Hudson Swafford was once involved in one of the weirdest rulings you’ll ever see
Hudson Swafford secured his second career PGA Tour win yesterday, holing a six-foot putt on the final green to take the Corales Puntacana Championship title. The win came without too much drama, save for a few untimely back-nine bogeys, which is always a relief.
There were no strokes of bad luck, late barrages of birdies or wacky rules scenarios. But if there had been any such rules oddities, there’s little chance it could’ve been wackier than the one Swafford found himself in on the Korn Ferry Tour (then Web.com Tour) in 2013.
In the final round of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, Swafford was taking practice swings in the fairway behind his ball. On one swing, the divot he took flew up and hit his ball, moving it down the fairway. It’s a clip that’s by now gone viral, but in case you haven’t seen it, check out the video below.
You might be asking, with such a bizarre situation, is there a ruling for this? The answer is yes, and it’s covered under Rule 15.1. Under the rule, players are allowed to move loose impediments anywhere on the course. However, if in the removal of a loose impediment the balls moves, the player incurs a one-stroke penalty.
Taking a divot might not seem like a traditional application of the loose impediment rule, but once the divot is free from the earth, it is considered a loose impediment. The Rules of Golf define a loose impediment as “any unattached natural object such as stones, loose grass, leaves, branches and sticks,” among other things.
So once Swafford took the divot, it was a loose impediment that he was deemed to have moved. Because of this, he was hit with a one-stroke penalty. Oddly enough, the day before Swafford’s snafu, Justin Rose was involved in a similar predicament on the PGA Tour. Talk about a wild coincidence.