Rules Corner

Romero's Predicament At No. 11

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During Saturday's third round, Eduardo Romero's ball at rest moved on the putting green on the 11th hole. This raised a question whether he had incurred a penalty under Rule 18-2.

No penalty was appropriate under Rule 18-2b. Although Romero had grounded his club 4 to 6 inches behind the ball, he had not yet taken his stance for the stroke and thus had not yet addressed the ball, as is required by that Rule. In this regard, it is important that Romero intended to reset his feet prior to making the stroke, as was his usual practice in such situations (and as he did when he made his next stroke to hole out).

Nor was any penalty appropriate under Rule 18-2a. Although Romero grounded his club, he did not do so directly behind the ball, but rather 4-6 inches away from the ball. Moreover, when he grounded the club, he did so lightly, and the ball did not immediately move. Rather, it did so only a few seconds later. In these circumstances, and given that the

ball was on a slope on a firm and fast green made of Poa anua grass with little moisture to help keep it at rest, neither Romero nor his fellow-competitor thought that Romero caused the ball to move.

 

 

Doctor Makes Call For Embedded Ball

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Gil Morgan had an interesting time on the par-3 17th hole today. His tee shot headed straight for the water hazard.  Dr. Morgan, convinced his ball was in the water hazard, walked over to the drop zone to drop a ball under penalty of one stroke according to the water hazard rule.  At that time, before he dropped the ball, the crowd yelled to him that his ball was not in the water hazard.  In fact, the ball was embedded in the rough outside of the water hazard.

The USGA employs a local rule that allows for relief for an embedded ball through the green.  In layman’s terms, you are allowed relief for an embedded ball anywhere on the course except in a hazard, putting green or the tee of the hole you are playing (check out the definition of “through the green”).

As Morgan walked up to get his ball, he saw that there were two balls embedded a couple inches apart. He jokingly told his walking referee Ian Gardner from the Mexican Golf Federation, “I think I have a choice!” Morgan declared he was going to take relief for the embedded ball.  He lifted the ball he felt was his and saw that it was, indeed, his ball.  Then he asked if he could remove the other ball.  The walking referee correctly told him he could since it was not a ball in play and, in fact, is now considered a movable obstruction.  When he lifted that ball, he discovered it was also a similar brand and number that he was using. Thankfully, Morgan always puts an identification mark on his ball.  He was able to accurately identify his ball as the first one he lifted.

Now Morgan was going to take relief under the embedded ball Rule.  He was not allowed to fix the holes where the balls had been under Rule 13-2.   He dropped the ball and the ball rolled towards the water hazard line to where a part of the ball was touching the line.  When any part of a ball touches the hazard line, then the ball is considered to be in the hazard.  This meant that Morgan had to re-drop in accordance with Rule 20-2.  He re-dropped and this time the ball bounced into the water hazard.  His caddie caught the ball after it crossed the hazard line and he was now able to place the ball on the spot where it first hit a part of the course on the re-drop. 

Morgan was now back in play, chipped on and made the putt for a hard earned par. – Wendy Uzelac

Standing Tall

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On the green of Sahalee Country Club’s second hole, Dave Massey of Scottsdale, Ariz., inadvertently had his caddie standing behind him while he was putting. 

Decision 14-2/4 covers this exact situation.  It states the following:

14-2/4 Caddie Inadvertently Stands on Extension of Line of Play Behind Ball

Q. A player's caddie inadvertently stood on an extension of the player's line of play behind the ball when the player made a stroke. The caddie was watching another player play from the next tee. Neither the player nor his caddie was aware that the caddie was so located. Was the player subject to penalty under Rule 14-2b?

A. No. The purpose of Rule 14-2b is to prohibit a caddie from positioning himself behind the player while the player makes a stroke in order to advise the player on alignment or otherwise assist him. In this case, the caddie was not so positioned.

The same ruling would apply if the player's caddie inadvertently stood on an extension of the line of putt behind the ball during the stroke.

Massey’s walking referee determined there was no breach, however, he did advise the caddie to be much more careful about where he stands.

Playing Wrong Ball From A Bunker

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Some mornings start out a little bit better than others.

On Thursday, Jay Norman of White Bear Lake, Minn., had a tough start getting out of the gate.  He hit a ball into the left greenside bunker on the first hole.  His fellow competitor, Mike Diffley of Pelham Manor, N.Y. did the same.  Norman’s ball was away, or so he thought.  Norman hit the ball further away from the hole, exited the bunker and marked and lifted the ball on the green.  At that point, he realized the ball he was holding was not his ball.  

Norman told his walking referee of his situation.  The referee advised the players to recreate the lie which the ball had prior to the stroke in the bunker and place the ball in that lie in the bunker.  This is in accordance with Rule 20-3b.

Diffley was then able to play his own ball from the proper location and with the lie he had prior to Norman hitting his ball. Norman played his ball, which was still in the bunker, and incurred a two-stroke penalty for hitting a wrong ball (Rule 15-3).  He ended up with a total score of 7 on the hole. 

Up A Tree

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Sahalee Country Club is best known for its large red cedar and fir trees which line the fairways and on some holes, are in the fairway.  Don’t be surprised if a few shots this week hit these trees. 

But what happens if people see a ball go into a tree and get stuck in a branch?

When the player finds a ball in a tree branch he may not be able to identify it as his.  If he moves that ball and it is subsequently discovered to be his ball, he will be penalized one stroke for moving his ball in play and will be required to replace it.  If the player cannot replace the ball, he will then be penalized two strokes. All of this is in accordance with Rule 18 (Ball At Rest Moved). 

A player could avoid the penalty under Rule 18 by declaring his intention to proceed under Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) prior to taking action to move the ball. The Decisions On the Rules of Golf specifically addresses this situation with Decision 18-2a/27.

The player may find that the tree wins and he never finds his golf ball.  Ultimately, if the player cannot identify a ball as his within five minutes of searching for it (see the definition of Ball Lost), he will incur the penalty under Rule 27 (Lost Ball) which requires him to play a stroke from the spot where his previous stroke was played, better known as the “stroke-and-distance” penalty.  Here is a link to a video of Tommy Nakajima’s predicament during the 1987 U.S. Open Championship where the tree never gave up his golf ball. – Wendy Uzelac

Final Senior Open Preparations

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It’s Tuesday of U.S. Senior Open week.  The weather is perfect, the players are making their practice rounds and the crowds are enjoying the action. 

From the Rules of Golf perspective, we have the hazards on the course marked, the hole locations selected and our Rules Committee is starting to arrive to get their first look at Sahalee Country Club. 

We have many committee members from across the country and around the world.  Tai Kawata of the Japan Golf Association has probably traveled the farthest to volunteer his time as an invited official.  Other invited officials include representatives from the Royal Canadian Golf Association and the Mexican Golf Federation along with the Champions Tour staff.  In all, we have 67 officials here assisting. 

On Wednesday afternoon, we’ll meet with all of our officials to go over the championship and some Rules items as they pertain to the golf course such as the grandstands and television towers which we refer to as Temporary Immovable Obstructions. 

The excitement is building in the air and we should have a great U.S. Senior Open Championship in the Pacific Northwest. – Wendy Uzelac

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