Tom Kim’s ball moves after grounding his club at the Wells Fargo Championship

Once again there was an interesting Rules incident on the PGA Tour, this time during the Wells Fargo Championship!

1. Video.

First, see a video of what happened:

As you can see,Tom Kim grounded his club close to (behind) his ball, when the ball moved a bit closer to the hole.

2. The Rules of Golf.

What do the Rules of Golf decide about a situation like this?

Under Rule 9.2b(2) the player is deemed to have moved the ball if it is “known or virtually certain”. According to the Definition of “Known or Virtually Certain” it must be at least 95 % likely. Although the ball moved right after he grounded the club behind the ball, it was not considered “known or virtually certain”, and therefore according to Rule 9.2b(2) the ball was deemed to have been moved by “Natural Forces”.

According to Rule 9.3, no penalty should be assessed, and the ball must be played as it lies.

That was exactly what the Rules official told Kim, and therefore Kim simply replaced the ball (which he had previously marked and lifted from the “new” spot), removed the ball marker and holed out.

3. Two things worth noticing.

By the way please be aware of these two things:

1. The unintended movement of the ball was not considered a stroke, since there was no intention for there to be a stroke. If there had been such an intention, the stroke would have counted and he should have played his ball as it lay.

2. On the putting green, according to Exception 1 to Rule 9.3 if a player marks and lifts his/her ball and replaces it, and then natural forces subsequently move the ball, the ball must be replaced (without penalty) – but this was not the case in Tom Kim’s Rules incident.


By the way, Kim ended up tied for 23rd.