Grounding Your Club In A Hazard
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One of those little attended rules of golf is that you’re not allowed to ground your clubs in a hazard. You can take practice swings inside a hazard, as long as you don’t touch the ground. Swishing the top of the grass is permitted, but this seems to me to be an unnecessary risk. Take those swings outside the hazard.
The penalty for grounding your club in a hazard is two strokes.
Rule 13-4 of the Rules of Golf:
Ball in Hazard; Prohibited Actions
Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:
a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;
b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club; or
c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.
Update: The latest professional victim of the rule was Dustin Johnson, who grounded his club in a not-very-well-marked bunker in the 2010 PGA Championship. That kept him out of the playoff, and possibly from a Major Victory.
Mark Wilson, PGA Official said that the
number one item on the local rule sheet as well as on posted notices in the locker room regarding the bunkers was to say that all of the areas that were designed and built as bunkers would be played as bunkers whether or not they were inside or outside the ropes. And the notice in the first item on the rules sheet went on to say that this may mean in the conduct of this championship some areas outside the ropes might have many footprints, heel prints or tire tracks and that nevertheless those are irregularities in the surface from which no relief would be permitted. Although some fo these areas outside the ropes may appear to have changed in terms of what a Tour player might normally expect, that in this unique case, with this great golf course with its many bunkers, they do have many different characteristics and that Dustin just didn’t recognize that fact.”
From the supplementary rules of play the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits:
1. Bunkers: All areas of the course that were designed and built as sand bunkers will be played as bunkers (hazards), whether or not they have been raked. This will mean that many bunkers positioned outside of the ropes, as well as some areas of bunkers inside the ropes, close to the rope line, will likely include numerous footprints, heel prints and tire tracks during the play of the Championship. Such irregularities of surface are a part of the game and no free relief will be available form these conditions.
Note 1: The sand area in front, left and behind No. 5 green in the later water hazard is NOT a bunker (do not move stones).
Note 2: Where necessary, blue dots define the margin of a bunker.
Before that, a prominent one was Michelle Wie, who let her club touch the ground after hitting her submerged ball from a water hazard. Two strokes.
There’s some video and a discussion here.
Also, note that this isn’t as much about Wie as it is professional golfers who, collectively, seem to have trouble with the rules.
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