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WGA Open Tournaments Rules and Guidelines

Section 1 - Introduction to Rules and Guidelines

1.1 - Objective. The objective of the Western Golf Alliance Open is to support the goals of the Club by promoting the game of golf, promoting friendship and comradery, and providing regular opportunities for all members to gather and play golf together.

1.2 - Purpose of Rules. While the Club Bylaws address the purpose and business organization of the WGA, these rules define the policies and guidelines governing scheduling, qualification, play, and scoring during all WGA tournaments. It is our intent to have rules that reinforce of FUN and FRIENDSHIP of golf (something the Rules of Golf are not intended to accomplish) while still ensuring fair play (which the Rules of Golf often fail to accomplish). As a result, where these rules may diverge from the rules of golf, the Board of Directors has determined that advancing friendship, fun, and comradery is more valuable, and that the stated variations promote fairness, enjoyment, and competition.

Section 2 - Rules of Play

Introduction to WGA Rules of Play. Even though we like to compete with each other, it is the intent of this Club to foster enjoyment of golf as well. It would be great if we could depend upon the USGA Rules of Golf to accomplish of these goals. However, it has become clear that the Rules of Golf fail to align to common sense, create contradictions that are meaningless to the outcome of play, and often run opposed to the actual intent of the game. Also, there are times when playing "ready golf" on a public course conflicts with some rules. In this same spirit, the Golf Channel even promoted a set of rules exceptions for amateur golfers intended to "keep golf more fun". Therefore, because we do want to BOTH "keep it fun" and "keep it fair", the Club adopts the following rules for the Western Golf Alliance Open.

2.1 - External Parties. Rounds played by the Western Golf Alliance are managed, controled, and officiated by WGA members. All decisions, conversations, and rules are internal to the WGA, and are final. While our members seek to comply with the Rules of Golf, local rules, and our club rules, no input, ruling, decision, or judgment from any individual, committee, or club - provided before, during, or after a round - will be received or acknowledged. This includes any digital evidence of anything. (Call this the "Lexi Thompson rule")

2.2 - Mulligans. Mulligans are allowed on a limited basis only following specific conditions.

2.2.1 - Frequency. We will have two options decided by the Competition Committee before play begins. Either a) Everyone gets one Milligan per round; or b) Everyone gets one Mulligan for every 9 holes. Mulligans are on a "use it or lose it" basis - if you don't use your Mulligan, you don't get to save it for later.

2.2.2 - Situation. No matter the frequency, Mulligans can only be used for a tee shot hit on Par 4s or Par 5s. A player cannot use a Mulligan on any other shot.

2.2.3 - Official Declaration and Use. A player must declare they are using their Mulligan before they hit it. Once the player declares they are using their Mulligan, they are deemed to have used it. If they fail to declare a second drive as a Mulligan, it is considered a "provisional" ball under the Rules of Golf, and the player cannot later declare that shot to be their Mulligan. If a player hits a Mulligan, they have the choice of playing either their original drive or their Mulligan, but again they have used their Mulligan either way. (Exception: If the player declares their Mulligan on the 9th or 18th holes, the player MUST play their Mulligan.)

2.3 - Gimmies. No player is ever obligated to concede any putt to any other player at any time. However, any player may concede putts up to 36 inches to another player as their conscious and courtesy allows. If any one player concedes the putt, the putt is conceded without input from other players. No putt longer than 36 inches should be conceded.

2.4 - Maximum Scores. Explicitly to ensure no player can be eliminated from the fun and entertainment of competing due to one bad hole, before play begins the Competition Committee will establish a "max score" policy that will apply to all holes throughout the tournament. That max score WILL be one of the following three choices: a) double the par; b) quadruple bogie; or c) 9. (Call this the "John Daly rule") (Note: As a result, we will also have a maximum course handicap of 36, regardless of a player's USGA Index.)

2.5 - Addressing Rule 18. The greatest golf teacher in history called OB "the strangest penality" in all of golf due to the "and distance" portion of the ruling. While other rules allow players to make certain assumptions under a "near certainty" clause, this rule - which applies to lost balls and OB but effectively entails the ball leaving your line of site - effectively doubles or triples the punishment. Since poorly hit shots do still require a consistent penalty, the following rules augment Rule 18. (Call this this "Harvey Penick rule")

2.5.1 - Model Local Rule E-5. The USGA has published a model local rule we will always apply regardless of the local course rules. If a ball is deemed OB, instead of stroke and distance with one stroke penalty, the player may a) identify a point approximately where the ball crossed the OB boundary, b) identify a point two club lengths within the fairway the same distance from the pin, and c) drop anywhere they like between those two points ... all with a two stroke penalty.

