Rules Guy: Did this pro get wrongfully penalized for bunker incident at Q-School?

October 15, 2019

The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

Did you follow the story of Gian-Marco Petrozzi’s penalty at the last European Tour Q-School? While pacing off yardage for an approach shot, he walked through a bunker, followed etiquette by raking his footprints, then finished the hole. Rules officials later decided the raking had “improved his line of play” and gave Petrozzi a two-stroke penalty. Huh? He was simply returning the bunker to its prior state! Were they being overly rigid? —JARED FORTS, COLUMBUS, OHIO

Why, that’s the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard! Levity aside, the committee in charge of the competition’s decision is entirely defensible. Whether under the pre- or post-2019 Rules, if a player worsens their line of play or another condition affecting their stroke, they aren’t then allowed to improve that — even if it’s just a case of restoring the prior conditions. (Check out Rule 8.1d(2).) The moral of the story? Maybe: Don’t walk through bunkers to pace off the yardage on an approach shot! Mamma mia!

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to [email protected] We promise he won’t throw the book at you.