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Did Camilo Violate Rule 23-1?**

Longtime readers know I hate television viewer-caught rules violations, especially when the player has signed their card and their intent was not clear. But we know how the rules work and we certainly know intent is not taken into consideration, so here goes.

Twitter reader @DaveAndrews723 raised the question of Camilo Villegas' club flick during round one of the Hyundai Tournament Of Some Champions. I'll let you decide, but the wording of 23-1 is pretty clear: "When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed."

**Video removed. will be posting an official version momentarily after they've had a chance to review it with Villegas, a link will follow.

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Reader Comments (61)

I think it might be better phrased by saying "please explain how this isn't a violation of rule 23-1".
01.6.2011 | Unregistered CommenterDel the Funk
Journalists are interesting characters. A person could do 100 great things and one questionable thing. The journalist would not write one syllable about the great things (like truly inspiring children who live in a "third world" without hope) and blast the one questionable thing on the headlines.
I wonder if journalists ever seriously consider their perspective and the ramifications of their stories.
01.6.2011 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
Of course he did...the only question is if he will still collect the Ogilvy check for the week after the DQ - and will it be official money?

Or maybe the Tour will adopt the NCAA's new "I Didn't Know" clause.

The rulings controversies of last year roll over to the first round of the first tourney this year. Great.
01.6.2011 | Unregistered CommenterNRH
"When a ball is in motion, a loose impediment that might influence the movement of the ball must not be removed."

Just another example of how the Rules of Golf are too complex and try to cover every eventuality however abstruse and unlikely.

For most golfers, who mostly don't have caddies, the only time this rule could apply is in the case shown in the video. How often does that happen? Once or twice a year at most. It doesn't need a rule because it happens so infrequently. Delete the rule and there is no problem.

Having said all that the rule exists and he probably broke it. I doubt if he was thinking about the rules much he was so annoyed.
Spot on Del. The ball was well on its way back down the hill when he decided to move the divot. There is no way he could be certain it wasn't going to interfere with his next shot.

In any event, shouldn't he have been professional enough to have at least checked before signing his card?
The divot looked still partially attached to the turf, therefore it wasn't a loose impediment. And what the heck is the official definition of impediment. Replacing a partial divot actually does the opposite of impeding the ball, allowing it to roll naturally, as it were, so it isn't an impediment. The only impediment I see here is the stupid wording of the rules. Ask Tiger how big a rock has to be to be an impediment; clearly, 200 pounds is still small enough.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterTim in Hoylake
Seems a pretty clear breach to me.
Tim-I dont know how you can say it was still attatched as he found it pretty easy to remove! Mind you in most of these cases you have to be there to see what exactly happened.
My take on this-when playing competitively we all MUST play to thae rules as they are written-there is no place for liberal interpretation-where would we draw the line?
If we dont like the rules as they are - or any particular rule - then campain for its change by all means but the rules as they stand at the moment have to be applied no matter how unfair or otherwise that may seem. Good luck and bad tends to even out.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commenterchico
Yes, a breach of 23-1.

With regard to the question of intent. It is not as straightforward as you suggest Geoff. See decision 1-2/8 which deals with a similar situation where the player presses down a raised divot in the area where the ball returns to. In this case intent is taken into consideration in deciding whether or not a breach has occurred.

The principle in this decision and the loose impediment Rule is directly related to the first Rule of Golf - that a player shall not take any action to influence the position or the movement of a ball. It is sad to see comments that suggest something as fundamental as the first Rule of Golf should be overlooked or amended - this is not complex or stupid - it is golf.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterNigel
Nigel- 100% spot on.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commenterchico
It looks like a violation borne out of irritation and thoughtlessness. A shame and surprising. I would have thought that a pro golfer would have a sense of "don't do anything near the ball whilst it's still rolling" absolutely hard wired into him, almost as firmly as 'don't hit your caddy with your club'. As Nigel says, along with 'play it as it lies' this is absolutely cardinal stuff. That's why, with a very heavy heart, I would not overlook this one.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commenterbs
What surprises me is that if I and my two buddies noticed the very likely rules violation right away when we saw it on TV why did nobody at the PGA Tour or Golf Channel also notice it. If the tour rules against Camillo I fear it would be an automatic DQ because he signed an incorrect scorecard. It would have been just a 2 stroke penalty if someone in authority had noticed it and brought it to his attention before he signed his card.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave Andrews
wow I know alot of the rules and didn't realize that was one. I agree that some of the rules are severely antiquated. Another example of tv directors influencing the event. If he wasnt on TV no one would have seen it. I guess we will see later today. BTW do we really need to see all those 2 foot putts?
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commenterthemerk
Yes, it's a violation. But I think once a card is signed and everyone is in agreement that the round was complted without violation, going back a day later with TV replays should be out of the question. Catch it at the time or don't catch it at all.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterFWIW
Hey, George -- WTF? What's the bug up your ass with journalists? I've read plenty of stories on Camilo and his great deeds back home in Columbia. Are you criticizing Geoff because he dared to post the Golf Channel footage? I don't get it. I'll admit the media do have a tendency to concentrate on the negative but that has nothing to do with whether someone violated a rule that Golf Channel cameras caught for all to see and debate.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinksman
With the exception of the Majors where an official walks with each group, Rules Officials tend to sit in buggies in the shade monitoring play and waiting for a call (usually through the scorers that accompany each group).

