Seeking rules help to make U.S. Open cut, pro receives 5-word joke

Richard Mansell, rules official

Richard Mansell and a rules official on Friday on the 16th hole at Pinehurst.

Nick Piastowski

PINEHURST, N.C. — Richard Mansell called for help. He made a case. He made a joke. 

A U.S. Open rules official joked back. 

And then Mansell hit. 

Through Carolina pines. Over the 18th tee box. Over more pines. 

All of it made for a scene late Friday at the U.S. Open as the Englishman fought to make the weekend cut. Hopes had started to sour after Mansell steered his ball left off the tee on Pinehurst’s 531-yard, par-4 16th. Mansell shouted. Willie Mack III and Ashton McCulloch, his playing partners, shouted. Their caddies shouted. 

“Left. Left! LEFT!”

About 300 yards away, here was what Mansell came to:

Jail. There was a little bit of everything. 

His ball sat atop pine needles, sand and dirt. About 10 yards to his left and 25 yards ahead was the grandstand to the left of the 18th tee. Just to the right of the seats were a tree and a cart. Ten yards to the right of that was another tree, with the gap offering a view to the 18th tee box. Just past the tee box was the 17th green, where Austin Eckroat, Adrian Meronk and Cam Davis were finishing up. To the right of the tee was a collection of eight trees clumped together. A ShotLink tower also was in the mix, about 100 yards away from Mansell. Right of that, and about 50 yards from Mansell, was a camera for the 18th hole and another ShotLink tower. Finally, just beyond all of that, were trees about 100 yards away that were in front of the left greenside bunker that guarded the green. 

Understandably, Mansell called for a rules official. 

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Could he get Temporary Immovable Obstruction rules relief from one of the ShotLink towers or the camera? It could potentially free up the shot. At that point, Mansel was seven over for the tournament with three holes to go, and the cut line was five over. He needed birdies. He needed help. 

Mansell wondered whether a potential line to the hole was blocked. 

The official who arrived said the play wasn’t an option. On the USGA website, that call is explained this way: “There is no relief when it is clearly unreasonable for a player to play the ball far enough that the ball will reach the TIO. And there is no relief when the player cannot show that there is a stroke that he or she could reasonably play that would both (a) have the TIO (including the corridor) on the line of that stroke, and (b) result in the ball finishing on a direct line to the hole.”

The conversation, though, ended lightly. 

Said the official: “The only ShotLink that might is way left. I don’t think you can make that shot.” 

Mansell cracked at the official’s doubt. They laughed. 

Joked the official: “Now I could make it.”

There was more laughter. Mansell’s shot followed. 

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He talked with his caddie. It would require a shot through the gap between the trees that was just in front of the 18th box, and the ball would then hopefully slice right and rise over the trees 100 yards ahead. The yardage was 205 yards to the front and 221 to the hole, the caddie said. At this point, there were about 10 people standing behind Mansell. It was about 7:30 p.m. They were the last group of the day.  

“Commit to it,” Mansell’s caddie said. 

Mansell took his iron. Took practice swings. He looked at his line. He shook his right hand. He hit. 

The ball shot through the gap. 

It curved right. 

It carried above the trees. 

It dropped about 5 yards short of the green. 

Said one fan: “Oh, ooh, woo, hoo.” 

Said another fan: “Ohhh K.”

Said a third fan: “Hey, great imagination.”

For sure.  

But the story finished disappointingly. 

Mansell chipped on and two-putted for a bogey five. 

He missed the cut by three. 

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