Rules Guy, Masters edition: Revisiting Jeff Maggert’s self-deflection in 2003

Jeff Maggert of the US hits out of the bunker on the third hole during the final round of the Masters Golf tournament 13 April, 2003 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Maggert's ball hit the front lip and bounced back and hit Maggert in the chest for a two stroke penalty, as a result Maggert had a triple bogie in the hole.

Jeff Maggert suffered a costly rules incident in a bunker at the 2003 Masters.

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While the closest thing we own to a green jacket is a chartreuse blazer with suede elbow patches, Rules Guy remains enamored of Augusta. Thus, on the 11th anniversary of the Masters’ second-most-famous rules imbroglio, involving the Tiger Woods drop heard ’round the world on the 15th hole — rest easy, De Vicenzo, you’ll never be dethroned — we’ve compiled three instances where the rules of the game trended very hard. First up: Jeff Maggert’s 2003 carom shot on the 3rd hole of the final round.

Strange things happen under Sunday pressure, none stranger than what befell Maggert.

Leading by one, the taciturn Texan found a fairway bunker left on No. 3, Flowering Peach. His attempted escape was no peach and didn’t escape.

Instead, his wedge shot hit the bunker face and returned to sender, the ball bouncing off his chest. Under the prevailing rules, Maggert was assessed a two-stroke penalty, eventually carding a triple-bogey 7 en route to a closing 75 and a T5 finish.

Time only worsened the blow, as it later became a one-stroke sanction, followed by a 2019 rules revision (see Rule 11.1), which eliminated the accidental self-deflection penalty entirely.

For more deflection guidance from our guru, read on …

golf pushcart
Rules Guy: What do you do if your ball is deflected by a rogue pushcart?
By: Rules Guy

In a stroke-play outing, my playing partner pitched his third shot on a par 4 from 20 yards away. One guy was already standing on the green, oblivious. Surprise! The pitch was offline but ricocheted off his foot and into the hole. My partner claimed this counted as a birdie. Really? — Paul Butts, Tampa, Fla.

Rules Guy isn’t a basketball aficionado, but we know that in the practice game H-O-R-S-E, one must call bank shots beforehand. In golf, however, per Rule 11.1, a ball played from off the putting green when accidentally deflected is played as it lies without penalty.

Ergo, this offline shot proved spot-on, as the ball was, indeed, holed.

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