Rules through the years at Royal Lytham & St Annes

The video clips shown here cover some of the Rules incidents of note from Open Championships staged at Royal Lytham & St Annes over the last 40 years.

Gary Player, 1974



On his way to his third Open win, Gary Player’s second shot at the 18th hole of his final round finished close to the clubhouse wall.  As the clubhouse wall defined out of bounds, it was not an obstruction and so he was not entitled to relief without penalty. 

One option available to Player would have been to declare the ball unplayable under Rule 28 and drop the ball within two club lengths of where the ball lay not nearer the hole, however, this option would have been under penalty of one stroke and he decided to play the ball as it lay.  Player was able to make a good contact with the ball when he played it left handed with the back of his putter:  under the Rules, (Rule 14-1) a player can use any part of the club head - face, back, toe or heel - to strike the ball providing it is fairly struck at. 

Player was fortunate that the back of his putter had a flat face, the same as the front.  Appendix II, 4d states that the club head must have only one striking face, except that a putter may have two such faces if their characteristics are the same, and they are opposite to each other.

Player had plenty of shots in hand and won the Championship by four shots from Peter Oosterhuis.


Severiano Ballesteros, 1979



Severiano Ballesteros also had a Rules incident when on his way to victory at the 1979 Open when his tee shot at the 16th hole finished close to some parked cars. 

Cars are normally just obstructions; if the car keys are available they are movable obstructions, otherwise they are immovable obstructions and Rule 24-2 apples. With no car owners in sight to move the obstructions, the referee advised him that there was a particular Local Rule in place to treat the cars as temporary immovable obstructions and so he was given relief not just for the lie, stance and area of intended swing but also for line of sight from the parked cars. There is no longer a car park in this area and dunes have been created to the right hand side of the fairway.

It is interesting how Seve drops the ball over his shoulder.  Now a player is required to stand erect, hold the ball at shoulder height and drop it at arm’s length (Rule 20-2a), however prior to 1984 the player was required to drop the ball over his shoulder.

Ballesteros’ birdie all but sealed the first of his three Open Championships.


Davis Love, 2001



Davis Love found himself in a similar situation to Gary Player when he also hit his second shot at the 18th hole close to the clubhouse.  Again, as the clubhouse was out of bounds he was not entitled to any free relief.  As Gary Player did in 1974, Love decided to play the ball as it lay, although he was able to make a stroke at the ball right handed.  Note that the cables attached to the clubhouse wall were deemed to be integral parts of the course by Local Rule so ensuring players were not able to get incidental relief from the clubhouse just because they may have had interference by the cables.

Love holed his putt for a closing par and second round 67; unfortunately a poor third round meant he finished outside the top 20.


Ian Woosman, 2001



Having started as joint leader, Ian Woosman nearly holed his opening tee shot of his final round at Lytham in 2001 before discovering on the 2nd tee that he had 15 clubs in his bag.  This is more than the 14 clubs allowed under Rule 4-4 so he was required to declare one club out of play and add two penalty shots to his score, turning his opening birdie 2 in to a bogey 4. 

Woosman went on to finish joint third, four shots behind winner David Duval.