Seventy-two holes weren’t enough to decide a winner in the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., last weekend. James Hahn and Roberto Castro finished tied at 9 under par and began their sudden-death play-off on the treacherous par-4 18th hole.
Castro quickly found himself in trouble when his tee shot found the lateral water hazard left of the fairway and Hahn landed his ball safely in the fairway. After taking relief from the water hazard under the penalty of one stroke, Castro was forced to play aggressively to keep pace with his fellow competitor. From a side-hill lie in the rough, Castro played his third stroke approximately 230 yards over the back-right portion of the green. His ball unfortunately struck a spectator and came to rest – in a shoe.
Not ideal. pic.twitter.com/hLRfuJxUCQ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 8, 2016
Under the Rules of Golf, a shoe is considered a movable obstruction – see Definition of Obstructions. If a player’s golf ball comes to rest in a movable obstruction, the player has the option to play the ball as it lies or lift the ball and remove the obstruction under Rule 24-1b. The ball is then dropped as near as possible to the spot under the place where the ball originally lay in the obstruction, but not nearer the hole. Thankfully for Castro, this procedure comes without penalty.
During the procedure, Castro asked a Rules official whether he could clean the ball after lifting it. It was confirmed that Castro was permitted to do so, which is the case more often than not when lifting a ball – see Rule 21.
After dropping in the proper location, Castro’s ball rolled closer to the hole. For this reason, he was required to re-drop the ball and, after it happened again, he was required to place the ball on the spot where it struck the ground on the second drop, in accordance with Rule 20-2c. Castro’s ball was now back in play and he could focus on hitting his next shot.
While Castro was able to get up and down for a bogey after this unusual situation, he fell one stroke short of Hahn, who made a 4-foot putt for par to claim victory. The irony of it all? Ten years ago, before he found success at the highest levels of professional golf, Hahn sold shoes for a living!
Joe Foley is the manager of Rules outreach and programming for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.