Ruling of the Day - Saturday

Playing the par-3 11th hole on the third day of the 2011 Open Championship, Gary Boyd played his second stroke from a bunker onto the green.  Due to the wet conditions, a considerable amount of sand was extracted from the bunker when he made the stroke, which landed on and around Robert Allenby’s ball that was at rest on the fringe of the green.

As Allenby’s ball was not on the putting green, he was not entitled to mark, lift or clean his ball (Rule 16-1).  Moreover, whilst sand is a natural substance, sand is only a loose impediment when it lies on the putting green.  Thus when the ball lies through the green, sand must not be removed (see Definition of Loose Impediments).

Normally if the sand had been on the fringe of the green before Allenby’s ball had come to rest, he would not have been entitled to relief without penalty.   However, as Allenby’s ball had originally been lying in a position where the ball and his line of play had not been affected by the sand, the referee confirmed that he was in fact entitled to remove the sand.  

Decision 13-2/8.5 clarifies that a player is entitled to the lie and line of play he had when his ball came to rest.  Accordingly, in equity (Rule 1-4), Allenby was entitled to remove the sand deposited by Boyd’s stroke and lift and clean his ball, without penalty.

Allenby chipped onto the green and took two putts for a bogey four on route to shooting a five-over-par round, in testing conditions at Royal St George’s.