Stewart Cink DQed (and fantasy golfers screwed) by absurd rule Rule 13-4a
After ascending to 490th place overall in Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Golf, I’ve plummeted precipitously over the past few weeks.
Today, however, delivered a devastating gut-shot. Stewart Cink, my last remaining semi-big-name, was DQed yesterday from the Zurich Classic of New Orleansthanks to perhaps the most idiotic USGA rule: 13-4a.
It seems Cink found his ball in the grass on the edge of a fairway bunker. He had to take his stance in the bunker to play his ball. That shot ended up in a greenside bunker.
It was then that Cink made his fatal, egregious mistake: he raked the fairway bunker.
Well, according to 13-4a, he was “testing the conditions” of the bunker way up by the green – deemed a “similar hazard” – by raking the fairway bunker.
Just to be clear, Cink’s caddie was also prohibited from raking the bunker (because the caddie is defined as a player’s “equipment"). Moreover, Cink was prohibited from raking the fairway bunker even if he could not see whether or not his ball was in a greenside trap.
So, let me get this straight. Cink was supposed to leave the trap unraked until he walked up to the greenside trap, found his ball, hit it, and raked that trap. Then before putting out, he (or his caddie) was supposed to trudge back to the fairway bunker to rake it while all the players behind him waited. Or else he was to leave his unraked footprints for some later group to deal with.
This is precisely the sort of rule that we need to speed tournament play, especially after multiple rain delays.
And it’s absolutely a killer for us Fantasy Golf geeks.
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The rule is there to prevent people from stepping in random bunkers and then raking the sand to see what it feels like ("testing the conditions"). In this case it makes no sense, because he obviously didn't do it purposely.
This could all be avoided if the PGA Tour had a similar policy to the British Open of having someone follow each group with a rake. It would also speed up play.
The rule existed in my old R & A book from 1984, but not sure when US PGA adopted it. Also not sure that Patrick's interpretation is correct.
Before making a stroke at a ball which is in a hazard the player shall not test the condition of the hazard or any similar hazard. Because Cink's ball was NOT in the first hazard, both taking his stance in it (possibly?) and then raking it (certainly) he was deemed to have been testing the conditions prior to the second hazard. I may be wrong of course. I don't think the rule is stupid, but perhaps the interpretation of it on this occasion was somewhat unreasonable. Agree with Patrick that it would hardly be onerous to have groundstaff rake bunkers for following group and would speed up play. However, competitors would still have to be aware of that rule as a certain Tom Weiskopf once walked straight through a hazard to test his yardage for his next shot, retraced his footsteps and meticulously smoothed his footprints.
Had he then gone into that hazard on his next shot....!! ("Golf Rules Explained" by Peter Dobereiner does not recall whether he went into any other hazard after that, when the rule would still have applied, but bet nobody would have spotted the infringement anyway). Rule 6.1 sounds so simple, doesn't it?!
each group. Makes wonderful sense, and would
speed up play.