J.B. Holmes’s ball embedded in Genesis Open: But eventually he won!

Hi all!

Recently in Genesis Open J. B. Holmes had a “fun” Rules of Golf incident.

In a bunker at hole 7 Sunday, Holmes made a stroke from a bunker, but the ball barely made it out of the bunker and embedded deeply into at grass bank:

Holmes found the ball and took relief without penalty for the embedded ball, being able to drop within one club-length of the spot directly behind the “embed-hole” (not nearer the hole – and not in the bunker).

Holmes made a bogey, but eventually he won the tournament!


  1. Thomas Oldrich says

    Rule 16.3 (exceptions) …..a ball is NOT EMBEDDED if it is “driven straight into the ground without becoming airborne”. Holmes erred but because he did not knowingly break a rule he gets away with it. If a rules referee gave him relief he also gets away with it. He should have played the ball as it lies or declared it unplayable (rule 19)

    1. Keith Evans says

      thats my understanding as well

    2. Anonymous says

      It was airborne from sand to side of bunker and if my memory serves me correctly, a rules official was called over.

  2. Charles Rice Gow says

    Nonsense. The ball is in the air leaving the bunker. Airborne. Period.

  3. Jay says

    The ball obviously got “airborn” as it embedded in the bank. However he is only allowed relief within one clublength, not nearer the hole and the relief must be in the “general area” not in the bunker. Might have been a tough drop!!

  4. Bob says

    i didn’t see this shot on TV.
    I would find it hard to believe that Holmes ball rolled along the sand and up the slope and embedded itself in the general area. I would ASSUME that he hit the ball and it left the sand in the air and then embedded itself in the side grass above the bunker (general area). Just looked at photo on this site and in fact the ball is off the sand in the shot.

  5. Keith Evans says

    The ball was not in its own pitch mark, driven into bank

  6. Paul Godfrey says

    I also found this strange. The ball has to be embedded in it’s own pitch mark. There is no definition of pitch in the golf rules (as far as I can see) but the dictionary definition implies an angle or slope. A ball hit directly into a bunker face is straight – no angle or slope so not a pitch. If he was outside a bunker and mishit his shot directly into the bunker face would this also be interpreted as a pitch shot? Surely not.

    1. Dagbone says

      The term “pitch mark” is not literal… rather, it is more of a traditional term used to describe the depression made by the impact of a ball. So, a more literal term–and the one I tend to use–would be an “impact mark”.

      If he was outside the bunker and mishit his shot directly into the bunker face, the Ruling would be exactly the same.

  7. Mike Riley says

    How could a ball hit a total of not more than 10 ft, possibly break the ground in a high grass area and imbed in it’s own pitch mark. Bad ruling by the official!!

  8. Bob says

    Definition of Embedded Ball.

    Have been unable to find a close-up picture of the actual ball sitting on the hill, so it would be a guess at best.

    Page 141, Rule 16.3 Embedded

    When your ball is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of your previous stroke and where part of the ball is below the level of the ground. Your ball does not necessarily have to touch soil to be embedded (for example, grass and loose impediments may be between your ball and the soil).

    16.3a has pictures depicting the embedded ball.

    Exceptions – When Relief Not Allowed for Ball Embedded in General Area:

    When your ball is embedded in sand in a part of the general area that is not cut to fairway height or less, or
    When interference by anything other than your ball being embedded makes your stroke clearly unreasonable (for example, when you are unable to make a stroke because of where your ball lies in a bush).

    Your ball is embedded only if it is in its own pitch-mark made as a result of your previous stroke and part of your ball is below the level of the ground.

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