Tuesday, 14 April 2015

2015 Masters Rules Incidents

I am sure that Augusta National’s Masters Tournament Committee is very pleased that there were no controversial Rules incidents this year. However, I was able to uncover three minor incidents that should be of interest to readers.

Graeme McDowell and the Bumblebee
Having encountered a venomous cottonmouth snake during his practice on Tuesday, Northern Irishman, Graeme McDowell, had another run-in with nature during his final round on Sunday. He noticed that there was a bumblebee hovering over his ball-marker on the 4th putting green and in trying to brush it away, he accidentally knocked his ball-marker several inches away from where it was marking the position of his ball. Apparently, he was then wrongly advised by a watching Rules official that he had incurred a penalty of one stroke and he must replace the ball-marker where it was. Presumably, the official reasoned that as the ball-marker was not moved in the act of marking the ball, Rule 18-2a had been breached. McDowell reportedly said;

"It was clumsy so I reckoned I deserved the penalty."
Fortunately, a couple of holes later, he was approached by none other than Sir Michael Bonallack, Augusta member and past Captain of the R&A GC, and the European Tour's Chief Referee, John Paramor, who gave him the welcome news that no penalty had been incurred. Part of Rule 23-1 states;
On the putting green, if the ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved in the process of the player removing a loose impediment, the ball or ball-marker must be replaced. There is no penalty, provided the movement of the ball or ball-marker is directly attributable to the removal of the loose impediment. Otherwise, if the player causes the ball to move, he incurs a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2a.
Note that insects are defined as loose impediments in the Definitions at the front of the Rules of Golf book.
"I asked Sir Michael and John if there was any chance they could stay with me for the rest of the round, as they were the only way I'd get back shots around here,"
joked McDowell, who having made Friday’s cut, found the putting very difficult and finished with disappointing rounds of 76 and 73.

Tiger and the Chair.
If you were watching the final round, you may have seen Tiger Woods hit a wild drive into the trees, resulting in his ball coming to rest under a chair with bushes and trees close by. Unfortunately, the cameras did not stay with this situation and when they returned to his predicament he was about to play his ball clear of any obstruction or bushes. This confused me at the time, but I guessed that the chair must have been fixed and that he had taken relief from an immovable obstruction. However, a subscriber has since clarified that Tiger was given free relief from a temporary immovable obstruction (TIO) on his line of play. A TIO is a non-permanent artificial object that is often erected in conjunction with a competition and is fixed, or not readily movable. Examples include, but are not limited to, tents, scoreboards, grandstands, television towers and lavatories. As a high handicapper I was able to take line of play relief from a TIO once, when I played the Irish Open course on the day after the tournament and the spectator stands had not been dismantled.

Dustin Johnson’s Ball Moves

During his final round, Dustin Johnson was trying to get a read on a birdie putt when his ball started rolling down the steeply undulating green towards the hole. As regular readers will know, because Dustin had not addressed his ball and did not cause it to move, he had to play his next stroke from where it came to rest, in this case about 15 feet closer to the hole. And yes, he made his birdie. You can view the incident on this six seconds Vine clip. How is it that whenever this has happened to me, my ball ends up much further from the hole?

Good golfing,


 


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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

If DJs ball had rolled in the hole in this case it presumably is considered holed, but if the flagstick had been replaced (for example to let a player chip on), would he have incurred a 2 shot penalty? I would guess this would depend on whether his previous stroke had been made from on or off the green. Also would he or his caddy be allowed to remove the flagstick to avoid any penalty? Note 3 to rule 17-1 would suggest that as the ball had come to rest neither he nor his caddy would be considered to be attending the flagstick and therefore not permitted to remove it.
Can you shed any light on these points?
Regards
Martin

Anonymous said...

Dustin Johnson incident - the commentators were confused at the time as they thought Dustin had marked his ball (but not removed the ball). I'm not sure if this affects the ruling. Paul G.

Sbrannashark said...

Dustin was able to play his putt from the next spot after it came to rest... what about if it had started rolling and rolled all the way into the hole? How is this different from the situation where you cannot wait longer than ten seconds for a ball sitting on the lip to fall? How is it different from if you marked that ball that was close to falling in, then replaced your ball, spent time "reading" the putt, and then it drops? Is the ruling for when it actually falls into the cup in this situation different?

Barry Rhodes said...

Martin,

There is no Decision on this extremely unlikely circumstance, but in my opinion, in equity, the ruling would be no penalty for the ball hitting the flagstick that had been replaced for another player's stroke. It is even more unlikely that a caddie would have time to remove the flagstick, but if they did I imagine that their player could be penalised under Rule 17-2. I am just guessing and I will not be seeking the opinion of a higher authority!

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Paul G,

No, Decision 20-4/1 confirms that the ball is played from where the wind moves it to, whether or not it had been marked, lifted and replaced on the putting green and even if a ball-marker is still in place. The ball is in play as soon as it has been replaced and is not dependant on the ball-marker being lifted.

Barry

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Paul G,

No, Decision 20-4/1 confirms that the ball is played from where the wind moves it to, whether or not it had been marked, lifted and replaced on the putting green and even if a ball-marker is still in place. The ball is in play as soon as it has been replaced and is not dependant on the ball-marker being lifted.

Barry

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Sbrannashark,

Quite simply, the 10 seconds after arriving at the hole to determine whether the ball at rest only applies to a ball that overhangs the lip of the hole (Rule 16-2). This 10 seconds does not apply to a ball at rest that starts to move anywhere else on the course.

If Dustin's ball had fallen into the hole he would have been deemed to have holed out with his last stroke, whether or not he had marked, lifted and replaced his ball first (Decision 20-3d/1).

Barry

Barry

SteveO said...

Hi Barry

Have a look at this: http://www.newarkgolfclub.co.uk/ball-marker-moved

Can you see anything wrong?

Barry Rhodes said...

SteveO,

I would rather that my blog comments sections were not used for non-related questions, but will answer on this occasion.

A player does not incur a penalty for accidentally moving a fellow competitor's ball-marker. I suspect that the questioner meant to refer to an opponent and not a fellow competitor.

Barry