Monday, 11 July 2016

July Miscellany

Nordqvist Breaches Rule during Women’s US Open 3-Hole Playoff
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
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Good golfing,




The above content is strictly copyright to Barry Rhodes © 2016 and may not be copied without permission.

14 comments:

Roy Lee said...

Hi Barry,
In Nordqvist's case, would you invoke Decision 18/4? It seems this was put in to prevent all the couch referees phoning in and claiming a breach based on what they saw on their HD tvs. But it seems now the USGA are reviewing the video during the round themselves.
Along the reasoning for 18/4, I don't think Nordqvist should have been imposed the penalty.
What do you think?
Roy

Barry Rhodes said...

Roy,

Decision 18/4 covers a ball moving, so does not apply in this circumstance in which it was Anna's lie that was changed, albeit marginally, by the displacement of sand with her club.

Barry

Roy Lee said...

I was just wondering if we could apply the same logic and approach used in 18/4 to Anna's case. Instead of the ball moving, it is touching the sand and whether this could have been reasonably discernible to the naked eye. Clearly it was through the use of HD TV footage that officials could see the sand move. Just my thoughts.

terryw said...

Barry, I agree that the penalty was harsh (though I don't think your quoted exceptions are very relevant) but if this rule is removed how do you differentiate between a player who happens to brush a few grains of sand on her backswing from someone who deliberately sweeps away a small mountain behind the ball in order to improve their lie?

On the general point of televised replays I think the process should be that a transgression of any rule that would not have been visible at the time to the naked eye should be treated as having not occurred.

Regarding the earlier incident with DJ when he was deemed to have made the ball move, I assume he had marked, lifted and replaced his ball prior to preparing to take his stroke? If so, it is more likely that the act of replacing the ball on a spot from which it could move was the cause of the (belated) movement. If this does happen, is the correct procedure to move the ball back to its original place, but without penalty?

best regards, Terry Wall

ian cooper said...


On a separate point I have a query in respect of problems caused by the strong winds at the Scottish Open.
You have made it clear on a number of occasions that a ball replaced on the green is in play whether or not a ball marker is in place.
Why then were players not penalised when, having replaced their ball at the marker the wind blew it away and they picked it up and replaced it back at the marker. Some did it a number of times. Thomas Bjorn - I think - was in particular feature on TV doing this.
Regards,
Ian Cooper

Barry Rhodes said...

Roy,

Many others have the same thought, but it would require a new Decision, perhaps in January 2018.

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Terry,

In my opinion, a small amendment to Rule 18-2 could deal with a player that purposely improves their lie on their backswing.

On your point regarding TV replays I have commented before that in my opinion a player has more to lose if viewers see their ball moving, or the sand being displaced, if they are not penalised, especially if they subsequently go on to win, or qualify. Videos of Rules breaches go viral and if the player is not penalised according to the Rules then they may forever carry a stigma over the result.

DJ was not penalised a second stroke for not replacing his ball because the referee, on the basis of incorrect information, confirmed that he should play his next stroke from where it had come to rest.

Barry

Barry Rhodes said...

Ian,

I can only conclude that you are mistaken. Most players and every referee knows that if a player has not caused their ball to move it must be played from where it comes to rest. Also, I have not heard, and cannot find any reference to the circumstance that you describe on any of my sources.

Barry

David Bannister said...

With respect to the timing of informing the players in the Women's Open - wouldn't 9-3 require immediately informing Lang as well as Nordqvist regardless of the state of play (i.e. how many strokes they have taken on the hole being played or a subsequent hole)? One can argue fairness and clearly sooner rather than later is the objective with respect to Nordqvist - but trying to arbitrarily judge that delaying telling Lang is somehow fair seems a bridge too far - to subjective.

slimpants said...

Nordqvist got absolutely screwed. Why would the video technician decide to Zoom In if the naked eye could not see an infraction? I noticed numerous examples at The Open and specifically on the postage stamp hole bunkers wherein several players (e.g. Speith "twice" in Round 2, and others during Round 4) had likely "moved" a few grains of sand with their take-aways. Extremely severe downhill lies. Did the video technician Zoom In on those shots ??
#joke

Barry Rhodes said...

Slimpants,

You will not be surprised that I do not agree with you. It seems that you were the only one that noticed "several players (e.g. Speith "twice" in Round 2, and others during Round 4) had likely "moved" a few grains of sand with their take-aways." I am not aware of any media reporter or even armchair viewer who reported these breaches that you noticed. All professional golfers know that they must not ground a club in a bunker and take care to hover their club above the sand.

Barry

slimpants said...

Therein lies the problem, Barry. Only the technician who takes it upon himself, for whatever reason, to Zoom In really knows if any sand is scraped during ANY take-away. And the TV broadcast typically only shows notable players' shots or those atop the leaderboard. In Speith's case Friday, I said to myself "Wow. He really had to get down low in order to pull off that 2nd downhill lie attempt. I'd like to see that one in slo-mo." Similarly for Bill Haas yesterday. But, we didn't get the luxury of a super slo-mo zoom like that which cost Nordqvist a Major.
I'm no conspiracy theorist, but the Fox commentators during Nordqvist's playoff shot said nothing whatsoever (at the time) about her possibly scraping the sand. Because the naked eye saw no infraction! Had it been Brittany Lang in that bunker, does the (presumably, American) TV technician still decide to "micro-inspect" the shot in super slo-mo zoom?
Horrific way to determine/ruin a Major Championship that otherwise would have had an excellent and exciting finish.
/rant
:)

StewartJ said...

Returning to Ian's question above - why were players not penalized for replacing their ball at their ball marker when the wind moved their ball. While I did not see the incidents, the rules are clear - if the ball was moved by the wind as soon as it was put on the ground - that is, it was never at rest - then it has not yet met the requirements for being replaced (see Rule 20-3d).

Barry Rhodes said...

Stewart,

As I said in my reply to Ian, there is no record of Thomas Bjorn, or any other player replacing their ball back at the marker when it was wind that caused it to move. If they had done so they would certainly have been penalised two strokes for lifting their ball in play and then playing from the wrong place (penalty statement uunder Rule 18.

Barry