Wednesday, March 24

The Rules Geek: Abnormal Ground Conditions Aid Amateur

Editor’s note: The Rules Geek may be an occasional and annoying feature at ARMCHAIR GOLF. Well see how it goes.

“I RECENTLY USED THE Rules of Golf in my favor while playing in an amateur tournament,” John Patota, The Pinehurst Golfer, told The Rules Geek.

“My ball had hit the green, bounced off the back, and landed in a hole about the size of a soda can. I was about to take an unplayable lie with a one-stroke penalty when the thought came to me: ‘This hole could have been made by a burrowing animal under the definitions of the Rules of Golf.’”

Let’s have a look at the rule, shall we?

Rule 25-1 Abnormal Ground Conditions says “interference by an abnormal ground condition occurs when a ball lies in or touches the condition or when the condition interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing.”

Back to John’s situation. “Sure enough, with a little more observation it was clear only some kind of animal could have made the hole. My playing competitor agreed, and I proceeded under Rule 25, Abnormal Ground Conditions, without a penalty.”

John took a free drop within one club length of, and not nearer the hole than, the nearest point of relief.

“That was the first time I can remember that knowing the Rules of Golf actually helped me,” he concluded.

This situation reminded The Rules Geek of Sergio Garcia’s burrowing animal ruling in a playoff against Vijay Singh at The Barclays in 2008. A television audience watched for several minutes as Garcia pleaded his case to PGA Tour official Slugger White. At the time, the Garcia ruling struck some golf fans as quite charitable. Singh went on to win, otherwise the ruling would have spurred more debate.

The Rules Geek salutes John for knowing the rules and calling over his playing competitor to confirm the ruling.

The Rules Geek sez rules were made to be followed. Got a rules-related tip or story? Send it to The Rules Geek at

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(Image: Old Shoe Woman/Flickr)

1 comment:

ben said...

I never new that animal rule over all great read!