It not just us amateurs that get the rules wrong, professionals also get caught out by the many rules of golf. Here are a few examples:
- Possibly the most famous of all is Ian Woosnam at The Open in 2001, his caddy forgot to check how many clubs were in his bag and subsequently, lead to a very embarrassing admission. The maximum amount of clubs allow in a golf bag is 14, however the caddy realised he had 15 and therefore Woosnam was given a 2 shot penalty and ended up finishing tied second, losing his composure and £220,000 in prize money. He threw his extra club into the bushes on the 2nd hole and could be heard shouting at his caddy “I gave you one job to do and you couldn’t even do that”. It is no surprise to find out they parted ways 2 weeks later after his caddy failed to turn up.
- 2016 saw Lexi Thompson put her marker behind the ball when she was on the green, on replacing the ball she replaced it to the side and thus was seen to have gained an advantage. The officials were informed by someone who emailed in to say they had seen the violation on the saturday of the major. It wasn’t until the 13th hole on the sunday that the official decided to penalise her 2 shots for the infringement, she was hit with another 2 shot penalty for signing for an incorrect score, even though it was correct at the time. Lexi subsequently, was tied for the lead instead of 4 shots clear, she got beat in the first play hole. Moral of the story always take care to replace your ball where you marked it.
- Craig Stadller in 1987 was also caught out as his ball landed below a tree and to make his next shot easier he decided to kneel to hit the shot as Seve had done in the past. However, Stadler decided to put a towel down to stop from ruining his trousers. Like Lexi viewers rung in and complained, Stadler incurred a 2 shot penalty as it is seen as “building a stance”. Again, Stadler had already signed his card which was correct at the time but incorrect after the 2 shots had been added on. He was later disqualified.
- De Vicenzo also missed out on a play off in the 1968 Masters as his playing partner wrote him down as getting a 4 instead of a 3 at the par 3 17th. Therefore he signed for a 66 instead of his 65 and the rules stated that the score he signed for is the one that stands and therefore De Vicenzo finished 2nd by 1 shot. If the player had signed for a score lower than what he actually got he would have been automatically disqualified.
- Steve Elkington hit his tee shot into a hazard and had to wait by his ball for his playing partner to play their shot. Without thinking he bend down, picked a blade of grass and began to chew on it. He was penalised 2 shots for moving a loose impediment.
- Brad Faxon hit ball on the green at the Honda Classic only for a sea gull to fly over and pinch his golf ball. The seagull struggled to keep hold of it and dropped it into the water. He was allowed to replace his ball and was not penalised as the seagull was deemed an outside agent.
- Perhaps the craziest ruling to catch out a professional was at Mission Hills, were Ryuji Idama thought there was preferred lies of 1 club length however, it was only 1 scorecard length. He received a 2 shot penalty every time he moved it outside that distance. He moved his ball 13 times outside the allotted distance so he received a 26 shot penalty.