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rounding your club in a hazard, whether sand or water, will lead to a penalty as Shona McRae, R&A assistant director – Rules, explains, with reference to Anna Nordqvist’s recent unfortunate breach during a play-off for the prestigious US Women’s Open title...
Anna Nordqvist was penalised for grounding her club in a fairway bunker on the 17th during the second hole of a play-off with Brittany Lang to decide the 2016 US Women’s Open at Cordevalle in Northern California. The pair were tied on level par after the first play-off hole.
When playing her approach to the green from a fairway bunker, TV evidence showed that her 5-iron had gently grazed the sand when she began her backswing, resulting in a breach of Rule 13-4b.
GRule 13-4b provides that a player cannot touch the ground in the hazard or water in a water hazard with the hand or a club before making a stroke. The purpose of this Rule is to take away any doubt as to whether the grounding of the club behind the ball has improved the lie of the ball in either the sand or the water. It also makes the stroke slightly more difficult but the bunker is a hazard and is, after all, intended to really test the skills of a player.
The Definition of Stroke in the Rules of Golf clarifies that the stroke begins only once the player has begun the forward movement of the club with the intention of striking at and moving the ball. Therefore, the backswing is not part of the stroke. As a result of this distinction, it is only when the player begins the downswing that the club can legitimately touch the sand or the ground.
The same principle applies to water in a water hazard. When attempting to play a ball lying in a water hazard, the club must not touch the water on the backswing. Graeme McDowell called a penalty on himself when he drove his ball into a shallow water hazard during the Honda Classic in 2010. As the ball was playable, he decided to give it a go and blasted it out onto the fairway, apparently successfully. But while he was walking to his ball he alerted the referee that he may have breached a Rule.
Tour officials subsequently took a good look at the television replays of McDowell’s stroke from the water hazard and the video evidence unfortunately confirmed that McDowell was right to be concerned. The footage confirmed that he had indeed touched the water with his club on his backswing and was therefore in breach of Rule 13-4b.
Anna Nordqvist in the bunker on the 17th hole
You can’t touch the ground or water in a hazard with hand or club before making a stroke A stroke begins when you start the forward movement of the club intending to strike at and move the ball The penalty for a breach of Rule 13-4b is two strokes in...