Jerry Kelly And The Case Of The Green Line
By Kickntrue on 3/7/11
The most interesting golf story of the weekend for me has to be the ruling at the Honda Classic of Jerry Kelly's not lost ball. From Stephanie Wei of
When Jerry Kelly saw his ball headed left for a cluster of palm trees on No. 6 at PGA National, he said to his caddie, “I hope that doesn’t stick up there.” It did — Kelly’s ball (a Srixon marked with a green line) was lodged in the foliage about 30-40 feet in the air. Witnesses saw the ball fly into the tree and stop where it did (it was visible from the ground if you knew where to look), so there was no question that it was his, right? Not so fast. According to the rules of golf, Kelly, who is T2 going into the final round of the Honda Classic, must be able to identify his ball without a question of doubt.
I'm not going to paste the entire story (Wei's reporting deserves a click), but it's pretty interesting. Basically a photographer with a mega camera took a picture and then they used the image on his viewfinder to try to identify the mark to ensure it was actually Kelly's ball. The process of deciding took over 15 minutes and including the crowd harassing the rules officials into reversing their decision and determining they could see a green line on the ball (making it Kelly's). Wei said she looked at the photo on the camera later and could not see the line.

Of course- there is a 99.9% chance it really was Kelly's ball- since the hundreds of spectators there watched the ball end up there- but the rules state you MUST be able to tell it's yours- with no doubt. The difference is an unplayable lie (1 stroke penalty at site) versus taking a lost ball and having to go back to the tee- losing both stroke and distance.

Pretty crazy story and despite getting the ruling correct in actuality- it Wei's account sure reads like the officials had made up their mind and were then swayed by a restless crowd.

Below is a picture taken of the ball in the tree. I'd love to see it blown up- but I don't see a green line and certainly don't know how you'd see one on a camera's viewfinder.
The Photo

photo source

[ comments ]
scottccherry says:
I see something that looks like it could be the start of a green line on the right side of the ball, but nothing that I could deem totally affirmative. Tough break for Jerry though, he was about a quarter of a rotation from being able to be 100% positive.
birdieXris says:
yea. i mean. i don't see a green line. Anywhere. That COULD be the start of a green line, or it could be a shadow in a dimple, or it could be the name of the ball starting in a dimple. I dunno. I mean, yea the crowd watched it happen, but like the rules say, you have to identify positively yourself. I don't think he could do that. It woulda sucked for him to go back for a lost ball, but in this past year of rules violations, don't we want to get them all right and not just the ones that the crowd likes?
Neo says:
Definitely no line in that pic. If we can have phone-in ruling, why can't someone go climb that tree and get the ball? Then we can have an after tournament DQ!

PS--Phone-in rulings disgust me.
grady3rd says:
After the round was completed, Slugger White had someone go out and take the ball out of the tree and it was definitely Jerry Kelly's ball. The officials got the ruling correct. The bottom line is that Kelly said it was his ball without a doubt and White accepted it, as he should have.
homermania says:
I just wish someone with an HD TV could call in and make the decision.
Banker85 says:
that pic was hard to judge by, i think the fact that all the witnesses seen it land in the tree and not fall is indication that it was infact Kelly's ball. glad to see they did the right thing.
stedar says:
Had that happen to me recently. The ball was in the top of the tree, couldn't prove it was my ball as it was 30' up and could not see the markings clearly. I had to go back and play a lost ball from the tee. It was match play and I was 1 down with 2 to go. Lost the hole and match. Damn tree (can't blame the tree really, shouldn't have hit it there in the first place :-)
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