Denied relief, major winner uses another rule — and swings through fence

Justin Rose

Justin Rose on Thursday on the 13th hole at PGA National.

Golf Channel

Justin Rose could not get free relief. 

He also preferred not to take a penalty drop. 

And he did not want to hit left-handed. Or backward. 

Doing the math then, it left the 2013 U.S. Open winner and former world No. 1 with only this:

The ridiculous. 

Thursday, during the first round of the Cognizant Classic, Rose’d been playing well at PGA National. Birdies on 3, 10 and 11. No bogeys. But on the 396-yard, par-4 13th, Rose went left off the tee. And that started a sequence that

— Involved multiple rules;

— Brought to mind two incidents from a week ago;

— And even recalled Phil Mickelson.

It was a lot. Rose’s ball had settled up maybe an inch from a green, mesh boundary fence. Was it in bounds? Barely. But close counts. According to rule 18.2a(2), “a ball at rest is out of bounds only when all of it is outside the boundary edge of the course. A ball is in bounds when any part of the ball: Lies on or touches the ground or anything else (such as any natural or artificial object) inside the boundary edge.” Could he get free relief from that fence, though? Nope, as noted above. A post on the USGA website explains this well, saying: “You do not get free relief from objects that define or mark the course boundary. You may not move objects marking course boundaries or take free relief from them like you would from other artificial objects, like a cart path, a building, or a stake marking a penalty area.”

A standard swing was out of the question. But there were other plays. A lefty shot from the right-hander? Or a backward one? Tough — the ball would probably stick near the fence, or even go over it. A drop through the unplayable ball rule? If he had to, sure, but that would cost him a stroke. But couldn’t he hop that fence, stand out of bounds — and in some Floridian’s backyard — and try to swing through that fence to hit the ball?

You bet. It’s shortly covered under rule 18.2a(2), where it states: “A player may stand out of bounds to play a ball on the course.”

Rose liked it. 

He stepped over the fence. He’d need immediate contact with the ball, ahead of the barrier slapping his club backward. Here, Golf Channel cameras caught up to him. 

It worked. 

Rose hit and his iron slapped the mesh fence, but his ball sprung forward about 75 yards and into the fairway. It got better, too. From there, he stuffed a wedge to 2 feet, and he made his par.   

“No pictures, right?” analyst Brad Faxon said on the broadcast. “No pictures on that scorecard.”

Indeed. Notably, there’s more here, though.

We’d seen something similar just last week, at the Mexico Open. Twice, in fact. The first sequence came during the first round, when S.H. Kim’s ball finished alongside a boundary fence on the 18th hole — and he was given free relief after it was determined a potential swing on the ball would be on a sandy extension of a cart path below him. Then, three days later, during the final round, Sami Valinaki’s ball also finished along the same boundary fence — and he was forced to take penalty relief. (GOLF’s Sean Zak wonderfully provided more detail on each here.)

Then there’s Sahith Theegala. Last September, at the Fortinet Championship, he executed something similar to what Rose pulled off, and it’s worth a watch below.

Finally, there’s Mickelson. 

And if it’s the sound of a hybrid off a metal fence you’re after, you can have a look at that below

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at