Here is an interesting question that Kevin Stadler faced on the 11th hole of his final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale, Arizona last Sunday. Can you substitute another ball for a ball that you have deemed unplayable, once you have identified it?
I have never seen a cholla bush, but I understand that is a variety of cactus that has spines that can easily attach to clothing, skin, even shoes, with their needle like sharpness. This interesting video, courtesy of PGATOUR, shows that Stadler’s ball was suspended on two of these spines.
Kevin Stadler was within the Rules when he decided to deem his ball unplayable, leave it in the cholla, and drop another ball (not shown in the video clip) for a penalty of one stroke. He took this penalty relief under the Rule 28c option, which reads;
c. Drop a ball within two club-lengths of the spot where the ball lay, but not nearer the hole.Note that the wording is “a ball”, which means that the player may continue play by substituting another conforming ball, rather than “the ball”, which means that the original ball must be played.
I take issue with the words used by TV broadcaster and ex Pro golfer, David Feherty, after he had spoken to Slugger White, the PGA TOUR VP of Rules and Competition. Towards the end of the clip Feherty says;
“He (Slugger) allowed him to replace (sic, he means ‘substitute’) the ball merely because he didn’t want him to reach in and get something stuck in his hand”This does not ring true, as I am certain that Slugger White would have known that substitution of a different ball is permitted whenever a player deems their identified ball unplayable. In my opinion, it is far more likely that Feherty misunderstood what was said in his hurry to report back to the viewers.
An interesting footnote to this Rules incident is that Kevin Stadler went on to win his first PGA Tour victory, overtaking the 3rd round leader, Bubba Watson on the 18th green.
Are you receiving my free, weekly 'Rhodes Rules School' series? If you don't know what I am referring to, click on this link for details. There are now over 8,000 regular recipients of these weekly emails, which contain questions with answers and references, designed to help players of all abilities to obtain a better understanding of the Rules of Golf.
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2014 and may not be copied without permission.