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US Open 2018 Local Rule: Small stones in bunkers are movable obstructions

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The USGA is instituting a local rule this year stating that small stones and pebbles inside a bunker will be movable obstructions.  I haven't seen much discussion or articles about this.  What would be the justification for it?

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/us-open-2018-the-new-local-rule-in-effect-at-shinnecock-could-have-saved-phil-mickelson-in-2004

Quote

The USGA is implementing a local rule that will allow players to remove stones and small pebbles from bunkers without penalty. Instead of treating them as loose impediments, they’ll be considered movable obstructions.

...

“If I’m moving one of those rocks and my ball moves, no penalty,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA senior director of rules of golf and amateur status. “I’m just going to replace my ball and move on.”

Why would/should small stones in a bunker be treated differently than outside the bunker?

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2 minutes ago, krupa said:

The USGA is instituting a local rule this year stating that small stones and pebbles inside a bunker will be movable obstructions.  I haven't seen much discussion or articles about this.  What would be the justification for it?

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/us-open-2018-the-new-local-rule-in-effect-at-shinnecock-could-have-saved-phil-mickelson-in-2004

Why would/should small stones in a bunker be treated differently than outside the bunker?

Because of Phil’s incident. Lol. Also it may be a safety issue. Spraying bunker shots can throw stones and hit players or bystander’s eyes?

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I believe They have stones in the bunkers that can impede a stroke. Mickelson was in contention when he hit a stone that affected his shot. Did not recover. -Marv

Edited by MarvChamp
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3 minutes ago, MarvChamp said:

I believe They have stones in the bunkers that can impede a stroke. Mickelson was in contention when he hit a stone that affected his shot. Did not recover. -Marv

 

Sure but the sand impedes a stroke as well.  And while Mickelson's shot was messed up because of a stone, don't you have to play the course as you find it?

Does this course have an unusual quantity of small rocks in its bunkers?

 

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Thats a pretty common local rule. Sometimes sand traps will have pebble sized stones or other sediments in them. You're usually allowed to remove them with no penatly. I think its mostly a safety issue. Small stones are a potential danger to you, competitors or fans. 

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From Appendix I:

Stones are, by definition, loose impediments and, when a player's ball is in a hazard, a stone lying in or touching the hazard may not be touched or moved (Rule 13-4). However, stones in bunkers may represent a danger to players (a player could be injured by a stone struck by the player's club in an attempt to play the ball) and they may interfere with the proper playing of the game.

When permission to lift a stone in a bunker is warranted, the following Local Rule is recommended:

"Stones in bunkers are movable obstructions (Rule 24-1 applies)."

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4 hours ago, krupa said:

The USGA is instituting a local rule this year stating that small stones and pebbles inside a bunker will be movable obstructions.  I haven't seen much discussion or articles about this.  What would be the justification for it?

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/us-open-2018-the-new-local-rule-in-effect-at-shinnecock-could-have-saved-phil-mickelson-in-2004

Why would/should small stones in a bunker be treated differently than outside the bunker?

The approved Local Rule has been used virtually universally since Adam was a lad.

Bunkers used to be formed from the naturally occurring ground where the course was situated. Think Scotland and links.

By their nature they contained small stones and pebbles. Given that shots played from sand will normally involve hitting the sand and possibly send a small missile towards another player. Further, concealed stones may significantly affect the shot.

Many courses these days use 'processed' or cleaned sand, so there are no pebbles. Perhaps the course the USGA this year has natural sand.

Incidentally, the R&A, the European Tour and the Asian Tour have it on their hard cards.

Edited by Rulesman

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On 6/14/2018 at 12:46 PM, Rulesman said:

The approved Local Rule has been used virtually universally since Adam was a lad.

Bunkers used to be formed from the naturally occurring ground where the course was situated. Think Scotland and links.

By their nature they contained small stones and pebbles. Given that shots played from sand will normally involve hitting the sand and possibly send a small missile towards another player. Further, concealed stones may significantly affect the shot.

Many courses these days use 'processed' or cleaned sand, so there are no pebbles. Perhaps the course the USGA this year has natural sand.

Incidentally, the R&A, the European Tour and the Asian Tour have it on their hard cards.

It has been universal for the R&A Rules since Adam was a lad but was only recently adopted as an allowable local rule by the USGA. I think that may have been the final item that made the two group's rules identical.

Edited by VOX

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18 minutes ago, VOX said:

It has been universal for the R&A Rules since Adam was a lad but was only recently adopted as an allowable local rule by the USGA. I think that may have been the final item that made the two group's rules identical.

I just looked it up and the USGA added that local rule in 2004

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On 6/15/2018 at 7:42 PM, VOX said:

I just looked it up and the USGA added that local rule in 2004

Do you mean they added it to their hard card or put it in the Rules.

The USGA and the R&A agreed on a universal set of rules in 1952.

Edited by Rulesman

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On 6/23/2018 at 12:44 PM, Rulesman said:

Do you mean they added it to their hard card or put it in the Rules.

The USGA and the R&A agreed on a universal set of rules in 1952.

I believe the USGA added it to their appendix and it had been in the R&A appendix. The USGA had always dissuaded players from removing stones in the bunker whereas it was the norm outside of the US. The other difference I recall from my younger years was that the R&A allowed the use of the smaller "british ball" and the USGA did not.

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I gather it was in the 1984 R&A version of the Combined Decisions. It was not in the 1992 USGA version but was in the 2008 version. When it first appeared in the USGA version I don't know.

Before that, committees had been allowed to make their own Local Rules for local conditions, but anything modifying a Rule had to be first approved by the governing authority. It was mentioned in the R&A's Decisions Books as an example:  to permit the removal of stones in bunkers, the approval of the Rules of Golf Committee must be obtained. A 1981 card from Ladybank Golf Club (eastern Scotland) says "Stones may be removed from bunkers before playing a stroke, without penalty, so long as the ball does not move."

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