A normal compliment of Rules Officials would be: Tournament Director, Chief Referee and six referees on course at strategic pre planned locations. It might be a good idea to have one watching the live broadcast footage to pick up on things like this. Providing this on course in the buggy should also be possible these days. An alliance with the commentary team who should have access to a qualified Rules Official is another possibility.

Rather than change the Rules, improved Rules support at tournaments is one way to go. Another is for the PGA's to introduce Rules examinations for so called golf professionals, failure resulting in suspension of the card until a suitable pass is achieved. What other so called profession would not require their members to actually know the Rules governing the profession?

I am tired of seeing extremely well paid golfers come across as the hapless victims of some arcane and over complex Rules regime. Time for golf professionals to 'man up' and accept their responsibilities to the game - that is to know the Rules. When in doubt how difficult can it be to grasp the concept of putting your hand up and asking for help - or even to raise any doubtful point with the official in the scoring tent before signing?
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterNigel
I agree with bs and Nigel. It is what it is, two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match. I've officiated for Camillo at the US Am (East Lake) and he is an outstanding young man as well as a great talent but I agree with others that it is hard to understand how players just can't step back and not touch anything in this situation. You see this scenario quite a bit during the year so it's not like it's an unusual situation. It's not rocket science.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterPete Blaisdell
I questioned it seiing in real time.

However , I agree with FWIW.. It is history now. call it then, or forget about it. .
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
I saw Steve Elkington do something similar, but even more egregious in my opinion, in a similar circumstance of the ball rolling back down the hill. When I questioned it on another forum I was soundly trashed as being ignorant. Maybe I was right after all. Announcers said nothing at that time either.

01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn R
How can it be history if the competition is still going? He should be disqualified.
While watching the broadcast, I noticed that violation immediately as it was happening and was stunned that Camillo had such a brain fart and also surprised that Faldo did not notice it was a violation (instead Faldo was gigglling like a schoolgirl as the ball rolled back down the hill while Camillo was doing his "gardening"). I assumed that at some point it would be brought to Camillo's attention. To wake up this morning and find out that it is still unresolved is the most shocking aspect of all this.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarky Mark
It's not a stupid rule and there's nothing wrong with the way it's worded. When you go touch something and your moving ball is only inches away, DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!!! What's complicated about this?
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Smith
<< Yes, it's a violation. But I think once a card is signed and everyone is in agreement that the round was complted without violation, going back a day later with TV replays should be out of the question. Catch it at the time or don't catch it at all.>>

Because these "rulings by television" occur so frequently, the PGA Tour needs to establish a Statuate of Limitations. One poster points out that indeed, a ruling should be administered because the "competition is still going on." So what about Jackie Pung back in the 1957 U.S. Women's Open who won the tournament but signed an incorrect scorecard and was penalized into second place? Wasn't THAT tournament OVER? And it we can Rule By Television, why not go back and view tape of every broadcast from say, 1960, administered dozens of penalties retroactively? Well, of course, THAT doesn't make sense. And neither does penalizing the ONE player who happens to actually be ON television while other probable violators elsewhere on the course are committing their misdeeds in complete anonymity.

I don't have a problem with the rule -- obscure as it is -- I just don't like the way these penalities are tossed out LONG after the round is over.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterBenSeattle
Thanks for the great insights, but I'm still unclear on one point: why is intent allowed to enter the equation in this instance?

If I had to guess, his intent was not to cheat but instead, he was flicking at the loose dirt out of irritation, annoyance and nervousness. But that doesn't address whether he impacted the lie of the next shot.
01.7.2011 | Registered CommenterGeoff
So what if the ball is still rolling up on the green? Can he move/tap his divot then?

