Your Questions Answered

On a recent golf trip, the airline broke one of my clubs. On the flight back, they broke one of my wife’s clubs. The airline’s response: we are not responsible for anything that happens to oversize bags. What can golfers do to get compensation when this happens?

The dreaded double-breaker! Before flying, it’s worth taking a moment to read the airline’s “conditions of carriage” on its website. Some do exclude payment for damage to oversize luggage, as yours did. Many will cover broken clubs, but only if they’re in a hard case. Lawyer Jeff Ment, who specialises in travel issues, suggests insuring your clubs if you’re concerned about it. You’ll pay about $5 per $100 of coverage, up to $5,000. Do you have any recourse if the airline says it’s not paying? Small-claims court is one option. Ment recommends becoming a squeaky wheel, with phone calls and e-mails and complaints on social media. “Airlines have become far more responsive to consumer complaints,” he says. “The last thing they want is you bashing them on Twitter for breaking your clubs.”

With tour pros being so anal about putting surfaces, why do they shake hands after the round while gathering around the cup? This drives me crazy.

Nothing to get too worked up about. Foot traffic on a green during final handshakes adds no more compaction than the entire field of players and their caddies over the previous hours. Greens for professional tournaments are so firm that it’s nearly impossible to see even faint footprints in the surface. It’s true that a few pros still use metal spikes, but if the green is dry and firm – as it is for most professional events – these spikes should not pull up any blades of grass. Even if they did, given the new rule that spike marks can be repaired, it seems the chance of harm to subsequent golfers is low.

I keep wondering why tour caddies, almost to a man, continue to wear shorts when the weather is cold, windy and wet? Is it a macho caddie thing?

They do it in part, we believe, to show off those great calves. But veteran looper Kip Henley – currently working for the US PGA Tour’s Austin Cook – says there’s more to it than that: “Caddies pack light. We want to avoid baggage fees and enjoy convenience when checking in and out of hotels. And a player’s bag with his extra gear is already heavy as hell. We follow the sun, so there are only two places on earth that every caddie will have rain and cold gear: Pebble Beach and The Open. A side note to all of this is Padraig Harrington’s brother-in-law and caddie, Ronan Flood. If you ever see him in a pair of pants, he’ll be lying in a casket. He’s Irish, and they take pride in freezing their arses off.

A friend plays both right and left-handed using the same handicap. Should he have a different handicap for each side?

He may, according to Golf Australia’s policy, although with a caveat. “Although the matter is not covered under the GA Handicap System, it would be reasonable for a club to allocate to a member who already has a GA Handicap for one hand, a Club Handicap for the other hand. The GA Handicap must be the lower of the two handicaps.  Any decision to allocate such a handicap is entirely at the discretion of the club.”

Is there any penalty if a player putts from two to three inches away with the flagstick still in and hits the stick with his putter on his follow-through?

There is no penalty for inadvertently striking the flagstick while putting. But we do wonder just how hard you are hitting this gimme putt if your follow-through reaches all the way to the stick. Maybe dial it back just a little?


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