Zach Johnsons one stroke penalty in Travelers Championship

Hi all.

Last week Zach Johnson incurred a one stroke penalty in Travelers Championship, although he in fact did not do anything wrong.

His putt on the putting green stopped overhanging the lip of the hole, and he therefore went over to the hole and waited. He was just about to putt the ball, when it fell in the hole by itself!

See the video below:

The Rules of Golf states (Rule 16-2), that in this situation you must go to the hole without unreasonable delay and then wait in 10 seconds. If the ball has not fallen into the hole within these 10 seconds, it is deemed to be at rest. Johnson thus (after these 10 seconds) could have made a stroke to the ball without being penalized for breaching Rule 14-5 (making a stroke to a moving ball – like Mickelson did in the recent U. S. Open!).

As stated above the ball fell into the hole before he began making a stroke. The Rules of Golf then decides, that the ball is holed, but with a one stroke penalty.

Please note, that Johnson could not just have walked very very slowly towards the ball and thereby having avoided the penalty. You must go to the hole pretty much right away after the ball has stopped and you cannot walk extremely slow (not “unreasonable delay”).

And note also, that the ball was deemed to be at rest after the 10 seconds, although the ball (according to Johnson) in fact was still moving! Quite fun – read also this article about the opposite situation, where a ball in a bush was deemed not to me moving, although it kind of did!

Who said, that the Rules were easy 🙂

/Brian Oswald

  1. Renate steytler says

    Of the many nonsensical rules in golf this one surely takes the cake! If the player does nothing to influence the ball falling into the hole it should not matter how long it took him to get to the ball
    I’m thinking of a situation where I hit a hole in one on a par three and the ball took its time falling in whilst we walked to the hole from the T box

  2. Dan says

    My point is slightly different. Why do we treat a ball on the green differently just because it’s near the hole?
    Also Zach could have marked the ball before 10s were up then replaced the ball waited another 9s. How long could this go on for?

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