Friday, February 22, 2013

Alexander Noren Ruling Explanation

            On the second playoff hole between Graeme McDowell and Alexander Noren there was a large debate about a potential TIO relief situation for Alexander Noren.  Noren’s ball lay in the desert very close to a line that had a TV tower directly between his ball and the flag.  He could see the flagstick so the tower was not on his line of play.  He was given relief and here’s why:

            In Appendix I you will find the Local Rule for Temporary Immovable Obstructions (App. I-7).  The section which defines interference has a short sentence that is frequently overlooked and even misinterpreted, “interference also exists if the ball lies within one club-length of a spot equidistant from the hole where such intervention would exist.”
            Noren’s ball did not have interference on his line of play from the TV tower, however one club-length to his left there would have been interference.  Even though he was in the desert he did have a play at the ball and he was entitled to relief.
            Some viewers may have been disturbed by the movement of loose impediments in the area where he was going to drop.  This is actually permitted (hopefully the Rules Official would have stopped him if it were not).  It is important to remember that Rule 13-2 prohibits improving the area in which he is to drop or place a ball by specific actions.  Removing loose impediments is not one of those actions. 
Rule 23-1 states that “except when both the loose impediment and the ball lie in or touch the same hazard, any loose impediment may be removed without penalty.”  The desert is not a hazard and is considered through the green.  Decision 23-1/6 tells us that removing loose impediments from an area through the green in which the ball is going to be dropped is permitted.
Although it seemed like a fairly complicated situation, the ruling was actually quite straightforward and without controversy.  Unfortunately for Noren, his fortune stopped at getting relief as he proceeded to lose the hole and the match to McDowell. 

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