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My attention has been drawn to four Rules incidents that occurred in tournament play over the past week or so.
Garcia’s bunker anger
Having played a poor short from a greenside bunker Sergio Garcia then proceeded to repeatedly smash his club into the sand (see the short video link in the caption to the photo). No penalty was incurred, because his ball was not in the bunker when he took his anger out on it. However, I am sure that most of us would agree that this is not a good example to set for young golfers.
Gallacher’s ball in tree
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher’s ball was stuck in a palm tree and apparently, another player’s caddie borrowed a ladder to climb the tree to identify it. This brings up some interesting points;
• A ball must be identified before it can be deemed unplayable if the player intends to proceed under options b) or c) of Rule 28. Of course, they can play under option a), under penalty of stroke and distance, without identifying their ball.
• There is nothing that prevents a player using a ladder or other object to find or retrieve their ball. However a player is not permitted to stand on a ladder to play a stroke, as this would breach Rule 13-3, Building Stance.
• Anyone may assist a player to positively identify their ball.
• Having identified the ball the player does not have to play the same ball, they may substitute another (Rule 28).
• If a ball cannot be positively identified the player must treat it as lost and proceed under penalty of stroke and distance, Rule 27-1.
Did Webb test the surface of the sand?
A reader informed me that during the Australian Ladies Masters, Karrie Webb walked into a bunker without a club to see how her ball was lying. Whilst there, she apparently swiveled one foot in the sand, presumably to check how wet and hard the sand was, as there had been torrential rain just before the day’s play. If this was the case then Karrie should have been penalised two strokes under Rule 13-4a, for testing the condition of the hazard. (Edit 10th Feb 2013: It has been pointed out by several readers that there is no penalty for digging in with the feet for a stance, including for a practice swing, anywhere in the bunker. However, from the report of the incident that I received, Karrie Webb was not simulating her stroke at the time she swivelled her foot in the sand). (Edit 16th March 2013: There was no doubt about the penalty of two strokes that Stacy Lewis incurred when her caddie performed a similar 'testing action' with his foot at the RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup yesterday. Will they never learn?)
Unnamed Pro waves putter over ball
I am advised that a tournament player putted his ball up to the lip of the hole. He walked up to his ball and in frustration waved his club over it with a one-handed swinging motion, apparently trying to blow the ball into the hole with the draught created. The ball did not move in this incident, but was a penalty incurred? In the circumstances described, the player did not incur a penalty. Decision 1-2/4 rules that as the ball did not move, there was no penalty under Rule 18-2a. If the player had moved the ball with this action and it did fall into the hole he would have been penalised one stroke and the ball would have to be replaced on the lip.
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