Monday, 10 August 2009

Why Did Padraig Harrington Cross the Water Hazard?

Well it is history now. Harrington lost his chance to beat Tiger in the Bridgestone Invitational Tournament last weekend when he suffered a four strokes swing on the signature 16th hole. However, the question that everyone is asking me is why he chose to walk all the way round the pond to drop a ball on the far side when he had played his ball into the water from the putting green side?

Relief from water hazards is one of the most misunderstood Rules in golf and I am going to take the opportunity below to link to my two videos on the subject, which I posted here back in November and December of last year. But first let me explain the Harrington decision.

Padraig overshot the green with his third stroke on the 667 yards par-5. He was faced with a very tricky shot from deep rough, down a slope onto the green with very little putting surface between the apron and the hole. He had to go for it because Tiger had played the shot of the tournament for a tap-in birdie, which would have brought him level if Padraig had achieved his par. With the pressure on, Padraig mistimed his lob and it went straight into deep water in the hazard, designated by yellow stakes and/or lines, immediately behind the flagstick. Now, as there was no chance of him playing from within the margin of the water hazard he had two options, both under penalty of one stroke, under Rule 26-1. The first was to take on the same, difficult shot that he had just made a mess of, by dropping a ball as nearly as possible at the spot from which he last played. The second, which was the option he chose, was to drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped. He could not choose to drop a ball within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard as this option is only available when the hazard is designated a lateral water hazard by red stakes and/or lines.

It is important that players know the options from taking relief from water hazards as we will all face this situation many times. If you still do not fully understand exactly what they are I strongly recommend that you click on these two four minute videos;

Water Hazards - yellow stakes

Lateral Water Hazards - red stakes

Learn the Rules to better your scores,

Barry Rhodes
Author of ‘999 Questions on the Rules of Golf’
999Q on Twitter

P.S. You can ensure that you don’t miss any of my weekly blogs on the Rules by entering your email address at the top right hand corner of my home page.


Unknown said...

Hi, I'm not sure if I've entered this in the correct place but here goes anyway:
Can you give some advice on this please.

Last year we had a severe storm resulting in a quite few mature trees being blown over. The area has been designated unsafe and its boundary has been marked with a blue rope so as to prevent people entering. There is no penalty and the player is to drop a ball. Can you explain the likely procedure for dropping the ball. There are many overhanging branches that could affect a players swing, do these come into the equation when dropping.
Also if the ball stops just short of the blue rope do you expect relief to be given due to the adjacent trees affecting the players swing.


Barry Rhodes said...


The Committee should have introduced a temporary Local Rule that accurately defined the storm damaged area area as Ground Under Repair, as required by Rule 33-2a(iii). Relief would then be available under Rule 25-1b, Relief from Abnormal Ground Condition. The Local Rule should confirm that taking relief is mandatory for a ball that comes to rest in the GUR area. Relief must be taken within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole. When the ball is dropped under the Rule and there is interference from overhanging branches of trees rooted within the GUR the player must drop again.

If you have questions that are off-subject to the accompanying blog content I would prefer that you email me directly at rules at barryrhodes dot com.


Unknown said...

Barry, thank you for your answer and apologies if I have posted the original question in the wrong place.