Prickly Heat

On one of the hottest days of the year, Sergio Garcia did something that most did not want to do in the oppressive heat during the second round at The Open Championship – wear his waterproof suit!

During play of the 14th hole, Garcia’s ball came to rest very close to a prickly gorse bush.  It is not uncommon to find plants such as this, cacti or stinging nettles on a golf course and although unpleasant to touch, they are not of themselves a dangerous situation.   Unpleasant lies are a common occurrence, which players must accept.

In order to avoid being scratched or hurt, there is no breach of the Rules if a player wraps a towel around his legs before making the stroke and then fairly takes his stance (Rule 13-2).  

However, placing a towel on or over the gorse before taking the stance to avoid being scratched by the prickly plant life would not be permissible.  This would constitute a breach of Rule 1-2 for altering the physical conditions with the intent of affecting the playing of the hole.

In Garcia’s case, he decided instead to don his waterproof suit to get close into the gorse to play the stroke and in doing so, he managed to protect himself from the branches.  After chipping out to the fairway, much to his relief, he was able to remove his waterproofs before finishing out the 14th for a bogey 5.