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Mar 6th, 2020

Justin Rose avoids penalty at Bay Hill

TV footage sparks rules controversy

Trial by television was with us again at the Bay Hill Classic on Thursday. No Patrick Reed this time but rather the squeaky-clean Justin Rose. Rose had a tricky chip from the back of the 11th which he ran some 10 feet past the pin but did he move the ball at address?

Super slow motion is a beautiful thing and on this occasion, it showed that as Rose pressed forward before taking his backswing, he touched the ball which rocked slightly. Cue social media and discussions as to whether there should be a penalty.


Fans and officials grabbed for their rule books or took to the t’internet and started searching through the pages. Eyes settled on Rule 9.1.B.

9.1.B What to Do When Ball Moves During Backswing or Stroke

If a player’s ball at rest begins moving after the player has begun the stroke or the backswing for a stroke and the player goes on to make the stroke:

- The ball must not be replaced, no matter what caused it to move.

- Instead, the player must play the ball from where it comes to rest after the stroke.

- If the player caused the ball to move, see Rule 9.4b to find out if there is a penalty.

So, what does that mean? Well regardless of whether the ball moved the shot remains and then it has to be decided whether a penalty applies. Flick forward to rule 9.4

9.4.B  Penalty for Lifting or Deliberately Touching Ball or Causing It to Move

If the player lifts or deliberately touches his or her ball at rest or causes it to move, the player gets one penalty stroke.

Looking at the definitions, to “move”, a ball at rest must leave its original spot and come to rest on any other spot and the movement must be enough that it can be seen by the naked eye. In order to treat the ball as moved, there must be knowledge or virtual certainty that the ball has moved. The rules define virtually certain as “95% certainty.”

And this is what saved Rose from the lynch mob and more importantly from a penalty.

The PGA Tour determined that Rose’s ball had not changed positions. Even though his club contacted it, the ball did not “leave its original spot and come to rest on any other spot.”

As the ball just rocked and oscillated, there was no penalty for Rose and his one-over-par round of 73 stood.

TAGS: Rules Of Golf, Bay Hill Golf Club, Justin Rose, PGA Tour, 2020, Rules