Rory gets another 2 shot penalty, a ball in a cactus tree : recent rulings on tour

Golfers whether professional or amateur play by the same rules.  There have been some interesting rulings and situations already in 2014 on the professional tours from which we can all learn.   Rory McIlroy’s 2 shot penalty in Abu Dhabi cost him the tournament.   He dropped his ball away from an area marked as GUR but he was still standing on the line defining the GUR when he played the shot so he did not take full relief as required by the rules.   You must re-drop the ball if you still have interference from the situation for example if you are still standing in water when taking relief from casual water or still standing on a path when taking relief from the path.   You do not have the option of taking ‘half’ relief so either leave the ball where it is and play it as it lies or take relief correctly.   When taking free relief from casual water or obstructions like paths drop the ball within a club length of the nearest point of relief.   You are not obliged to measure out the club length and can estimate the distance but by doing so it ensures that you proceed correctly.   Rule 20-2 covers situations in which you must re-drop the ball.   At the same tournament Phil Michelson tried to play his ball from under a bush rather drop a ball under the unplayable rule, Rule 28 and in the process the ball hit his club which cost him a penalty stroke and he barely cleared the bush with the stroke.   He ended up taking a 7 at a par 4 and finished tied second with McIlroy, one shot behind the winner Pablo Larrazabal.   In his post round interview he said he couldn’t take an unplayable without stroke and distance, i.e. back from where he had played it but he didn’t seem to consider the option of going back a short distance on line with where the ball was under the bush.  He would then have been hitting his third shot to the green rather than his fifth.   At the Pro-Am in Pebble Beach DA Points took a piece of training equipment like a rubber ball out of his bag while killing time waiting to play on the 18th tee and took practice swings with the ball under his arm.   The player was unaware of the rule which does not allow the use of any artificial device during a stipulated round that might assist a player in making a stroke or in his play, Rule 14-3 and he was disqualified from the tournament.   Kevin Stadler’s ball ended up in a cactus tree in Arizona last weekend and even though he could see and reach his ball he could have cut himself while trying to remove it so having identified it as his ball he was permitted to drop another ball under the unplayable rule as the rule states that under penalty of one stroke the player may drop ‘a’ ball, Rule 28.   The commentator questioned the substitution which was permitted under the rule.   All of the above situations are covered in the basic rules with which players and caddies should be very familiar.   The ‘Quick Guide to the Rules’ at the beginning of the rule book covers the basics and should be read frequently so that you know what to do on the course and to avoid unnecessary penalties or disqualification.   Let me know if any situations have arisen in you own game where you were unsure as to how to proceed correctly under the rules and I will be happy to cover it in this blog.

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