Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Rory McIlroy’s Ball Lands in a Trouser Pocket

I am only too aware that the majority of golfer’s think that today’s game has too many Rules and that they are unnecessarily complicated. 270 years ago (1744) the very first Rules of Golf, consisted of just 13 Rules written in 349 words. However, as instances occurred on the golf course the Rules have constantly evolved to deal with the ever-changing circumstances of a sport that is now played by over 60 million players in almost every country in the world.

This week, another unusual Rules incident occurred during the Tour Championship by Coca Cola, in Atlanta, Georgia. Rory McIlroy hit a wayward drive from the 14th teeing ground and his ball bounced off a tree and literally dropped into a spectator’s pocket. Click here for a YouTube video of the incident.

In fact, the ruling did not even require reference to a Decision, as the circumstances are covered by Rule 19-1. Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped by Outside Agency (a spectator is an outside agency);

If a player’s ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, except:
a. If a player’s ball in motion after a stroke other than on the putting green comes to rest in or on any moving or animate outside agency, the ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest in or on the outside agency, but not nearer the hole
So, the Rules official checked that the spectator had not moved from where he was standing and enquired which of his pockets the ball had fallen into. He then asked Rory to mark the spot on the ground immediately beneath that place. Someone suggested that Rory should give the ball to the spectator, but the official clarified that he must continue play with the same ball, as it was obviously easily recoverable.

Some readers may be wondering what the ruling would be if the spectator had run up the fairway towards the hole, taken the ball out of his pocket and dropped it onto the green. A note to Rule 19-1 confirms that if Rory’s ball had been deliberately deflected or stopped by the spectator, the spot where the ball would have come to rest must be estimated and the ball dropped as near as possible to that spot.


Good golfing,


 


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2 comments:

Jacob said...

Can a moveable obstruction like a side netting be declared as an integral part of the course or can only immoveable obstructions be declared as integral parts of a course ?

Barry Rhodes said...

Jacob,

In my opinion, a Committee may declare that side netting is integral to the course, but I would advise against it, as it may result in players being penalised under Rule 13-2 for moving the netting. A better solution would be to fix the side netting so that it is not easily movable and therefore becomes an immovable obstruction from which relief is available, unless it marks an out of bounds boundary.

I prefer that off-topic emails be addressed to rules at barry rhodes d ot com.

Barry