Kevin Cunningham

December 21, 2022

2022 was stuffed with weird, controversial rulings in skilled golf.

Getty Photos

It’s that point of 12 months once more.

As we cost head first into the vacations, professional golf is in a pause of types, one of many few actual breaks on the calendar. That makes it the proper time to look again on the 12 months that was, and as with yearly in professional golf, 2022 was stuffed with bizarre, controversial and head-scratching moments involving the Guidelines of Golf.

The foundations are one of many few issues that join the common weekend hacker with the PGA Tour’s finest, and the sport’s elite gamers typically battle with following, or just simply understanding, the foundations as a lot as we do.

With a brand new 12 months on the horizon, we’re wanting backing at 15 of the largest, most talked-about guidelines situations within the professional recreation from the previous 12 months. So scroll all the way down to relive them your self — you would possibly even be taught a factor or two.

1. Garcia threatens to go away Tour over controversial ruling

Sergio Garcia’s greatest transfer in 2022 was to LIV Golf, however earlier than he left, he was concerned in maybe the PGA Tour’s oddest guidelines situation of the 12 months. Within the first spherical of the Wells Fargo Championship in Might, Garcia hit his drive on the tenth gap into excessive grass close to a stream beside the opening.

‘Absolute bulls–t’: Sergio Garcia berates official throughout controversial ruling


Sean Zak

When he lastly discovered his ball after navigating his method throughout the stream, a guidelines official mentioned he had gone over the allotted three minutes for the search and must take into account his ball misplaced and take a penalty. What ensued was a fiery debate, and as Garcia walked away in disgust, he mentioned, “I can’t wait to go away this Tour.”

In a ultimate twist later that evening, the PGA Tour launched a press release saying the foundations official was, in truth, incorrect and had made an “inadvertent error” whereas timing Garcia’s search. Garcia’s rating, nevertheless, must stand. One month later, he made good on his promise to “depart this Tour” and joined up with LIV Golf.

2. Varner penalized after fan strikes ball OB

In April on the RBC Heritage, Harold Varner III discovered an vital lesson: Watch out what you want for.

Taking part in the par-4 tenth gap in the course of the second spherical, Varner hit his tee shot vast proper, near the out-of-bounds line on the incorrect aspect of the creek. When he reached the world, Varner noticed a ball throughout the water and requested a fan standing close by to establish it for him.

The person agreed, picked the ball up and confirmed it was certainly Varner’s, however earlier than relaying the knowledge he positioned it again on the bottom in a barely completely different spot.

“Hit it out of bounds and simply — man, I simply didn’t actually know what to do,” Varner mentioned after the spherical. “This previous man was making an attempt to assist, and he ended up selecting up my golf ball, after which he nearly fell within the creek. Then we’re sitting there, and we’re like, effectively, the ball’s not precisely the place it was.”

It seems, at the very least in line with Varner, that the person had moved his ball from simply in bounds to simply out-of-bounds. The fan disagreed. A guidelines official confirmed it was OB and, regardless of Varner’s protests, sided with the fan, forcing Varner to take the penalty.

3. LIV Golf’s first guidelines ‘controversy’

In June, on the first LIV Golf occasion in England, we skilled the first-ever LIV guidelines controversy.

Whereas on the tee on the fifth gap, a 169-yard par-3, professional J.C. Ritchie examined the bag of one in all his taking part in companions, Jinichiro Kozuma, curious to see which membership he had pulled. As Ritchie leaned over to examine, Kozuma’s caddie, Yuhei Yoshimoto, signaled to Ritchie the membership that his participant had pulled, which is a violation of Rule 10.2a of the Guidelines of Golf, during which gamers and caddies are prohibited from giving recommendation to opponents.

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Sean Zak

After a protracted dialog with guidelines officers, everybody concerned determined there was no violation in spite of everything, and {that a} warning was the suitable motion.

“The boys had a protracted give it some thought and so they pulled him over and gave [Yoshimoto] a great warning,” Ritchie later clarified. “They determined that, in that case, as a result of I had already seen what membership he hit, then [his caddie] signaled, he wasn’t actually doing me any favors as a result of I had already acquired the knowledge I needed. It was principally simply to get him warned and conscious that he can’t do this.”

