Saturday, February 2, 2013

Uh Oh! TIO!


            Before Rules fans go screaming to Twitter and Facebook that the PGA Tour got it wrong, let’s take a quick look at the situation Bill Haas just encountered on the 17th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open - Phil Mickelson situation added.

            What we all saw was that Bill Haas’ ball came to rest near a fence that was close to the water hazard on the left hand side.  We were told that his ball had come to rest in the hazard and that he would get relief for the fence so long as he dropped in the hazard.  “Wait a minute,” I can hear all of your cogs turning wondering how he gets relief for an immovable obstruction when his ball lies in a water hazard.  Rule 24-2 does state that a player is not entitled to relief for interference by an immovable obstruction when the ball lies in a water hazard.  The fence, however, was not an immovable obstruction but a temporary immovable obstruction.  We can find the local Rule for handling temporary immovable obstructions at Appendix I-B-7.

            Clause III of the Local Rule for Temporary Immovable Obstructions grants relief for interference by a TIO when a ball lies in a hazard with the caveat that in order to take relief without penalty the ball must be dropped within the hazard.
            Had Haas desired to drop and take relief outside the water hazard he could have done so under penalty of one stroke.   Whether he was going to take relief without penalty or with penalty, the procedure was virtually the same.  He was required to find his nearest point of relief as defined by the local Rule and drop a ball within one club-length of that point.  To avoid penalty he must find the NPR inside the water hazard, for relief under penalty of one stroke he would find the NPR outside the water hazard.  This is one situation where the standard “penalized relief is two club-lengths and relief without penalty is one club-length” does not hold true.
            In Haas’ case he was able to find a spot he could drop still within the margin of the hazard and take relief from the fence without penalty.  
            As the first part of this article was being written, Phil Mickelson hit his shot from the 18th tee into the grandstands on the left hand side.  The announcers incorrectly stated that he would be getting relief for “line of sight.”  Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “line of sight” in the Rules of Golf.  As you’ll see below, one difference between immovable obstructions as defined in the Rules and temporary immovable obstructions is that interference for a TIO occurs when a player has interference on his line of play (you can also get relief for a TIO that lies out of bounds, whereas immovable artificial objects that define or lie out of bounds are not obstructions and you are not entitled to relief). Although Phil did not have direct interference (lie of ball, stance or area of intended swing) he did have interference on his line of play and was therefore entitled to relief.  Note 3 to the Relief clause of the local Rule permits the Committee to use dropping zones as either required or as an option for relief from a TIO as we saw with Phil’s situation.

Temporary Immovable Obstructions (App. I-B-7):

II. Interference
Interference by a TIO occurs when (a) the ball lies in front of and so close to the TIO that the TIO interferes with the player’s stance or the area of his intended swing, or (b) the ball lies in, on, under or behind the TIO so that any part of the TIO intervenes directly between the player’s ball and the hole and is on his line of play; interference also exists if the ball lies within one club-length of a spot equidistant from the hole where such intervention would exist.

Note: A ball is under the TIO when it is below the outermost edges of the TIO, even if these edges do not extend downwards to the ground.

III. Relief
A player may obtain relief from interference by a TIO, including a TIO that is out of bounds, as follows:
(a)Through the Green: If the ball lies through the green, the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies must be determined that (a) is not nearer the hole, (b) avoid interference as defined in Clause II and (c) is not in a hazard or on a putting green.  The player must lift the ball and drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of the point so determined on a part of the course that fulfills (a), (b) and (c) above.
(b) In a Hazard:  If the ball is in a hazard, the player must lift and drop the ball either:
  (i) Without penalty, in accordance with Clause III(a) above, except that the nearest part of the course affording complete relief must be in a hazard and the ball must be dropped in the hazard or, if complete relief is impossible, on a part of the course within the hazard that affords maximum available relief; or
  (ii) Under penalty of one stroke, outside the hazard as follows: the point on the course nearest to where the ball lies must be determined that (a) is not nearer the hole, (b) avoids interference as defined in Clause II and (c) is not in a hazard.  The player must drop the ball within one club-length of the point so determined on a part of the course that fulfills (a), (b) and (c) above.

The ball may be cleaned when lifted under Clause III.

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