Carl Pettersson is the latest victim of the Rules of Golf
By mustang6560 on 8/13/12
Following an errant tee shot on the first hole of the final round of the PGA Championship, Carl Pettersson found himself in a lateral hazard. Rule 13-4c of the Rules of Golf, states that a player cannot "Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard." The definition of the rule is pretty straightforward, however, the application of the rule proved to be awkward Sunday.

Prior to his swing, Carl confirmed with the walking rules official that it is OK to brush the grass in the hazard during his backswing. But, hidden in the rule official's answer was that it is NOT OK to touch the leaf that was in the grass behind Carl's golf ball. So as he made his backswing, his club made contact with the leaf, which is a no-no according to Rule 13-4c (see video below). The shot was reviewed and Carl was assessed a two-stroke penalty on the fourth hole for touching a loose impediment in a hazard, so his par turned into a double bogey.

It was an unfortunate situation because Carl was in contention at that moment, however, in the end, it proved to be irrelevant as Rory McIlroy ran away with the tournament. I'm not sure if the rule could or should be changed to prevent further unfortunate situations, but the rule seems to be silly. In my opinion, if you can brush the grass behind your golf ball, then you should be able to touch whatever is in the grass behind your golf ball too.



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[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
how about instead of changing the rules, you dont hit it in the hazard?
8/13/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
Moving a loose impediment in a hazard during your swing seems pretty ticky tack. Try playing out of a bunker in Autumn without touching any of the fallen leaves!
8/13/12
 
falcon50driver says:
It's not fair that some guys shoot lower scores. Let's quit keeping score so that everyone who plays is a winner. The guys who make millions on the tour should share that money with the guys who miss the cut too.
8/13/12
 
GolfnDawg says:
If someone can give an example of how this action improved his lie in any way then I will agree that this ruling was not completly assinine. The "spirit" of this rule is so you don't improve your lie by brushing away loose impediments during your backswing, not kicking a leaf up that lands IN HIS SWING PATH thus making the shot potentially more difficult.
8/13/12
 
dartboss04 says:
Could the air movement created in the takeaway cause the leaf to move and would the ruling be any different? How are they sure he touched the leaf?
8/13/12
 
GBogey says:
If someone gets a ruling and still incurs a penalty, then perhaps the rules / interpretation have gotten too complex. I'm also confused as to how one is allowed to hit the lead on the downswing but not on the backswing.
8/13/12
 
Bryan K says:
Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.
8/13/12
 
Backquak says:
Yeah dartboss, his club was blocking the wind and when he takes it back the wind blows the leaf up, should not be a penalty for that
8/13/12
 
bobhooe says:
If the walking official didn’t asses the penalty I'm sure some loser D bag sitting on his couch 2 inches from the T.V. with rule book in hand would have called and made sure justice was served.
8/13/12
 
jrbizzle says:
Here's the deal -w as the leaf a big deal, no. But what if it was two leaves, do you still let it go? Okay, how about 4? How about a twig? A stick?

Rules are rules, they are there to prevent cheating. Petterson was not trying to cheat, but he knew he was in a hazard, he even checked. he should have treated it like a bunker shot (not the Kiawah "sandy areas") and hovered the club to prevent any possible infraction.
8/13/12
 
Backquak says:
its not like he did it intentionally, and that is really the spirit of the rule, if he had intentionally brushed the leaf out on his backswing trying to move it out of the way or improve his lie, then yes penalty, but its obvious that was not the case. I guess he should not have listened to the official that told him it was ok to brush the grass.
8/13/12
 
birdieXris says:
The point everyone is missing on this is that he was in a HAZARD. When your'e in a hazard it's meant to be a penalty. He's lucky enough that he had a play within the hazard and the rules of golf allow for that.. you can play out of the hazard as long as you don't do certain things. Grounding the club or moving loose impediments are two of those things. It doesn't matter if your'e in a sand trap filled with leaves or tick something on your backswing. You're not allowed to do it. If you think you might, it may be better to take the one stroke penalty that you're supposed to get and play it within the rules. Playing out of hazards is supposed to be hard. EVerybody bitches about not having a raked sand bunker or whatever. Don't hit it there! That's on you. Carl got what he was supposed to get by the rules of golf. I agree it sucks that it needed to be played at 3000 FPS in order to see it, but when yo'ure playing for that kind of money, you have to assume it will happen. Anybody ask David Lynn how he feels?? $$$$
8/13/12
 
birdieXris says:
it's not that he moved the leaf, it's that he moved it when he was in a hazard. It has nothing to do with the grass. Loose impediments cannot be moved in hazards.
8/13/12
 
GolfnDawg says:
sorry birdieX you are missing the point here. If it's supposed to be a penalty to be in a hazard then assess the penalty and don't let him play out. There are different rules in a hazard, but they need to be able to be played out fairly or else penalize the stroke, take a drop and move on. As it was he was able to play out of he hazard and got a 2 stroke penalty for a leaf tha moved INTO his club path presumably from his club moving back along the grass in a legal manner.