4. Thomas discovers ‘momentary fence’ isn’t momentary

On the Valspar Championship in March, Justin Thomas had an unlucky run-in with a fence. On the par-5 1st at Innisbrook, Thomas hit his tee shot proper subsequent to an out-of-bounds fence. The fence was not a fixture on the course however was added for the match as a boundary marker.

Understanding that gamers are allowed free aid from momentary immovable obstructions, Thomas requested a guidelines official to verify he was in the correct. A lot to his dismay, he was denied aid. In response to the official, the fence, whereas momentary, was deemed a boundary fence earlier than the match, stripping it of “momentary immovable obstruction” standing.

So Thomas was compelled to hit from the unique spot, however not earlier than cracking, “That doesn’t appear to make a lot sense, does it?” Regardless of, JT ended up selecting up a birdie anyway.

5. Scheffler’s masterful use of guidelines will get him out of jam

Scottie Scheffler had a momentous 12 months in 2022, and the largest second of all was capturing first main win on the Masters. However it nearly ended disastrously on the 72nd gap of the match.

How intelligent use of guidelines helped Scottie Scheffler out of high-stakes Masters jam


Alan Bastable

Standing on the 18th tee Sunday with a four-stroke lead, Scheffler badly mishit his tee shot brief and into the timber on the correct aspect of the opening.

With a giant lead and no hope of hitting his ball from the thick brush, Scheffler took an unplayable lie, and the penalty stroke it calls for, in order that he may drop it in a extra favorable spot. However he wasn’t accomplished but. After figuring out his ultimate drop spot in a mattress of pine needles inside two club-lengths of the ball, Scheffler had a dialogue with a guidelines official, after which started clearing the pine needles away from the place he meant to make the drop, whereas additionally utilizing a tee to seek for roots.

Although he needed to persuade the official, it seems Scheffler was effectively inside Rule 15.1/a3, which states, “when a ball is to be dropped or positioned, the ball isn’t being put again in a selected spot and due to this fact eradicating unfastened impediments earlier than dropping or inserting a ball is allowed.”

The intelligent strikes gave Scheffler an incredible line in sight of the inexperienced, and he completed off the opening to earn his first inexperienced jacket.

6. Pieters earns uncommon placing do-over

Even in a enjoyable spherical with associates, not often is anybody allowed a do-over on a putt they missed. However that’s precisely what occurred to Thomas Pieters on the French Open.

On the third gap of the second spherical, Pieters was taking his putter again to hit a 40-footer when somebody within the crowd allegedly coughed. Pieters then tried to cease his stroke, however by chance made contact along with his ball anyway.

As an astute observer of the Guidelines, particularly Rule 13.1d, Pieters knew that until there was direct intention to hit the ball, he ought to be capable to replay from the preliminary spot with out penalty.

After consulting with a guidelines official, it was decided Pieters was appropriate, and he was permitted to position his ball again within the authentic spot and take a second crack on the putt with out penalty.

7. Bradley surprised by weird guidelines gaffe

In a rarely-called guidelines violation, Keegan Bradley was stung with a two-shot penalty on Saturday throughout his second spherical on the Gamers Championship.

After he marked his ball on the sixteenth inexperienced at TPC Sawgrass, the ball moved and Bradley performed it from the place he had marked it, reasonably than the place the ball moved to. Because of this, Bradley’s 5 was modified to a double-bogey 7.

Afterward, Bradley mentioned he and his taking part in companions, Andrew Putnam and Cameron Younger, all believed they had been in the correct for the time being.

‘That was robust information’: Guidelines gaffe stuns main champion at Gamers


Nick Piastowski

“Nicely, apparently the rule is — I believed so long as everybody in my group … and I assure many of the complete discipline thought the USGA modified the rule to simplify it — put your coin down, that’s the place your ball is,” Bradley mentioned of the second in query. “So put my coin down, the ball moved, an enormous gust of wind got here up.”

However in line with Rule13.1d (2), Bradley was incorrect: “If pure forces trigger a participant’s ball on the placing inexperienced to maneuver, the place the participant should play from subsequent depends upon whether or not the ball had already been lifted and changed on its authentic spot.”

