Remember in 1999 at the Phoenix Open when Tiger Woods had his gallery move a boulder for him on the 13th hole at TPC Scottsdale, and some people cried unfair because a lesser-known player, without the benefit of a large gallery, would have been screwed? Well, last Thursday at the Valero Texas Open, PGA Tour rookie Chris Wilson had a similar situation on the 11th hole.
His drive ended up in front of a boulder and he had no backswing. With the help of five people — which included himself, his caddie, volunteers and spotters — the gigantic loose impediment was moved. I asked him why he was allowed to move the large stone. He replied, “All a boulder is, is a giant stone. You can move a stone as long as it’s not embedded.”
Under the Rules of Golf, “loose impediments” are:
Stones, leaves, twigs, branches and the like, dung, and worms, insects and the like, and the casts and heaps made by them, provided they are not: fixed or growing, solidly embedded, or adhering to the ball.
The two other decisions involved were Decision 23-1/2, which is appropriately titled “Large Stone Removable Only with Much Effort.” A stone of any size can be moved as long as it doesn’t delay play excessively. Finally, Decision 23-1/3 asks, “May spectators, caddies, fellow-competitors, etc., assist a player in removing a large loose impediment?” The answer is “Yes.”
After the boulder was moved, Chris was standing in fire ants, so he got a drop after that, too. He made par on the 11th, which ignited him on the back nine. Just making the cut by a shot, he played consistently the next three rounds and finished T51.
So you see, even players not named Tiger Woods get the same arguably favorable ruling. For those who cried injustice because Tiger violated the “spirit” of the rules (groan), what say you in the case of Wilson vs. Boulder?