• Alistair Tait

Seeking Acronym For Frittelli Farce

Updated: Apr 21


It took me a while to pluck up the courage to ask what the letters SMH stood for. My nephew was sending them so often in WhatsApp conversations about sports that I finally had to ask. Even if it meant my offspring STHs at me for being so out of touch. Yet again!


Younger readers will know SMH is the acronym for “shaking my head.”


That’s what I was doing, and no doubt many other golf fans, when I discovered the bizarre ruling that denied Dylan Frittelli an outstanding par during the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head.


Sometimes the rules of golf defy belief. This is one of those times. In fact, Frittelli’s ruling is arguably worthy of a more Anglo Saxon acronym, another three-letter short form that starts with “W” and ends with “F.”


Fritelli appeared to make a fantastic par save on the sixth hole during the final round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town. The South African pulled his tee shot and thought his ball came to rest in a waste bunker. It didn’t; it got hung up in Spanish moss dangling from a tree.


The former University of Texas player manufactured a swing to get the ball onto the fairway. He hit his next shot to 10 feet, and holed the putt to make a fabulous par. Imagine how he’d have dined out on that par save, and how bored his grandkids would have been whenever they heard Grandpa Dylan utters the words:

“Did I ever tell you how I saved par from a tree?”

Instead, Frittelli has a story to tell that once again shows just how farcical the Rules of Golf can be.


Unfortunately, when Frittelli stood to play his second shot, his feet were straddling the line of play. His stance violated Rule 10.1c, Making Stroke While Standing Across or on Line of Play,which reads:

“The player must not make a stroke from a stance with a foot deliberately placed on each side of, or with either foot deliberately touching, the line of play or an extension of that line behind the ball.”

Sure enough, once PGA Tour officials became aware of Frittelli’s actions, his brilliant par turned into a crushing double bogey.

To be fair, Frittelli he didn’t make a big fuss about the ruling as some players would’ve done.

A version of Rule 10.1c has been in the laws of the game since 1968. The R&A and USGA amended the rules to stop players emulating Sam Snead. He used a croquet-style putting stroke, with “The Slammer” standing astride his line. That action led to an insertion in the game’s codes that banned putting from “a stance astride, or with either foot touching” the line of the putt.


Fair enough, but was it meant for other shots? Maybe not, which seems to make a nonsense of the Frittelli ruling.


Technically the PGA Tour got it right, but was it in the spirit of the game? Surely one of the challenges of golf is to be creative, to imagine shots that give the best chance of making the lowest score possible? Frittelli showed great ingenuity in extracting himself from a bizarre situation to make an all-time par, but has been hammered for it.


What do you think? Is Frittelli’s ruling forgivable, or a bit of a farce that calls for a questioning three-letter acronym that begins with “S” or “W?”


#JustSaying: “Golf is a game of the people. It is played by the common man as a sport and a relaxation from the worries of life rather than used as an exhibition for onlookers, to which it is not suited.” Robert Harris, the 1925 Amateur champion and former long-time member of the R&A Rules of Golf Committee

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