Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Most Interesting Man in Golf and the Rat

Photo: Getty Images – Jiminez examining the rodent
Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is increasingly known as ‘The Most Interesting Man in Golf’, was photographed closely examining a ‘lifeless’ rodent in a bunker at the Scottish Open in Royal Aberdeen last Thursday. Having scoured the available reports and photos, I still have not been able to confirm whether, a) Jiminez’s ball was in the same bunker as the rodent, and b) if the rodent was alive or dead. What I have determined, is that most of the reports of the incident are confused about any ruling that may or may not have applied. For example, two of them quoted the fact that Rule 23-6 applied; not only has there never been a Rule 23-6; but Decision 23/6, which dealt with the subject of a dead land crab in a bunker, was withdrawn from the Decisions book In January 2012.

So, what would the ruling have been if Miguel’s ball had been lying against a dead rodent in the bunker? He would have had four options; play the ball as it lay, deem the ball unplayable and drop a ball in the bunker within two club-lengths, not nearer the hole, drop a ball in the bunker behind the point where the ball lay keeping that point directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, or return to where he played his last stroke from under penalty of stroke and distance. If the rodent was alive it would have been an outside agency. The player may not remove an outside agency, as it is not an obstruction, which by definition is an artificial object, but they may ‘encourage’ it to move, e.g. by waving a club over it or by gentle prodding. If it will not move, either play the ball as it lies or take one of the penalty options already described. (Edit 17th July: Following interesting correspondence with a small number of subscribers, I now believe that there is nothing in the Rules that prevents a player from removing an outside agent from a hazard. However, note that this does not apply to an insect, which is a loose impediment, as well as an outside agent, and may not be touched or physically removed from a bunker when the player's ball lies in the same bunker, Decision 23-1/5.5)

Building a Stance in a Bunker
South Korean Ahn Sun-ju finished equal 9th at the Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale, Southport, last week. She may have finished higher had she not incurred a penalty of two strokes on her 18th hole on Saturday, for the unusual breach of building a stance. Her ball lay in a greenside bunker and she dug her left foot into the soft sand while taking her stance. Rule 13-3 states;
A player is entitled to place his feet firmly in taking his stance, but he must not build a stance.
There does not seem to be any video evidence of Ahn’s breach but Decision 13-3/3 may be relevant;

Q.A player knocks down the side of a bunker with his foot in an effort to get his feet on the same level. Is this permissible?

A.No. Such action constitutes building a stance in breach of Rule 13-3.
A player can also incur a penalty for a breach of Rule 13-4a if they dig in with their feet in excess of what would be normally be done for making a stance for a stroke or a practice swing, as this would constitute testing the condition of the hazard.

After she was advised of the penalty that she had incurred Ahn said that she was unaware of the rule.

"I didn't know about the rule. All I was trying to do was make a stance," she told ESPN, speaking through an interpreter.

"It's my mistake. If that's the rule, I have to abide by it."
Good golfing,

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Anonymous said...

Hi Barry.

I saw television coverage of the Ahn Sun-ju incident on Sky Sports. She certainly appeared to spend an excessive amount of time getting her feet into position. However, her stance was on a sloping part of the bunker and the sand looked very soft. I can see how the committee came to the conclusion they did though.


Barry Rhodes said...


Thanks for sharing this information. The telling point is that Ahn did not realise that you are not permitted to move the sand to improve your stance, which I find amazing.


diego said...

Hi Barry.
In the case of Jimenez couldn´t be possible to apply Decision 1-4/9?

Barry Rhodes said...


Possibly, but as I said, I am not even sure that Miguel's ball was in the bunker; no-one has confirmed.


tonyzed said...

I agree. Worrying. When next will she breach a rule that she doesn't know about and there are no cameras or Rules Officials about to say no. I thought all Pros had to learn the Rules to get their ticket.