Toledo, Ohio – On the par-3 12th hole during the first round
of the U.S. Senior Open Championship at Inverness Club, Gary Sowinski’s
tee shot found the bunker to the left of the green. His second shot ran across
the green and into the pond that borders the right of the green. The ball came
to rest above water on a patch of algae.
Sowinski wanted to play the ball from there, but there was a
microphone cable directly behind the ball. Cables such as this are movable
obstructions, so under Rule
24-1, he was allowed to move the obstruction. When he moved the cable, his ball moved and
sank to the bottom of the pond.
There is no penalty if a ball moves when a movable
obstruction is moved and the ball is to be replaced. But, there was now a hole
in the algae where the ball had been sitting. Since the lie of the ball that
was to be replaced had been altered, Rule
20-3b requires the player to find the nearest most similar lie within a
club-length in the hazard and not nearer the hole where the ball will stay at
rest. After a few attempts, Sowinski was able to get the ball to stay on
another piece of algae. The ball was bobbing up and down in the water and
Sowinksi was concerned that it was moving, but his referee informed him that
since it wasn’t moving in relation to the algae that it was resting on, it was
not considered to be moving.
At the point where the ball had originally come to rest, the
bank of the hazard was quite low, but where he was able to get it to come to
rest after moving the cable, the bank was high enough that he no longer felt he
could play it. In the end, Sowinski decided to play under Rule
26-1a, playing his ball under stroke and distance. He returned to the bunker
and dropped the ball there. He eventually had to settle for a triple-bogey 6.
Written by John Van
der Borght, manager of Rules communications for the