Snedeker penalty at WGC Bridgestone Invitational – Meaning of “Directly Attributable”

Snedeker penalty at WGC Bridgestone Invitational – Meaning of “Directly Attributable”



Stephen Cox, PGRA Member

1 July 2016

During round 1 of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC, Brandt Snedeker was penalized 1 stroke under Rule 20-1 for accidentally moving his coin which was marking the position of his ball on the 4th green.

Brandt had reached down in close proximity to the ball in order to replace it and unfortunately dropped the ball onto the coin (all be it from a small height of approximately 2-3 inches) which caused the ball marker to move.

The slight confusion (hence why the player called for a 2nd opinion) was that Brandt felt that as his hand was in contact with the putting surface when he dropped the ball onto the marker, he was in the specific act of replacing the ball and therefore should be exempt from penalty.

Brandt Snedeker

My decision as the 2nd opinion merely confirmed the answer given by Asian Tour Official, Jittisak Tamprasert. I explained to Brandt that as the movement of the ball marker was not “directly attributable to the specific act” of replacing the ball as he had dropped the ball onto the marker (as oppose to moving the marker whilst still in possession of the ball), he would incur a 1 stroke penalty and the marker should be replaced.

“The verbiage in Decision 20-1/15…would result in the player incurring a penalty stroke.”

The verbiage in Decision 20-1/15 (which was shown to the player following the round) is very clear confirms that any accidental movement of the ball marker, such as dropping the   ball, regardless of height from which it was dropped, is not considered to be “directly attributable” to the specific act of replacing, and would result in the player incurring a penalty stroke.


  • MiBlogDeGolf Posted July 2, 2016 12:27 am

    As he was going to replace the ball, wouldn’t it be a breach of rule 20-3a?

    • Stephen Cox Posted July 2, 2016 3:30 pm

      That’s a good question. If you read Rule 20-3 it does clarify in the 3rd paragraph that if the movement of the ball or ball-marker was not directly attributable to the specific act of replacing…..”the player incurs a penalty of one stroke under Rule 18-2 or 20-1.”

      18-2 would have been the applicable Rule if the ball had been moved. In this case the ball had been lifted, (and therefore is not in play) and it was the marker that was moved, and as a result 20-1 becomes the applicable Rule.

      Hope this helps. – Stephen Cox

  • William Gee Posted July 2, 2016 6:52 am

    The decision sited is too harsh. Who wrote the 20-1/15 decision in the first place? Sometimes it seems like you rules geeks just look for an opportunity to penalize a player. The person who wrote 20-1/15 was in that frame of mind. The decisions for accidentally moving a ball marker are inconsistent. If you tap a marker with your putter and the marker sticks to the sole of the putter but it’s not a penalty? The ball is marked when the player takes his hand off the marker and picks up the ball. In what universe is then using a tool to tap the marker allowed? Please explain decision 20-1/6. “A. In this case, the movement of the ball-marker was directly attributable to the specific act of marking the position of the ball.” No it wasn’t. The ball had already been fairly marked and the ball picked up. Why isn’t the “Directly attributable” standard applied in 20-1/6 as it was in 20-1/15?

    • Bob Sadoney Posted July 5, 2016 3:21 am

      Mr Cox??

      Explain 20-1/6 decision please. I read the decision and it seems like 20-1/15 is draconian compared to 20-1/6. No consistency at all. I would love to hear an explanation also.

      • Stephen Cox Posted July 14, 2016 8:09 pm

        Thank you for your comments. Here’s my take on Decision 20-1/6. The act of pressing down of the ball marker by using a finger, or in this case, the sole of the putter are essentially the same act and are both considered to be an extension of the marking process (see Dec 20-1/12). As it is traditionally accepted that a player may press down a ball marker to secure it to the ground (so that it either doesn’t move or is less likely to affect the roll of another ball) I would have a hard time penalizing him or her for moving the marker whilst performing this specific act.
        Hope this helps.

    • Jim Moriarty Posted July 13, 2016 9:35 pm

      Decision 20-1/15 arose from an incident during the came after an incident during the 1998 US Open at The Olympic Club. Mike Reid, on the 1st green, went to mark his ball and dropped the coin moving the ball. Ross Gallaneault gave him a ruling that it was no penalty. It was changed at scoring. Ross wrote to the Rules of Golf Committee asking for a decision on what “directly attributable” meant. At the time Ross was the Executive Director of the Minnesota Golf Association. He nows works for the USGA.

  • Tom Spriggs Posted July 3, 2016 2:48 am

    This is why people hate golf, these rules suck and are way too complex. If you accidentally move your marker you should just move it back and be done with it. No penalty. Shouldn’t matter how it was done. Same with accidentally moving your ball weather it is on a tee, on the green or fairway. Just move it back with no penalty. Only should count as a stroke if you are trying to hit it.

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