Royal Lytham & St Annes - Rules Summary

RulesOne of the benefits of having a walking referee with every game at The Open Championship is that it enables the collation of statistical information on the number of rulings that are handled over the four days of play.

At this year’s Open held over the links at Royal Lytham & St Annes, the international team of referees handled 339 rules incidents in total.

Although complicated situations do crop up from time to time, it is the basics that occur again and again. A referee must remain vigilant at all times though, and he must concentrate on each situation that is presented to him – it is easy to have a lapse of concentration and to get something wrong.

One of the most commonly used Rules in golf is the unplayable ball Rule (Rule 28).  In total, 32 unplayable ball rulings were dealt with at the Championship, including Phil Mickelson’s drop after he found the deep rough above a bunker on the 8th hole. Click here to read more.

The weather, of course, can have a big impact on the Rules and 2012 was no exception.  Due to the unusually wet weather that Britain has experienced this summer and, in particular, following a heavy rainfall on the Thursday night of the Championship, no less than 58 casual water rulings were overseen by referees.  Of these, 37 related to casual water in a bunker where Rule 25-1b(ii) was applied. Click here to read more.

RulesDue to the large amount of infrastructure required to stage a major championship, providing relief from interference by temporary immovable obstructions (TIOs), such as television towers and grandstands, is inevitable.  In total, 47 rulings for relief from interference by a TIO were granted.

Other rulings that were frequently applied related to immovable obstructions close to the putting green (16), relief from metal fencing that is erected for crowd control purposes (15), and requests for ground under repair relief, not all of which were granted (48).

As well as the more common rulings, there were also some more unusual rulings unique to the venue.  At Royal Lytham & St Annes, the clubhouse – which defines the boundary - is just behind the 18th green and so it is in play.  Fortunately, only one ruling was necessary this year for a ball against the clubhouse wall and the referee confirmed the ball had to be played as it lay. 

This is not the only time the clubhouse has featured in an Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.  Famously, Gary Player negotiated the clubhouse on the way to his third Open Championship win in 1974. Watch this here

A selection of some of the other Rules situations that arose (number of cases in brackets):

  • Ball unfit for play, Rule 5-3 (6)
  • Identifying ball, Rule 12-2 (7)
  • Whether the ball was on the putting green or not (8)
  • Ball at rest moved, Rule 18 (14)
  • Interference from cables, Rule 24-1 (12)
  • Lost ball (5)
  • Out of bounds (4)

You might not have any TIOs on your course to cope with or be playing in The Open Championship, but having a thorough knowledge of your own course and the commonplace Rules situations that arise (and how to deal with them) can be invaluable. It may also save you a precious stroke or two…