Rules of golf: Ball resting on a bridge

This week’s edition of “Golf pros remind us of the rules” is brought to you by Ian Poulter.

Ian Poulter was faced with an unusual shot during Friday’s second round of the Alstom Open De France. His ball managed to avoid the hazard by landing on a bridge that spanned the water and was faced with a tricky shot off of the wooden structure.

So the question: was Poulter allowed to ground his club?

Yes. But it appeared as if he didn’t know that.

I’d love to show you the footage or even an image of the shot but the European Tour isn’t as sharing or ubiquitous as say, the PGA  Tour is and I’ve to find anything. (Remember there was no footage of Andrew Dodt’s two hole-in-one’s a month ago?)

In addition to the procedures for dealing with your ball in a hazard, you may also play the shot and your club is allowed to be grounded on the bridge. Decision 13-4/30 in the rules of golf deals with the situation:

Grounding Club on Bridge in Water Hazard

Q.A player’s ball lies on a bridge over a water hazard within the margins of the hazard when extended upwards. May the player ground his club?

A.Yes. A bridge is an obstruction. In a hazard, the club may touch an obstruction at address or in the backward movement for the stroke – see Note under Rule 13-4. Touching the bridge prior to address is also permissible, since an obstruction in a water hazard is not “ground in the hazard.”

This applies even if the bridge has been declared an integral part of the course.

As I said, I’m not so sure Poulter knew this. He appeared to be hovering his club well above the bridge, possibly to make sure the ball didn’t move. He played a remarkably good shot but couldn’t get up and down for par.

2 thoughts on “Rules of golf: Ball resting on a bridge

  • I suspect that the ball in the photo is not on a bridge in a water hazard. It seems to me from where the yellow stakes are situated that the hazard ends before the pathway dividing two separate water hazards. It is not even obvious from the photos whether the path is artificial, which would make it an immovable obstruction, or a natural pathway from which no relief is available. All in all a very confusing photo to use to illustrate the apparent Poulter situation.

    Barry Rhodes

    • Thanks Barry. Photo gone!
      Be great if I could track down the actual footage.


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