Sometimes, you just need to draw a line!

Most all of us have now seen the video that resulted in Anna Nordqvist incurring a two-stroke penalty on the second hole of a three hole aggregate score playoff for the U.S. Women’s Open Championship title. Was she deserving of it?

Rule 13-4 deals with certain restrictions that are in place when a player’s ball lies in a hazard: either a bunker or a water hazard. Specifically, section “B” of the Rule states that the player must not “Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club.”

Those grains of sand in a bunker are considered to be “ground in the hazard” and as a result of her club touching the sand, she definitely was in breach of the Rule. The penalty for doing so in stroke play is two strokes.

Some will argue that she barely touched the sand and was not deserving of a two stroke penalty. Maybe just one, or possibly none at all?

That opens a can of worms and introduces a principal in the Rules of golf to all of us; sometimes, you just have to draw a line. Either she did or she didn’t. Is it out or is it in? Is it on or is it off?

  • If a ball is out of bounds by just one-half of an inch the penalty is the same as if it was out of bounds by a mile; stroke and distance. If one dimple of the golf ball is in bounds, play on without penalty.
  • If a ball overhangs the putting green but does not physically touch the putting green, you cannot lift and clean it. If it physically touches the putting green, you may lift it, clean off the mud, and replace it before playing on.
  • If a ball overhangs the hole and falls in ten seconds after the player reaches the hole, it is holed without additional penalty. If it falls in eleven seconds after the player reaches the hole, it is holed with one additional penalty stroke.
  • And finally, if you touch the sand with your club when your ball lies in that bunker, you lose the U.S. Women’s Open. If you do not touch the sand in the bunker with your club, you may be the U.S. Women’s Open Champion.

Remember, use the index or the table of contents to find the correct Rule that applies to the situation and follow the Rules of Golf to help yourself to enjoy the game of golf.

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