PGA Tour Player Capitalises On Rules' Scenario At Sony Open

Chris Kirk was dealt a huge slice of luck in Hawaii, as he found a boundary net that was considered a temporary immovable obstruction

Kirk hits a golf shot with a net behind him
(Image credit: Twitter: @PGATOUR)

For 2023, the rules of golf have been given an update, with further changes taking effect from January 1st. It's safe to say that there are a number of rules within our great game and, at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Saturday, Chris Kirk managed to capitalize on a specific ruling on the par 5 ninth hole.

The ninth hole has the driving range down the side of it at Waialea, with it being out of bounds. However, not only does the range have the usual boundary fence, but also a gigantic net to stop golf balls from flying over and potentially hurting those on the golf course.

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In the rules of golf, boundary objects are defined as: “Artificial objects defining or showing out of bounds, such as walls, fences, stakes and railings, from which free relief is not allowed.” Essentially, if your golf ball is against a fence, wall or stake then you either take an unplayable or find a way to play it.

So, how does all of this result in Kirk taking advantage of the rules? Well, for this week's Sony Open, the net between the range and the course is not a standard boundary fence. It’s in fact considered a temporary immovable obstruction.

Pulling his drive left during his third round Kirk, whose golf ball was right up against the fence, was able to take free relief and drop to what was a much more favourable lie. Speaking on the broadcast, NBC Sports Analyst, Peter Jacobsen, claimed that without the fortunate drop, the American would likely not have been able to hook the ball as much.

Kirk watches his iron shot

Kirk currently sits two shots back of leader Hayden Buckley

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dropping his golf ball, Kirk was able to hit a huge right-to-left iron shot from just over 200 yards which, despite still ranking very high on the difficulty meter, found its way on to the left side of the green. Two putts later, and Kirk was heading to the 10th tee with a birdie on his card, when a double bogey was looking the more likely.

On the broadcast Jacobsen, who was following the group, stated: “Dropped it beautiful lie, that helped curve it. It’s a unique situation, typically the fence would be a boundary that would not get relief from out-of-bounds, but here at Waialea, short of the range, they play it as a TIO and players get relief.”

Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.


Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.


Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x