Confused by Rule 26-1? Don't feel bad.
An Unnecessary Shortage of Rules Officials?
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/17/13
You may be as surprised as I was when I found out about this. As reported by Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press, The Masters is the only major championship that does not have a rules official assigned to each group on the course.

Having a rules official with every group does not, of course, guarantee that no rules mistakes will occur. Ferguson noted one infamous case where Lee Janzen violated Rule 13-2 by wiping dew away from where his ball lay at the 2001 U.S. Open Championship, the rules official traveling with his group apparently failed to notice the violation. Janzen was not disqualified, but the two-stroke penalty forced his score over the cut-line, bouncing him out of the weekend. Most of you will also remember an incorrect ruling given to Ernie Els during the third round of the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

Your correspondent will admit to still being confused by Rule 26-1; I would have guessed that Tiger was proceeding under Rule 26-1b, and that the drop was legal.

As for the firestorm of criticism from people who insist that Tiger should have withdrawn, it seems apparent that they are not aware of the existence of Rule 33-7. Full disclosure: I wasn't aware of 33-7, either. And while the idea of really studying the Rules of Golf seems almost as attractive as preparing for the LSAT, the fact of the matter is that the Rules of Golf exist not only to present the rules, but also to protect us and our scorecards in certain situations.

As for the Tournament Rules Committee at Augusta National Golf Club, it is quite certain that they will want to avoid anything of this sort in the future. This writer expects that when the 78th Masters Tournament tees off 51 weeks from now, an experienced rules official will walk with each group. Frankly, I am extremely surprised that this was not already the case!


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Photo by Torleif Sorenson


[ comments ]
...the Murseless says:
Rule 33-7 was not relevant to Tiger's situation, unless you consider that forgetting the correct options when taking a drop constitutes an "exceptional individual case". If so, then you basically turn disqualifications into a completely subjective, if not arbitrary, punishment, to be invoked at the whim of the rules committee.
4/17/13
 
mjaber says:
I suppose you could say that the Master's has used to rule 33-7 to make the case that Tiger is an "exceptional individual"...
4/17/13
 
falcon50driver says:
No arguement there, so is Dennis Rodman.
4/17/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
So you can admit to using PED's *caugh* Vijay *caugh* and not (yet) get any penalty to your score or playing time.

But if forget one of the much more complex rules of golf and drop the ball 5' away from the correct spot you should be DQ'ed?

I dont think that the integrity of the game was jeopardized by giving him a 2 stroke penalty (hell I dont think it would have been jeopardized with no penalty). So a DQ seems a little harsh imo.

This coming from someone who really doesn't like Tiger.
4/17/13
 
DoubleDingo says:
He proceed under 26-1a. Had he proceeded under 26-1b he would have been over by the drop zone because the ball entered on the green-side of the water; therefore the line in which the ball entered the water was far left of his original shot. Hitting from over there gave him a bad line as did the drop zone itself. So he dropped further back from the original shot while thinking doing so was okay. Heck, even I thought you could drop further back in that situation, but now I know better.
4/17/13
 
Werepuppie says:
The reason they invoked the rule was because they reviewed the drop BEFORE he finished playing and decided it was legal.This was an error.They only discovered it when Tiger said it in the press conference.
Had they made the CORRECT decision in the first place,that the drop was not legal,and a 2 stroke penalty was going to be given,then they would have informed Tiger after the round in the scorers area,thus preventing him from signing an erroneous scorecard.
They must have felt that since they bore some responsibilty,they would wave the DQ.
4/17/13
 
...the Murseless says:
Nonsense - if Tiger had simply woken up on Saturday morning, recalled the drop, and realized he misapplied the rule, he would have informed the rules committee that he should have been penalized another two strokes, and they would have DQ'd him. There is nothing that the rules committee was responsible for that could have changed the actions that Tiger took.

The canard about the rules committee being somehow responsible is completely misplaced - it is not their responsibility to warn every competitor about every action they might take. Regardless, only Tiger had all the information required to make the ruling, and it was Tiger who was ultimately responsible for calling the penalty on himself.
4/17/13
 
Werepuppie says:
Let me ask you this.If the rules comittee knows that a player has commited a possibly inadvertant misapplication of the rules,should they wait to see if he signs his card,and then DQ him?
You make it sound like Tiger knew he was taking an illegal drop,and was hoping to get away with it.If the rules commitee had no responsibility,why would they invoke the special section of the rules to waive DQ?
4/17/13
 
...the Murseless says:
Of course not. But that is not the situation that occurred here. The rules committee wasn't even aware of the misapplication of the rules in this case - because that happened inside Tiger's head. So suggesting they 'knew' is a misrepresentation. And whether he broke the rule inadvertently is irrelevant- I don't know of anyone who honestly thinks he purposefully cheated, and I certainly don't - but here's the thing: the rules of golf are strict to the point of being silly, yes: but you can't just change the rules during a competition because you think they are silly.

Let me ask you this: a player hits into the woods, and takes 15 strokes to get out, but a course official on the hole only counts 14 strokes and the player honestly only remembers 14 strokes at the time... If the player remembers the 15th stroke the next day and informs the committee at that point, should he be DQ'd according to the rules?
4/18/13
 
...the Murseless says:
I'll note that your question itself is also not the issue: the question is not whether the rules committee acted morally, but whether, according to the rules, there was an infraction and if there was an infraction, what should be the prescribed penalty.

