Golf has a lot of strange rules, but who knew the USGA rulebook had a stipulation related bird to feeders?
Well, not bird feeders specifically, but immovable obstructions — of which a bird feeder is deemed one.
Darren Clarke found that out the hard way Thursday at the U.S. Senior Open at Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana — and he was not happy about it.
Here’s what happened. In the first round, Clarke blasted his tee shot on the 10th hole into the weeds.
He called over the rules officials to discuss his options while his caddie took matters into his own hands.
There was a bird feeder in Clarke’s line, so the caddie tried to move it. Video showed him moving it back and forth to loosen it from the ground to take it out.
This turned out to be a two-stroke penalty.
— Doug Schwimer (@Dougiefresh_21_) June 27, 2019
The problem centered around what is considered movable and what is considered immovable.
USGA Rule 15.2: Movable Obstructions, says: “This rule covers free relief that is allowed from artificial objects that meet the definition of movable obstruction. It does not give relief from immovable obstructions (a different type of free relief is allowed under Rule 16.1) or boundary objects or integral objects (no free relief is allowed).”
It adds: “Without penalty, a player may remove a movable obstruction anywhere on or off the course and may do so in any way.”
The caddie, technically, had a point. The bird feeder is movable, as he proved.
But in the eyes of the USGA, it is considered an immovable obstruction because it is a permanent fixture on the course, as Golf Digest explained.
Rule 16-1 says: “This Rule covers free relief that is allowed from interference by animal holes, ground under repair, immovable obstructions or temporary water.”
A Golf Digest pointed out, “a player only receives relief when a) the player’s ball touches or is in or on an abnormal course condition b) abnormal course condition physically interferes with the player’s area of intended stance or area of intended swing c) or only when the ball is on the putting green, an abnormal course condition on or off the putting green intervenes on the line of play.”
In other words, there’s no relief.
To make matters worse, Clarke was not informed about the penalty until after he finished the hole. Thus, the former British Open champion’s bogey turned into a triple bogey and his round was shot.
He was clearly not happy with the ruling.
— Jodie Luke (@Jodielukehomes) June 28, 2019
Clarke finished the round at 3-over, 11 shots behind the round one leaders David Toms and Steve Stricker.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.