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Know the Rules on Hazards and Grounding Your Club

By John Van der Borght, USGA

| Jul 8, 2016 | SAN MARTIN, CALIF.
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During the first round of the U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle, Sei Young Kim pulled her tee shot on the par-5 18th hole into a lateral water hazard. Since Kim was unable to play her ball from the hazard, she properly took relief under Rule 26-1c by dropping outside the hazard within two club-lengths of where her ball last crossed the margin of the hazard, incurring the one-stroke penalty under that Rule. 

After she had dropped, and while preparing to play her next stroke, Kim grounded her club inside the lateral water hazard that she had just taken relief from. Rule 13-4 states that when a player’s ball is in a hazard, the player must not test the condition of the hazard, touch the ground in the hazard or move loose impediments in the hazard. However, in this case, Kim’s ball was not at rest in the hazard. As the primary consideration when applying Rule 13-4 is the location of the player’s ball, and not the player’s actions, the prohibitions did not apply to Kim. So while it certainly looked a bit strange to have a player ground her club in a hazard (especially being so close to her ball), Kim was completely within her rights to take those actions. It’s a great example of a player knowing the Rules.