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12 of the Craziest Rules decisions in the History of Golf!

12 of the Craziest Rules decisions in the History of Golf!

12 of the Craziest Rules decisions in the History of Golf!

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

As golfers, we like to play by the rules! (I hope)

There are 32 rules, but many sections and subsections make knowing the rules by heart almost impossible!  However, that being said, I think that if you play this game for a living, you should know the rules inside and out!  I once read that Anika Sorenstam attended a Rules Clinic put on by the USGA, and the following week she sent her caddie!  Now that’s smart.  Some of these violations are just plain dumb, and the player deserves a penalty. But some of the rules feature penalties that I feel are too harsh, like the one regarding the extra driver in Ian Woosnam’s bag a few years ago. You are penalized 2 shots if found to be carrying more than 14 clubs.  Woosnam never used the extra club, but it cost him an opportunity to win the British Open Championship. provides us with 12 such decisions.  Enjoy!

12 of the Craziest Rules decisions in the History of Golf!

The expansive, complicated Rules of Golf have always caused a lot of grumbling among professional and recreational players alike. Here are some of the most infamous rules violations in the history of the game.

1. Tiger Woods and the Drop Heard ‘Round the World

Photo: John W. McDonough For Sports Illustrated
Tiger Woods makes an incorrect drop during the 2013 Masters.

12 of the Craziest Rules decisions in the History of Golf!
The holy grail of rules incidents, Tiger Woods was penalized two strokes after-the-fact for making an illegal drop on the 15th hole in the second round of the 2013 Masters, despite having signed an incorrect scorecard, which normally leads to a disqualification. Woods did not know he had broken a rule, and it was only when the Augusta officials investigated it after the round that the violation was noticed. Why wasn’t he disqualified? Augusta officials cited relatively new Rule 33 that states “that disqualification can be waived at the committee’s discretion.”

2. The Unconceded Putt at the 2015 Solheim Cup

Photo: Getty Images
Solheim Cup players argue over the Alison Lee’s unconceded putt at the 2015 event.

12 of the Craziest Rules decisions in the History of Golf!
During Saturday of the 2015 Solheim Cup, Americans Alison Lee and Brittany Lincicome were in a tight match with Europeans Charley Hull and Suzann Pettersen. Lee missed a short putt for a birdie on the 17th and then picked up her ball under the assumption Europe had conceded — Hull and Pettersen were already walking toward the last hole — only for Pettersen to claim Europe hadn’t conceded the short putt.

The umpire intervened and Europe was awarded the hole. The altercation drew on-course tears from two of the players and ignited debate throughout the golf world. Lee explained her reasoning after the match:
“I missed it but I had just under two feet, like a foot and a half left coming back. And I looked at it and I thought I heard it was good,” Lee said. “To me it looked good. I mean, it was a really short putt, easy putt.

And at the same time Charley was walking off the green and Suzann was already off the green so there was no doubt in my mind that that putt was good. I didn’t even think twice about it. So I just picked it up.”

3. Dustin Johnson and ‘Bunkergate’ at the 2010 PGA

Dustin Johnson hits out of a waste bunker at the 2010 PGA Championship.
After finishing the 72nd hole of the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Dustin Johnson believed he had made it into a playoff. But Johnson had unknowingly played his second shot on 18 from a waste bunker and grounded his club. The ensuing two-stroke penalty knocked him out of the playoff.

4. Bobby Jones Calls Penalty on Himself at 1925 U.S. Open

Bobby Jones during the 1923 U.S. Open.
At the 1925 U.S. Open, Bobby Jones moved his ball slightly while setting up for a shot. No one saw it, but Jones was adamant that the ball had moved and assessed himself a one-stroke penalty, costing him the win, as he went on to lose in a playoff. Praised for his classy move, Jones quipped, “You might as well praise me for not robbing banks.”
Ian Woosnam Doubles Up on Drivers at 2001 British Open Photo: AP

5. Ian Woosnam flings his second driver into the woods at the 2011 British Open.

Bobby Jones during the 1923 U.S. Open.

Ian Woosnam was in position to win in the final round of the 2001 British Open when his caddie Miles Byrne spoke up: “You’re going to go ballistic,” Byrne told him. “We’ve got two drivers in the bag.” That meant Woosnam was carrying 15 clubs, a two-stroke penalty. He then flung the extra driver into the woods.

To read the rest of these infamous rules decisions, go here!


Pictures: John W. McDonough For Sports Illustrated   Getty Images   John Biever for Sports Illustrated   Bettmann/CORBIS    AP

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Thanks for watching and reading 12 of the Craziest Rules decisions in the History of Golf!

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