June 09, 2017

Wacky Golf Fact (Revisited) – Birdie Hunting

The Wacky Golf Fact Series was originally posted in 2016.

Our initial plan was to add new articles to this fun series but the Rules Modernization proposed by the golf authorities caught us of guard.

Even though these new rules won't be in effect till January 1st 2019, they still propose major changes and will completely revolutionize they way we play golf and enforce the rules. Don't get us wrong, we welcome these changes and they should be great for golf! We are just not ready to talk and write about them yet. 

So you will note that our article still refers to the actual and soon to be thing-of-the-past golf rules.

This article was originally posted on July 18, 2016

This one occurred to my bubbies and me many summers ago. Back then, we were young golf studs or at least thought so.

That morning, Frank had a particularly bad outing with his famous driver. When we got to the 17th hole, a long but sometime reachable par 5, he was determined to have his vengeance and tried to hit a bomb off the tee. And he did!

He probably made his best pass of the day and hit a wonderful powerful drive in the center of the club right down the middle of the fairway. His fancy driver even mad a big POW!

Literally Getting a Birdie

Everything would have been fine but out of the trees, a bird flew across the fairway at the same exact moment. Frank’s ball violently hit the bird! They immediately both fell straight down…about 25 yards in front of us, just between the gentlemen’s and ladies’ tee boxes.

We even noticed a few feathers blown away…

Steve immediately yelled out: BIRDIE!

Along with the group behind us that just got near the back of the tee, we all laughed except for Frank, a tad frustrated as his bomb was transformed into a dud. Too bad for him because he had really killed it…his drive, I mean.

We still got a pinch to the heart when we realized that the poor bird was dead.    

As no one knew exactly what to do, after a quick deliberation, we decide to give Frank a chance as it seemed fair… We giggle again when he badly snapped hooked his mulligan left into the woods.

What the Rules Say?

Later that day, pretty intrigued, we looked up what would be the official ruling on that unusual situation. As it turns out, Frank should have played his next shot as is (where it lied after his misfortune).

In fact, he was lucky because his ball remained in the fairway. It could have been much worse if it got deflected into a bunker, a water hazard or behind trees. He could even have lost his ball or it could have ended up out of bounds.

Hitting a bird in flight is kind of the same as hitting a tree limb. If you lose distance or your ball gets in a bad position, tough luck for you!

You would only get a break if you were on the green as you putt would be canceled if it got deflected or stopped by a bird.

Here is an excerpt of the rule:

Rule 19 - Ball in Motion Deflected or Stopped

19-1. By Outside Agency

If a player's ball in motion is accidentally deflected or stopped by any outside agency, it is a rub of the green, there is no penalty and the ball must be played as it lies, except:

a. If a player's ball in motion after a stroke other than on the putting green comes to rest in or on any moving or animate outside agency, the ball must through the green or in a hazard be dropped, or on the putting green be placed, as near as possible to the spot directly under the place where the ball came to rest in or on the outside agency, but not nearer the hole, and

b. If a player's ball in motion after a stroke on the putting green is deflected or stopped by, or comes to rest in or on, any moving or animate outside agency, except a worm, insect or the like, the stroke is canceled. The ball must be replaced and replayed.

If the ball is not immediately recoverable, another ball may be substituted.

Does it Happen Often?

We don’t know what the odds are but a quick Internet search makes us believe that hitting a bird in flight may be more frequent than you think.

It even happens to PGA golfers! 

Here’s a video example of Jimmy Walker’s encounter with a bird in 2014:

So next time you set up for a big driver blast or a precise iron approach, look out for those unfriendly birds first!

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