Expect the Unexpected

Expect the Unexpected

“These guys are good!”  This is the slogan the PGA TOUR has adopted to describe their players.  The best golfers in the entire world!  So why is it necessary to mark out of bounds or paint a lateral water hazard that is so far out of play an amateur golfer could never get there?  Because everything is possible!

Errant shots happen in golf and they happen to even the best players in professional golf.  When preparing for a tour event, the advance rules official will mark/paint and stake the golf course.  All areas of the property are either tied in or marked with paint lines and/or stakes.  We ensure that no matter where a golf ball lands, the rules of golf can be applied and the situation can be handled.

Puerto Rico Open at TPC Dorado Beach

Earlier this week, I was assigned to work the Monday Qualifier for the Puerto Rico Open at TPC Dorado Beach.  The qualifier was held on the Sugarcane course as 83 players were playing for 4 spots in the tournament.

The PGA TOUR staff’s role in Monday qualifiers is to oversee the local organization who is assigned to conduct the qualifier.  

During the event I was called to a ruling for a “2nd opinion”.  The local official had given the player a ruling and the player wasn’t sure if he had received the correct ruling so he asked to have the PGA TOUR official intervene.  This occasionally happens and players are often entitled to a 2nd opinion.

The player had hit his tee shot approximately 60 yards left of the 7th hole into a lateral water hazard on the adjacent Pineapple course!   

When I arrived to the ruling I noticed that the lateral water hazard was neither staked or painted.  The player wanted to know where his relief point was for a lateral water hazard that wasn’t marked.   

Decision 33-2a/4 states in part that lines and stakes defining water hazards should be placed as nearly as possible along the natural limits of the hazard, i.e., where the ground breaks.

The player tried to argue that if the hazard was painted the line would have been place higher on the slope providing him a more level ground to stand when taking relief.  Where a particular official marks a hazard is often arbitrary and the ruling had to be based on the terrain next to the visible water hazard.  

Although not pleased with the ruling the player was forced to play on.  It was an unfortunate situation that could have been avoided and with a bit more time and effort applied painting the hazard.  A good lesson to be learned for all officials conducting tournaments at any level.



  • Gary Albin Posted March 28, 2017 9:06 pm

    Mark, so true. It is up to the committee to mark the course and as soon as something is missed, a ball will end up there. Luckily, it must have happened in the past, since Decision 26/3 was almost to point. Wonder what is going to happen when the new rules take out the opposite margin relief for a LWH when a ball enters the far side of a LWH where the opposite margin also defines the OB?

  • Mark Posted April 16, 2017 1:23 am

    Thanks Gary for your feedback and interest in our website. We hope you continue to find value in our site.

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