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iacas

Did Jordan Spieth Improve his Lie on 18 in Round 1?

Jordan's Improved Lie  

58 members have voted

  1. 1. Did Jordan Spieth "improve his lie" (Rule 13-2) in the video?

    • Yes
      4
    • No
      29
    • It's Inconclusive
      25


51 posts / 7364 viewsLast Reply

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Here is the video:

Here are some photos from the video:

jordan_ball.jpgjordan_ball.jpg

I thought watching live (well, watching the first time, recorded on my DVR later in the evening) that he had improved his lie. You can certainly see more of the ball after he soles his club than before.

But I'm leaning toward "inconclusive."

This type of activity reportedly occurs frequently on the PGA Tour and people look the other way all the time.

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Looks like the grass got 'tamped' down by him soling the club head. Maybe he applied a bit more 'pressure' doing so. Soling is legit. Applying pressure to tamp it down on purpose. Who knows. Easier if he had moved the ball but that doesn't seem the case just looking at the vid. 

No way anybody can call that out conclusively.  

Edited by GolfLug

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Hmm. You are allowed to ground the club, but not with the intent to improve your lie. He touched the ground three times, but we can't say if he put some force on the club to try to flatten the grass. Impossible to tell if it was intentional or not since it's common to bob the clubhead a bit like that before hitting your shot. The question is if that's a bit dodgy on situations where you can improve your lie by doing this, most commonly when hitting from the rough.

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I wouldn’t “convict”, because there is “reasonable doubt” if you will. You guys have essentially said it..it is inconclusive and there is no evidence supporting him doing anything other than soling his club before he swings. 

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23 minutes ago, GolfLug said:

Soling is legit.

11 minutes ago, HJJ003 said:

it is inconclusive and there is no evidence supporting him doing anything other than soling his club before he swings. 

16 minutes ago, Zeph said:

You are allowed to ground the club, but not with the intent to improve your lie.

You fellas may want to read the rule. :-D

  1. The word "intent" does not appear (except that it's the area of his intended swing).
  2. You're allowed to ground your club lightly but you're not allowed to do whatever you want to sole your club.

Nicklaus often hovered his club because he did not want to incur a penalty for this or for accidentally causing his ball to move.

http://www.usga.org/rules/rules-and-decisions.html#!rule-13

13-2. Improving Lie, Area of Intended Stance or Swing, or Line of Play 

A player must not improve or allow to be improved: 

  • the position or lie of his ball, 
  • the area of his intended stance or swing, 
  • his line of play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the hole, or 
  • the area in which he is to drop or place a ball, 

by any of the following actions: 

  • pressing a club on the ground, 
  • moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable obstructions and objects defining out of bounds),
  • creating or eliminating irregularities of surface, 
  • removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots or other cut turf placed in position, or 
  • removing dew, frost or water. 

However, the player incurs no penalty if the action occurs: 

  • in grounding the club lightly when addressing the ball, 
  • in fairly taking his stance, 
  • in making a stroke or the backward movement of his club for a stroke and the stroke is made, 
  • in creating or eliminating irregularities of surface within the teeing ground or in removing dew, frost or water from the teeing ground, or 
  • on the putting green in removing sand and loose soil or in repairing damage (Rule 16-1).
3 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Would be interesting to see how he typically soles the club for comparison. It might just be habit. 

Seriously asking: how is that relevant? If Lexi "typically" marks the ball to the side and puts it nearly an inch away… that's okay too? Of course not. Habit isn't relevant if it's breaching the rules.

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What is lightly and how does one measure it? Are there any decisions on this? I couldn't find any.

The way I see it, you can break the rule in two ways.

1. By lightly soling the club multiple times.
2. By forcibly soling the club once or multiple times.

In the case of Spieth it's quite clear how many times he lets the clubhead down, but we can't tell by how much force. As long as you don't touch the ground, you can do it as much as you want, but when you let it touch the grass each time is when you get into a more dodgy situation.

I don't think the video evidence is enough to make some conclusion on what Spieth did, but for the sake of discussion, I think it's interesting.

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Yeah, so to determine by the rule question is did he:

21 minutes ago, iacas said:

A player must not improve or allow to be improved: 

by any of the following actions: 

  • pressing a club on the ground, 

OR:

21 minutes ago, iacas said:

However, the player incurs no penalty if the action occurs: 

How can one definitively determine one of the above two from the vid? Just saying I can't. 

