strike/hit and does not violate rule 14-1. now, if they want to add additional verbage to that rule stating that the delivery method of the club prior to the moment of contact must not involve scraping of the ground, that's another (once more, in my opinion) issue completely.
5/6/13
 
birdieXris says:
Good call there. I think that needs to be a decision if they're going to call it that way. Like i said, i didn't have issue with it when he was doing it, but then again, i didn't really think about that rule because it's not something i do. I suppose in these times we have now, every rule is going to be under the microscope.
5/6/13
 
Agustin says:
I tend to agree with Duke of Hazards on this one... for whatever that's worth. Probably no that much. LOL
5/6/13
 
Duke of Hazards says:
And to be clear, I'm not rendering an opinion on whether or not his using the ground 'as a rail' to deliver the clubhead into the ball is or is not 'legitimate' or in accordance with the 'spirit of golf', simply that rule 14-1 in its one sentence brevity appears never to have been intended by its authors to address what happens prior to contact.

In my view, both Lepp's saucer pass and the anchored putting stroke are kindred examples of humans coming up with a (possibly?) 'better method' to get the ball in the hole by squeezing into the empty spaces of a porous rule book. It's interesting to watch the processes in motion on whether the ruling bodies and organizations choose to keep a traditionalist stranglehold on the sport by filling in those spaces with more rules or allow it to evolve organically through human invention. I have my predictions.
5/6/13
 
falcon50driver says:
If you read a NASCAR or NHRA rule book it'll give you ideas on how to cheat that you might not ordinarily think about. Probably the same with a golf rule book.
5/6/13
 
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