2.5.2 - Lost Ball that Should Have Been Findable. If a ball is lost but it seems obvious to the player and their competitors that that ball should have beeen findable, the player may liberally assume that an abnormal course condition has restricted their ability to find the ball and proceed following Rule 16.1(e), Relief for Your Ball Not Found but in or on Abnormal Course Condition. The player will determine the place with "near certainty" where the ball should be, identify the point of relief, and drop there, without penalty.

2.6 - Improving Lies. Amateur golfers playing on public courses often fail to properly repair course damage to the standard of excellence and fairness the groundskeepers intended. (And in some cases, public course groundkeepers aren't all the best, either.) Regardless of any published local rule, our club chooses to declare ALL such substandard conditions as abnormal course conditions and adopts Rule 16.1(b), meaning the ball may be lifted, cleaned, and dropped one club length no nearer the hole without penalty. (Call this the "Payne Stewart rule")

2.7 - Unplayable Lies. If a player declares an unplayable lie, in addition to the three options available under USGA Rule 19 (return to prior spot, go backwards an unlimited distance with the spot between the drop and the hole, two clublength drop, all with one stroke penalty), the player has one addition option. The player may lift, move, and place the ball in any closely mown area, no nearer the hole, incurring a TWO stroke penalty. (Call this the "Kevin Na rule")

2.8 - Avoiding Equipment Damage. As amateurs, we do not have unlimited money or access to equipment to replace damaged clubs. If at any time a ball is in a situation so that the player, taking a normal and reasonable stance and swing, could damage their club or injure themselves (due to rocks, roots, immovable objects, etc.), the ball may be lifted, moved, and placed without penalty, to a location that approximates the same challenge as the original location but without the danger.

2.8.1 - Exception 1, Unplayable Lies. This rule does NOT allow a ball to be moved due to an unplayable lie which the player would not normally attempt to play, such as the ball stymied against a tree, inaccessible under a bush, etc. Such situations remain governed by Rule 2.7.

2.8.2 - Exception 2, Waste Areas. If the ball comes to rest in an area that is part of the indended nature of the golf course without an exceptional rock, root, etc., the player is NOT entitled to free relief, as this is the intended nature of the golf course. The player may be eligible for relief following an applicable local rule, or may follow Rule 2.7. (Such conditions would typically involve desert areas or waste-area style hazards that are unkept by design.)

2.9 - Inadvertent Minor Infractions. Use common sense! If a player ... accidentally brushes a grain of sand during their takeaway, has a ball oscillate while putting, has the ball move when trying to figure out their stance in the rough, mismarks a ball by the diameter of a dime, etc. ... it's not a penalty. Don't be "that guy". (Call this the "every-completely-moronic-ruling-ever-by-the-USGA-R&A-PGA-LPGA rule")

2.10 - Wrong Scorecard. Don't be stupid!! If a scorecard is added up wrong, we fix it. There is no penalty or disqualification. It's a golf competition, not a math olympiad. Sheesh.

2.11 - Really Ugly Golf Equipment. It's a shame we even have to address this ...

2.12 - Other Local Rules. At all other times, unless superseded by these club rules, members should comply with the local rules at the course being played. We still support this great game of golf, and we are still competing in a sport of skill.

Section 3 - Open Location and Scoring

Open Significance. The biennial Western Golf Alliance Open is the principle golf event of the Club. It is highly desirable that members make a good faith effort to attend the Western Golf Alliance Open. In other words - be there, or you'll regret the decision for the rest of your natural life, and maybe longer.

3.1 - Geographic Location. The geographic location for the Western Golf Alliance Open will be discussed by the Club membership and established by the Competition Committee, with an interest in maintaining geographic fairness. Reasonable attempts will be made to avoid anyone having to travel over 1,000 miles for back-to-back events.

3.2 - Golf Course Selection. The Competition Committee will attempt to select golf courses for play that are famous, historically significant, highly rated, and/or exhibit attributes that showcase the unique golf characteristics and challenges of the region. The Competition Committee may solicit opinions and feedback from any person, organization, or other source - internal or external to the Club - in identifying and selecting such courses. The Competition Committee does NOT require approval of the Club membership, officers, or Directors regarding final course selection ... but of course, they may ask if they wish, as building consensus will improve attendance.

