Thursday, March 20, 2014

Morgan Pressel and the Exception to 24-2 and 25-1

                Everyone remember the relief from a bush that Bubba Watson was granted in Phoenix?  Well, we’re back in Phoenix (Phoenix area) for the LPGA Founders Championship, and this time we have a different result.
                Morgan Pressel was on a roll in her first round.  Through 11 holes she was -9 and on the 3rd hole (her 12th) she found her ball nestled comfortably in a desert bush.  She called over the official to ask about potential relief for a burrowing animal hole.  In Watson’s situation about a month ago, he was granted relief because a burrowing animal hole interfered with his area of intended swing for a reasonable, albeit difficult, stroke from within the bush.  In that case he was granted relief and didn’t have to pull off the would-be miraculous punch out.
                Pressel, seeing burrowing animal holes in the vicinity, wondered if she might be entitled to relief as well.  The official on site wisely asked the appropriate questions.  He asked how she would play the stroke, and she answered a left handed shot.  The official stated that would be a reasonable stroke, however for the left-handed stroke there was no interference from the burrowing animal hole.  Yes, her right-handed impracticable stroke might have her standing on a hole, but the stroke she intended to play was left-handed and did not have interference from that burrowing animal hole.  She had to take an unplayable and she dropped within two club-lengths of where the ball lay, no nearer the hole with a one-stroke penalty in accordance with Rule 28c.
                This exchange between Pressel and the official brings about some important tips for applying the Rules and determining whether or not relief is available.
                -First, determine what the intended stroke is.  The same Exception comes in both Rules 24-2 and 25-1 that states, “A player may not take relief under this Rule if (a) interference by anything other than an immovable obstruction/abnormal ground condition makes the stroke clearly impracticable or (b) interference by an immovable obstruction/abnormal ground condition would occur only through use of a clearly unreasonable stroke or an unnecessarily abnormal stance, swing or direction of play.”  The intended stroke must be reasonable and the player can’t be using an abnormal stance in order to achieve interference.  In Pressel’s case, her right-handed stroke that had some interference was clearly impracticable due to the bush.  Her left-handed stroke was actually reasonable; however no interference occurred for that stroke.
                -Then, if there is interference for the intended stroke, the player must be able to play the stroke.  Is it reasonable?  If so, determine relief for THAT stroke, not the stroke the player wants to be able to play but can’t.
                -Once relief is taken for the intended stroke, if the player wishes to then turn around and play normal-handed, that would be ok (see Decision 24-2b/17).
                -Generally, if the player would take an unplayable rather than play the stroke, it should be considered impracticable.
                Hope that helps you when trying to determine if relief should be available in particular dire situations.

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