Rules question and one of “those” playing partners. – Rant Pants

EDIT: So for clarity, the “haggle” I refer to is a friendly money match within the foursome. We were all still playing the field individually as part of the Saturday stableford competition.

So time for a little bemused rant about a someone in my Saturday foursome.

I played today with a new group, complete strangers. I got paired up for the day’s format with a really nice guy in his early 50’s, and we played against two of his friends, one slightly older than him and another gentleman in his late 80’s, we’ll call him Richard.

We’re playing along and my partner and I are up in the haggle when we get to the par 5 15. We were working our way up when I saw Richard take a relief drop from in the rough, nobody else saw this and I didn’t know what he would be taking relief from in that area and was genuinely curious.

By the time I reach Richard he has already played his shot and is returning to his cart. I politely ask him what he dropped away from (all I can see is grass). At this point he immediately becomes defensive and snaps “standing water” at me. I ask him where because I can’t see any and he starts acting like I’ve accused him of cheating (bear in mind I’ve done absolutely everything to keep my tone friendly and non-accusatory because I’m not really bothered and just curious).

He points at the area where he picked his ball up from and tells me to stand there and I’ll see what he means in an aggressive tone. I plant my feet in there, hear a slight squelch but I only see it as being slightly damp, no visible water. At this point I just want to move on, but I’m so unconvinced that when I try to just say “oh, ok” and leave it at that my tone betrays me and lets him know how I don’t really believe him.

At this point Richard loses his shit, starts yelling about how he used to be off scratch and represented at regionals and played with Tour caddies etc etc, the point being he obviously knows the rules better than me. The other two guys come over and ask what the fuss is all about. I tell them I saw Richard take a drop and was curious about the reasoning, but really didn’t mind as this was just a friendly game. Richard tells them he dropped away from standing water (we’ve all advanced away from the drop point by now) and that I accused him of cheating.

They remained neutral but I got the sense they were embarrassed by their friend’s behaviour. Fortunately their arrival and refusal to jump on me defused Richard, who quietened and drove off to his ball.

So, Richard’s outburst and the fact that I couldn’t actually see any water aside, I’m now curious about how “standing water” is actually defined by the rules. Obviously puddles and whatnot are standing water, but what happens when the ground is so damp that a very small amount of water rises to the surface when stood on? This wasn’t actually the case here but I’ve played off lies like this in the past without thinking about the standing water ruling and this little incident got me thinking.