The context of this instance violates everything in rule 13 which is strictly prohibiting gaining an advantage of which he clearly did not. It wasn't even clear in slo-mo (which is another issue altogether) whether the leaf was flipped up by the wind or the club.

It's just sad to me that we have come from the days of people trying to stop players from calling penalties on themselves to using video to call penalties on actions nobody in their right mind would call an advantageous action.
8/13/12
 
birdieXris says:
@ golfndawg. I'm not missing anything here - the rule is clear as day and there is really no room for interpretation. It doesn't matter if he "meant to" in this case. There is no context. you are not allowed to touch or move a loose impediment in a hazard. There's a neat trick in this week's golf magazine. It's for when you can't take a backswing because of breaking branches, etc (also a penalty). You set at the top and only swing forward. He could have very well done that. He did not gain an advantage by the leaf moving but his proximity to the leaf with his backswing would totally constitute saying that he would have caused it to move. There is no wind shown, his pants aren't moving, nothing else is moving in any sort of breeze at that point. He moved it when he brushed the grass. Brushing the grass is legal - it's an integral part of the course, moving the leaf is not. It's a loose impediment in a hazard.
8/13/12
 
birdieXris says:
to the point of just taking the penalty and not having a chance to play out of a hazard- that would piss me off to no end, i don't know about you guys. that's the rule for OB and i don't know how many times i've found my ball right near the line perfectly playable but OB by a ball's length. No playing, have to take a penalty. That's maddening. Play it out of the hazard, but be sure you play it fairly and within the rules. It's simple. Carl is just mad because it cost him more than i make in 7 years at my job. As it should make him mad, but it's the rules.
8/13/12
 
GolfHappy1 says:
The rule should be changed such that you can hit something behind your ball if you are in a hazard provided you complete the stroke. That way there would be no need for such pathetic penalties.

To have a rule whereby you need a slo-mo camera handy to be able to make a decision isn't a rule that should be necessary within the game.

Trial by camera: Petterson gets a 2 shot penalty whilst McIlroy gains 2 shots by finding his ball in the tree - fair?
8/13/12
 
bducharm says:
The Rules of Golf weren't meant to be fair - they are just that - RULES! Every time a rules situation comes up people want to change the rules. I say understand the rules better and don't break them. Then there will not be issues!
8/13/12
 
chief_broom says:
I thought he was in the clear too because he completed his swing, but obviously not.
8/13/12
 
birdieXris says:
@golfhappy. Completely fair. That's not a fair assessment though. Rory had found his ball but had to take an unplayable and a stroke penalty.
8/13/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
The rules are severe for a reason, they have to be black and white and unfortunately sometimes people are going to get "screwed" in unusual circumstances. This rule is not really intended to punish Carl Petterson for moving that leaf, but this same rule also protects against ppl improving the lie in an appreciable way as jrbizz points out. Anyways Petterson is a big time pro he should know this rule and its major implications, so you cannot appreciate the way he whined about it and tried to deflect some of the blame on the official, or on the rule itself. Hopefully he learned a lesson, hazards tend to be full of loose impediments so watchout.
8/13/12
 
falcon50driver says:
It's just possible that a person might try to brush a leaf out of his swing path with the backstroke, not saying he did....
8/13/12
 
mmontisano says:
I don't know about you guys, but I haven't heard Carl complain about it at all. when he was notified about the penalty, he just said "f$&@" and moved on to birdie the next 2 holes. he knows what he did and he accepted it and I don't see why this is an issue.
8/13/12
 
elindholm says:
What happens when there are loose impediments that are too small to see? Tiny insects, specks of dust? It's impossible to make a swing without disturbing _something._ It's arbitrary to say that some loose impediments are large enough to count and some aren't. If it has to be a penalty, make the player take a drop; but it's silly to invite the player to take a stroke while needing to guess whether a penalty will be assessed afterward.
8/13/12
 
golfingbumunderpar64 says:
Haha I like how birdiex is saying the stuff he is. I still trying to figure out with his 145 yd drives and avg score of almost 80 he can have a 3.5 hcp but anyways. It is the rule but we can all agree that golf has some of the dumbest rules in any sport. It sucks for Carl . And someone said it didn't matter cause rory ran away with it anyway. Anyone who has played competitive golf or is worth a crap at the game knows that momentum is HUGE!!!!!! If Carl never gets that penalty, rory prob still would have won, but it would have been a different rd.
8/14/12
 
birdieXris says:
@golfingbumunderpar67: My drives are closer to 280 usually, that 145 numbers is an unfortunate miscue of the distance off tee stat. Also, i carry a 3.5 with that scoring average because i tend to be hugely inconsistent. I mix 1.4s with 5s and come up somewhere in the middle. I also play a lot of different courses with different ratings, rather than the same course 20 times in a 2 month period. There are actually a couple people that say 3.5 may even be a little high.
8/14/12
 
