Rule 18-2a Ian Poulter Blunder

Ian Poulter’s Rules Blunder in China
Posted: 29 Apr 2014 12:03 PM PDT

Courtesy Barry Rhodes
Ian Poulter was penalised two strokes when he dropped at the wrong place in taking relief from a path, during his second round at the Volvo China Open in Schenzhen. It was yet another case of an experienced Tour professional making an elementary mistake when taking relief from an immovable obstruction, a procedure that most of the 60 million golfers around the world regularly face, so you would think that it should be second nature to professional golfers. But once again, the player’s caddie, his fellow competitors, their caddies, any Rules official that may have been present and a large group of spectators, all watched the drop being made at the wrong place without one of them stepping in to prevent the breach of Rule. The circumstances were that after hitting his drive into dense foliage on the par-5, 13th hole, Poulter deemed his ball unplayable and dropped a ball within two club-lengths of where it was at rest, for a penalty of one stroke (Rule 28). This meant dropping onto a path, an immovable obstruction, from where he was then entitled to take free relief (Rule 24-2a). But, instead of determining the nearest point of relief and dropping within one club-length of that point, not nearer the hole, he took almost two club-lengths relief before dropping. Had anyone intervened at this point Poulter could still have picked up his ball and dropped it within the permitted area without incurring the penalty, Rule 20-6;
A ball incorrectly substituted, dropped or placed in a wrong place or otherwise not in accordance with the Rules but not played may be lifted, without penalty, and the player must then proceed correctly.
Unfortunately, no-one said a word before Poulter played his next stroke and because he had played from a wrong place he incurred a penalty of two strokes (Rule 20-7), making three penalty strokes and a triple bogey score of 8 for the hole. He went on to survive the weekend cut by just one stroke and finished the event in a tie for 5th place; Two strokes better would have put him in a tie for 3rd place.

Ian Poulter was pragmatic about the incident immediately following his round. He said;
“(It was a) schoolboy error. I have just made a mistake. We make them and I guess that was a fun one. I took two club lengths as opposed to one and it’s a two shot penalty which turned a bad six into a really bad eight, so not the best of holes. I guess I need to get the Rules book back out and start chewing it. Sometimes we are a bit thick and that was one of those times.”
Quite! There is no need for any further comment from me!

Good Golfing,