The R&A - Working for Golf

Rulings from The Open

There were just under 350 rules incidents over the four days of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, but there is one that is likely to stay in the memory for quite some time to come. 

David Rickman – Executive Director, Governance explains the unplayable drop that Jordan Speith took on the 13th hole of the final round after a wayward drive.



The following is a selection of other rulings that occurred during The Championship  

Thursday 20 July 2017 – Round 1

KT Kim’s opening round of The 146th Open didn’t get off to the best of starts after his caddie inadvertently picked up his ball whilst playing the first hole.  The confusion arose when Kim’s fellow-competitor David Duval played a provisional ball towards the green, however when Duval’s first ball was found, Kim’s caddie picked up what he thought was Duval’s provisional ball, only to discover that the ball which he had lifted was in fact Kim’s own ball. 

A player and his caddie are not generally permitted to lift or move the ball when it lies off the putting green and because the caddie had moved his player’s ball in play when not permitted to do so by the Rules, Kim incurred a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2. 

Once the error had been discovered, Kim was required to replace his ball to its original position, but to add to the confusion, Kim’s caddie had not paid attention to the spot where he had picked the ball up. As the exact spot was therefore not known, Kim was required to drop the ball as near as possible to where it was estimated to have been picked up, no nearer the hole (Rules 20-3c and 20-2b). 

After successfully getting his ball back into play, Kim eventually walked to the 2nd tee with an 1st hole opening triple bogey on the scorecard. He showed his composure by steadying the ship and played the remaining 17 holes in level par, carding a three-over-par 73.

Friday 21 July 2017 – Round 2

With winds gusting up to 40mph it was no surprise that there were several instances of balls moving on putting greens during Friday’s play at Royal Birkdale.  For the most part, dealing with situations where a ball has moved on the green is relatively straightforward as at the Open, the Local Rule for a ball moving on the putting green is in effect.  This Local Rule eliminates the penalty for a golfer who accidentally causes their ball in play to move when it is on the putting green.  However, it is still important to determine whether the player caused the ball to move as where that is the case, he must replace it, whereas, if wind causes the ball to move, then it must be played from its new position.

One such ruling occurred with Daniel Berger on the 18th green whilst playing during a particularly windy spell of weather. Having marked his ball on the green, Berger was just about to remove his ball marker when a gust of wind caused it to move a couple of inches from where it was marked.  Despite the position of the ball being marked, the ball is considered to be in play under the Rules and the position of the marker is effectively irrelevant.  As a result, because it was the wind that caused the ball to move and ‘wind’ is not an outside agency, Berger was required to play his ball from its new position.

Saturday 22nd July 2017 – Round 3

They say timing is everything in golf, and that was certainly the case for Scotland’s Richie Ramsay as he finished off his Saturday round of The Open in front of the packed grandstands adjoining Royal Birkdale’s iconic clubhouse.  Putting out on the 18th green, having played his second shot to 12 feet from the hole, Ramsay’s putt seemed destined for the hole before it stopped agonisingly short and came to rest on the lip of the hole. However, after a brief hesitation of around 4-5 seconds, Ramsay’s ball dropped into the cup for a birdie, much to the delight of both the player and the gallery.

Had the ball stayed at rest for slightly longer, however, things may have been slightly different as, under Rule 16-2, when a ball overhangs the lip of the hole the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay.  The player is then allowed an additional ten seconds to determine whether the ball is at rest.

If the ball has not fallen into the hole by the time the additional ten seconds has elapsed, the ball is judged to be at rest on the lip meaning that if the ball was then to subsequently fall into the hole, the player is deemed to have holed out with his last stroke, but is required to add a penalty of one stroke to his score for the hole (Rule 16-2).