RSThunstrom says:
who cares who's right @birdieXris is a d bag for thinking that his deductive reasoning is clearly superior to everyone else in the forum. How can we argue with the great birdieXris, clearly he has thought out every logical iteration of the rules...clearly him rubbing the leaf gave him no advantage, yes he hit it in the hazard, but you can hit out of hazards.
8/14/12
 
Matt McGee says:
I wonder how many among us would take a two-stroke penalty, or call it on a competitor, for the leaf that Petterson disturbed. Some would argue that the situation is different. I would argue that the rules are the same for the pros as they are for the rest of us, and as a percentage of my net worth, that penalty could cost me more than it did Petterson. That said, I can see both sides. This is a nit-picky call, especially since a rules official ok-ed the action that inadvertently caused the penalty. On the other hand, that nit-picky rule is in place because some a-hole continually tried to gain an advantage playing under a more general rule.
8/14/12
 
birdieXris says:
@RST - OK i'll bite. I love trolls :) I'm defending it because others are bashing it without citing the whole facts. Assuming you have one, Open a rule book, go to rule 13-4c and read the whole thing. It says nothing about NOT being able to hit it out of the hazard (and neither do my posts). Then go to the USGA decisions (not birdiexris's decisions, that's another book) and read 13-4/22 which describes this nearly identical situation in a sand hazard (which by definition is the same thing). There is no deductive reasoning needed. The rules official did nothing wrong, so i wish people would stop beating them up.. Also i fail to see how i'm a D bag for defending the correct information? Afterall, i haven't called anyone a name, or put them down. That's kinda low brow, bro. BUT, if you can tell me why he shouldn't be penalized with actual facts other than "give him a break it was no big deal" i'll be the 1st to petition the USGA for a rules change.
8/14/12
 
jcstoll says:
FYI, according to the official definition of "stroke", the backswing is technically not part of it. A stroke is the forward movement of the club made with the intention of striking at and moving the ball. So by that definition, there's no difference between knocking a loose impediment with the backswing and swatting it before you even address the ball.
8/14/12
 
Bryan K says:
It's a dumb rule. I personally don't like the rule that you can't ground your club in a hazard at all. It ranks right up there with the lost ball penalty that I happen to incur a lot when I play by myself on holes that are going into the sun. But I understand the reason for the rule, and that's important. Rules need to make sense. If they don't make sense, people won't follow them. So in this case, I believe the rule needs to be changed so that if a person is in the process of swinging and completes his swing, a penalty will not be incurred. That way, the rule makes sense.
8/14/12
 
GolfnDawg says:
ok birdie...13 4/22 says nothing to even come close to this. Its talking about sticking a rake in the ground in a bunker thus testing conditions. Where you meaning something else?

BTW, I don't think you're a d-bag. you have legit points for your line of thinking and I respect that. My bottom line is that the rule 13 (the whole rule not just 4c) was put in place to stop you from improving your lie or gaining and advantage in your shot. The over encompassing Rules of Golf were laid out in such a way that the player should and would be able to call penalties on themselves (not by a guy watching a video screen in slo-mo...again this was not called by the walking official). This is not a "give him a break not big deal" this is a "he couldnt have called that on himself if he wanted to" and "he gained no advantage" arguement.
8/14/12
 
birdieXris says:
@golfndawg my bad, I typoed, it's 33 not 22. That's what I get for not paying attention at work haha. Good catch. Not perfect afterall. Though, while I have always seen your point, I think the use of the slow motion is justified on this stage. I also still think that he may have seen it but didn't realize it was a penalty. Ultimately we don't know but getting.different rules and loosening up the interpretations isn't going to help the situation, only confuse it more. What becomes intent then? Oh my backsliding is just wide they might say, and is it enough that it's the word of the pro? IMO and only my opinion, the rules of golf are just specific and nitpicky enough to keep players honest. It's a game of honesty but you get what I'm saying I'm sure. When you loosen things up you let room for "creative dishonesty" which has no place but then...Can you ever really tell?
8/14/12
 
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