The R&A - Working for Golf

Rules Blog - The 121st Amateur Championship

Daniel Sommerville, Manager – Rules at The R&A, talks about rulings from The 121st Amateur Championship.

The Amateur Championship came to a conclusion last Saturday at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Wales with Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club also hosting the qualifying stages earlier in the week.  Both were fantastic venues and each presented a challenge to some of the world’s best amateurs.  Each course has different conditions and topography, and that combined with a field of 288 players, contributed to many different Rules situations arising throughout the week. Here are some interesting rulings that came into play during the week.

Not your usual birdie

With the wind providing a strong test for the players throughout the championship, there were a large number of ball searches during the week. Whilst searching for a ball in the second round of qualifying, one of the player’s came across a bird’s nest near his ball.  Under Decision 1-4/9, in equity a player would be entitled to relief from this situation with the nearest point of relief being the area which would not make any damage to the nest. As it happened however, the player’s ball was far enough away that the nest didn’t interfere with the lie of ball, his area of intended stance or swing and so he did not need to take relief from the nest and no damage was caused.

Bird's nest at Royal Porthcawl
Bird's nest at Royal Porthcawl

Where did that ball come from?

During another search, we successfully found the player’s ball, however as he was taking a practice swing he dislodged a concealed ball.  As the player had no intention of striking the concealed ball, his swing was considered to be a practice swing and was not a stroke.  Consequently, there is no question of his having played either a practice stroke (Rule 7-2) or a stroke with a wrong ball (Rule 15-3) and so the player incurred no penalty.  This is as per Decision 7-2/7.

A warm up you didn’t plan

During the second round of qualifying a player found himself running for his tee time as he and his father had thought it was a two tee start and had made their way to the 10th tee, despite all players starting from the 1st hole.  To his credit the player managed to get to the 1st tee two minutes prior to his start time and therefore no penalty was incurred.  If the player had been late for his start time, but still within 5 minutes he would have incurred a penalty of two strokes with the penalty for being more than 5 minutes late being disqualification (Rule 6-3).

Leaving your mark

In the qualifying stages one player found two balls matching the make, number and marking of the ball that he had played just 15 yards apart. This shows how important it is to put a mark on your golf ball, ideally with a unique mark as recommended in Rules 6-5 and 12-2.  If it could not be determined which ball belonged to the player, the ball would have been considered lost (see definition of lost ball).  However, with the testimony of the marker, fellow competitor and some spectators, it was determined where the player’s ball had come to rest, allowing the player’s ball to be distinguished from the stray ball.  This is as per Decision 27/12.

Spectator’s bag

During the first qualifying round at Pyle and Kenfig a spectator found a player’s ball had landed in his bag.  The bag is classed as a movable obstruction (see definition of obstruction) and when a ball lies in or on the obstruction, through the green it must be dropped as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest, but not nearer the hole. (Rule 24-1)

Spectator's bag
Spectator's bag

As the week progressed we had fewer rulings and considerably fewer ball searches.  Congratulations to Scott Gregory on winning the 121st Amateur Championship in an enthralling final 36 hole final by 2&1. We look forward to seeing you at The Open in a few weeks.