8. Burns powers drive into energy traces

Typically while you hit an ideal drive down the center of the green, the foundations power you to disregard the outcomes and check out once more. Not less than that’s what occurred to Sam Burns on the Sanderson Farms Championship.

‘That sort of stunk:’ Professional’s tee shot negated due to not often used rule 


Nick Piastowski

Taking part in the ninth gap in Spherical 2, Burns hit a seemingly excellent drive, however then proceeded to slam his membership, re-tee it and hit one other one. The sequence confused even the TV broadcasters within the sales space, who speculated as to why he hit a provisional when his first ball was within the fairway.

What Burns knew that they didn’t on the time was that on the apex of its flight, Burns’ ball clipped an influence line.

That required the usage of Mannequin Rule E-11, which states: “Whether it is recognized or nearly sure {that a} participant’s ball hit an influence line (or tower or a wire or pole supporting an influence line) in the course of the play of (specify gap quantity), the stroke doesn’t depend. The participant should play a ball with out penalty from the place the earlier stroke was made.”

Regardless of his frustration, Burns knew the rule so effectively he didn’t even have to ask an official for assist. He hit a second, poorer tee shot, however ultimately made par on the opening.

9. Hubbard DQ’d for 15 golf equipment at Houston Open

Just about each golfer is conversant in Rule 4.1b: You possibly can’t play with greater than 14 golf equipment. However there are a lot of nuances to that rule, nuances that Mark Hubbard ought to learn up on.

When a Tour professional is hit with a penalty for too many golf equipment, it’s normally the results of an oversight or mistake. Not so with Hubbard.

Weird confusion over 15-club rule results in DQ of Tour professional


Nick Piastowski

Pissed off with how he was hitting his driver on the flip of his second spherical on the Houston Open, Hubbard determined so as to add a brand new one to his bag. He then proceeded to make use of the brand new driver on a number of holes, a transparent violation of Rule 4.1c. Because of this, Hubbard was disqualified after the spherical.

However why would a professional deliberately make such an enormous violation? In response to Golf Channel, Hubbard thought he’d solely be penalized 4 stokes, and he was keen to take the hit to get a brand new driver in play.

10. Sabbatini’s unlucky DQ helps encourage rule change

Typically guidelines violations appear so unfair that it evokes an official rule change, as was the case with Rory Sabbatini on the 2022 RSM Traditional.

Sabbatini had simply completed off a strong opening spherical at Sea Island when he checked out his fairway wooden and seen one thing incorrect. Affixed to the face of the wooden had been stickers he’d been utilizing on the vary to check the membership. Sadly, he forgot to take away the stickers earlier than his spherical.

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Ryan Barath

Upon informing guidelines officers of the difficulty, Sabbatini was disqualified underneath Rule 4.1 for having a “non-conforming exterior attachment to the face of a membership he used in the course of the spherical.”

Then in November, the USGA introduced it will be tweaking the rule for 2023. Beneath the up to date rule (4.1a(3) golfers are allowed to take away any clubface sticker from the membership earlier than utilizing it (with no penalty!) after which proceed to make use of that membership in the course of the spherical. The previous rule prohibited the usage of the membership even after the stickers had been eliminated.

11. Cejka DQ’d (once more) for unlawful yardage guide

This explicit guidelines blunder comes from the PGA Tour Champions. On the Areas Custom in Might, Alex Cejka was disqualified for utilizing a inexperienced guide that wasn’t accredited by the Tour.

Cejka’s mistake was solely a violation attributable to a rule change that was instituted originally of 2022. In response to Mannequin Native Rule G-11, “Throughout a spherical, the participant might use solely the yardage guide(s) accredited by the Committee. This restriction additionally applies to another maps of the course, together with hole-location sheets. Further restrictions apply to handwritten notes and another supplies utilized by the participant that would assist learn the road of play on the placing inexperienced.”

Consider it or not, this was Cejka’s second DQ involving yardage books. On the 2019 Honda Traditional, he was disqualified for utilizing a yardage guide that was deemed too huge. As along with his 2022 violation, Cejka’s DQ on the Honda was attributable to a rule change that went into impact originally of that 12 months.

12. Hughes misses lower after incorrect ball penalty

PGA Tour professional Mackenzie Hughes has each proper to be indignant at one guidelines official specifically who might have price him hundreds of {dollars}.

