Tiger Woods: oscilated

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 16 03:16:11 UTC 2013

In describing the situation that cost him a two-stroke penalty on
Friday, Tiger Woods repeatedly said that "the ball just oscillated" and
did not move when he removed a pine cone right behind the ball. The tour
officials disagreed, judging that the ball moved, caused by Woods's
removal of the pine cone.

> "I was pretty hot because I felt like nothing happened," Woods said
> Saturday in his first comments about the situation. "I felt like the
> ball oscillated, and that was it. I played the rest of the round
> grinding my tail off to get myself back in the tournament and then go
> from 5 to 7 behind, that was tough.
> ...
> "After seeing the video I thought the ball just oscillated, and I
> thought that was it," he said. "I thought that was the end of story.
> But they saw otherwise."
> ...
> "The one at Augusta, after going through it on Saturday morning, yeah,
> I did take the wrong drop," Woods said. "But yesterday I didn't feel
> like I did anything, and as I said, I described in there [the scoring
> area], I moved the pine cone right behind my ball. I feel like the
> ball oscillated, and I just left. Evidently it wasn't enough."
> Woods said he expected there to be no issue.
> "No, not at all," he said. "We all have been in the trees before, and
> things can move and do move, and I felt like I tested it and felt like
> it just oscillated and stayed in the same position, but evidently it
> didn't."

I'm not sure what sense of "oscillated" Woods was referring to. What he
was doing was directly referring to a USGA rule which is stated in Q&A form:

> 18/2
> Ball Oscillates During Address
> Q.In addressing the ball, a player accidentally causes the ball to
> oscillate, but it returns to its original position. Has the ball "moved"?
> A.No.

> 14-5/2
> Making Stroke at Oscillating Ball
> Q.A player's ball lies on the putting green. The ball is oscillating
> because of the wind. May the player make a stroke at the ball while it
> oscillates?
> A.Yes. As an oscillating ball is not moving as defined by the Rules of
> Golf, there is no penalty for making a stroke at an oscillating ball.
> The player must continue play without undue delay. (New)

It is particularly telling that discussions involving "oscillating" ball
make careful consideration of what constitutes "moving", "rest",
"location", but not "oscillating".

> What about timing to "pull the trigger" while the ball is oscillating,
> like the pros had to do in the British Open because of the wind speeds?
> ...
> The key terms are "moves" and "addressed".
> MOVES: It is not self-evident that an "oscillation" is a "movement" of
> the ball under the Rules. The implicit meaning of "moves" in golf is
> something like "changes location on the ground so that replacement
> from the new location to the old is appropriate. The ball's "location"
> on the ground, as a matter of fact, is defined by the point of contact
> between the bottom of the ball and the ground. A ball that
> "oscillates" is one that "rocks in place" without the bottom point
> changing. In my view, a ball that merely "oscillates" in place is not
> a ball that "moves". However, the definition of "moves" in the Rule
> implicit in contrast to the term "rest" suggests that the Rules are
> ambiguous about this and at times define "moves" as "change position
> or location on the ground" and at times as "a state not at rest".

So "oscillation"/"oscillating ball" seems to refer to a ball
spontaneously moving, usually caused by the wind, but always returning
to the original position where it previously came to rest or a ball that
is destabilized by the wind while on the tee, but remains on the tee. In
a sense, in golf, "oscillation" appears to mean "movement with motion",
where "motion" is more rigidly defined.

OED 1.a. definition for oscillate v. is the only one that comes close,
but even this one seems to be more kinetic than what is desired:

> To swing backwards and forwards; to move to and fro between two
> points; to vibrate.

AHD is even further away:

> To swing back and forth with a steady, uninterrupted rhythm.

MWDOL seems to come closest--or, at least, point in the closest direction:

> to move in one direction and then back again many times

In any case, it doesn't seem that golf version of
"oscillate/oscillating" has a dictionary definition yet.

Most definitions refer to a kind of motion that places an object
/repeatedly/ between two extremes--in particular, vibration. The golf
version cannot possibly refer to vibration (unless golfers try to keep
score during an earthquake). The wind examples point to the implication
that the ball moves /once/ then returns to its original resting place
/on its own/, without any interference by another actor (human or
otherwise, with wind /not/ being an actor).


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