2013 Solheim Cup: Incorrect Ruling Mars First-Day Matches

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIAugust 17, 2013

Calota Ciganda and European Solheim Cup Captain Liselotte Neumann talk with the rules offical at No. 15.
Calota Ciganda and European Solheim Cup Captain Liselotte Neumann talk with the rules offical at No. 15.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Officials at the 2013 Solheim Cup have once again proven the point that the rules of golf are far too complicated. How can the average golfer be expected to correctly adhere to the rules when a trained professional can’t get it right?

The European pair of Carlota Ciganda and Suzann Pettersen were playing Americans Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson in the first of the afternoon Fourballs at Colorado Golf Club. USA lost the morning Foursomes 3-1 and was looking to get back on track in the afternoon.

The match was all square through 14 holes when Ciganda hit her second shot on the par-5 15th into a red-staked hazard near the green. A rules official walking with the group took 26 minutes of deliberation, allowed Ciganda to drop on the opposite side of the hazard and some 40 yards back from the original point of entry.

In the Rules of Golf, 26 1-C allows a player whose ball crosses a lateral water hazard to take a one-stroke penalty and drop two club lengths back from the point of entry, or cross to the opposite side of the red staked lateral hazard and drop two club lengths no nearer the hole.

Allowing Ciganda to drop 40 yards from the line of entry to the hazard was an incorrect ruling.

Ciganda, now lying three, made a miraculous chip shot, holed the putt and saved her par, resulting in an important half for the European Team that kept the match all square.

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The LPGA made the following statement after play had ended for the day,

We regret that an incorrect ruling was given and we apologize for any confusion that was caused on the course for the players. Ultimately Ciganda proceeded to play according to the final ruling she was given and the result of the match does not change.

Pettersen made a birdie on the very next hole to give the Europeans a one-up lead. The Americans could not recover from the delay and incorrect ruling. They lost the match one up to the Europeans.

The delay also affected the other three matches on the course. All three groups were forced to wait on No. 15 tee while the ruling for the first group was made.

It has become a familiar occurrence that rulings delay and have a significant result on golf tournaments.

With the abundance of television and video equipment at tournament sites it amazes me how tournament officials continue to adversely affect events.

Although there are only 34 rules, the hundreds of explanations and interpretations require an advanced collegiate degree to fully comprehend the full scope of the Rules of Golf.

Twenty-six minutes to make an incorrect ruling for a simple lateral hazard infraction is incomprehensible. 

When trained professional rules officials can not get a simple ruling correct and the Rules of Golf are more difficult to interpret than the U.S. Tax Code, maybe just maybe something needs to change.