Rules Court: Zach Johnson and the Case of the Painted Grass

Rules Court: Zach Johnson and the Case of the Painted Grass

Zach Johnson at the 2008 Valero Texas Open.


THE SCENE: 2008 Valero Texas Open, San Antonio, Texas

THE CASE: On the green of the par-4 11th, the inside of the cup had recently been painted, and flecks of paint were scattered near the hole. Johnson was given permission to brush the flecks from the green, but as he got to the last one, he discovered that it was stuck to the grass.

THE FACTS: Johnson realized that by removing the painted grass, he might inadvertently improve his line of putt. So Johnson called over a rules official. "I asked him, 'Can you or I do anything here?'" Johnson recalls.

THE VERDICT: The flecks he removed were movable obstructions because they were not attached to the grass. But because the last fleck was stuck to a blade of grass, removing or bending the blade would have put him in breach of Rule 13-2 for improving his line of putt. Said Johnson: "That was a new one for me."

This article originally appeared in Golf Magazine. Click here for a 30-day free trial of Golf Magazine and our tablet edition.