I am sure that you know that before making a stroke at a ball that is in a bunker you may not touch the ground in that bunker with your club. I would guess that almost every golfer with an official handicap knows this part of Rule 13-4 and that most of us are careful to hover our sand wedge well above the surface, to avoid incurring a penalty. Not so, Swedish golfer, Anna Nordqvist, who brushed the sand with the heel of her club on one of the most important strokes of her career, during a 3-hole playoff of a major, the Women’s US Open in CordeValle, San Martin, California. At the time of writing, there is a video and commentary on this breach of Rule at this SkySports link (after the ad. at around 60 seconds).
For the second time in two weeks, the USGA is the subject of much criticism following a US Open major tournament. Almost everyone who has seen the video accept that Nordqvist did breach Rule 13-4, but many are unhappy about the timing of the intervention by the officials to inform both players that the penalty of two strokes had been imposed. Most impartial observers agree that the officials should have waited until after the eventual winner, Brittany Lang, had played her 3rd stroke to the 18th green, as she then had the advantage of playing more conservatively than she otherwise would. It is obvious that the Ruling Bodies will have to address the question of the timing of advising players of (possible) penalties, whether incurred by themselves, or by their fellow competitors. Unfortunately, this may mean even more complications being added to the already creaking Rules and Decisions books.
My last word on this incident is that for some time I have thought that this Rule, relating to grounding a club in a hazard, is one that should be amended sooner rather than later. It is obvious that a player can obtain very little information about the condition of the hazard that their ball lies in, by touching its surface with their club, especially as the Rules do permit them to test the condition of any other hazard, providing their ball lies outside a hazard at the time. Also, regarding bunkers, Exception 2 to Rule 13-4 permits players, at any time, to smooth sand or soil in the hazard that their ball lies in, provided this is for the sole purpose of caring for the course and nothing is done to breach Rule 13-2 with respect to their next stroke. In my opinion, it is time to eliminate this Rule, which would be one small step towards their simplification.
Dustin Johnson Not Penalised for Causing His Ball to Move!
If you are of the opinion that the Ruling Bodies were unduly harsh on Dustin Johnson at the US Open last month, you might be interested in this short video clip from July 2013, when he was not assessed a penalty for causing his ball to move, after dropping his ball-marker on his ball. Although it was clearly evident that he was the cause of his ball moving, the ruling was that the ball then settled back to its original spot. In this situation, the weight of evidence was apparently less than 50% that the ball had moved from its spot. According to the Definition of Moved.
A ball is deemed to have "moved" if it leaves its position and comes to rest in any other place.Golf Rules Quick Reference
The content is set out in eight logical headings, each conveniently opened through a colour coded index tab, with sub-divisions into meaningful, short sections that are easy to read and understand and are complemented by clever, explanatory illustrations. Many sections also contain a note, or tip, to further clarify the content. The back cover alone is worth regular reference and memorising, because it provides an overview of the relief procedures under four vertical columns: Fairway & Rough, Bunker, Water Hazard, Green; and five horizontal rows: Loose Impediments, Movable Obstructions, Immovable Obstructions, Abnormal Ground Conditions, Declaring a Ball Unplayable. Brilliant! I am pleased to highly recommend ‘Golf Rules Quick Reference’, as being an excellent booklet to pop into your golf bag for quick and simple reference to the majority of Rules situations that you are likely to encounter.
If you are like me and are relying more and more on your smart phone for news, sport, social media, reading material and apps, then you should also check out Expert Golf’s ‘iGolfrules’ app. Just as easy to reference as the above booklet, you can use this app to find the right solution to your Rules query with a maximum of 3 clicks. In addition to the aforementioned illustrations, there are also explanatory videos covering various areas of misunderstanding that some golfers have, such as relief from lateral water hazards and unplayable ball.
Of course, both of the above products include the January 2016 amendments to the Rules. In fact, one of the sections lists and explains the main changes. They are also available in more than ten different languages. Finally, having been familiar with the various publications by Rules official, Yves C Ton-That, for several years, I am confident that the content is accurate and I have no hesitation in recommending them to my readers and subscribers. Click here for purchase details (the 3rd item on top row).
The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2016 and may not be copied without permission.