For example....could Bubba fix his driver divot on #18 yesterday WHILE his ball is still rolling up on the green? I mean there is at least a physical possibility it could roll back in his divot.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterChip Gaskins
Has Camillo been hanging around Michelle Wie?
So, I'm not a lawyer...but here's what I would argue: Camillo definitely moved a loose impediment while his ball was in motion. Now, the rule says that if this impediment "might influence the movement of the ball" he is in violation of the rule. Given that we have the video though, the "might" goes out the window. Clearly, the ball never comes close to the divot and rolls by it with about 2 inches to spare. If I was Camillo, I would say: "Clearly, I was able to see that this particular impediment would not at all influence the movement of the ball. I knew the ball would miss the divot on the way down." And who could argue with him? It's right there on tape, the ball rolls past the divot. It's a fact. Thereby, at no time might that impediment have influenced the movement of the ball.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex H
If he is not DQ'd, would it be the honourable thing for Camillo to withdraw?
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterTighthead
You should be a lawyer!

However, I'm not sure it can be said definitively that the ball never comes close to the divot or the matter that he removed.
01.7.2011 | Registered CommenterGeoff
I was leaning toward FWIW, but I was moved by the argument that lawyer-to-be Alex H. made. Judgment affirmed!
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
Someone will have to ask camillo if he moved the divot so the ball wouldnt come to rest against it if he did thats a penalty.If he didnt realize the ball was returning to the area then there is no breach.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJim D
Thanks Geoff,

Intent is one of the most difficult areas to deal with in Rulings. I was drawing your attention to intent in response to your general comment - "But we know how the rules work and we certainly know intent is not taken into consideration, so here goes."

Intent is taken into account in some circumstances (Rules) and not in others. Intent would not enter into this ruling if the player moved a loose impediment as the Rule (23-1) is very explicit and covers all circumstances - the player is forbidden to move any loose impediment while his ball is in motion.

The decision which I referred to deals with an identical situation except that he replaces, removes or repairs a divot in the area that the ball returns to. In this case the player would be penalised if it was determined that his intent was to prevent the ball returning to the old divot hole. He might escape penalty in some circumstances - such as the ball coming to rest at the top of the slope, him repairing the divot, then the ball suddenly starting to move and returning to the repaired divot. In this case it would be reasonable to decide that in repairing the divot it was not his intent to influence the movement of the ball as he thought it had come to rest at the top of the slope. If he sees the ball coming and then removes or repairs the divot his intent would be to influence the movement of the ball in some way and he would be penalised.

If the Rules Committee after interviewing the player decided that what he flicked away was a loose impediment then there would be no option but to penalise under 23-1 as intent does not matter, the Rule is clear - don't move a loose impediment while your ball is moving. If they determined that the material he flicked away was attached to the ground and therefore not a loose impediment then a different Rule (Rule 1-2) comes into play. This Rule is more wide reaching than 23-1 and deals with the player exerting influence on the ball in any number of ways. In this Rule intent may be considered as I have indicated above (see Decision 1-2/8).

In this case however - as the ball was obviously rolling towards the spot where the divot or loose impediment was removed from, it would be difficult to accept that his actions were not intended to influence the movement of the ball in some way - no escaping the penalty in my opinion under either Rule even if he claimed he was mindlessly clearing up a divot and not paying attention to the ball.

Hope that is clearer, intent is a difficult area.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterNigel
Well stated Nigel. Agree completely.

Camilo's caddie should pay attention to this as he is starting a golfing career of his own in a few weeks. Might be a good time to brush up on the rules.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commentermel
That ball was heading straight for the divot and he moved it before the ball changed direction less than a couple of feet from the original spot.

As for trial by tv - so what? These are professional golfers. They know cameras are everywhere not to mention spectators (would they not be allowed to report infringements either?).

Great explanation Nigel.
Just want to correct my earlier post - not sure that was Waldman caddying for Villegas yesterday. Might be a new caddie.
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commentermel
Are you the Nigel I think you are?!
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commenterchico
I think so Chico!
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterNigel
In fact he's Alex, chico ... whoever the hell he is!(lol)
i think you can do what he did in curling, but i don't think there are too many rinks around kapalua
01.7.2011 | Unregistered Commenterduck!hooker

Your definition of the rule seems very black and white. If a ball is still moving then no loose impediment can be moved until the ball has stopped (no room for intent in that definition).

How does that work when a player hits an iron shot, ball lands on the green, player replaces divot, and ball is still rolling (say Augusta #16, TOC #18, Shinnecock #7, etc)
01.7.2011 | Unregistered CommenterChip Gaskins

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