Edited by GolfLug

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Wow - IMO this is truly grasping for something.
The grass is certainly affected by grounding the club, but to say that it is tamped down is a huge stretch. To me that looks like his regular routine.

Here he is hitting his 3 wood from the tee

 

and here is a hybrid from the rough (in super slo-mo, so you can better see him improve his lie)

 

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21 minutes ago, iacas said:

in grounding the club lightly when addressing the ball, 

I agree there is no intent mentioned anywhere in the rule. Thanks for catching that for us. However, I think one would have a hard time proving whether it was "lightly" or grounding it "too firmly". How does one define that accurately? Seems like a tough rule to enforce. 

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11 minutes ago, Wally Fairway said:

Wow - IMO this is truly grasping for something.

I don't think so. I showed the video to Dave Wedzik and he didn't think it was "grasping" either. He voted like me - inconclusive - but he "saw" what I was talking about, without prompting.

11 minutes ago, Wally Fairway said:

The grass is certainly affected by grounding the club, but to say that it is tamped down is a huge stretch. To me that looks like his regular routine.

Whether or not it's his "regular routine" is irrelevant.

You can sole your club on the tee, btw. You're allowed to press down irregularities and "improve your lie" on the tee. The rule prevents you from improving your lie.

The "lightly" bit is to allow a few bits of grass that don't materially affect your lie to be moved and maybe not spring back exactly to where they were. If you improve your lie, even if by pressing down lightly, it's a breach.

10 minutes ago, HJJ003 said:

I agree there is no intent mentioned anywhere in the rule. Thanks for catching that for us. However, I think one would have a hard time proving whether it was "lightly" or grounding it "too firmly". How does one define that accurately? Seems like a tough rule to enforce. 

See above - it's not really about whether you do it "lightly" or "too firmly" - it's about whether the lie was improved.

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4 minutes ago, iacas said:

I don't think so. I showed the video to Dave Wedzik and he didn't think it was "grasping" either. He voted like me - inconclusive - but he "saw" what I was talking about, without prompting.

I'm just telling you what I think.

And if you look at the video the camera angle moves slightly after the pictures on the left (with the shaft from his looking at the shot) to when he is addressing the ball, so that changes how the close ups are viewed as well. So it isn't the same view of the ball on the enlarged photos.
If anything I would say the loose grass in the longer rough could have moved, but it hard to tell if the ball is against the collar of the rough, or in front of the it by fractions of an inch.
And I showed the 2nd slo-mo video to show how the grass around the ball can move, even when the lie isn't improved.
So my opinion is unchanged by Dave agreeing with you.
 

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The way I read the rule, simplified is that

1.  The player may not improve the lie of the ball by:

2.  Pressing the club down on the ground

EXCEPT the player incurs no penalty if he grounds the club lightly when addressing the ball.

Grounding the club in the rough inevitably leads to at least a very small improvement in the lie, but is specifically given a pass.  He obviously sets the club down several times, and we can't tell how lightly or firmly he presses down.  I agree with inconclusive.

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I was say not-guilty but I can see the inconclusive argument. 

I don't think he did anything to improve his lie because I think his ball was in the fairway and his club was grounded in the rough, and matted down the rough a bit. But the actual piece of dirt his ball was resting in (his lie) was not impacted. He improved his ability to make clean contact with the ball (intentionally or non intentionally) but not his actual lie. 

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47 minutes ago, Wally Fairway said:

And if you look at the video the camera angle moves slightly after the pictures on the left (with the shaft from his looking at the shot) to when he is addressing the ball

I don't really agree with that. The guy was fixed in place. He turned a few degrees to the left and zoomed a tiny bit. He didn't elevate the camera or otherwise make even a medium-sized motion. They're very slight, and not enough to account for a good bit more of the ball being visible.

47 minutes ago, Wally Fairway said:

If anything I would say the loose grass in the longer rough could have moved, but it hard to tell if the ball is against the collar of the rough, or in front of the it by fractions of an inch.

He soles the club close to directly behind the ball, so if that area is improved, his lie and area of swing is improved.

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I went with inconclusive, but can see what you mean. Had the rules not been changed, would you have phoned this in?

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For me it is no worse than what Kenny Perry did in 2009 at the FBR (Phoenix). In fact I'd argue that what Perry did was much worse. The ball when from invisible to visible. In 2009, the feedback from most everyone was that what Perry did was typical for most golfers and not a penalty. To me, if what Perry did was not a penalty then Spieth did not cross the line either.

 

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/kenny-perry-did-he-or-didnt-he

This is just one of those things that is going to be hard to police. 

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