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golf ball in a divot

Should you get free relief from divots? Some of golf’s big names are torn

It’s the one rule lots of club golfers would change. But some top pros have weighed in on the divot debate

 

Let’s do a quick poll. “Should you get relief from a ball in a divot on the fairway?” There will be some purists who’ll defend play it as it lies at all costs.

But plenty of you will line up to say it’s unfair. Why should a shot that’s found the fairway – where you were supposed to hit it after all – be punished in such a fashion?

The age-old debate reared its head when Patrick Rodgers found his golf ball in a divot on the short stuff during sudden death of his playoff with Akshay Bhatia in the PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship.

He then chunked his approach and said: “Kind of a crummy break there in the playoff. In the middle of the fairway to drive it in a divot. But that’s just the way it goes. I’ll come back stronger.”

Credit to Rodgers for taking some bad luck on the chin but it didn’t take long for the question to be posed on twitter. “Should the PGA Tour change the ruling of a ball in a divot in the fairway?”

It got some ready support as you’d expect, but not among some of those you’d think would benefit most if they could put their ball back in a better lie.

golf divot

First Colt Knost, the former PGA Tour player now part of the CBS Golf team, weighed in: “Tough break. Sucks. But I think it’s impossible to change the rule. Tough to exactly define what is a divot and what’s not.”

Then Billy Horschel got involved: “Agree with Colt. I’ve been a supporter of changing the rule but understand it can be tough to define what is and isn’t a divot [at] times.”

Lee Westwood then spoke for many of the purists when he wrote: “Golf wasn’t meant to be fair.”

Could you define a divot and treat it like an abnormal course condition, or is part of the magic of the game that luck plays its part?

As long as it does, and well-struck shots find divots, the debate is sure to run and run.

What do you think of the golf ball in a divot debate? Should you get free relief, or suck it up and get on with the game? Let me know with a tweet.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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