Did Tiger sign an incorrect scorecard? Yes. Did he have all the relevant information at the time of signing the scorecard to accurately calculate his score? Yes. Was there any piece of information outside the likely scope of his awareness that caused his score to change without his knowledge? No. There really is nothing exceptional about this situation that would make rule 33-7 apply.
4/18/13
 
jasonfish11 says:
I was wondering about something when Brandel Chamblee was asking for a strict application of the rules (and a DQ).

He was saying that Tiger should have dropped the ball in his own divot.

Assume Tiger hit the shot correctly (which he did) wouldn't his divot be infront of the original ball therefore a drop in his divot would be closer to the hole? So if he dropped the ball where his 1st ball was and the drop rolled into the divot would he then get a 2nd drop because the ball is now closer to the hole than his original ball?

Or is 2" closer good enough and he should play it out of the divot?
4/18/13
 
Dusty23 says:
Regardless of how many officials are there, isn't it the practice that the rules official will step in only when asked by the player, this isn't the NFL where the guy's going to throw a flag every time he sees an infraction. If there are that many rules officials out there, why does it seem to sometimes take forever for one to arrive onscene when they are called for.
4/18/13
 
Werepuppie says:
The Rules Committee WAS aware of the problem with the drop.It was called in BEFORE he finished,and they examined the video and decided there was no foul.That was why they waived the DQ.
If this was not the case why did they waive the DQ?
4/18/13
 
Torleif Sorenson says:
DoubleDingo: "...he would have been over by the drop zone because the ball entered on the green-side of the water; therefore the line in which the ball entered the water was far left of his original shot."

THAT helps me understand how Tiger mis-applied the rule! Correct me if I'm wrong here, but my understanding is that Tiger should have either hit from the designated drop-zone, or from the FAIRWAY side of the water hazard, staying on the transverse line beginning at the flagstick and proceeding through the point where the ball crossed the hazard line before rolling into the pond.
4/18/13
 
Werepuppie says:
Correct.Since that line basically put him on the bridge-walkway it was not really an option.
4/18/13
 
...the Murseless says:
Why did they waive the DQ? There are many theories, Werepuppy, not all of which show Augusta National in a good light. However, what was called in based on the video was not unambiguously sufficient to assess a penalty, at least from the perspective of those reviewing the video at the time (giving them the benefit of the doubt); the unambiguos problem with the drop was Tiger's intent, which was not known by anyone except Tiger until after he signed his scorecard. As such, your statement is incorrect, since the rules committee was unaware at the time of the primary problem with the drop. That is why, after all, the rules committee penalized Tiger by two strokes - because new information was provided to them by Tiger himself after the round. Something changed between Friday and Saturday, and that something was their knowledge of Tiger's intent.

And Tiger's intent was clearly known by Tiger before he signed his scorecard, which is why 33-7 should not have been applied.
4/18/13
 
...the Murseless says:
Jasonfish - interestingly, neither 26-1a nor 27-1 mention _dropping_ the ball; this is distinct from the other forms of relief which explicitly talk about dropping the ball. Now, some clarifying decisions that are associated with 27-1 mention dropping the ball, but the rule itself is silent on the topic. I never noticed that before.
4/18/13
 
Werepuppie says:
Are you saying that intent determines the violation?If Tiger drops someplace not as near as possible to the spot due to carelessness,then it is not a foul?
4/19/13
 
...the Murseless says:
Yes. Ask yourself why the rules committee changed their mind after hearing Tiger's explanation of his intent.

There are a number of rules of golf that are absolutely dependent on intent - surely, this is not a surprise..? From the most basic rule of what constitutes a swing, through the more obscure (e.g., is dropping a ball on the green penalty worthy?) intent can be instrumental in whether a particular action should be penalized. This is only workable, of course, since it is ultimately the golfer's responsibility to police himself.

Looking up some history, the earliest rules historically available ( from the Gentlemen Golfer's of Leith circa 1744) consisted of 13 rules, two of which involved intent ("if you draw your Club inOrder to Strike..." and "At Holing, you are to play your Ball honestly for the Hole, and not to play upon your Adversary’s Ball, not lying in your way to"). So, yes, intent has been intrinsic to the rules of golf since the very beginning.
4/19/13
 
...the Murseless says:
To put 27-1a in perspective: the golfer does not have the benefit of a television screen and a recording of his previous shot. This particular rule expects the golfer to make his best effort to play from the same place. Given that, after walking over to the drop zone and then to the line defined by the hole and where the ball entered the hazard, Tiger might not have known exactly from where he played his last shot, it might even have been reasonable for him to drop within a couple of yards of where he last played. But he explicitly said he purposefully dropped his ball a couple of yards behind where he thought was the spot.
4/19/13
 
Werepuppie says:
I thought that he was penalized for droping 2yds behind the spot.Not because he thought that would be a better place to play from.I thought the rules committee could not clearly determine if he dropped further back or not.That was why the called it no foul,until Tiger admitted he droped 2yds further back.
You are saying that if his drop was way off the mark,it would not matter unless he thought droping there was an advantage.I thought it did not matter why you droped incorrectly,it was a foul because you did drop incorrectly.
4/19/13
 
...the Murseless says:
You live, you learn.
4/19/13
 
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