Kelly Kraft’s ball struck a bird – ball fell into water – missed cut by one stroke!


A “birdie” does not always make golfers happy.

Kelly Kraft realized just that in the RBC Heritage on the PGA Tour in April. Kraft made his stroke from the teeing ground at the 14. hole (par-3) in the second round (Friday) and (according to himself) it was a great shot.

But… while it was in the air, it struck a bird, so that it (the ball!) changed direction and landed in a water hazard!!

One of the other players in Kraft’s group argued, that Kraft should be allowed to replay the ball without penalty, just as you must do when the ball strikes electricity cables. But the Rules of Golf do not allow you to do that.

So: Kraft dropped out from the water hazard with a one stroke penalty, and he went on to score a double bogey for that hole… and in the end he missed the cut by one stroke…!

So on this occasion a “birdie” was not good.

Not surprisingly it all happened Friday 13th.



PS: You can watch a video of a similar situation below:

  1. Dagbone says

    To those who may be inclined to lament the “injustice” of this incident, please consider the facts.

    First, understand that there is no “automatic” relief in the power line analogy, despite the suggestion in the article. The USGA Rules of Golf classify both birds and power lines as “outside agencies”… “In stroke play, an outside agency is any agency other than the competitor’s side, any caddie of the side, any ball played by the side at the hole being played or any equipment of the side.” This includes both God-made and non-God-made objects.

    Next, USGA Rule 19-1 states: “If a player’s ball in motion is ACCIDENTALLY deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies.” (The rule then goes on to provide an exception if the stroke was taken while the ball is on the green.) Consequently, the ruling against Kraft was 100% correct.

    Yeah, but what about power lines? USGA Decision 33-8/13 states: “Q. An overhead power line is so situated that it interferes with the play of a hole. Would it be appropriate for the Committee to make a Local Rule allowing a player whose ball is deflected by this power line the option to replay the stroke, without penalty, if he wishes? A. NO. However, a Local Rule REQUIRING a player to replay the stroke would be acceptable.” So power lines are NOT AUTOMATICALLY excluded from the list of outside agencies… they must be given a specific exception by the tournament committee.

    OK, but what about the shear injustice of it all??? Well, a “rub of the green” can go both ways… it can help just as easily as it can hurt. Consider a ball that was struck too hard, and appears to be going beyond the green. It then hits a green-side fan (of the human being or mechanical type, makes no difference) and then rolls into the hole. The player gets a huge assist, perfectly legal! But what if the ball were to have gone out of bounds instead of in the hole… would it be “just” if the player could then decide that since a bad thing happened, he can simply replay his shot? That’s a pretty slippery slope.

    Fine, but what about this EXACT circumstance? I’ll grant you, it’s tempting to want an exception in this exact particular circumstance, but the USGA Rules are already chock full of exceptions that make the Rules of Golf very difficult to understand and implement. Adding another one is probably not the best idea.

    I would argue that true “justice” means you get the same ruling no matter whether it helps or hurts you. While I sympathize with Kraft for his bad luck, I don’t see an efficient way around it.

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