'Condition of Play' Ruling for PGA Championship at Ocean Course

The PGA of America has defined the "Condition of Play" regarding bunkers for the 94th PGA Championship. On Tuesday, the PGA announced that sandy areas at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C., will be regarded as "through the green" and not designated as "bunkers" during the 2012 season's final major.

This same Condition of Play was in effect at the Ocean Course for the 29th Ryder Cup in 1991, 2005 PGA Professional National Championship and 2007 Senior PGA Championship.

"With the unique topography of the Ocean Course (and) natural sandy areas spread throughout the entire property, the PGA of America Rules Committee has determined that all of these areas will be treated alike and played as through the green," announced PGA of America president Allen Wronowski.

"We believe that by establishing the Condition of Play for the 94th PGA Championship well in advance of the championship it will help players and spectators prepare for this spectacular major championship experience."

As a result of this advance ruling, players will be allowed to move loose impediments, take practice swings and ground their club lightly in these sandy areas except when their ball lies in such a sandy area that is part of a water hazard or lateral water hazard. Under the Rules, if a player's ball is believed to be covered by sand anywhere on the course he may move the sand without penalty, in order to find or identify the ball.

All sandy areas inside the gallery rope line will be raked each morning prior to play. During play, as strokes or practice swings are made, or players and others walk through such areas, footprints and other irregularities of surface may develop. Rakes will be available so that these areas may be smoothed as a courtesy to following players. However, these irregularities of surface - when not smoothed - are a part of the game and no relief, without penalty, will be provided.

The PGA of America's announcement differs from the Condition of Play during the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis., where all areas of the course that were designed and built as sand bunkers were played as bunkers.

That condition at Whistling Straits severely hurt Dustin Johnson, who entered the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead. After appearing to bogey the hole to fall into a tie with Bubba Watson and eventual champion Martin Kaymer and be part of a three-hole aggregate-score playoff, Johnson - according to officials who watched video replays - ruled that he grounded a club in a bunker, thus resulting in a two-shot penalty. Instead of having a chance to win his first major title the South Carolinian missed the playoff and ended up tied for fifth.

What differentiates the courses is that at Kiawah Island the sand is natural to the surrounding terrain, and in many cases, there is no clear definition of where such sandy areas stop and start. Bunkers at Whistling Straits were well-defined and completely surrounded by grass.

The 94th PGA Championship, August 6-12, marks the first Grand Slam event to be conducted in the Palmetto State. It will feature a 156-member field that is perennially the strongest and deepest international field of any major.

Portions of the above report are courtesy of the PGA of America. For more information, visit www.pga.com.