Bubba Watson: No relief from anthill

Bubba Watson does not get relief without penalty from an anthill during US PGA 2015.

Hi all.

Once again Bubba Watson was involved in an interesting episode: His ball was lying on an anthill, and he therefore wanted to get relief from interference from a borrowing animal.

Video.
Please see this video (there have been som problems, but hopefully the video is working now):

 

The Rules of Golf.
The definition of a “burrowing animal” states, that this is all animals other than a worm, insect or the like. Decision 23/5 underlines the fact, that an ant is an insect, and that it therefore is not a burrowing animal in the wording of the Rules of Golf. Therefore: No relief without penalty to Bubba Watson.

Anthills are considered loose impediments, and therefore (since the ball was not in a water hazard) Bubba Watson was entitled to remove the anthill without penalty before his stroke – but he didn’t. Maybe that was due to the fact, that if he during this removal had moved the ball (which was very likely since the ball lay on the anthill!), he would have incurred a one stroke penalty (Rule 18-2a and Rule 23).

Had it been fire-ants (which it wasn’t), relief without penalty from interference is availabe, if a local rule permits it (Decision 33-8/22). Furthermore according to the same Decision, a player is entitled to take relief without penalty, if he is in danger (e.g. in danger of being bitten and thereby getting very ill).

Bad behavior.
As you can see in the video, Bubba Watson was quite sarcastic towards the rules official. I really do understand that it can be hard to understand, that a burrowing ant isn’t a burrowing animal in the wording of the Rules of Golf. But his behavior was in my opinion not too good. He e.g. asked the rules official whether or not he agreed that an ant was an animal, and asked if they (the rules officials?) couldn’t care less if a guy was allergic towards ants and he then got an ant on him. He also made a joke saying “it bit me” (before his stroke – as to say that he then was entitled to relief without penalty from a dangerous ant) – see below:

 

I don’t think he was a good role model in this situation.

By the way Bubba Watson birdied the hole and ended up as tied 21.

/Brian

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