Sunday, 12 August 2012

No Bunkers for Final Major of 2012 at Kiawah Island






















Do you remember that for the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straights, a notice was posted in the locker room clarifying that all areas of the course that were designed and built as sand bunkers were to be played as bunkers? There were over 1200 of them! In complete contrast to this, the PGA of America decided that for the 2012 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, all sandy areas were designated as “through the green.” In layman terms, that meant that there were no bunkers at Kiawah Island for the final major golf tournament of the year. Players could ground their clubs in the sand, remove loose impediments and even take practice swings in over 200 areas that looked like bunkers to most of us. On the other hand, players had to be careful not to dig in the sand with their feet to make a firm stance. This is permitted in a bunker but would be considered as improving their stance in breach of Rule 13-2 anywhere through the green. (Edit, Sunday Aug 12th: The decision not to recognise bunkers has been made to look all the more bizarre by the two stroke penalty imposed on Carl Pettersson under Rule 13-4c, for moving a loose leaf on his backswing while playing out of a water hazard on his opening hole of the final round. See the PGA of America's statement on this incident below.)

Commenting on the decision to play all sandy areas as through the green, Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s managing director of the championships said,
“This is exactly the same way that it was played in ‘91 at the Ryder Cup and at our two major champions that we played here at the Ocean Course. We think it’s the fairest and the best way to play. It’s certainly a unique golf course, which warrants this.”
As with the decision in Whistling Straights the players and their caddies were constantly reminded of the Local Rule by the notices posted in the locker rooms, headed: “NOTICE TO COMPETITORS. NO BUNKERS.”

I am sure that Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey, was aware of this Local Rule, but it did not prevent him from being disqualified, following an excellent second round score of 70, which meant that he had easily survived the cut and was only 8 strokes off the lead at the half-way mark. On the 8th hole Hoey found a ball embedded in a ‘sandy area’. Under Rule 12-1a he was entitled to move sand around the ball and lift it in order to identify it as his, which he did. However, the Rule requires that even if the ball has not been moved during the identifying process, the player must re-create the lie of the ball before any sand was moved. Rule 12-1a states;
If the player’s ball lying anywhere on the course is believed to be covered by sand, to the extent that he cannot find or identify it, he may, without penalty, touch or move the sand in order to find or identify the ball. If the ball is found, and identified as his, the player must re-create the lie as nearly as possible by replacing the sand. If the ball is moved during the touching or moving of sand while searching for or identifying the ball, there is no penalty; the ball must be replaced and the lie re-created.
In re-creating a lie under this Rule, the player is permitted to leave a small part of the ball visible.
Because he did not re-create the embedded lie, Hoey breached Rule 12-1a and incurred a penalty of two-strokes, but he did not realise this until after he had signed and returned his score card. This is what he had to say;
“About 8.20 after dinner, I went straight up to the club after calling my coach and caddy to make sure I had things right. I was just re-living the hole as I’d sunk a really long putt for par. As soon as I realised what had happened, I went to the club.”
The PGA of America Rules Committee had no option but to disqualify him under Rule 6-6d, for signing and returning a score card with a score for a hole lower than was actually scored, due to not having included the penalty strokes incurred.

Kudos is due to Michael Hoey for his integrity in bringing his breach to the attention of the officials, knowing that the inevitable outcome would be his disqualification. However, I despair of repeatedly having to make the point that it the responsibility of players to know the Rules (Rule 6-1) and this should especially apply to those that make their living from the game. If they do not want to spend the necessary time learning the Rules themselves they should at least employ a caddie who does. Surely a professional caddie has plenty of spare time, for example when travelling, to add this important area of relevant expertise to their qualifications for the job they are paid for.

Good golfing,



This is the statement from the PGA of America relating to Carl Pettersson's penalty;
Carl Pettersson was assessed a two-stroke penalty on the first hole of the final round of the 94th PGA Championship for a breach of Rule 13-4c when he moved a loose impediment lying in a lateral water hazard, while his ball was lying in the same hazard.
Pettersson hit his tee shot into the lateral water hazard to the right of the fairway. Before making the stroke, he asked the walking official, Brad Gregory, if he was allowed to touch grass, in the hazard, with his club, prior to the stroke.
Pettersson was correctly informed that he could do so, provided that he did not ground the club in the hazard. In making his backswing, Pettersson’s club brushed the grass behind the ball (not a breach) and at the same time moved a leaf (loose impediment), in breach of the Rule.
Pettersson was immediately notified by Gregory that there may have been a breach of Rule 13-4c, and that he (Gregory) wanted the stroke to be reviewed on video for confirmation.
PGA Rules Chairman, David Price, reviewed the stroke on video and confirmed that a loose impediment was moved during Pettersson’s backswing.
Pettersson was notified of the penalty as he left the fourth tee. His score for the par-4 first hole was a 6."
Does your Club have a problem with getting your Juniors to learn both golfing etiquette and the Rules? I have done the work for you. Check out my Juniors Quiz at this link.

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1 comment:

Ron J. said...

You made an excellent point about players and their caddies not knowing the rules, especially caddies who are paid well for a job with a lot of down time. It seems the majority of players are surprisingly ignorant of the rules but your point that there is no reason for caddies being equally ignorant is a point well made.