Rules Guy: Can you take free relief from a ball resting on broken glass?

Golfer looking at ball

Can you take free relief from broken glass?

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I hit my drive in the rough, where my ball was resting in the broken glass of a beer bottle. I couldn’t move the glass because the ball would move, but I was afraid that if I played the shot shards would fly up in my face. Ruling? —Steven Pinheiro, Loudonville, N.Y.

It’s a one shot of Dewar’s penalty.

Sorry — couldn’t resist. Wow, there’s rough, and there’s broken-beer-bottle-shards rough. Rule 15.2 provides free relief from movable obstructions, since they’re not meant to be part of the game’s challenge.

divot on ball
Rules Guy: Can you take free relief from the sod of your own divot?
By: Rules Guy

If your ball was touching shards, you move them, and if the ball moves, too, there is no penalty and you just put the ball back where it was. If the ball is at rest on or in the broken bottle, it’s a drop situation and you take one club length’s relief from the spot beneath the bottle. Not knowing this rule once cost a player the British Open. In 1949 at Royal St. George’s, Harry Bradshaw decided to play his ball as it lay — and where it lay was inside a broken beer bottle. He was uninjured when his wedge shot shattered the glass, but his scorecard didn’t get off so lightly, with a double-bogey 6.

Bradshaw wound up tied in regulation with Bobby Locke and lost a 36-hole playoff, after which he surely drowned his sorrows with a glass of beer at the nearest pub.

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