Patrick Reed was at the center of a rules fiasco at the Hero World Challenge Friday after moving sand from behind his ball twice while playing the par-5 11th hole at Albany.
While preparing for a shot from a waste bunker right of the fairway, Reed took his club back from his ball during multiple practice swings and moved sand from directly behind his ball twice. His ball sat in the middle of a depression, likely a footprint in the sand.
The new rules introduced in January does not allow players to ground their clubs in bunkers, so while Reed moved sand behind his ball, he was improving his line of play, according to Tour rules official Slugger White. Under Rule 8.1a (4), players are not to remove or press down loose sand or soil. After doing so, Reed was assessed a General Penalty, which is two strokes. You can see Reed’s actions below.
8.1 Player’s Actions That Improve Conditions Affecting the Stroke
To support the principle of “play the course as you find it,” this Rule restricts what a player may do to improve any of these protected “conditions affecting the stroke ” (anywhere on or off the course) for the next stroke the player will make:
- The lie of the player’s ball at rest,
- The area of the player’s intended stance,
- The area of the player’s intended swing,
- The player’s line of play, and
- The relief area where the player will drop or place a ball.
It does not apply to:
- The removal of loose impediments or movable obstructions, which is allowed to the extent provided in Rule 15, or
- An action taken while a player’s ball is in motion, which is covered by Rule 11.
a. Actions That Are Not Allowed
(1) Move, bend or break any:
- Growing or attached natural object,
- Immovable obstruction, integral object or boundary object, or
- Tee-marker for the teeing area when playing a ball from that teeing area.
(3) Alter the surface of the ground, including by:
- Replacing divots in a divot hole,
- Removing or pressing down divots that have already been replaced or other cut turf that is already in place, or
- Creating or eliminating holes, indentations or uneven surfaces.
(4) Remove or press down sand or loose soil.
(5) Remove dew, frost or water.
Penalty for Breach of Rule 8.1a: General Penalty.
OTHER: To this point but different.
Bunkers – Touching Sand in Bunker with Club
QUESTION: May I touch the sand with my club when my ball is in a bunker?
ANSWER: Touching the sand with your club immediately in front of or behind your ball, during a practice swing or during your backswing is a penalty (see Rule 12.2b(1)). If you do this, you get a loss of hole penalty in match play or two penalty strokes in stroke play. Other touching of the sand in a bunker is generally ok, as long as you are not deliberately testing the condition of the sand.
12.2 Playing Ball in Bunker
a. Removing Loose Impediments and Movable Obstructions
This includes any reasonable touching or movement of the sand in the bunker that happens while doing so.
b. Restrictions on Touching Sand in Bunker
(1) When Touching Sand Results in Penalty. Before making a stroke at a ball in a bunker, a player must not:
- Deliberately touch sand in the bunker with a hand, club, rake or other object to test the condition of the sand to learn information for the next stroke, or
- Touch sand in the bunker with a club:
The Reed incident occurred ahead of this year’s President’s Cup in Australia, that didn’t stop Justin Thomas from having some fun. Remember, the Rules matter but there can still be a lighter side of golf.
Justin Thomas, dragging his club in the bunker: “P Reed, is this right?” pic.twitter.com/utHP3AL8TU
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) December 10, 2019