Rule of the Week July 8 – 14

Phil and the breach of Rule 13-2 

Prior to teeing off Sunday at the Military Tribute at Greenbrier Country Club Phil Mickelson walked to the front of the teeing ground and moved some grass with a kicking motion. He then went back to tee off and started a conversation with his fellow competitor and caddie. “I’m not sure if that was legal,” explained Mickelson. He then teed off.

Walking up the fairway, he asked a referee and a short time later, it was confirmed, Phil had incurred a two-stroke penalty for breach of Rule 13-2. As this breach occurred on the teeing ground, all he had to do was move a few feet away and tee off from the new position and he wouldn’t have incurred a penalty, because it would not have been on his line of play.

To watch the video, click here.

Although the rules may seem complex, this one makes sense. Remember, the rules matter!

13-2/14 – Breaking Branch Interfering with Backswing on Teeing Ground

 QUESTION: On the teeing ground, a player broke off a branch of a tree which was interfering with his swing. The player maintained that such action was not a breach of Rule 13-2 because his ball was not yet in play. Was the player correct?

ANSWER: No. The player was in breach of Rule 13-2 for improving the area of his intended swing. Although Rule 13-2 allows a player to eliminate irregularities of surface on the teeing ground, it does not allow him to break a branch interfering with his swing. The penalty would apply even if the player, before playing his next stroke, re-teed elsewhere on the teeing ground – see Decision 13-2/24.  In the Phil situation on the teeing ground, as he did not break off any grass, if he simply moved over a couple of feet in either direction (abandoned his teeing area) for the shot he would have been ok to proceed without penalty.