Ruling of the Day — Ball Deflected by Outside Agency

Thomas BjornThomas Bjorn had a smashing start to his first round of The 2013 Open Championship, when he found the rough with his tee shot.  In playing his second from the rough, he managed to hit the ball into a TV camera, breaking its screen.

TV cameras positioned on the course are outside agencies so when a player’s ball in motion is deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green and there is no penalty.  The ball is then played as it lies (Rule 19-1).

A “rub of the green” is the term used to describe this deflection by an outside agency and it can produce some random results.

For example, John Senden, at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie, benefitted from a rub of the green when the Australian sliced his approach shot to the green.  The ball was heading out of bounds until it hit the grandstand on the right of the fairway.  The ball then bounced back across the course and was headed out of bounds on the left, but was saved when it struck a fence post, pushing it back into play.

Bjorn, however, was not so fortunate in that his ball finished up in the rough near the green after striking the camera.  He eventually finished up with a double-bogey six for his opening hole but steadied to complete the round on two over.  The TV camera, however, was rendered out of order!