skip to main content

Grillo's Bout With Bay Hill March 23, 2017 By Joe Foley, USGA

Consecutive lackluster shots over water put Emiliano Grillo in a tough spot at Bay Hill. (USGA/Michael Cohen)

After rounds of 67 and 68 in the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, Emiliano Grillo found himself among the leaders. Unfortunately, the start of his third round did not go as planned, with Grillo carding bogeys on three of his first five holes. Things got even worse on the par-5 sixth hole.

In prime position for his second shot from the fairway, Grillo’s ball failed to carry the lateral water hazard that runs up the left side of the hole. He was left with multiple unenviable choices for his next shot, opting to drop about 225 yards from the hole under option (b) of the Water Hazard Rule, Rule 26-1. To make matters worse, Grillo’s next shot, his fourth on the hole, appeared to travel across the lateral water hazard before striking a rock and ricocheting back into the same lateral water hazard.

Given the status of this hazard as a lateral water hazard, as indicated by red stakes, Grillo was presented with an additional relief option that he would not have had  for a ball struck into a regular water hazard, indicated by yellow stakes or lines. This additional option, option (c) of Rule 26-1, is typically much more attractive to a player as it allows them to drop their ball outside the water hazard within two club-lengths of the point where the original ball last crossed into the hazard. In Grillo’s case, after his ball struck the rocks near the green, it appeared that he might be able to use this additional option and drop a ball close to the green.

Why, then, did Grillo end up playing his next stroke, his sixth, from 225 yards away instead of dropping near the green? Unfortunately, Grillo was forced to drop this far from the hole – again – because his ball struck one of the rocks that was contained within the margin of the hazard. So his ball last crossed the margin of the hazard on his side of the water, not the green side. This meant that the additional option (c) to drop on the green side of the hazard was not available to him as the point where his ball last crossed the margin of the hazard was more than 200 yards from the hole.

Grillo finally navigated the water with his sixth stroke. Out of frustration, he tossed his club into the same hazard and was now left with one fewer club to use for the rest of his round, per Rule 4-3 and Decision 4-3/10.

Thankfully, Grillo’s fortunes turned around the following day when he carded a bogey-free round of 68 to finish in a tie for seventh.

Joe Foley is the manager of Rules outreach and programming for the USGA. Email him at

Around the Association