Do you know the rules? Lessons from the 2016 Masters

From Billy Horschel’s ball blowing into the water to Louis Oosthuizen’s ricochet ace, the Masters provided some odd rule checks

Do you know the rules? Lessons from the 2016 Masters

Early reports estimate that nearly 14 millions viewers tuned into the final round of the 2016 Masters on CBS. They were treated to a wild finish at Augusta, with Jordan Spieth ultimately putting the green jacket on Danny Willett rather than keeping it for a second straight year.

Viewers this year were also treated to some unique rules occurences from Billy Horschel's ball blowing off the green and into the water hazard to Louis Oosthuizen's ace on the famed 16th hole after it bounced off J.B. Holmes ball. So what do the rules call for in these situations? Let's take them one at time.

Situation #1: Billy Horschel's ball blows off the green and into the water. Penalty or replace the ball?

Under the rules, once a player replaces their ball, even keeping the marker down, anything the ball does because of the wind is considered to have happened on the prior stroke. That meant Horschel was forced to take a drop from the water hazard. He did, and went on to bogey the hole.

Said Horschel: “It was not the rules official’s fault; it’s not Augusta’s fault; it’s nobody’s fault for that happening,” Horschel said. “It’s just an unfortunate situation where I had a 25-mile-per-hour gust – one of the biggest gusts all day – come and blow my ball and take it 2 feet to a false front and then a false front took it into the water.”

What's the rule? Let's look to the USGA's Rule 18-1/12:

18-1/12 Ball Replaced and at Rest Is Thereafter Moved by Wind

Q. A player replaces his ball on the putting green and the ball is at rest. Before the player addresses the ball, a sudden gust of wind blows the ball farther from the hole. The player plays the ball from its new position. Is that correct?

A. Yes. Wind is not an outside agency – see Definition of “Outside Agency.” Accordingly, Rule 18-1 does not apply.

Situation #2: Louis Oosthuizen's ace after bouncing off the ball of J.B. Holmes

What's the rule? Let's look to the USGA's Rule 18-5:

Ball at Rest Moved by Another Ball

Q. Steve's ball was at rest on the putting green. Cindy plays from just off the green and her ball hits Steve's ball. What must Steve do?

A. Under Rule 18-5, Steve must replace his ball back to its original position. (See related FAQ under Rule 19) Cindy must play her ball as it lies. There is no penalty to either player in either match play or stroke play. In stroke play only, if Cindy's ball lay on the putting green prior to the stroke, she would incur a penalty of two strokes.

So in short, Oosthuizen plays his ball as it lies, so he is credited with the hole-in-one. J.B. Holmes had to replace his ball back to the original spot. Had Holmes' ball gone in after being hit by Oosthuizen's, it would not have counted as a hole-in-one.

The ace is not unprecendented on the PGA TOUR as Denver's own Lief Olson had a similar fortunate bounce in 2009 at the RBC Canadian Open:

Louis Oosthuizen celebrates his hole-in-one on the 16th hole at the 2016 Masters

Louis Oosthuizen celebrates his hole-in-one, after it bounced off the ball of playing partner J.B. Holmes, on the 16th hole at the 2016 Masters


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