Weird incorrect golf ball incident finally ends up sending Tour professional house


Nick Piastowski

All of it started after Hughes’ second shot on the par-5 ninth at Torrey Pines North Course in the course of the Farmers Insurance coverage Open. In response to Hughes, he walked as much as a flag positioned by a marshal that had marked a ball, hit his subsequent shot to inside a couple of ft and marked earlier than his par putt — solely to be taught that that ball he had hit wasn’t his, and that his actual ball was a few yards from the one he hit along with his third shot.

Even if the marshal deserves some share of blame, it was a transparent violation of Rule 6.3c, and the end result was a devastating two-stroke penalty. The blunder had occurred on Hughes’ ultimate gap of the second spherical, inflicting him to overlook the lower by a single stroke.

13. Bryan’s back-up iron earns him 4 penalty strokes

There’s nothing incorrect with testing out an previous membership or two on the vary, simply be sure to take these additional golf equipment out of your bag earlier than hitting the course. In different phrases, don’t be like Wesley Bryan.

On the third gap of the Monday qualifier for the Sanderson Farms Championship, Bryan pulled out his 7-iron solely to note that it wasn’t his common 7-iron. As an alternative, it was one he had been testing in follow. Sadly, Bryan had forgotten to take away the membership from his bag earlier than the spherical began, that means he had performed the primary two holes with 15 golf equipment in his bag.

“That’s the incorrect 7-iron,” Bryan mentioned after realizing his mistake, throwing again his head and cackling. “You possibly can go forward and add 4 to my rating, boys.”

The penalty for having too many golf equipment in your bag is 2 strokes, until you don’t understand till mid-round. If that’s the case, because it was for Bryan, the penalty is 2 strokes for each gap you’ve performed with too many golf equipment.

14. Alana Uriell DQ’d from LPGA Q-school after spherical

Alana Uriel performed in 21 LPGA occasions in 2022, however as a result of she completed one hundred and thirtieth on Tour, she was compelled to move to Q-College to earn her card for 2023.

It was a disappointment little doubt, however by two rounds of a December Q-College occasion in Cell, Ala., Uriel was sitting within the high 20 and feeling good about her probabilities to advance. However that’s the place the excellent news ended.

Following her second spherical, Uriell signed her scorecard solely to then discover she had by chance recorded a par on a gap the place she had made bogey. Understanding Rule 3.3b (3), she determined to self-report her error. As a result of the wrong rating was larger than the proper rating, Uriell was disqualified.

15. Matsuyama’s paint job ends in a DQ

Hideki Matsuyama is a former Memorial champion, however his try at including a second title at Muirfield Village in 2022 was thwarted in the midst of his first spherical when a guidelines official met him on the course to inform him he had been disqualified.

It seems Matsuyama had a white white-out like substance on the face of his 3-wood that his membership technician had added to assist with alignment. Professionals typically do that with Sharpie marker, and it’s effectively inside the guidelines. However “an individual on the planet of golf” had seen Matsuyama’s membership and requested guidelines officers to analyze.

They did, and that meant dangerous information for Hideki.

Hideki Matsuyama is DQ’d — after ‘individual in world of golf’ sees guidelines infraction


Nick Piastowski

Ryan Barath

A number of holes after alerting Matsuyama to the difficulty, the officers decided he had violated Rule 4.1a (3), which match director Steve Rintoul mentioned is outlined as: “A substance or any therapy can’t be utilized to the face of a membership which may affect the flight of the ball, the spin, the loft or something on the ball, how the ball performs.”

The end result was an unlucky DQ that even mystified match host Jack Nicklaus, who mentioned after the spherical, “I really feel very dangerous about that. And I don’t — might sound foolish, however I don’t perceive the ruling as a result of I simply don’t sufficient about it. , I’m a kind of old-time guys, historical guys, and we didn’t know any of that stuff.”

Kevin Cunningham Editor

As managing producer for, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes tales on, and manages the model’s e-newsletters, which attain greater than 1.4 million subscribers every month. A former two-time intern, he additionally helps preserve buzzing exterior the news-breaking tales and repair content material supplied by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech workforce within the improvement of recent merchandise and progressive methods to ship an attractive website to our viewers.

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