Rules Corner

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

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