3.3 - Course and Tee Characteristics. To the extent possible, the courses and specific tees selected for tournament play will conform to the following guidelines, with the understanding that famous and highly rated courses will be challenging and should be both enjoyable to play and fully experienced: Slope of 120-135; Yardage of 6,000-6,550.

3.4 - Open Scoring. Scoring for the purpose of identifying the Western Golf Alliance Open standings will be based on NET scores incurred during either stoke or match play. In stroke play, the champion of the Western Golf Alliance Open will be the individual with the lowest cumulative NET score for all holes played during the tournament. In match play, the champion will be the individual who wins the championship match.

3.5 - Handicaps. For the Western Golf Alliance Open, the WGA Handicap Committee determines each member's index and course handicaps 10 days before the Western Golf Alliance Open. Indexes and course handicaps will not be recalculated after that date or as the tournament weekend progresses. Indexes and course handicaps for all Open participants will be posted by the Handicap Committee for all members to review. At its sole discretion, the Handicap Committee may post preliminary indexes for members at earlier dates for informational purposes only. As noted in Rule 2.4, the maximum course handicap for any player is 36, regardless of their USGA index.

3.6 - Handicap Protests and Adjustments. Only a player participating in the Western Golf Alliance Open may initiate a protest of another player's handicap. Such protests should be submitted in writing to the Handicap Committee, with supporting information regarding the error or inaccuracy of the handicap in question. Upon review, the Handicap Committee may take one of three actions:

a) Deny the protest.
b) Adjust the handicap in question, as recommended and allowed by the USGA handicap guidelines.
c) Determine an adjustment, but suspend enforcement until the completion of the first round of the Western Golf Alliance Open, and then deciding if the adjustment will be enforcement for all rounds, or if the protest will be denied.

3.7 - Scores for Missed Holes and Rounds. A player may sit out one round of the WGA Open, provided it is not the final round. If a player misses an entire round, they will receive a score of NET 6-over for the purposes of determining their WGA Open standing, however they will not be eligible to win the championship. If during the course of the WGA Open a player is compelled to forego or cease playing a hole, they will receive the "max score" for that hole as defined in Rule 2.4.

3.8 - Ties. In the event two or more members tie for for the championship, if one of the members is the defending champion, then in the interest of sharing the championship title that individual shall yield the title to the challenger. If two or more other members remain tied, the tiebreaker criteria will be as recommended by the USGA Rules of Golf for "matching scorecards" as follows:

1) Best NET score during the first and last rounds of the tournament.
2) Best NET score during the last 9 holes of the tournament.
3) Best NET score during the last 6 holes of the tournament.
4) Best NET score during the last 3 holes of the tournament.
5) Best NET score on the final hole of the tournament.
6) Low cumulative GROSS score during the entire tournament.

If this method fails to produce a winner (and ... is that even possible?), the individuals that remain tied will compete in a nine hole head-to-head putting competition on the practice green of the final course, fewest total putts wins, alternating who designates the hole to be played. If the individuals remain tied after nine putting holes, they will continue in a sudden death putting competition, with the membership in attendance designating the hole to be played.

Section 4 - Open Awards

4.1 - Championship Trophy. The winner of the Western Golf Alliance Open will be awarded the glorious Coveted Pewter Mug. The Coveted Pewter Mug is a traveling trophy, that will be subsequently awarded to the winner of the next Open. The champion has the honor of engraving the Coveted Pewter Mug with his name, the year, the location, and a commemorative statement about that year's Open.

4.2 - Honorary Title. The winner of the Western Golf Alliance Open will receive the honorary title "Alpha Male Golf Champion".

4.3 - Items of Honor and Shame.  During the Western Golf Alliance Open, certain items may be issued to designate the status of certain participants. Such items may include, but are not limited to, a hat of honor designating the defending champion or current leader, and a hat of shame to designate the current last-place participant or some other person, based on whatever criteria has been established by the Competition Committee. Other items - such as a skirt for someone with a terrible drive - may be established as deemed appropriate and humorous by the Competition Committee.

4.4 - Additional Competitions and Prizes. At the discretion of the Competition Committee, winners and prizes may or may not be identified for individual NET low rounds, or other categories (e.g., closest to the pin). Scoring criteria and awards for such competitions are separate from the overall tournament, and will be announced by the Competition Committee during the semi-annual meeting.

Keeping It Long and Straight Since 2002