August - 2012

"We have a lot of stupid rules in golf," Carl Petterson said at the conclusion of this year's PGA Championship. Petterson brushed a leaf on his backswing in a hazard during the last round while playing the first hole. Because he was in a hazard, the act of brushing away a leaf (a loose impediment in a hazard) he was penalized two strokes.

This is a perfect example for people who think the Rules are too complicated and ultimately complain how stupid the Rule's of Golf are-and in this situation it's hard to argue against that.

Petterson actually did not realize at the moment that he had committed an infraction. The fact he was on camera, allowed for Rules officials to replay over and over whether he had brushed a leaf or not.

He was three strokes out of the lead at the time and took a swing from a dry portion of a lateral hazard. On his backswing, he brushed the grass which you are allowed to do, but his club happened to touch and move a leaf, and in a hazard, a leaf is a loose impediment, and that's a penalty. Very bad timing, but I gained a lot of respect for Mr. Petterson by the way he handled a very tough situation.


The end result of multiple re-viewing by the officials of the tape was that Carl had incurred the two-stroke penalty under 13-4c, which I've included below. Also, see the definition for "Loose Impediments"

13-4. Ball In Hazard; Prohibited Actions
Except as provided in the Rules, before making a stroke at a ball that is in a hazard (whether a bunker or a water hazard) or that, having been lifted from a hazard, may be dropped or placed in the hazard, the player must not:
a. Test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard;
b. Touch the ground in the hazard or water in the water hazard with his hand or a club; or
c. Touch or move a loose impediment lying in or touching the hazard.

Loose Impediments
"Loose impediment" are natural objects, including:

  • stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like,
  • dung, and
  • worms, insects and the like, and the casts and heaps made by them, provided they are not:
  • fixed or growing,
  • solidly embedded, or
  • adhering to the ball. Sand and loose soil are loose impediments on the putting green, but not elsewhere.
    Snow and natural ice, other than frost, are either casual water or loose impediments, at the option of the player.
    Dew and frost are not loose impediments.

    Derek Duesler