Did You Replace Your Marker

Once again there was another bizarre rules situation on the PGA TOUR. This ruling had potential to be right up there with the Dustin Johnson debacle in PGA Championship. You might recall that Dustin received a two stroke penalty for grounding his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole, which caused him missing the play-off for the PGA Championship. Well it happens to be a Johnson again, except this time it was Zach Johnson.


Fortunately for Johnson, it ended up not making a difference on the outcome of the tournament results. It was supposed to be an enjoyable victory for Zach Johnson leading by three shots over Jason Dufner when his approach shot landed in the greenside bunker. After blasting his ball to within five feet of the hole, Johnson moved his ball mark out of the way of Duffer’s line of putt. However, in the process of moving the mark, Johnson forgot to replace it back to its original spot.

After Johnson made the putt for an assuming three shot victory, he was informed by PGA TOUR rules officials that he violated rule 20-7 of the Rules of Golf, Playing from the Wrong Place and that he would receive a two stroke penalty. Johnson was obviously shaken by the penalty and was not even sure if he had won the tournament at that point.

“I moved my mark, but I did not move it back,” Johnson admitted after his round. “I hit a great putt. I guess fortunately it went in … I don’t know. I guess if I would’ve missed it, it would’ve been … I don’t know what would’ve happened. I just feel very lucky.”

Rule 20-7c/1 states, “In stroke play, a competitor in replacing his ball on the putting green inadvertently put the ball in a wrong place nearby and holed out.

The score with the ball played from the wrong place counts and the competitor must add two penalty strokes to that score.
It absolutely amazes me how these infractions can take place on such a large stage like the PGA TOUR. In defense of the caddie, who should have been looking out for Johnson, was raking the bunker at the time and had no idea what had happened on the green. Maybe, just maybe that bunker raking could have waited until after the tournament was finalized …
It’s imperative that we pay attention to what we are doing when it comes to the Rules of Golf. We might never be on the big stage like the Touring Professionals however we should familiarize ourselves with the basic procedures, especially if you will be playing in any tournament events. Here is the ruling procedure you should know.

20-1. Lifting and Marking
A ball to be lifted under the Rules may be lifted by the player, his partner or another person authorized by the player. In any such case, the player is responsible for any breach of the Rules.

The position of the ball must be marked before it is lifted under a Rule that requires it to be replaced. If it is not marked, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced. If it is not replaced, the player incurs the general penalty for breach of this Rule but there is no additional penalty under Rule 20-1.

If a ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved in the process of lifting the ball under a Rule or marking its position, the ball or ball-marker must be replaced. There is no penalty provided the movement of the ball or ball-marker is directly attributable to the specific act of marking the position of or lifting the ball. Otherwise, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke under this Rule or Rule 18-2a.

Exception: If a player incurs a penalty for failing to act in accordance with Rule 5-3 or 12-2, there is no additional penalty under Rule 20-1.

Note: The position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball. If the ball-marker interferes with the play, stance or stroke of another player, it should be placed one or more clubhead-lengths to one side.

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