Who knows the golf rule?

In round two of the Masters Tiger Woods was hitting his third shot from the right center of the fairway. He hit it straight at the pin and the ball hit the flagstick, either on the fly or on the first bounce and then ricocheted at angle into the water hazard at least ten yards from the line over which it crossed the hazard before it hit the flagstick.

“26-1. Relief for Ball in Water Hazard

b. Drop a ball behind the water hazard, keeping the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped, with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped; …”

My question concerns the phrase “last crossed the margin of the water hazard.”

Tiger seemed to be proceeding as if he was taking this option as he did not play his fifth shot from the point where he played his third, but rather at a point two club lengths or so behind the original shot. If the ball last crossed the hazard when it ricocheted off of the flagstick Tiger used the wrong point, he should have played from a point many yards to his left. Does anyone really know the rule here?

The Twitter - Verse is starting to buzz about this.

I think he took an improper drop.

I found this blog with a decent explanation of the rule and of what happened, with a link in there of video of the incident.

Sure seems like he took an improper drop and then signed an improper scorecard.

And it looks like it’s not the first time he’s taken an improper drop this year.

Thanks for the help.

So - I’m confused. From the Golf Blog in Bo’s link:

So if I understand this - the ball should have been at Point A. Tiger went to Point B and then (legally) backed up to Point C where he dropped the ball and play proceeded. But because he was in the wrong spot at Point B, Point C ended up being an “improper” place to drop the ball.

Then Tiger went and signed his card which reflected his error of the improper drop based off his being at Point B.

  1. So, even if the player made an honest mistake in thinking Point B was where the ball landed - the player is still disqualified if he signs the card before someone clues him in?

  2. Shouldn’t there be officials - whatever the equivalent of linesmen are - keeping track of things like where the ball landed? If Points B & C were incorrect, shouldn’t an official have seen that at the time?

I’m willing to say that it’s an improper drop but a) there doesn’t seem to be anything to say whether Tiger did it deliberately or was just honestly mistaken and b) the course officials should have known where the correct spot was before any further balls were dropped.

Seems to me like the stroke penalty was perfectly reasonable. Also, perhaps golf needs to employ more course observers. It seems a bit much that the players are required to be their own linesmen.

Golf is a gentleman’s (or gentlelady’s) game. There aren’t supposed to be officials calling you on rules violations. You call rules violations on yourself. If Tiger made the mistake of not knowing where the ball last crossed the hazard, that is the harmless error rule that would/should have prevented him from being disqualified.

When he simply says, “I didn’t know that the rule required me to do THAT” then it is an error that he “should have known.” I played golf in high school and the coach quizzed us on the rules. For Tiger fucking Woods not to know this rule is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is the fact that Augusta National didn’t do the right thing and disqualify him because he is Tiger Woods.

Tennis is also a gentleman’s game. The officials aren’t there because the players are all bourgeois cheaters but because it’s helpful to have multiple eyes from different angles. The same would be true of golf if the penalty for mistaking where the ball landed can get a player disqualified.

And as far as I know, Tiger hasn’t said he didn’t know the rules - just that he thought what he did was correct and legal. Given that the officials reviewed the issue yesterday and told him before he signed his card that it was fine, I don’t think it would be fair to disqualify him for going ahead and signing the card.

It was Tiger’s own comments combined with a video replay that drew attention to the problem. I don’t see any evidence that he was trying to get away with something.

Again, according to that blog, the problem wasn’t that Tiger broke a rule but that he was mistaken about where the ball’s last line over the water hazzard. That sounds like a reasonable mistake - and an easily preventable one too. There ought to be some referee who determines these things just like in any other sport where a ball can go out of bounds.

Jtgain-Your last sentence is what I came to say.

Is there any video that shows the initial shot (the one that bounced off the flagstick and rebounded into the water) - - - FROM Tiger Woods’ perspective? Could he actually see the entire sequence? Does he have a GPS imbedded into his brain that could show him the EXACT angle of rebound?

I know this sounds a bit silly, but I ask any and all golfers: How many times have you seen a shot carom off a flagstick? Is there a normal angle that a ball caroms off a flagstick? Does a ball usually carom off a flagstick with such velocity?

Does a ball caroming off a flagstick with such velocity usually take such an angle?

How many times have you seen a ball carom off a flagstick into a water hazard?

Is it possible that the only mistake Tiger made was not immediately asking for a ruling because it was just such a bizarre occurence?

I’m confused. Are you suggesting that Tiger didn’t see the ball cross the pond, hit the flagstick and rebound into the water? If he didn’t, that might excuse the disqualification.

But if he saw what everyone else did, he saw that the last spot that the ball crossed into the hazard was on the left side of the fairway near the drop zone. He then had to choice to drop over there or “as near as practicable” to his original spot. He didn’t choose the former and admitted in the post-round interview that he backed up a couple of yards to get an advantage.

