2 rules incidents at BMW PGA Championship— Part 1
Being a golf rules’ enthusiast, I am reading about rules incidents from the local and international tournaments.
At the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, Surrey in May, there were at least two interesting Rule incidents both of which involved South African competitors.
Branden Grace taking (unfair?) relief
After eagling his 12th hole, Grace, was tied for the lead at six-under when he found his ball plugged in the sand on the upslope of a greenside bunker, giving him a very difficult lie to make any reasonable stroke from.
He took a stance, as though preparing for his stroke, shuffling and twisting his feet into the sand. But then he stepped away and called for a Rules official. He told him that when he took his stance his feet were touching the rubber lining to the bunker and that he was claiming free relief from this immovable obstruction, which is permitted by Rule 24-2b(ii).
There is no doubt that a player may take relief from an immovable obstruction interfering with their stance, but would the lining have been exposed if Grace had taken his stance with less twisting of the feet?
In the circumstance, the USGA Rules official, Mark Hill, had little option but to permit Grace the free relief by dropping his ball in a more favourable area of the bunker, within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, not nearer the hole, but there was much criticism from commentators and players, including Paul McGinley, who, as he watched the incident unfold, is believed to have said – according to the golf channel – that:
“It was ridiculous. If you twist your feet enough you are bound to eventually reach the bunker lining. That means anytime a player wants relief from a poor lie he can simply twist his feet until he reaches the bunker lining. That can’t be right.”
Incidentally, if an official had observed Grace digging into the sand with his feet and judged that he had done in excess of what was necessary to obtain a firm stance for the intended stroke, he could have penalised him by two strokes for a breach of Rule 13-4, as per Decision 13-4/0.5.
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