Another of our monthly series from Sunshine Tour rules official Reinard Kilian to help you master the golf course.
I was watching highlights of The Masters the other day, and of course that moment when Sergio Garcia put five balls into the water on the 15th came up.
The aptly named ‘Fire Thorn’ hole did indeed reduce Garcia’s first-round scorecard to ashes.
For those who didn’t witness this cringeworthy moment, after a decent drive Garcia went on to hit five balls into the water hazard for a score of 13 on the par five.
Of course, this is the same hole where Gene Sarazen hit his famous ‘Shot heard around the world’ when he holed his second for an albatross on his way to victory at the 1935 Masters. Garcia’s shots were heard around the world for a different reason, though.
As he kept trying to clear the water, some of you may have wondered if he had any other options available to him under Rule 26. Under this rule, if your ball crosses the margin of a water hazard (indicated by a yellow line and/or stakes) you have these options:
1. You can play another ball from where you’ve just played.
2. You can drop a ball behind the hazard on a line between the pin and the point where you last crossed the margin of the hazard, with no limit on how far you can go back on this line.
3. As an additional option, if the committee has provided for it, you can drop the ball in the indicated drop zone.
Garcia kept making use of the drop zone option from where he repeatedly dunked balls into the water until he eventually kept it on the green. After the first ball played from the drop zone, options one and two were essentially the same place but it is important to remember that each time he hit the ball into the hazard he had a new reference point, from where he could have used option two. This may have given him a more suitable angle and/or distance from where to attempt clearing the water.
On another note, in March I officiated at the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School at Randpark Golf Club and it again struck me just how fortunate we are to be involved in a sport that places such a premium on honesty and integrity.
At the Q-School, a player came to the tournament office and informed us that he had realised he’d signed for an incorrect score the previous day. Unfortunately, the score he signed for was lower than he made on that particular hole and he was therefore disqualified. In probably one of the biggest tournaments of his career and a potential career-changer for him, he put the game ahead of himself.
In light of what happened between the Australian and South African cricket teams earlier this year, it’s moments like this that make me proud to be a golfer.
– This article first appeared in the June issue of Compleat Golfer, now on sale!