Bunker camera saves pro from brutal plugged lie on TPC Sawgrass’ island-green 17th

March 13, 2020
Mackenzie Hughes TPC Sawgrass 17th hole

One-hundred-and-forty-three players can get Rules of Golf relief across TPC Sawgrass this week.

But getting relief live on Golf Channel — from Golf Channel? That honor belonged to just one pro.

Mackenzie Hughes’ gap wedge cleared the water on the 143-yard, island-green 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass, but couldn’t quite clear the right bunker. Instead, his ball buried about a foot from the lip, which was captured a foot from television screens, as the lip was also home to one of the 120 cameras across the course.

“With the amount of sand I’m going to take out of this bunker, I’m going to drive right into that camera,” Hughes said to senior tournament official Robby Ware after calling him over for a ruling.

Dozens of highlights have been made at the island green over the years, but never a wedge-to-sand-to-ball-to-camera one. Another camera (and a mic) captured the rules breakdown.

“Do you think that the stroke that you’re going to make, you’re going to be swinging up on it?” Ware asked Hughes. “So you’re not going to be swinging down to get the ball up?”

“I mean, I got to clear this, right, so I got to get up,” Hughes said.

“That’s the reason I’m asking what your stroke is going to be. Are you going to go up or down on it?” Ware asked again.

“I’m going up,” Hughes said again. “My way through on the way up is going to drive right into that.”

“You know the shot you’re going to hit,” Ware said. “If you feel like that camera is going to be in your swing, then you’re going to get relief.”

Hughes was able to get a club-length drop, according to Rule 12.3: Specific Rules for Relief for Ball in Bunker. (“When your ball is in a bunker, specific relief Rules may apply when you have interference by an abnormal course condition (Rule 16.1c) or a dangerous animal condition (Rule 16.2), or when your ball is unplayable (Rule 19.3).”) Hughes hit his second shot to within 8 feet, but missed the par putt for a 4.

“In all of the years that we’ve had that bunker cam there, I can honestly say that’s the first time a player’s ever had to get relief from it,” analyst Gary Koch said.

Hughes has a bit of history with the tiny bunker.

Before the tournament, he told Sportsnet that he once hit into it — then hit into the water on the other end of the green.

“Special is an interesting word,” Hughes said of the hole. “I would say it’s dramatic. It’s one of those holes that are a statement hole for a golf course.”

To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.