January 15, 2018

Rules of Golf - Identifying & Hazard Issues

Brian Harman was in a water hazard and had some questions for an official

While I was watching the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, and counting the days to the Masters (less than 80 by the way), I was looking for any rules issues that might be worthy of discussing. With only thirty-four players in the field, there weren’t many rules situations shown on television; however, Brian Harman did have a few questions for a rules official on his final hole.

On his 72nd hole, Brian Harman hit his second shot on the par-5 a little left and the ball landed between a bunker and a lateral water hazard and then bounced into some long grass inside the lateral water hazard. When Brian reached the area he located a ball in the long grass. Unable to tell if it was his ball, he called an official for assistance. Using Rule 12, the official advised Brian and allowed him to lift the ball for identification and he identified as his. Let’s take a closer look at Rule 12…

Rule 12 - Searching For And Identifying Ball, and more specifically Rule 12-2 Lifting Ball For Identification, tells us several things:

1.  The player should put an identification mark on his ball.

2.  If the player cannot identify his ball, he may lift the ball to identify it anywhere on the course.

3.  Before lifting, the player must announce his intentions to his fellow players and allow them the opportunity to observe the lifting and replacement. 

4.  The ball must not be cleaned beyond extent necessary for identification.

5.  The ball must be replaced.

After identifying the ball, Brian decided he would try to play it from the long grass. He then asked the official if he can touch the grass in the hazard with his club. Referencing Rule 13 – Ball Played As It Lies, the official explained that it was fine to touch the grass, provided he doesn’t move any loose impediments. Brian then played an excellent recovery shot from the long grass onto the green and two putted for par. The par-save left him in solo 3rd place and just one stroke ahead three other players.

Brian would have incurred a penalty if he did a few things in that water hazard including: a) testing the condition of the hazard, b) touch the ground in the hazard with a hand or club, or c) move any loose impediments. Additionally, he could not have rested his club on the grass to the point that the weight of the club was supported by the grass or he would’ve been considered touching the ground (See Decision 13-4/9).

There are many of restrictions in hazards so knowing the Rules can save you strokes.

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