Therefore, he should have known the proper rule and, 1) Not done what he did, or 2) realized what he did and assessed himself two strokes. Since he did neither, he signed an incorrect scorecard and should have been DQd.

Unless I misunderstand you, this is not a matter of not knowing a fact that made him misapply the rule. He simply misapplied the rule.

jtgain - did you just make an honest mistake where you thought you knew who you were quoting, but in fact you quoted someone else? In a thread in which you are nit-picking someone else for not being perfect?

Funny that.:smiley:

  1. I don’t think I quoted an incorrect person.

  2. If I did, this isn’t golf, I didn’t endorse the post, and no rule requires disqualification.

I’m not nit-picking Tiger Woods for not being “perfect.” The rules are clear that he must assess penalties on himself for rule violations, and if he doesn’t and signs his scorecard, he should be disqualified unless he had no reason to know they were violations. He’s worth over $100 million; he can buy and read a fucking rulebook.

Are you espousing the idea that intelligence can be purchased?

Are you actually saying that personal wealth is an accurate gauge of mental acuity, the ability to memorize, and/or the ability to apply arcane and confusing rules?

Dude - you are working yourself up into a lather over a perfectly understandable mistake in a very odd circumstance.

I’m saying, based on the reporting in the link posted by Snowboarder Bo, that it’s entirely possible that by the time Tiger made his way to his ball, that he thought was the correct spot - that is, “the point at which the original ball last crossed the margin of the water hazard directly between the hole and the spot on which the ball is dropped” - but it wasn’t precisely correct and he was out of line slightly, so when he backed up - and that part is legal, since the rule says “with no limit to how far behind the water hazard the ball may be dropped” - but by backing up that put him even further out of line.

I’m saying there should have been an official spotter to keep track and mark things like the line directly behind the water hazzard and the spot where the ball crossed the margin of the water hazzard.

As far as I can see - he didn’t misapply or deliberately break a rule in dropping the ball. He was standing in the wrong spot which caused the drop to be improper but there’s no evidence that he knew he was in the wrong spot.

When it came time the sign the card, no one had told him he was in the wrong spot, therefore he couldn’t have known to penalize himself for being there. The officials who examined the matter while he was playing the round gave him the thumbs up. Why should Woods be penalized for taking their judgement?

And then, as part of his dastardly plot, Woods went and described what he did to the media, which prompted the second review and reversed decision to penalize him. It just doesn’t make sense.

This is primarily an officiating problem. There should have been a more thorough review in the first place, before the officials told Woods he was in the clear to sign his card. And there should be officials to mark the ball and determine the official spot for dropping and teeing off, just like other sports rely on the refs to make the official call.

He knew he was 2 yards behind where hit hit the prior shot. He just incorrectly thought he was permitted to drop there. Is that what you mean?

Because if it is, it doesn’t refute jtgain’s point. It’s Tiger’s responsibility to know the rules and follow them. He didn’t. The evidence is that he said in the post round interview that he deliberately decided to drop 2 yards back because that was a better distance. The rules don’t permit this. This is not an obscure rule, BTW. Incredible he didn’t know it. As I said in the other thread, even great golfers have hit into water hazards hundreds if not thousands of times.

I’m still not clear on exactly what he thought the situation was. Did he have the wrong point of entry, and thought he was applying the line-of-sight relief? Or did he think that he was playing the “point of last shot” relief, but that this allowed him to move back?

If it’s the first, he had the situation wrong; if it’s the second, he had the rule wrong. I think it’s also possible that he was just mad and not thinking clearly, and just went through the drop process without thinking it through.

In any case, the ruling of a penalty instead of a DQ seems to be correct, but kind of bizarre. The fact that the officials examined the drop and decided it was ok is considered the same as if he asked an official for a ruling, even though they never actually mentioned this decision to him until the next day.

He conflated the two options. If he dropped on the line from the point where the ball last crossed the hazard line, he could have gone as far back as he wanted. If he decided to drop where he hit the prior shot, he needed to drop as close as he could to that point, no option to move it back. He chose the second option, incorrectly thinking he could move it back as well.

If that’s the case then it really is kind of amazing. I can’t believe that he didn’t know the proper rule - he must have had just a brain freeze.

He must have. It’s not some rarely invoked rule. Tiger, as great as he is, has sent many a ball to a watery grave during a tournament.

There are some interesting stories about notable disqualifications here.

It includes Greg Norman disqualifying himself when leading in the Palm Meadows Cup in 1990. Strangely in his autobiography Norman remembers it as 1989 and says that the infraction was grounding his club in the hazard. My recollection is that he, like Tiger Woods, played the ball from the wrong spot. He dropped it, I think, 3 times and it rolled each time inside the margin of the hazard. He then played from there when he should have placed the ball where it hit the ground after the second drop. Even if he did ground his club he wasn’t meant to play from the hazard.