OUR EXPERTS EXPLAIN
Henley's Slam Dunk at Augusta April 13, 2017 By Jamie Wallace, USGA

Russell Henley's perfect approach shot during the final round of the Masters was great for his score, but bad news for the hole. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Hole-outs for eagle are always rare and exciting, but they are especially thrilling when they happen on Sunday during a major championship. Russell Henley finished the Masters tied for 11th place thanks in large part to this shot on the par-4 fifth hole of his final round.

The force of Henley’s second shot flying directly into the hole from 185 yards away actually caused damage to it. Under the Rules of Golf, the player is allowed to repair damage to the putting green caused by the impact of a ball (Rule 16-1c), meaning that the player could attempt to repair this damage to the hole on his own. However, if the damage to the hole is significant enough that it can’t be repaired so that it meets the definition of a hole in the Rules of Golf, the Exception to Rule 33-2b gives the Committee running the competition the ability to move the hole to a nearby, similar position.

In this case, the damage was clearly identifiable as a ball mark. If it was not, the situation would be slightly different and is detailed in Decision 16-1a/6. Since the only types of damage a player is allowed to repair on the putting green are ball marks and old hole plugs, a player in this situation would be required to call a member of the Committee running the competition to fix the damage to the hole. If no members of the Committee are readily available though, the player could repair the damage himself.

When a new hole is cut, it is important that it is situated very close to the original location so that the same challenge is maintained and all competitors in the competition play essentially the same golf course. After Henley’s shot on Sunday, a new hole was cut just a few feet away from the original location.

Jamie Wallace is the manager of Rules Education and Digital Content. Email him at jwallace@usga.org.

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