Carol Robertson, the 2010 Women's Mid-Amateur runner-up, received a two-stroke penalty during the second round of stroke-play qualifying. On the 469-yard sixth hole at Bayville Golf Club, she and a fellow competitor both hit their tee shots into a bunker to the right of the fairway.
The other player, whose ball was about 20 feet behind and to the left of Robertson's, played first. As Robertson was settling over her shot, she heard raking behind her -- her caddie was cleaning up the footsteps left by the fellow competitor.
Robertson alerted the Committee, which assessed her a two-stroke penalty under Rule 13-4, which prevents testing the conditions of a hazard.
There was a chance that Robertson could have been exempt from the penalty under Decision 13-4/19, which allows for the restoration of a bunker if there is a reasonable possibility that the disturbed area could affect a subsequent stroke.
But given the position of the disturbed area relative to Robertson's ball and the distance to the bunker's lip, about 20 yards away, the Committee judged that there wasn't a reasonable possibility that such a scenario could take place.
"It's un unfortunate penalty," said USGA Rules Official David Staebler, "but we are confined to apply the Rule in accordance to the guidance we have in the Rules and in the Decisions. And this Decision is pretty clear.
"As soon as her caddie raked the bunker, Carol asked the nearby Rules official to come over. This is the classic example of the player wanting to do the right thing. It didn't make accepting the penalty any easier."
With the two-stroke penalty, Robertson shot 77 for a 36-hole total of 152, which put her well within the cut line of qualifying for match play. Had this breach occurred in match play, the penalty would have been a loss of hole.
-- Hunki Yun